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Updated: 56 min 49 sec ago

Three parties locked in tight race in Prince Edward Island election.

4 hours 56 min ago
CHARLOTTETOWN - As the early returns rolled in, three of Prince Edward Island’s political parties - including the upstart Greens - were locked in a tight race following a campaign that has the potential to make history. Half an hour after the polls closed, the Liberals were leading or elected in five ridings, the Progressive Conservatives were at four and the Green party at two. The Greens had led in opinion polls since August, which means they could be poised to upend a two-party system that has held fast for more than 100 years. Led by Scottish-born dentist Peter Bevan-Baker, the Green’s rise in popularity generated a national buzz during an otherwise lacklustre campaign. However, the race was too close to call by the close of the campaign. That means the Island could soon be led by a minority government, something that hasn’t happened since 1890 when the Liberals and the Tories tied at 15. During the campaign, Bevan-Baker tried to persuade Islanders that the Greens care about more than just the environment, offering a platform that focused on a range of social issues. The Liberals, under Premier Wade MacLauchlan, are trying to secure a fourth term in office, having repeatedly reminded Islanders that the province’s economy remains the strongest in the country. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say P.E.I. is on a tear, posting impressive numbers for higher wages, employment, immigration, housing starts, exports, retail sales and tourism. However, voters appeared reluctant to give MacLauchlan credit for boosting the economy, a sentiment that was reflected in his relatively low personal popularity ratings. The Progressive Conservatives have had no fewer than six leaders in the past eight years, including former political staffer and consultant Dennis King, who was elected to lead the party only two months ago. Still, the Tories enjoyed a boost in the polls last month, leaving them in a virtual dead heat with the Greens and Liberals as the campaign ended. As for the Island’s New Democrats, led by 57-year-old Joe Byrne, their poll numbers have remained in single digits for the past year. When the legislature was dissolved, the Liberals held 16 seats in the 27-seat legislature, the Tories had eight and the Green party had two seats. There was one Independent. A total of 14 seats are needed for a majority, but only 26 of the 27 seats will be contested. On Saturday, Elections P.E.I. postponed the vote in the district of Charlottetown-Hillsborough Park following the deaths of Green party candidate, Josh Underhay, and his young son in a boating mishap on the Hillsborough River. A byelection will be held in the riding within the next three months. Aside from the election outcome, voters will also learn the results of a binding referendum on electoral reform, which will determine if Islanders want to keep the first-past-the-post system or change to a mixed member proportional representation model. Kevin Bissett and Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press

Strong earthquake hits remote mountain region in India

5 hours 6 min ago
American seismologists say a magnitude 5.9 earthquake shook a remote part of India near the border with China early Wednesday, in a mountainous region that has experienced huge quakes in the past. U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Gavin Hayes said the area in India’s northeastern-most state, Arunachal Pradesh, is sparsely populated so not many casualties or much damage was expected. There were no immediate reports of either. The USGS said there’s a 56% chance that damage will be between 1 and $100 million dollars. The shallow earthquake was 33 kilometres (20 miles) north of Along, India. Hayes says this area of the Himalayan frontal thrust has had some large quakes in the distant past, making experts more alert to the possibility that a bigger one might be next. However, he says most earthquakes are not followed by larger ones. The Associated Press

Ethics commissioner opens probe into Quebec Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon

5 hours 10 min ago
MONTREAL - Quebec’s ethics commissioner has announced she is opening an investigation into Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon regarding assets he allegedly holds in private companies. The investigation is to look into whether the minister broke conflict of interest rules and whether he properly declared those assets, commissioner Ariane Mignolet said Tuesday in a release. Mignolet said she is opening the probe on her own initiative. The commissioner added, however, that two separate complaints filed with her office last week by opposition parties regarding Fitzgibbon will also be part of her investigation. Quebec solidaire’s Vincent Marissal filed a complaint asking Mignolet to investigate Fitzgibbon’s nomination of Guy Leblanc as president and CEO of Investissement Quebec, the agency that helps finance businesses across the province. Marissal alleges in his complaint that Fitzgibbon has personal and professional ties with Leblanc. His complaint also claims Fitzgibbon had given instructions to a trust to sell shares he allegedly owned in a company. The commissioner added she received a second complaint from the Parti Quebecois’ Martin Ouellet, who also requested she investigate Fitzgibbon’s alleged decision to sell “financial assets” in the same private company. Mignolet said the questions raised by the two members “are connected” and they “will be treated as part of the investigation the commissioner opened on her own initiative.” A spokesman from Fitzgibbon’s office did not return a request for comment. The Canadian Press

Toronto Arrows named Major League Rugby team of the week after win over Houston

5 hours 10 min ago
TORONTO - The Toronto Arrows are Major League Rugby’s team of the week after a bonus-point win over the visiting Houston SaberCats. Toronto led 21-0, before Houston answered with three tries of its own. Arrows lock Mike Sheppard secured the four-try bonus point in the 58th minute and substitute Kainoa Lloyd scored an insurance try as the clock wound down.  Jasa Veremalua of the San Diego Legion, who won rugby sevens gold with Fiji at the 2016 Rio Olympics, was named MLR player of the week after scoring a try in the 46-15 win over Glendale. Veremalua ran for 100 metres with the ball in hand and made 13 tackles. Fellow Canadians Eric Howard (NOLA Gold) and Nakai Penny (Seattle) joined Toronto’s Guiseppe Du Toit and Sheppard in MLR’s First XV of Week 13. The Canadian Press

Cut off by water, Quebec island residents determined to stay in their homes

5 hours 16 min ago
MONTREAL - Although the only bridge to Montreal is cut off by water and hip waders are the only way to navigate the streets of his town, Ile Mercier resident David Dostie has no intention of leaving the home where’s he’s lived for almost 60 years. “I decided to work all my life for that house, I’m not going to leave - never,” Dostie said Tuesday. “If I leave the house, the government’s not going to pay (us). We have to keep the house, so we have to stay here.” Dostie’s attitude is a common one on Ile Mercier, a tight-knit island community of about 50 homes just off Montreal’s West Island. Residents have banded together since public security officials closed the only bridge linking the island to the city on Monday, after warm temperatures and melting snow caused the Prairies River to swell and submerge the structure in fast-rushing water. Dostie relaxed under a makeshift tent, eating lunch that had been carried across the bridge in the bucket of a heavy vehicle, the only kind able to pass. While the water ran knee-deep down the street, he said his home was dry and he wouldn’t leave unless the water breached the sandbag wall protecting it. “We got boats, we got gas pumps, we’ve got generators, so we’re OK,” he said. Next to him, fellow resident David Cauchon appeared equally at ease. Cauchon lost his home in the record-breaking flood of 2017, but is confident his new one can withstand the rising water. “If I don’t have water in the house, I don’t have a problem,” he said. The foundations of many of the island’s homes were piled high with sandbags, while humming pumps shot graceful arcs of water into the flooded streets. Much of the credit for that preparation goes to Olivier Ishii-Landry, a flood-prevention specialist who lives on the island and who installed many of the pumps. He was in constant motion as he used a small power boat to carry generators, check pumps, and ferry journalists and residents to and from the island. He said many residents have fully rebuilt their homes since 2017, and have installed waterproof foundations and better groundwater management systems. “We have the logistics in place to deal with it much better,” he said. “Our island looked like a war zone a full week before the mainland even got the news something was about to happen.” Pier-Luc Cauchon, a resident who has become the island’s unofficial leader, spent the day organizing docks and boat owners to ferry residents to and from the island next door. He estimates that at least 26 of the island’s 50 or so households are staying put, and most others are going back and forth. In addition to conferring with police and officials, he organized a team of volunteers to knock on the door of every resident every four hours to make sure they had enough food and water. “We make lists of needs, we see if anyone wants to evacuate, things like that, but so far everyone is confident and everyone wants to stay,” he said. Elsewhere in the province, the number of homes that were flooded declined slightly on Tuesday, from 3,100 to 2,800 at 1 p.m. Urgence Quebec said more than 1,400 people had been forced from their homes across the province and some 2,100 properties remain isolated because of washed out roads or landslides. Authorities said they expected water levels to peak by Wednesday. But flooding risks remain high across southern Quebec, particularly the corridor between the Outaouais area west of Montreal and the Beauce region south of Quebec City. Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault visited Sainte-Marie, Que., in the Beauce area, and met with several mayors of towns affected by the overflowing Chaudiere River. Several hundred people left their homes in that town and nearly 1,000 residences and commercial buildings were flooded. Last week, Beauceville, just down river, saw its downtown core overrun with water, hitting 230 homes and businesses. About 350 kilometres west of Sainte-Marie, right by the boundary with Ontario, Rigaud fire chief Daniel Boyer said the rain over the next few days could be telling. “I think it’ll get a little worse,” Boyer said.  He said experts, however, no longer believe the water will rise to historic 2017 levels. “Is it going to get worse? I hope not, but our job is to get ready for the worst.” Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press

All eyes on the Green party as polls close after tight P.E.I. election campaign

5 hours 23 min ago
CHARLOTTETOWN - Voters in Prince Edward Island have cast their ballots in an election that saw a once-obscure third party - the Greens - rise in the polls to potentially challenge a two-party system that has held fast for more than a century. Led by Scottish-born dentist Peter Bevan-Baker, the Green party has led in opinion polls since August, generating a national buzz during an otherwise lacklustre campaign. However, the race was too close to call by the close of the campaign when the margin of error was factored in.  That means the Island could soon be led by a minority government, something that hasn’t happened since 1890. During the campaign, Bevan-Baker tried to persuade Islanders that the Greens care about more than just the environment, offering a platform that focused on a range of social issues. The Liberals, under Premier Wade MacLauchlan, are trying to secure a fourth term in office, having repeatedly reminded Islanders that the province’s economy remains the strongest in the country. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say P.E.I. is on a tear, posting impressive numbers for higher wages, employment, immigration, housing starts, exports, retail sales and tourism. However, voters appeared reluctant to give MacLauchlan credit for boosting the economy, a sentiment that was reflected in his relatively low personal popularity ratings. The Progressive Conservatives have had no fewer than six leaders in the past eight years, including former political staffer and consultant Dennis King, who was elected to lead the party only two months ago. Still, the Tories enjoyed a boost in the polls last month, leaving them in a virtual dead heat with the Greens and Liberals as the campaign ended. As for the Island’s New Democrats, led by 57-year-old Joe Byrne, their poll numbers have remained in single digits for the past year. When the legislature was dissolved, the Liberals held 16 seats in the 27-seat legislature, the Tories had eight and the Green party had two seats. There was one Independent. A total of 14 seats are needed for a majority, but only 26 of the 27 seats will be contested. On Saturday, Elections P.E.I. postponed the vote in the district of Charlottetown-Hillsborough Park following the deaths of Green party candidate, Josh Underhay, and his young son in a boating mishap on the Hillsborough River. A byelection will be held in the riding within the next three months. Aside from the election outcome, voters will also learn the results of a binding referendum on electoral reform, which will determine if Islanders want to keep the first-past-the-post system or change to a mixed member proportional representation model. Kevin Bissett and Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press

United Airlines agent charged after racial slur accusation

5 hours 26 min ago
HOUSTON - A United Airlines airport agent is accused of using a racial slur against a customer and faces a misdemeanour charge of disorderly conduct. The charge against Carmella Davano was filed in municipal court in Houston last month after a Feb. 26 incident at Bush Intercontinental Airport. United says Davano has been removed from working while the airline investigates the incident. Houston Police spokesman Victor Senties said Tuesday that passenger Cacilie Hughes, who is black, and two witnesses told officers that the agent called her a monkey. Hughes told police that after her plane arrived in Houston, she walked on the tarmac to see if workers were unloading bags, and Davano yelled at her to return inside the terminal. Hughes said the confrontation occurred after she asked Davano for a supervisor so she could discuss other issues about the flight. Senties said officers issued a citation against Davano. The charge is punishable by a fine of up to $500. A jury trial is scheduled for June 3. The Associated Press was unable to reach Davano, and both police and United Airlines said they did not know if she has a lawyer. United Airlines spokesman Jonathan Guerin said Davano has been removed from duty since the incident while the matter is investigated. Guerin said that when the investigation is over, United will take appropriate action “up to and including termination.” Guerin said United has “zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind.” The New York Times identified Hughes as an actress and co-founder of a non-profit group, the Big Sister Little Sister Mentoring Program group. She told the newspaper she was returning home to Houston from a speaking engagement in Michigan when the airport encounter occurred. In 2017, after an American Airlines pilot ordered activist Tamika Mallory off a plane, the NAACP issued an advisory warning African Americans that they could face bias or even safety concerns on the airline. The civil rights group lifted the advisory last year after American made several changes including training employees against implicit bias. The Associated Press

Strong earthquake hits remote mountain region in India

5 hours 26 min ago
American seismologists say a magnitude 5.9 earthquake shook a remote part of India near the border with China early Wednesday, in a mountainous region that has experienced huge quakes in the past. U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Gavin Hayes said the area in India’s northeastern-most state, Arunachal Pradesh, is sparsely populated so not many casualties or much damage was expected. There were no immediate reports of either. The USGS said there’s a 56% chance that damage will be between 1 and $100 million dollars. The shallow earthquake was 33 kilometres (20 miles) north of Along, India. Hayes says this area of the Himalayan frontal thrust has had some large quakes in the distant past, making experts more alert to the possibility that a bigger might be next. However, he says most earthquakes are not followed by larger ones. The Associated Press

Kohl’s wants more of your Amazon returns

5 hours 27 min ago
NEW YORK - Kohl’s wants you to skip the post office and bring your Amazon returns to its stores. The department store chain said Tuesday that it will accept Amazon returns at all its 1,150 stores starting in July, expanding its nearly two-year test of the service from 100 stores. Kohl’s sees the partnership with Amazon as a way to get people in its doors and maybe get them to buy something while they’re there. As for Amazon, it makes returns easier for its shoppers, who can drop off items at the stores without needing to pack it up in a box. Shares of Kohl’s Corp. soared nearly 12% after the announcement Tuesday. It may seem like an unusual tie-up, but more physical retailers have been working with Amazon in the hopes that they can reach the online shopping giant’s millions of shoppers. Sears, for example, started selling its Kenmore-branded appliances on Amazon.com. And some clothing and shoe brands, such as Chico’s, J. Crew and Nike, have announced deals to sell some of their fashion on Amazon. Kohl’s and Amazon have been working together since 2017, when Kohl’s started selling Amazon Kindles, Echos and other gadgets at some of its stores. To boost sales, Kohl’s has also been shrinking its stores and renting or selling space to gym operator Planet Fitness and low-priced grocer Aldi, hoping that people working out or picking up bread will also make a stop at Kohl’s. There are signs the strategy is working: sales at established Kohl’s stores rose 1% during the holiday shopping period. Analysts at Citi Research said the deal with Amazon is a “positive” one for Kohl’s, and likened the department store to a fish: “Better to be swimming alongside than in front of the shark,” the analysts said in a note Tuesday. Kohl’s said it won’t charge customers for their Amazon returns, even if it has to pack items in boxes. As part of the deal, Kohl’s is also giving Amazon the option to buy nearly 1.75 million of its shares over the next seven years at $69.68 a share, according to a government filing. That’s an 8% discount from Kohl’s Corp.’s closing stock price of $75.48 on Tuesday. ____ Contact Joseph Pisani at http://twitter.com/josephpisani Joseph Pisani, The Associated Press

Ex-GE engineer charged with stealing trade secrets for China

5 hours 28 min ago
ALBANY, N.Y. - A former General Electric engineer and his business partner in China were indicted Tuesday on charges they stole the company’s trade secrets from a New York plant for the Chinese government in what federal prosecutors called “a textbook example” of industrial espionage. The Department of Justice announced that Xiaoqing Zheng, 56, of Niskayuna, New York, and Zhaoxi Zhang, 47, of Liaoning Province, China, were charged with economic espionage and conspiracy for stealing GE’s turbine technologies for China. Zheng was working for Boston-based GE’s power division in Schenectady when he was arrested at his home last summer. FBI agents raided his suburban home and removed computers, cash and other items. Zhang, the business partner, wasn’t charged at the time. Prosecutors allege that Zheng stole computer files dealing with GE’s gas and steam turbines and sent them to Zhang, who’s in China. The thefts are “a textbook example of the Chinese government’s strategy to rob American companies of their intellectual property and to replicate their products in Chinese factories,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers. GE said at the time of Zheng’s arrest that it was co-operating with the investigation. Zheng was arraigned in federal court in Albany on Tuesday and allowed to remain free on the $200,000 bond he posted after his arrest on Aug. 1, 2018. His lawyer, Kevin Luibrand, said he wasn’t commenting on the charges. According to the 14-count indictment, Zheng specialized in sealing technology at GE and used his access to company files to grab proprietary information and email it to Zhang, who is Zheng’s nephew. The two men received financial support from the Chinese government and co-ordinated with government officials to enter into research agreements with Chinese state-owned institutions to develop turbine technologies, prosecutors said. “When such technology is stolen it can be devastating to U.S. businesses and can result in American workers losing jobs,” said FBI Assistant Director John Brown. “China continues to support behaviour that violates the rule of law.” An email seeking comment on the indictment was sent to the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C. President Donald Trump has accused China of using predatory tactics to try to overtake U.S. technological dominance in various industries. Chinese officials have rejected the allegations while complaining that Washington’s aim is to cripple a rising economic competitor. In October, the Justice Department charged an operative of China’s Ministry of State Security with attempting to steal trade secrets from GE Aviation and other aerospace companies. At the time the charges were made in Cincinnati, Ohio, Demers said the case was a “significant economic espionage matter” and the latest proof China is trying to steal information from American companies. Chris Carola, The Associated Press

Handful of US states are poised to legalize sports betting

5 hours 30 min ago
HELENA, Mont. - The number of states allowing sports betting is poised to expand. Governors in Montana and Iowa are considering measures that would allow residents to wager on sports, while Indiana lawmakers are scheduled to approve their own version as early as Wednesday. Barring a veto, they would be the first states to approve sports betting this year, joining six others that moved quickly last year after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed it nationwide. “We’re bringing what’s in the black market out into the open,” Montana state Sen. Mark Blasdel, a Republican, told The Associated Press on Tuesday. The legalization of sports gambling has not been as widespread as initially predicted after the court ruling ended Nevada’s virtual monopoly. Gambling expert Chris Grove had expected 10 to 12 states to legalize sports betting this year. Now, he said, it looks more like eight. Disagreements over the details - whether to offer bets online, how high taxes should be, who can get a license to run sportsbooks and what to charge for licenses - have slowed or doomed legislation in several states. “We’ll still end up with a healthy number, especially relative to how long gambling expansion usually takes,” said Grove, managing director of Eilers & Krejcik, a firm that researches gambling. Legal sportsbooks are running in eight states, including Nevada and New Mexico, where two tribal casinos are offering sports betting without explicit state approval. An Associated Press analysis of legislation introduced nationwide found that at least 29 states have considered legalizing sports betting this year. Measures have died in some states, including Kentucky and Maryland, and seem unlikely to go anywhere in others. Supporters want to capitalize on betting being done illegally and drive new business to casinos, bars and restaurants. Opponents warn that the cash coming into state treasuries won’t amount to much but that gambling addiction and illegal betting by minors will rise. The nation’s three most populous states - California, Texas and Florida - are not expected to legalize sports betting this year, mostly because of opposition from casino-operating Native American tribes and because it could require amending state constitutions. In Montana, lawmakers sent two separate legalization measures to the governor with bipartisan support. “A guy who wants to bet on the Chicago Cubs isn’t a Democrat or a Republican, he’s just a Cubs fan,” said Montana Democratic state Rep. Ryan Lynch, who sponsored one of the proposals. At the Monte Bar and Casino in Billings on Tuesday, Lucille Brien said she would be willing to give sports betting a try. As a Los Angeles Lakers fan, she likely would bet on basketball, but she said she couldn’t foresee sports gambling supplanting her favourite video poker game. “This is the only game I like now, but yeah, I probably would try it,” said Brien, 62, as she repeatedly swiped the screen. Across town at the Palm Grand Casino, Eric Wieland said he’s sure to bet on sports if it’s available. “If there was something in here right now that said I could bet $5 on a (New England) Patriots game, I would do that,” the 33-year-old said. Montana lawmakers urged Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock to sign both measures, which would create competing systems for sports betting. Bullock’s office has declined to say what he plans to do. One proposal would impose an 8.5% tax on sportsbooks and generate at least $800,000 a year in revenue for the state, according to the bill’s sponsor. The other would have the state lottery run the system and generate about $3.7 million in revenue during the first year, according to estimates. Some lawmakers were not swayed by the promises of new tax revenue. “Everybody in Montana is going to bet on sports, we’re going to be raking in the dough - I don’t believe that for a second,” state Sen. Dee Brown said during a floor debate this month. Supporters often use the promise of increased tax revenue as a pitch for legalizing sports gambling. But the AP found that even in the most optimistic projections, it would amount to less than 1% of most states’ budgets. Even after a strong March, four of the six states with newly legal state-sanctioned sports betting still lag well behind their own revenue expectations , according to an AP analysis of state fiscal reports. Rhode Island and West Virginia are bringing in less than one-fourth of the amount needed each month to hit their projections. Mississippi is on pace to bring in a little more than half what officials predicted, and Pennsylvania is on pace for about two-thirds of expected revenue. Only New Jersey and Delaware are on a path to meet their projections. Delaware’s numbers got help from a football parlay game that’s been run by the state lottery for years, while New Jersey was the first state to have a robust system of online sports betting. Some lawmakers have objected to an expansion of gambling on moral grounds and warn that offering sports betting on mobile devices will create a pathway for minors to start betting illegally. “This is an exercise in greed - avarice, if you will - and it troubles me greatly that we’re going to create new addicts,” said Iowa state Rep. Scott Ourth, a Democrat. Iowa lawmakers passed legislation Monday that would allow betting in its 19 licensed casinos or on a mobile app that the casinos establish. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds said she hasn’t decided whether to sign the legislation but would consider public opinion. A Des Moines Register-Mediacom Iowa Poll published in February says 52 per cent of residents opposed legalized betting on professional sports, while 68 per cent opposed betting on college sports. “That’s what we’ll take into consideration when I sit down with the policy team and go through the bill, and we’ll make the decision going forward,” Reynolds said Tuesday. Iowa officials estimate taxes and licensing fees could bring in between $2.3 million and $4 million annually. ___ Mulvihill reported from Cherry Hill, New Jersey. ___ Associated Press reporters Matthew Brown in Billings, Montana, Tom Davies in Indianapolis, and David Pitt in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report. Matt Volz And Geoff Mulvihill, The Associated Press

Amal Clooney: Prosecute Islamic State extremists for rape

5 hours 33 min ago
Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney on Tuesday demanded justice for victims of an “epidemic of sexual violence” in conflicts, especially rapes and other abuses perpetrated by Islamic State extremists in Iraq and Syria. The rights activist told the Security Council that if the U.N.’s most powerful body cannot prevent the prevalence of sexual violence in wars all over the world, “then at least it must punish it” and make justice a priority. Clooney, who is married to actor George Clooney, addressed the council along with Nobel Peace Prize laureates Nadia Murad and Dr. Denis Mukwege to spotlight the need to prosecute perpetrators and help survivors. But the resolution adopted by the council after they spoke was watered down to win approval, and while it made some advances it failed to take the significant actions they urged. The resolution eliminated long-used language on providing “sexual and reproductive health care” to survivors of rape and abuse to avert a veto from the Trump administration. And it eliminated a positive reference to the International Criminal Court’s work in prosecuting alleged perpetrators of sexual violence in conflict. French Ambassador Francois Delattre told the council after the vote that eliminating the reference to sexual and reproductive health of victims of sexual violence “is unacceptable and undermines the dignity of women.” “We are worried that the threat of veto was used to question 25 years of advances in this area,” Delattre said. “It is intolerable and incomprehensible that the Security Council is incapable of acknowledging that these women and girls who suffer from sexual violence in conflict, and who obviously didn’t choose to become pregnant, should have the rights to terminate their pregnancy.” The vote on the German-drafted resolution was 13-0, with Russia and China abstaining. Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said Moscow opposes sexual violence and demands “the elimination of this loathsome war crime.” But Russia abstained because the resolution gives new powers to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and other U.N. officials and bodies, he said. The resolution expresses the council’s deep concern at “the slow progress” in addressing and eliminating sexual violence in conflicts, declaring that these acts often occur with impunity, “and in some situations have become systematic and widespread, reaching appalling levels of brutality.” It calls for governments to ensure that survivors of sexual violence “receive the care required by their specific needs and without any discrimination.” It says victims should have access “to national relief and reparations programs, as well as health care, psycho-social care, safe shelter, livelihood support and legal aid.” German Ambassador Christoph Heusgen said the resolution his nation introduced makes “considerable progress” by concentrating on accountability and survivors and by “putting sanctions much more in the centre of actions.” But, he added, “we didn’t achieve everything.” Heusgen said Amal Clooney and the two Nobel laureates told him to “push ahead” with the resolution without a reference to “sexual and reproductive rights.” He noted the resolution does refer to a 2013 resolution in which those rights are mentioned - and because of that the rights remain international law. Clooney called the resolution “a welcome step forward” but said “we must go further.” She challenged the Security Council to prosecute Islamic State militants just as the victorious Allies prosecuted Nazi criminals after World War II at the Nuremberg trials. “This is your Nuremberg moment,” she said. Clooney is the legal counsel to Murad and other members of Syria’s Yazidi minority who were sexually abused by IS extremists. She said Murad has spoken of only one fear - that IS militants “will just shave off their beards and go back to their lives; that there will be no justice.” “Nadia has been given many honours … but she would trade her Nobel Peace Prize in a heartbeat for what she really wants: the chance to face, in a court of law, those who murdered her mother and her brothers, and those who brutally and repeatedly raped her,” Clooney said. Murad told the council that “so far not a single person was tried for sexual enslavement crimes against Yazidis” and that more than 350,000 Yazidis - 80 per cent of the Yazidi population in Iraq - are still in displacement camps. “We come to the U.N.,” she said. “We deliver statements, but no practical steps are taken that include reconstruction or bringing the perpetrators to justice, or returning the victims and displaced to their homes.” Mukwege, a Congolese doctor who has worked to end the use of rape and sexual violence as weapons of war, said that “victims not only have the right to quality care but also to truth and justice.” “Survivors’ testimonies are living proof we cannot remain indifferent to their cries,” Mukwege said. Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press

Pillar reflects on Blue Jays career in return to Rogers Centre after trade

5 hours 43 min ago
TORONTO - Kevin Pillar wasn’t sure how he’d feel stepping onto the Rogers Centre turf in a different uniform for the first time. “I’m still undecided,” the former Blue Jay said hours before Tuesday’s game, his first in Toronto as a member of the visiting San Francisco Giants. “Obviously I’m excited to be back here, a place I was a big fan of and a place I really enjoyed playing in. “I was very open and honest about wanting to be here for a long time so I’m definitely excited to be back. I’m sure once the game starts there will be a lot of emotions.” Pillar was traded from the Blue Jays to San Francisco on April 2, ending a tenure in Toronto that began when the team drafted him in 2011. The 30-year-old centre-fielder was emotional when speaking to media the day of the trade. Sitting in the visiting dugout three weeks later, Pillar calmly reflected on his time in the city and its brisk ending. “It’s definitely weird. I was here seven years and never really ventured into this dugout,” he said. “I never really saw myself sitting in this dugout, coming out of this clubhouse, so yeah, it’s weird. … But I am happy. If it had to happen, going to the West Coast was kind of a blessing.” Pillar, a California native, is closer to his own family and his wife’s parents in San Francisco and said he was comforted by the fact that his toddler daughter would get to see her grandparents, aunts and uncles more frequently. He’s also off to a hotter start to his Giants career than he was to begin the season in Toronto. Coming into Tuesday, Pillar was batting .226 with four homers and 13 runs batted over 18 games. He had one hit and three strikeouts in five games to start the year in Toronto. Pillar said moving to San Francisco - and playing in the National League for the first time - was an adjustment and credited former Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, now also with the Giants, for taking him under his wing when he first arrived.  “I think the biggest adjustment was playing in a different league,” he said. “I’m facing pitchers and players that I very seldomly got a chance to play against so I’m learning these pitchers and learning how to position myself defensively against hitters that I never really played before.” Pillar, who helped lead the Blue Jays to back-to-back post-season appearances in 2015 and 2016, described those playoff memories as his most cherished in a Toronto uniform. And he was pleased with having a hand in the rejuvenation of baseball in Canada as a result of those post-season runs. “Seeing the impact the success that the team in 2015 and 2016 had on the youth movement of baseball across Canada is what I’m going to be most proud of,” he said. Days after the trade, Pillar wrote a lengthy, heartfelt message to Toronto fans and his Blue Jays teammates and staff on Instagram. While the move caught him by surprise, he maintained there were no hard feelings between himself and the Blue Jays brass. Instead, he hoped this week’s two-game series would provide him with the closure that he was missing after his swift departure.  “I’m definitely going to take advantage of knowing this could be my last time playing here and really take in the fans, take in the stadium, take in the environment, take in a lot of things and all the memories I was able to create here with these guys,” he said. “The fans have been a big part of my journey, a big part of my success, and I’m definitely looking forward to tipping my cap to them.” Pillar hit .252 with 40 doubles, 15 home runs, and 18 walks over 142 games last season. He batted .260 with 156 doubles, 55 home runs, and 231 RBIs across 695 career games with the Blue Jays. Melissa Couto, The Canadian Press

All eyes on the Green party as P.E.I. election campaign draws to a close

5 hours 54 min ago
CHARLOTTETOWN - The first results from the Prince Edward Island election have been delayed for 30 minutes. All of the polls were supposed to close at 7 p.m. local time, but an afternoon bomb threat forced the temporary evacuation of a polling station in central P.E.I., prompting elections officials to keep that location open until 7:30 p.m. As a result, Elections P.E.I. has decided to withhold releasing any results until that time. The unusual move came at the conclusion of an election race that attracted national attention once it became clear a once-obscure third party - the Greens - had taken the lead in the polls. With the Greens challenging an entrenched two-party system, there was speculation the small province could soon be governed by its first minority government since 1890. Led by Scottish-born dentist Peter Bevan-Baker, the Green party has led in opinion polls since August, generating a buzz during an otherwise lacklustre campaign. The Canadian Press

Brothers sue Jussie Smollett’s lawyers, claiming defamation

6 hours 2 min ago
CHICAGO - Two brothers who say they helped Jussie Smollett stage a racist and homophobic attack against himself sued the “Empire” actor’s attorneys on Tuesday, accusing them of defamation by continuing to insist publicly that the brothers carried out a real, bigoted attack on Smollett despite knowing that wasn’t true. Abimbola “Abel” Osundairo and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo said in a joint statement issued after their lawsuit was filed in federal court in Chicago that Smollett’s legal team has spread false accusations that have hurt their reputations and undermined their career prospects. “We have sat back and watched lie after lie being fabricated about us in the media only so one big lie can continue to have life,” they said. “These lies are destroying our character and reputation in our personal and professional lives.” In their lawsuit , the Osundairos contend that even after prosecutors dropped the charges against Smollett while simultaneously saying they could prove the attack was a hoax, Smollett’s attorneys kept saying in interviews that the Chicago-born brothers “led a criminally homophobic, racist and violent attack against Mr. Smollett.” “Mr. Smollett’s attorneys, faced with an outraged public, did not retreat after their success (in getting charges dropped). Instead, they doubled down,” states the lawsuit, which names celebrity attorney Mark Geragos, fellow lawyer Tina Glandian and Geragos’ Los Angeles-based law firm as defendants. In a joint statement, Geragos and Glandian called the lawsuit “ridiculous” and “a desperate attempt” by the brothers “to stay relevant and further profit from an attack they admit they perpetrated.” “We look forward to exposing the fraud the Osundairo brothers and their attorneys have committed on the public,” they added. The odds may be against the brothers prevailing in court. Legal experts say that, in the U.S. adversarial system, attorneys are accorded broad protections from lawsuits based on things they say while defending their clients - even if what they say is mean-spirited or false. “If my client informs me he didn’t do it and I say that publicly … that’s part of our job as lawyers,” said Jeffrey Granich, a Chicago attorney not connected to the Smollett case. At the same time, Granich said he understood the brothers’ frustration and desire to show they are telling the truth. Smollett, who is black and gay, has stood by his account that he was attacked in downtown Chicago early on Jan. 29 by two masked men who beat him, shouted racial and anti-gay slurs, poured bleach on him, and looped a rope around his neck. He said his attackers also shouted slogans supporting President Donald Trump. At a Tuesday news conference, the brothers’ lawyer, Gloria Schmidt, said the Osundairos regret their involvement with Smollett and decided to tell the truth when confronted by investigators in mid-February. “We’re going to make sure that the lies and malice attacking our city, our police department and my two clients are met with truth and healing,” she told reporters. The brothers did not attend the news conference. Prosecutors have said that Smollett’s friendship with Abimbola Osundairo dated back several years and that Osundairo had served as a stand-in for a character named Kai on “Empire.” Ola Osundairo also appeared as an extra on the show, prosecutors said. In their lawsuit, the Osundairos say the defamation by Smollett’s lawyers has caused the brothers “significant emotional distress” and made them feel unsafe and alienated from the local community. It doesn’t specify an amount of money they are seeking, but says it would be more than $75,000 in compensatory and damages, and other costs. The Osundairo brothers, who are of Nigerian descent, testified before a grand jury days before Smollett was charged, saying Smollett paid them $3,500 to help stage the attack. They contend in their suit that Smollett took advantage of their aspirations to have TV and movie careers. “Mr. Smollett used his clout as a wealthy actor to influence Plaintiffs, who were in a subordinate relationship to him and were aspiring to ‘make it’ in Hollywood,” the lawsuit contends. The lawsuit also states that Glandian “inferred” during an interview on the podcast Reasonable Doubt this month that Abimbola Osundairo “engaged, at least briefly, in homosexual acts” with Smollett. The filing says that’s false, that Osundairo is heterosexual and to say otherwise could put him and his family in danger in Nigeria. “Same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Nigeria, which can result in 14 years of imprisonment,” the lawsuit asserts. “If the accused is married, the punishment is death by stoning.” In the weeks after the alleged attack, police arrested the Osundairo brothers on suspicion of assaulting Smollett but released them without charges. A police spokesman said the two were no longer considered suspects and that investigators had new evidence after questioning them. About a week after police questioned the brothers, Smollett was charged with felony disorderly conduct and accused of making a false police report about the attack. The Cook County state’s attorney’s office abruptly dropped the charges in March, angering the police and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who said Smollett had dragged Chicago’s name “through the mud” and that the decision to drop the charges was “a whitewash of justice.” The city has since sued Smollett , seeking repayment for the costs of investigating the case. __ Associated Press writer Don Babwin contributed to this report. ___ Follow Michael Tarm on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mtarm ___ Check out the AP’s complete coverage of the Jussie Smollett case. Michael Tarm And Caryn Rousseau, The Associated Press

Climate change should be top issue for voters in October, advocates say

6 hours 6 min ago
OTTAWA - A large group of Canadian climate scientists, environment advocates, business owners and corporate executives want climate change to be the No. 1 issue for voters this fall, including problems and solutions beyond the federal carbon tax. A hundred of them signed an open letter to Canadians this week, urging them to understand the impacts of climate change and the solutions each party offers before casting their ballots in October. Those behind the letter fear important discussions about climate change are being lost in the sea of political rhetoric for or against a national carbon price. “It’s a national emergency,” said Gavin Pitchford, the CEO of recruiting firm Delta Management and executive director of Clean50. All the signatories of the letter have received Clean50 awards in the past eight years for their contributions to “clean capitalism,” including Unilever, HP Canada, the Vancouver Economic Commission and Cascades. Pitchford said Canadians need to be better informed about both climate-change impacts and the possible responses that will prevent catastrophic changes to the planet. “I’m concerned there is an awful lot of misinformation being promulgated by various political parties to suggest that climate doesn’t matter,” he said. The Paris climate-change agreement signed in 2015 committed almost every country in the world to trying to keep the warming of the earth to as close to 1.5 C as possible. Last fall, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned the world is already on an irreversible track to 1 C of warming, and will hit 1.5 C by 2040 unless the world’s political will to cut emissions gets stronger. The letter stresses that for emissions to be curbed, it is people, not countries, that have to do the heavy lifting because climate change is caused by human activity. It also goes after those who dismiss global warming as a natural phenomenon. “Science clearly tells us that is not true, that in fact temperatures should actually have been decreasing each century over the past 6,000 years,” the letter-writers say. “Instead, temperatures have risen steadily, and the five hottest years ever recorded have been the last five years. Climate change is real - and by both burning too many carbon based fuels - and cutting down the trees needed to absorb that carbon, humans are responsible.” Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada, says the political fight about the federal Liberals’ carbon tax has become a distraction from the message Canadians should be getting: that climate change is the key issue of our time. She said if this election is not about stopping climate change, Canada and the world will suffer immensely. “International studies show we have about three to four years to turn things around,” said Smith. She also said climate change affects almost any other issue voters might care about, from health care to the economy to immigration. Climate change is going to make parts of the planet too hot for humans, driving climate refugees into countries like Canada, in addition to the political refugees the world already is struggling to handle, she said. She said the economic opportunities of clean technology will leave Canada in the dust if investing in and demanding its use aren’t priorities for any government. Canada’s economy suffers from natural disasters like flooding and forest fires, which are becoming more damaging and more frequent with global warming. A coalition of 20 health care organizations in Quebec also launched a campaign Tuesday, warning Canada’s health system is not ready for the force of climate change. They say 20,000 people in Quebec alone will die of climate-change related illnesses and events in the next 50 years. Last fall, a scientific report published in the medical journal The Lancet suggested more than 7,000 Canadians die each year from chronic air pollution resulting from emissions. Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

Habs forward Kotkaniemi undergoes left knee surgery to address ‘chronic, minor injury’

6 hours 12 min ago
Montreal Canadiens forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Tuesday and the team said the procedure shouldn’t interfere with his off-season training. “It was a chronic, minor injury that did not stop him from playing this past season,” Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said. “Jesperi will remain in Montreal for the coming weeks to complete his rehabilitation program with our team’s medical staff.” The 18-year-old Finn had 11 goals and 34 points in 79 games in his rookie NHL season in 2018-19. The Canadiens selected Kotkaniemi third overall in the 2018 NHL draft. The Canadian Press

Shallow magnitude 5.9 earthquake hits remote India

6 hours 14 min ago
American seismologists say a magnitude 5.9 earthquake has shaken a remote part of India near the border with China in a region that has experienced huge quakes in the past. U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Gavin Hayes says the area is sparsely populated so not many casualties or much damage is expected. The USGS says there’s a 56% chance that damage will be between 1 and $100 million dollars. The shallow earthquake was 33 kilometres (20 miles) north of Along, India. Hayes says this area of the Himalayan frontal thrust has had some large quakes in the distant past, making experts more alert to the possibility that a bigger might be next. However, he says most earthquakes are not followed by larger ones. The Associated Press

Canadian mixed doubles team stays unbeaten at worlds after win over Sweden

6 hours 23 min ago
STAVANGER, Norway - Canada’s Jocelyn Peterman and Brett Gallant improved to 5-0 at the world mixed doubles curling championship with a 7-6 win over Sweden on Tuesday. Winnipeg’s Peterman and Gallant, of St. John’s, N.L., scored one in the eighth and final end to edge Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg and Oskar Eriksson in a battle of unbeaten teams. Hasselborg was light on a draw on its final stone, meaning Canada didn’t have to throw its last shot. “That’s a tough team. Really happy with the win,” Gallant said. “It’s fun to play those games because it's just a battle the whole time and you really have to pay attention to every shot and treat every shot with a lot of respect because if you leave the angles set up for Oskar or Anna, they make a lot of rocks go away in a hurry.” Canada scored four in the sixth end to jump in front 6-3 before Sweden rallied to tie it. Earlier Tuesday, Canada beat Christine and Martin Groenbech of Denmark 11-5. Denmark shook hands after the seventh end. Canada battles Hong Kong (1-4) on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Canada’s women’s team upped its record to 5-0 at the world senior championships at the same venue with a 12-2 win over Australia on Tuesday. Sherry Anderson’s Saskatchewan rink, the defending world champions, scored six in the opening end. “Overall things are feeling pretty good because we’re getting a good handle on the ice,” Canada third Patty Hersikorn said. “The ice does change a bit from day to day. A little bit frosty out there today, but I think we’re getting a good handle on that and it helps if we’re throwing it consistent too.” Canada faces Hong Kong on Wednesday. On the men’s side, Bryan Cochrane’s Ontario rink downed the Netherlands 14-1 to improve to 4-0. “We as a team all agreed to use this as practice, stay focused on the practice,” Canada third Ian MacAulay said. “We’re trying freezes, board weight, hack weight; trying all sorts of different shots out there.” The Canadian men’s side meets Norway on Wednesday. Playoffs in all three events start Friday, with finals on Saturday. The Canadian Press

B.C. men challenge constitutionality of Canada’s secret no-fly list

6 hours 34 min ago
OTTAWA - Canada’s no-fly list faces constitutional challenges from two B.C. men who argue in a pair of court cases that the secret roster violates their Charter of Rights guarantee of fundamental justice. The 12-year-old no-fly regime allows the federal government to bar someone from boarding an airplane because there are grounds to believe he or she would threaten the flight or travel to commit a terrorist act. Under the system, air carriers must inform Transport Canada when a would-be passenger’s name matches that of a listed person. If the match is confirmed, the public-safety minister can direct the airline to do additional screening or prevent the person from flying. The names of listed people generally do not become public unless they take their cases to the courts. The government has repeatedly refused even to confirm the number of people on the list. In a submission to the Federal Court of Canada, Parvkar Singh Dulai says he received a “denial of boarding” notification under the no-fly program last May 17 at the Vancouver International Airport. He took steps to appeal the decision the next month and in August federal officials gave him an unclassified summary of information related to the case. Dulai was told the public-safety minister’s office would consider additional, classified information in the appeal.   Dulai received a letter in late January saying his name would remain on the no-fly list, prompting his application to the Federal Court. He is asking the court for an order striking him from the roster or, at the very least, further examination of his case. Dulai also seeks a declaration that the no-fly provisions violate his constitutional guarantee of freedom to enter, leave and travel within Canada, as well as his charter right “to know the case against him and the right to answer that case.” Federal lawyers have not yet filed a response, and a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale declined to comment while the matter is before the court. Rights advocates have long found the no-fly program problematic, denouncing the listing process as opaque and the redress process as inadequate. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has criticized the system for allowing use of hearsay and secret evidence without access to a special advocate who can test that information or represent the interests of the listed person. The court challenges from Dulai and another B.C. man, Bhagat Singh Brar, were first reported this week by the National Post newspaper. In his court filing, Brar says he was barred from getting on a plane at the Vancouver airport last April 24. He also went through the appeal process and a decision to keep his name on the list came in December. Like Dulai, Brar argues the no-fly regime violates his mobility rights and fundamental justice guarantee under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. No dates have been set to hear the substance of either case. - Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press

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