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After the Harry and Meghan interview, how does the monarchy keep calm and carry on?

In a career spanning decades, Alastair Campbell has seen it all — politics, royalty, scandal and intrigue. 
As former British prime minister Tony Blair’s communications chief when Diana, Princess of Wales, died after a car crash in Paris in 1997, Campbell is used to managing controversy and tackling communications crises head on.
And yet, the explosive interview Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, did with Oprah Winfrey, watched by more than 60 million people worldwide still left him “fairly shocked.”
“Normally these things never quite live up to the hype, but it actually sort of did,” Campbell said. 

Millions of people around the world watched the interview. This photo illustration shows people in masks in Arlington, Va., watching on March 7. (Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images)

Revelations from the interview included allegations from the couple that an unnamed family member raised “concerns” about how dark their son Archie’s skin would be before his birth, as well as claims by the duchess that life in the palace was so difficult she had contemplated suicide, and had received no help when she reached out.

In the face of this latest controversy, the monarchy still seems likely to survive. But any changes to adapt to the times will be subtle and slow.

Echoes of another crisis

Campbell documented his insight into the Royal Family in detailed diary accounts after Diana’s death. He said listening to Meghan talk about her own struggles inside the palace brought back memories. 

“I was quite sad,” Campbell said. “I know Harry a bit. I knew Princess Diana, and I kind of heard echoes of Princess Diana, to be honest. When Meghan talked about not being supported when she was trying to get help and when Harry spoke about feeling that his father let him down, I could kind of hear those echoes.”

The former Princess of Wales Diana, seen here with her son Prince Harry, also criticized the way the Royal Family treated her. (John Redman/The Associated Press)

They are echoes of a similar time when Diana’s divorce from Prince Charles, the next in line to the throne, and later her death, rocked the monarchy to its core, forcing it to look inwards and examine its role in a changing society. 

Meghan’s interview with Winfrey also carried echoes of the 1995 interview Diana gave to BBC journalist Martin Bashir for the BBC’s Panorama program, which was kept secret from Buckingham Palace.  

Charles Anson, press secretary to Queen Elizabeth from 1990 to 1997, said the parallels between the two interviews were clear. 

“I had similar sorts of feelings both of interest and also concern about how much it would touch on family and private matters, which perhaps will be better discussed within a family circle,” Anson said. 

But is it simply a “family issue” to be resolved privately, or are there wider questions to be asked on just how damaging this is for the monarchy?

No impact on ‘the constitutional situation’

Robert Hardman, royal reporter for the Daily Mail and author of the book Queen of the World, said this is a serious situation for the Royal Family, but that ultimately, this too shall pass and the institution will survive — “as it always does.” 

“This is a fallout between members of the family. It doesn’t have a direct impact on the constitutional situation.

“I mean, clearly, there’s reputational damage here. But you know what? The Diana interview in 1995 was making more important points going right to the heart of the monarchy. The abdication crisis of 1936 was an existential crisis.”

Public opinion seems to support Hardman’s view. A recent YouGov poll of 1,672 people between March 8 and 9 found 63 per cent of respondents want to retain the monarchy. That’s down from 67 per cent in October 2020, but still a majority. 

Meanwhile, the interview didn’t bode so well for the royal couple. A YouGov poll on Friday found that 48 per cent of 1,664 respondents had a negative attitude of Harry compared to 45 per cent with a positive view. That’s the first time his net favourability rating has been negative. Fifty-eight per cent had a negative opinion of Meghan and only one-in-three had a positive view. 

Prince Harry and Meghan confirmed in February that they will not be returning to work as members of the Royal Family. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

“They’re relevant because they’re seen as relevant,” Campbell said. “There’s no other royal family in the world that gets this sort of attention for anything. None. I think it’s partly history, it’s partly tradition. It’s partly that they are an important part of our soft power.”

But is a stamp of public approval enough to keep the monarchy relevant moving forward? Royal observers say change is inevitable. The question is, how much change and how fast? 

“Any institution that refuses to move with the times is doomed. They know that,” Hardman said. “But they are not a brand of soap powder or something. They can’t rebrand. You can’t suddenly change the formula. You’re dealing with a human institution and it moves at a different pace.

“It moves outside the political cycle. Politicians have to worry about being re-elected every few years. Monarchy doesn’t work like that.”

Addressing racism

Experts generally agree that the monarchy is in no real danger of becoming obsolete. However, the issue that there are claims of racism within the family has resonated beyond palace walls in the U.K. and beyond.

On Thursday, while visiting a school, Prince William was asked by a reporter if the Royal Family were racist, to which he replied: “We’re very much not a racist family.” It was the first direct response from a senior royal after Meghan’s allegations. 

Royal commentators who have been following the royals for years said it’s extremely rare for any member of the Royal Family to respond to questions thrown at them by reporters. But Prince William clearly felt compelled to reply. 

The 61-word statement from Buckingham Palace in response to Harry and Meghan’s interview, issued almost 40 hours after it first aired, did little to douse the fire. 

“The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately,” it said.

Lisa Bent, a British author of Jamaican descent, said the statement was not enough.  

The interview and its repercussions have been reported in British newspapers. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP Photo)

“This again shows that the monarchy doesn’t have the know-how of how to deal with such issues in today’s society. It’s a different world right now, and their traditional ways aren’t cutting it with what we need for today’s society.”

Priyamvada Gopal, a professor of postcolonial studies at the University of Cambridge, said wider discussions on race in British society are relatively recent compared with North America. 

“The defensive mode is normalized, whether it’s the monarchy, whether it’s the tabloids, whether it’s major British institutions, the mood is to hit back rather than say: ‘OK, let’s have a serious conversation.'”

Subtle changes

As for the monarchy, Campbell has theories about how we might see subtle changes to show that the royals are in tune with the times. 

“I’m just guessing now, but I think you’ll see things like possibly more Black people employed there. They’ll be starting from a pretty low base,” Campbell said. 

“I know the Queen’s not doing so many public events, but maybe if she’s at a public event and the military are there, they might just make sure that there’s a few soldiers of colour who are there. I think you’ll see that kind of thing.”

It’s expected that there will be subtle changes made to show the monarchy is keeping up with the times. For example, there may be more coverage of events such as this 2018 meeting between the Queen and Governor-General of Barbados Dame Sandra Mason. (Steve Parsons/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Campbell, along with most long-time royal observers, point out that any sign of modernizing the monarchy, or adapting to the times wouldn’t be in the form of grand gestures. 

The Queen is “like an enduring winner,” he said.

“They’ll get through this. They’ll adapt. They’ll change a little bit and you’ll probably notice a few subtle changes in the coming months and then they’ll just get on with it. They’re survivors.”

WATCH | The Sussexes divulge stories of racism in interview with Oprah Winfrey: 

Meghan Markle’s claims that she not only experienced racism from the U.K. tabloids, but also that a member of the Royal Family asked about the colour of Archie’s skin has sent shockwaves around the world, but the palace remains silent. 2:43

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Calm prevails over anti-black racism protest in Washington, D.C., as demonstrations continue across U.S.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators amassed in Washington and other U.S. cities on Saturday demanding an end to racism and brutality by law enforcement, as protests sparked by George Floyd’s fatal encounter with Minneapolis police stretched into a 12th day.

A Lincoln Memorial rally and march to the White House marked the largest outpouring yet of protests nationwide since video footage emerged showing Floyd, an unarmed black man in handcuffs, lying face down and struggling to breathe as a white police officer knelt on his neck.

Demonstrators rallied on Saturday in numerous urban centres — among them New York, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston and Miami — as well as in small, rural communities across the country.

“It feels like I get to be a part of history and a part of the group of people who are trying to change the world for everyone,” said Jamilah Muahyman, a Washington resident at a demonstration near the White House.

One of the more surprising Black Lives Matter rallies was a gathering of 150 to 200 people in the east Texas town of Vidor, notorious for its long associations with the Ku Klux Klan.

Floyd’s May 25 death has sparked a storm of protests and civil strife in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, thrusting the highly charged debate over racial justice back to the forefront of the political agenda five months before the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election.

WATCH | CBC’s Katie Simpson reports from the newly renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza:

Protesters marched in the U.S. capital following the killing of George Floyd, massing near the newly renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza. 4:31

With the notable exception of Seattle, where police used flash-bang grenades in a confrontation with demonstrators in the city’s Capitol Hill district, Saturday’s protests on the whole took on a relaxed tone compared with those of recent days.

The week began with sporadic episodes of arson, looting and vandalism in several cities.

Police have at times resorted to heavy-handed tactics as they sought to enforce curfews in some cities, including New York and Washington, where baton-swinging officers in riot gear dispersed otherwise orderly crowds.

Those clashes have only galvanized the focus of the protests into a broader quest for reform of the criminal justice system and its treatment of ethnic minorities.

“I’m just hoping that we really get some change from what’s going on. People have been kneeling and protesting and begging for a long time, and enough is enough,” said Kartrina Fernandez, 42, a protester near the front of the White House.

“We can’t take much more.”

Demonstrators gather along the recently rename Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House as the sun sets in Washington, D.C., on Saturday. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

The intensity of protests over the past week began to ebb on Wednesday after prosecutors in Minneapolis had arrested all four police officers implicated in Floyd’s death. Derek Chauvin, the white officer seen pinning Floyd’s neck to the ground for nearly nine minutes as Floyd repeatedly groaned “I can’t breathe” was charged with second-degree murder.

Some of the largest rallies yet 

But Saturday marked some of the largest demonstrations over Floyd’s killing to date.

Crowds numbering in the tens of thousands converged on the nation’s capital, despite health risks posed by the coronavirus, though official estimates of the turnout were unavailable.

The rallies in Washington, as elsewhere, were notable for drawing racially mixed crowds.

“Especially as a white person, I benefit from the status quo, and so not showing up and actively working to deconstruct institutional racism makes me complicit,” said Michael Drummond, 40, a government employee, explaining his reason for taking part.

Earlier in the day, demonstrators gathered to protest the death of George Floyd at the Lincoln Memorial. (Alex Brandon/The Associated Press)

Hundreds of miles to the south, in Floyd’s birthplace of Raeford, N.C., hundreds lined up at a church to pay their respects during a public viewing of Floyd’s body prior to a private memorial service for family members.

Floyd’s funeral is scheduled for Tuesday in Houston, where he lived before relocating to the Minneapolis area.

In New York, a large crowd of protesters crossed the Brooklyn Bridge into lower Manhattan on Saturday afternoon, marching up a largely deserted Broadway. Thousands of others gathered in Harlem near the northwest corner of Central Park to march downtown, about 100 blocks, to the city’s Washington Square Park.

A hearse carrying the body of George Floyd arrives before a memorial at Cape Fear Conference B headquarters in Raeford, N.C., on Saturday. (Ed Clemente/Reuters)

In Philadelphia, demonstrators gathered on the steps of Philadelphia Art Museum steps chanting, “No justice, No peace.” Others marched along Benjamin Franklin Parkway, through John F. Kennedy Plaza, and around Philadelphia City Hall.

On the West Coast, protesters briefly blocked traffic on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge as motorists honked in solidarity.

Unrest goes global

Protests over racism and police violence have spread far beyond the U.S. 

Here at home, thousands rallies against racism in St John’s, Guelph, Ont., Toronto, Calgary, Fort McMurray, Alta., Whitehorse and other cities. 

WATCH | Thousands join Canadian protests against racism and police brutality:

The murder of George Floyd sparked protests against racism and police brutality across the United State. Thousands of Canadians have joined protests at home. 2:17

In the U.K., 14 police officers were injured in “shocking and completely unacceptable” assaults during anti-racism protests in central London on Saturday, London police chief Cressida Dick said on Sunday.

After a largely peaceful day, small numbers of protesters briefly clashed with mounted police on Saturday after thousands gathered to voice their anger at police brutality after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“I am deeply saddened and depressed that a minority of protesters became violent towards officers in central London yesterday evening. This led to 14 officers being injured,” Dick, who is Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, said in a statement.

In Hong Kong, dozens of people gathered in front of the U.S. Consulate on Sunday to protest the death of American George Floyd. .

The protesters, mainly international students and members of Hong Kong’s League of Social Democrats, a political advocacy group for human rights, stood in pouring rain holding photos of Floyd and signs that read “Black Lives Matter,” a movement against racial injustice that has gone global in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic since Floyd’s death on May 25.

Demonstrators gather at Washington Square Park in New York City on Saturday. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)

“It’s important get our message across to others around the world to remind them that even though we are far away, we are with them 100 per cent in spirit — black lives matter,” 28-year-old Quinland Anderson, who is British, said while holding a “BLM” banner.

In Australia, more than 20,000 people protested in Sydney and other cities on Saturday, in solidarity with U.S. anger over the death of a black man in police custody and calling for an end to similar deaths of Indigenous Australians.

Wearing black and braving a blistering sun, Jamaicans gathered on Saturday to lend support to global protests against police abuses sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month.

Several hundred people stood outside the U.S. Embassy in Kingston with signs and t-shirts reading “Black Lives Matter” and “Enough is Enough,” demanding justice for Floyd as well as Jamaicans who have died at the hands of security forces.

Party atmosphere

An almost festive atmosphere prevailed among protesters assembled at an outdoor strip newly rechristened Black Lives Matter Plaza — the phrase “Black Lives Matter” painted in large yellow letters on the pavement — a block from the White House.

It was near the spot where U.S. Park Police and military personnel cleared Lafayette Square of peaceful demonstrators with chemical spray and smoke grenades on Monday night, paving the way for President Donald Trump to walk from the White House through the park to a church to hold a bible aloft for cameras.

WATCH | What does it mean to defund police?:

Calls to defund the police have been growing as people protest police brutality in the U.S., Canada and around the world. Alex Vitale, author of The End of Policing, explains what defunding the police might look like. 7:40

On Saturday, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser, a vocal critic of Trump’s response to the protests this week, was spotted in the crowd while songs such as Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond and Alright by Kendrick Lamar blared from loudspeakers.

The demonstrators included families and people of all ages carrying signs with slogans such as “Fed up,” “All lives do not matter until black lives do,” and “My black son matters.”

Police officers were present but in smaller numbers than earlier in the week. They generally assumed a less aggressive posture, wearing patrol uniforms rather than body armour and helmets.

On Sunday, Trump said he’s given the order for National Guard troops to begin withdrawing from the nation’s capital, saying everything now is “under perfect control.”

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Pleas for calm as protests sweep U.S. over police killing of George Floyd

Another night of unrest across the United States left charred and shattered landscapes in dozens of cities Sunday as years of festering frustrations over the mistreatment of African Americans at the hands of police boiled over in expressions of rage met with tear gas and rubber bullets.

Cars and businesses were torched, the words “I can’t breathe” were spray-painted on buildings, a fire in a trash bin burned near the gates of the White House, and thousands marched peacefully through city streets to protest the death of George Floyd, a black man who died Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on his neck until he stopped breathing.

His death is one of a litany of racial tragedies that have thrown the country into chaos amid the coronavirus pandemic that has left millions out of work and killed more than 100,000 people in the U.S., including disproportionate numbers of black people.

“We’re sick of it. The cops are out of control,” protester Olga Hall said in Washington D.C. “They’re wild. There’s just been too many dead boys.”

People set fire to police cars, threw bottles at police officers and busted windows of storefronts, carrying away TVs and other items even as some protesters urged them to stop. In Indianapolis, police were investigating multiple shootings, including one that left a person dead amid the protests — adding to deaths in Detroit and Minneapolis in recent days.

WATCH | Dozens arrested in Minneapolis for curfew violations:

Dozens of protesters were arrested in Minneapolis as protests continue. Officials say police focused their efforts mostly only those violating the 8 p.m. curfew. 4:00

In Minneapolis, the city where the protests began, police, state troopers and National Guard members moved in soon after an 8 p.m. curfew took effect to break up protests, firing tear gas and rubber bullets to clear streets outside a police precinct and elsewhere.

WATCH | Protesters gather around White House Saturday night

CBC’s Katie Simpson reports from outside the White House, where protesters have gathered over the death of George Floyd 8:26

Photojournalist Tom Aviles was struck by a rubber bullet on Saturday night in Minneapolis while working for a local CBS-owned TV station.

Moments after he was hit, police forced Aviles onto the ground and took him into custody. He was later released.

A video posted to Twitter shows an armoured vehicle rolling down a residential street in Minneapolis’s Whittier neighbourhood on Saturday. National Guard soldiers are heard ordering people to remain inside.

At least 13 police officers were injured in Philadelphia when peaceful protests turned violent and at least four police vehicles were set on fire.

Protesters sprayed graffiti on a statue of former Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo, tried to topple it and set a fire at its base. Rizzo was Philadelphia’s mayor from 1972 to 1980 and was praised by supporters as tough on crime but accused by critics of discriminating against minorities.

People loot stores in Los Angeles on Saturday night during the unrest following the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd last Monday. (Kyle Grillot/Reuters)

In downtown Charleston, S.C., protesters damaged multiple businesses and defaced a Confederate statue overnight.

NYC police cruisers driven into crowd

In New York City, dangerous confrontations flared repeatedly as officers made arrests and cleared streets. A video taken in Brooklyn showed two NYPD cruisers lurching into a crowd of demonstrators who were pushing a barricade against one of them and pelting it with objects. Several people were knocked to the ground, and it was unclear if anyone was hurt.

“The mistakes that are happening are not mistakes. They’re repeated violent terrorist offences and people need to stop killing black people,” Brooklyn protester Meryl Makielski said.

There was pandemonium in Chicago on Saturday as demonstrators swarmed two city police officers and started dragging them on the ground. Some of the protesters came to the officers’ defence by forming a protective ring around them.

Few corners of America were untouched, from protesters setting fires inside Reno’s city hall, to police launching tear gas at rock-throwing demonstrators in Fargo, North Dakota. In Salt Lake City, demonstrators flipped a police car and lit it on fire. Police said six people were arrested and a police officer was injured after being struck in the head with a baseball bat.

More than 1,600 arrests

Police have arrested at least 1,669 people in 22 cities since Thursday, according to a tally by The Associated Press.

Nearly a third of those arrests came in Los Angeles, where the governor declared a state of emergency and ordered the National Guard to back up the city’s 10,000 police officers as dozens of fires burned across the city.

All COVID-19 testing centres throughout Los Angeles will be closed until further notified, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas said on Twitter, citing a “social breakdown prompted by excessive force” resulting in Floyd’s death.

A protester assists an elderly man inadvertently affected by tear gas during unrest in Raleigh, N.C. on Saturday. (Jonathan Drake/Reuters)

The damage in U.S. cities came as many Americans plan to return to in-person church services on Sunday for the first time in several weeks since the pandemic forced a ban on large gatherings. Pastors in pulpits across the country will likely be urging peace amid the rubble of riots.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a 9 p.m. curfew for the city Saturday evening and issued a statement, saying she had “total disgust” over the number of people who came to the protest “armed for all-out battle.”

Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin reacts after getting pepper sprayed by police during a protest over the death of George Floyd near the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus on Saturday. (Kyle Robertson/The Columbus Dispatch via The Associated Press)

U.S. President Donald Trump appeared to cheer on the tougher tactics Saturday night, commending the National Guard deployment in Minneapolis, declaring “No games!” and saying police in New York City “must be allowed to do their job!”

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden condemned the violence as he continued to express common cause with those demonstrating after Floyd’s death.

“The act of protesting should never be allowed to overshadow the reason we protest,” Biden said in a statement Saturday night.

Overnight curfews have been imposed in more than a dozen major cities nationwide, including Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, San Francisco and Seattle.

This week’s unrest recalled the riots in Los Angeles nearly 30 years ago after the acquittal of the white police officers who beat Rodney King, a black motorist who had led them on a high-speed chase. The protests of Floyd’s killing have gripped many more cities, but the losses in Minneapolis have yet to approach the staggering totals Los Angeles saw during five days of rioting in 1992, when more than 60 people died, 2,000-plus were injured and thousands arrested, with property damage topping $ 1 billion US.

Police used tear gas to disperse protesters in Kansas City, Mo., on Saturday night. (Reuters)

But not all protests were marred by violence. In Juneau, Alaska, local police joined protesters at a rally in front of a giant whale sculpture on the city’s waterfront.

“We don’t tolerate excessive use of force,” Juneau Police Chief Ed Mercer told a gathering where most people wore masks and some sang Alaska Native songs.

The show of force in Minneapolis came after three days when police largely avoided engaging protesters, and after the state poured in more than 4,000 National Guard troops to Minneapolis and said the number would soon rise to nearly 11,000.

“The situation in Minneapolis is no longer in any way about the murder of George Floyd,” said Gov. Tim Walz, who also said local forces had been overmatched the previous day. “It is about attacking civil society, instilling fear and disrupting our great cities.”

WATCH | Minneapolis police clear out protesters:

CBC’s Susan Ormiston talks about the moment police in Minneapolis cleared out peaceful protesters who were breaking curfew 5:47

Some residents were glad to see the upheaval dissipating.

“l live here. I haven’t been able to sleep,” said Iman Muhammad, whose neighborhood saw multiple fires set Friday night. Muhammad said she sympathized with peaceful protests over Floyd’s death but disagreed with the violence: “Wrong doesn’t answer wrong.”

Floyd’s body will return to Houston

The mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner, says Floyd’s body will be returning to Houston, Tex., where he grew up in the city’s Third Ward, one of its predominantly black neighbourhoods. Floyd was a Houston native before moving to Minnesota.

WATCH | Violence at demonstrations reflects societal violence against black people, says protester:

Zae Sellers is one of the demonstrators who’s taken to Minneapolis streets following the killing of George Floyd. She says while it’s wrong for protesters to “tear down” their own community, the recent protest violence is a reflection of violence against black people. 7:03

At 6 feet, 6 inches, Floyd emerged as a star tight end for Jack Yates High School and played in the 1992 state championship game in the Houston Astrodome. Yates lost to Temple, 38-20.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey appealed for calm again on Saturday night, as did Melvin Carter, the mayor of nearby Saint Paul.

People attend a protest against the death of George Floyd in Atlanta on Saturday. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

The outrage over Floyd’s death needs to be turned into action to ensure something like that never happens again, Carter said.

He said telling the world that those responsible must be held accountable is what’s important, but “events of this week have distracted us, have sought to exploit the death of Mr. Floyd for the purposes of further destroying the communities that have been most traumatized by his death.”

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Essentials for Staying Indoors — How to Keep Things Clean So You Can Stay Calm

Essentials for Staying Indoors — How to Stay Calm and Keep Things Clean | Entertainment Tonight

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Uneasy calm in India-run Kashmir on Islamic festival day

An uneasy calm prevailed in Indian-administered Kashmir on Monday as people celebrated a major Islamic festival during a severe crackdown after India moved to strip the disputed region of its constitutional autonomy and imposed an indefinite curfew.

All communications and the internet remained cut off for an eighth day. News reports said that streets were deserted, with authorities not allowing any large congregations to avoid anti-India protests.

A tweet by Kashmir police said that Eid festival prayers “concluded peacefully in various parts of the [Kashmir] Valley. No untoward incident reported so far.” It was not immediately possible to independently confirm the claim.

India’s foreign ministry shared photos of people visiting mosques, but a spokesperson wasn’t able to specify where the photos were taken within Jammu and Kashmir, which New Delhi downgraded from a state to two federal territories a week ago.

Shahid Choudhary, a government administrator in Srinagar, the region’s main city, tweeted late Sunday that he held a meeting with religious leaders for prayer arrangements.

Indian news channels did not show any video of street life in the region on Monday morning. In previous days, the channels had been broadcasting live video of the movement of people, cars and other vehicles in India-run Kashmir, raising hopes of a further easing of curfew restrictions on Monday for Eid celebrations.

Communications and the internet remained cut off for an eighth day in India-run Kashmir after India moved to strip the disputed region of its constitutional autonomy and imposed an indefinite curfew. (Jaipal Singh/EPA-EFE)

The security lockdown appears to be aimed at avoiding a backlash in India’s only Muslim-majority region, where most people oppose Indian rule, and is expected to last through Thursday, India’s independence day.

The restrictions had been briefly eased last week for residents to attend mosques for Friday prayers, and people also were allowed to shop on Saturday and Sunday ahead of the Eid festival.

Pakistani officials visit region, voice support for people

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and opposition leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari expressed support for people in Indian-controlled Kashmir to have the right of self-determination. Both visited Pakistani-administered Kashmir on the occasion of Eid festival.

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over control of Kashmir, and the first one ended in 1948 with a promise of a United Nations-sponsored referendum in the territory. It has never been held.

Qureshi urged the international community to take notice of “Indian atrocities and human rights violations in Kashmir.” He said that Islamabad was trying its best to highlight the Kashmir issue internationally and expose Indian “cruelties” in the region.

Junior Home Minister G. Kishan Reddy said Sunday that he expected the situation in Kashmir to become “fully peaceful” in about two weeks.

Thousands of additional troops were sent to the disputed Himalayan region before India’s Hindu nationalist-led government said last Monday that it was revoking Kashmir’s special constitutional status and downgrading its statehood.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in an address to the nation that the move would free the territory of “terrorism and separatism” and accused India’s archrival Pakistan of fomenting unrest.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan but claimed in full by both. Rebels have been fighting Indian rule in the portion it administers for decades.

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‘Stay calm and leave the area,’ Hong Kong urges as thousands defy march ban, police fire tear gas

Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets while protesters hurled rocks during clashes in a rural Hong Kong town on Saturday, as several thousand activists gathered to protest an attack by suspected triad gang members at a train station last weekend.

Protesters wearing black streamed through Yuen Long, even though police refused to grant permission for the march, citing risks of confrontations between demonstrators and local residents.

For the protesters, it was a show of defiance against the white-clad assailants said to have beaten dozens of people last Sunday night, including some demonstrators heading home after the latest mass protest in the summer-long pro-democracy movement.

Police said some of the attackers at the train station were connected to triad gangs and others were villagers who live in the area.

The streets of Yuen Long became a sea of umbrellas as the march began Saturday afternoon. A symbol going back to the Occupy Central protests that shook Hong Kong in 2014, umbrellas have become tools to help protesters conceal their identities from police cameras as well as shields against tear gas and pepper spray. Some also wore masks to obscure their faces.

“Hong Kong police know the law and break the law,” protesters chanted as they made their way through the streets.

Max Chung Kin-ping, one of the rally’s organizers, said there were 288,000 participants. The police had yet to release their turnout figure, which is generally lower than organizers’ estimates.

Protesters built barricades out of street furniture and umbrellas, creating multiple standoffs during which rocks and bottles were thrown.

Police, widely criticized for failing to better protect the public from last weekend’s attack, responded with tear gas as 
they pushed activists into retreat as it grew dark.

“Many people want to go but some will stay. There is still a lot of anger. I’m not sure which way it will go. Nam Pin Wai [village] could be a target,” said a man going by Kenneth, 27, as he retreated from one of the front lines.

Less than three hours after the start of the march Saturday, police fired tear gas to try to disperse the crowd.

The government issued a statement at around the same time, warning police would move in to break up the demonstration.

The statement said some protesters were “holding iron poles, self-made shields and even removing fences from roads,” and some had surrounded and vandalized a police vehicle with officers inside.

‘Stop charging or we use force’: police

 As the demonstration rolled into the evening, officers in riot gear faced off with protesters using wooden sheets as shields.

Live footage from broadcaster RTHK showed protesters on one street forcing back riot police by throwing umbrellas and waving rods at them. On another street, officers repeatedly raised warnings and fired tear gas at masked demonstrators who were standing their ground.

Soon afterward, many of the protesters dispersed, but others stayed put. A group of officers appeared with batons and held up banners that read, “Stop charging or we use force.” At least one woman was knocked down when police used the rods.

Later in the evening, protesters encircled a smashed-up black car. The windows of the car were shattered and its body was covered with posters denouncing the police. It was not immediately clear who owns the vehicle or who destroyed it.

Trains halt usual stops

Last Sunday, about 100 white-shirted men stormed the Yuen Long mass-transit station hours after protesters marched through central Hong Kong, and defaced China’s Liaison Office — the main symbol of Beijing’s authority over the former British colony.

On Saturday, the city’s public transit network announced its trains would not be making their usual stops in Yuen Long. Several area businesses and public facilities were closed in anticipation of the march. Service at a nursing centre was temporarily suspended and sports venues shut down early.

Hong Kong’s government issued a statement after the march began that said police were “concerned about possible deterioration of the situation.

“Police appeal to members of the public to stay calm and leave the area as soon as possible as a chaotic scene may ensue within a short period of time,” the statement said.

A few hours before the start of the march, a man was arrested in Yuen Long for injuring someone with a knife, police said.

Massive demonstrations began in Hong Kong early last month against an extradition bill that would have allowed suspects to face trial in mainland China, where critics say their rights would be compromised. The bill was eventually suspended, but protesters’ demands have grown to include direct elections, the dissolution of the current legislature and an investigation into alleged police brutality in the Chinese territory.

The streets of Yuen Long became a sea of umbrellas, tools to help protesters conceal their identities from police cameras as well as shields against tear gas and pepper spray. (The Associated Press)

Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997 under the framework of “one country, two systems.” The arrangement promises the city certain democratic freedoms that are not afforded mainland citizens, but some residents say these liberties have been steadily eroded in recent years after the arrests of booksellers and democracy activists. 

A distrust of China’s Communist Party-led central government in Beijing has undergirded the protests this summer. After last Sunday’s march, a group of protesters vandalized Hong Kong’s Liaison Office, which represents the mainland government. They spray painted the building’s surveillance cameras, and threw eggs and black ink at the Chinese national emblem, an act Beijing has vehemently condemned.

In response to the police’s objection to Saturday’s march in Yuen Long, protesters have cheekily labelled the procession a “shopping trip,” as well as a memorial service for former Chinese premier Li Peng, who died on Monday. Li was a hard-liner best known for announcing martial law during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests that ended in bloodshed.

Some Yuen Long residents stood outside Saturday with signs warning protesters not to enter. For their part, demonstrators pasted calls for democracy on sticky notes around the area.

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Canadians calm, Sinclair focused on eve of World Cup opener against Cameroon

A relaxed Canadian team trained in the sunny south of France on Saturday, showing no signs of nerves ahead of Monday’s Women’s World Cup opener against Cameroon.

But peel away the can-can dance moves and pre-practice playlist that included Bad Bunny, DJ Snake, Daddy Yankee and Travis Scott and the fifth-ranked Canadian team is all business.

Asked what she was hearing from back home, on the eve of her fifth World Cup, captain Christine Sinclair said she has shut down her social media.

“I’ve actually deleted it from my phone. So you guys are it,” she told a handful of Canadian reporters after practice at a secluded training ground in a charming town outside of Montpellier.

Balanced attack

Coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller says when it comes to emotion, balance is all-important for the team.

“Because they need to be excited,” he explained. “This happens every four years so if you’re not excited, there’s something’s wrong. But then also making sure that this is an energy we need to keep hopefully for a long period of time. And not coming into this match like tense, but definitely excited.

“And that’s a balance we need to find. We have some players who have (done it) numerous times so they know and they speak to some of the less experienced players once in a while, so I am not doing a lot. The players are doing more than I am.”

But the stylish 48-year-old Dane acknowledges that the time for talking is over.

“I think it is. Let’s make this happen. We’re ready. We haven’t been more ready that we are.”

Defender Kadeisha Buchanan, who won the Hyundai Young Player Award at the 2015 tournament, echoes that thought.

“We all can’t wait. It’s been a long lead-in to the World Cup so we’re just excited to start playing games,” said Buchanan, who at 23 already has 88 caps.

After watching France blank South Korea 4-0 in the tournament opener Friday night, Sinclair said the Canadians “are all ready to do our part.”

Heiner-Moller returns to Women’s World Cup

For Heiner-Moller, it’s a return to the tournament as a head coach. Moeller, an assistant under former coach John Herdman, led his native Denmark to the 2007 tournament in China.

He’s working through his own emotions this time.

“You know what, I’m relaxed and calm. But I just want to get started … It’s been such a long lead-in. Ever since we qualified against Panama (Canada won 7-0 in the CONCACAF Women’s Championship semifinals last October to book its ticket to France), I’ve been looking forward to this. Hopefully I’m going to enjoy every single step of it.

“So excited? Yes. Nervous? No. I just want it to get going.”

Canada lost 2-0 to the top-ranked Americans in the CONCACAF Championship game but has not been beaten since, posting a 5-0-3 record while outscoring its opposition 8-1.

The loss to the U.S. is the lone blemish on Canada’s record in its last 14 games (10-1-3) — a stretch dating back to last September that features nine World Cup opponents (the U.S., No. 3 England, No. 9 Sweden, No. 10 Brazil, No. 12 Norway, No. 13 Spain, No. 20 Scotland, No. 38 Nigeria and No. 53 Jamaica).

Over that stretch, the Canadian women have conceded just four goals while scoring 33 — although 19 of those came in lopsided wins over Cuba and Panama.

No wonder Heiner-Moller likes his defence.

“That’s definitely the all-right,” he said. “But we need to put more (goals) in though and we’re looking to doing that and we’re working on that. I think we’re looking sharper than we have in a long time in the last third (of the field).”

Asked if Sinclair, who turns 36 on Wednesday, is up to playing three group games in 10 days, Heiner-Moller talked up his skipper’s physical condition.

“She’s potentially the fittest you’ve ever seen her,” he said. “So I wouldn’t be concerned about that.”

Sinclair chasing history

At 181 career goals, Sinclair is just three back of retired American Abby Wambach’s world record of 184.

Cameroon, ranked No 46, is somewhat of a mystery. Heiner-Moller says the African team has speed up front and skill in the midfield.

“We need to find a way to deal with that,” he said. “I think the most important thing for us is making sure that we don’t look at the world ranking. If you’re an African team, you play maybe two matches per year and that’s it. So you can’t take anything out of that. But if you look at where they’re playing (their club soccer), they’re playing in some of the better leagues in the world. So they’ve got quality players, for sure.”

The two teams have never met.

Fullback Allysha Chapman worked out on her own during part of the practice open to the media Saturday. Heiner-Moller downplayed it.

“Coming into the first match, we need everyone to be fully ready. So we need to take care of some of the players. But 23 (players) are ready to start.”

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Kim Kardashian Says Her Newborn Son Is ‘the Most Calm and Chill’ of Her Children

Kim Kardashian Says Her Newborn Son Is ‘the Most Calm and Chill’ of Her Children | Entertainment Tonight

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‘You’re the voice in a very dark night’: Training helps RCMP’s 911 staff stay calm

The calls come in at every hour of the day or night, dialed by someone who needs help or support and answered by someone who is trained to remain calm, get details and assess the situation.

And when things get hectic, the 911 and dispatch operators at Alberta’s two RCMP operational communication centres turn to each other for support, said telecommunications operator Kathleen Perron. 

“Operators take a lot of verbal abuse in their calls. Everyone is at their most stressful when they call 911, it’s never something pleasant,” she said. 

“We rely on each other to be strong for each other when we answer those calls.”

Alberta’s operators received 910,217 calls for service in 2018.

About 200,000 of those calls were from people who dialed 911, while the remainder came from the 136 detachments and agencies — including Alberta Sheriffs and various municipal and Indigenous police agencies — that rely on the operational communications centres for support while they’re in the field. 

Kathleen Perron is an operator in the RCMP’s Northern Alberta Operational Communications Centre, located in Edmonton. A centre in Red Deer handles calls for southern Alberta. (Trevor Wilson/CBC)

The Edmonton centre answers calls for northern Alberta, while the centre in Red Deer handles dispatch for the south. Calgary and Edmonton police have their own call centres. 

“You’re the voice in a very dark night for somebody, whether it’s a police officer — because they depend on us to assist them if ever they’re dealing with a high-stress environment — or high-stress calls for the public.”

Operators are trained to stay calm while trying to obtain as much information as possible from the caller.

As much as possible, the training reflects real-world scenarios, Perron said. 

“We have done regular training sessions where we practice active shooter situations. Some are involved with the members to practice if there’s ever a high-stress situation, because we need to be as prepared as possible.”

RCMP 911 operators are being recognized for their commitment and dedication to their jobs 1:32

The Fort McMurray fire of May 2016 was the ultimate test for the operational communication centre in Edmonton.

Operators were supporting evacuees and RCMP officers impacted by the fire, while also taking 911 calls for the rest of northern Alberta, said Perron.

“There were cots set up outside and people were sleeping between shifts, just to get any amount of sleep possible, to be able to help those people that were in need.”

An operator’s work is intense but rewarding, said Perron. 

“I come home at the end of the day, and as tired as I might be, I know that somebody on the other side of the line, their day was essentially made better,” she said. 

“I might have saved somebody’s life and that’s pretty special.”

RCMP officers were supported by the staff in Edmonton’s Operational Communications Centre during the 2016 Fort McMurray fire. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press)

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Keep calm and Carey on: Chelsea Carey has perfect start at Scotties after 'tough' season

SYDNEY, N.S. — What a difference a year has made in the life of Chelsea Carey.

Flashback to the Scotties in Penticton, B.C., last February. Carey was trying to do everything she could to salvage the curling season after some devastating losses.

The first came at the Olympic Trials in Ottawa. Carey finished the round robin undefeated and earned a spot in the final, only to miss a double takeout with her last rock to give Rachel Homan the win. She was that close to wearing the Maple Leaf in Pyeongchang.

Then Carey and Colin Hodgson were bounced from the playoffs at the first ever mixed doubles Olympic trials — just a few wins away from once again representing Canada at the Winter Games.

The last dagger came during the wild-card game at last year's Scotties. After losing in the Alberta playdowns, Carey had one last chance to make it into the Canadian women's championship — but she would go on to lose that game too, a 7-4 defeat to Kerri Einarson.

WATCH | Carey, Alberta win in 11th end to stay perfect at Scotties:

Chelsea Carey's hit and stick in the 11th end sealed a 9-8 win over Team B.C. in Draw 7 at the 2018 Scotties Tournament of Hearts. 0:26

The season couldn't end soon enough for Carey.

"It was tough," said Carey. "It was not a fun time in my life and I'm sure in my teammate's lives, getting so close to those things and then being on the outside looking in at it all was pretty bad."

Carey couldn't wait for both the Scotties and Olympics to end one year ago. Every game was a constant reminder of how close she came to being there, only to be watching it on TV from her couch.

"Once it was all over I was OK. I just couldn't wait for the Scotties to end. I wanted the Olympics and the Scotties to be over so I could stop thinking about it," she said.

Chelsea Carey, seen above, was on the verge of representing Canada at the 2018 Olympics until she missed a double takeout with her last rock to give Rachel Homan the win at the Roar of the Rings Canadian Olympic Trials in Ottawa in December 2017. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

After last season ended, Carey's team split up. It was a long, arduous summer for the skip.

"It was a challenge but it is what it is," she said. "I didn't have much desire to throw rocks in the summer this year. But I was alive and breathing and a lot worse things could happen."

Finding the fire again

It wasn't long after a summer of discontent that Carey was able to get fired up again for the sport she loves so much. She formed a new team with Sarah Wilkes, Dana Ferguson and Rachelle Brown.

The new foursome would earn the right to represent Alberta at this year's Scotties.

So far, Carey and company are on a roll. They've won their first four games of the national championship and seem to be playing with a high level of confidence.

"It's nice to be back," Carey said. "It took me so many years of watching it on TV to finally get to one. Then you get spoiled when you go to a few in a short period of time."

Carey's team is tied with Homan's rink atop the Pool A standings with 4-0 records. The two teams meet in an Olympic trials final rematch on Tuesday night at Centre 200 in Sydney.

Despite some difficult losses over the last season, it wasn't all that long ago that Carey knew the sweet taste of victory. In 2016, she won the Scotties title in Grande Prairie, Alta. Now she wants to find that winning touch again and put the last year behind her.

"It's nice to be playing in it this year and on the other side of it," she said. "That's sports. That's the nature of it and it sucks. But it's what we sign up for."

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