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Updated: 32 min 41 sec ago

Raptors president Ujiri addresses rare off-court issues during NBA title run

7 hours 10 min ago
TORONTO - Even a championship can come with hiccups. Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri took time Tuesday in his season-ending press conference to talk about the few off-court negatives in an otherwise overwhelmingly successful championship season. Ujiri said organizers can do better than the disjointed championship parade last Monday to honour the Raptors’ first NBA title, and the first championship since 1993 for a Canadian team in one of the big four North American leagues (MLB, NBA, NHL and NFL). The procession from the Raptors’ practice facility to city hall took more than five hours, with swarming crowds slowing the procession of double-decker buses carrying players along the parade route. Early reports of fans awaiting the players in the city’s Nathan Phillips Square suffering from dehydration were overshadowed when four people were shot just south of the square, suffering non-life-threatening injuries. Three people were arrested. “My heart goes out to the people that got hurt and I was going to come out with a statement but I thought I’d wait until today,” Ujiri said. “I will reach out to them eventually and I know our organization has already. That was a very unfortunate situation.” He said while mistakes were made, it was the Raptors’ first try at a championship rally and future NBA titles will allow planners to work out the kinks. “I think it was Maya Angelou who said ‘When you know better, you do better,'” he said. Ujiri also commented publicly for the first time on an alleged altercation with an Alameda County Sheriff’s Office deputy at Oracle Arena after the Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the Finals in Oakland, Calif. The officer claims he suffered jaw pain and a concussion when struck in the face by Ujiri as the Raptors president attempted to walk on the arena floor to celebrate with his team, though witnesses have come forward disputing the claim that Ujiri struck the officer. The sheriff’s office has said it is considering filing misdemeanour battery charges against Ujiri, while a lawyer for the officer has said his client is considering a civil suit. A spokeswoman with the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office said Tuesday that it had not yet received a report on the matter from the police agency. “I’m going to respect what the process is there,” Ujiri said. “I am confident about who I am as a person, my character and as a human being. “I’m going to leave my comments until the whole investigation is done. I think that’s the fair way and the right way to operate when things like this happen. I’ll respect authority and wait until that happens.” While some Raptors have dismissed the possibility of the Raptors visiting the White House as NBA champions - shooting guard Danny Green recently gave the idea a “hard pass” - Ujiri was diplomatic if unenthusiastic when asked about the thorny issue. Ujiri has been critical of U.S. President Donald Trump’s reported use of a vulgar term when describing some African countries. “I don’t think the White House is going to be judged by whether we come or not or if we are going to be judged whether we go or not,” he said. “I think collectively we’ll make a decision. I think everybody knows what my decision is. “I think a priority for us would be going to see the (prime minister) in our country, in Canada, and I think we’ll go from there.” The Canadian Press

Ujiri confident Raptors can re-sign Leonard, will respect decision either way

7 hours 10 min ago
Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri made his all-in push and it paid off with an NBA title. It will soon be time for Kawhi Leonard to lay his cards on the table. The future of the soon-to-be free agent was one of the main talking points Tuesday at Ujiri’s season-ending media availability. Leonard helped anchor the team through the season and raised his level even higher when it mattered most. He delivered one of the strongest playoff performances in recent memory, putting the Raptors on his back at times en route to their first championship. The long waiting game on his future will soon come to an end. Leonard has to decide whether he’ll return to Toronto or explore options elsewhere. It’s a decision that will have an immeasurable effect on the franchise and will likely send a wave of other free-agent dominoes tumbling across the league. “We continued to be us and I know he’ll continue to be him,” Ujiri said. “I know what we’ve built here, I’m confident. You see how these things go. I think we have to respect him for that decision that he has to make.” At 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, Leonard can begin negotiating with teams as a free agent. Players can’t officially be signed until July 6, but news often leaks out during the negotiating period. Leonard is expected to opt out of a US$21.3-million player option next season, part of a deal he signed with San Antonio before being traded to the Raptors last summer. The Raptors can offer more money and term than other teams because of NBA rules. Toronto can sign Leonard to a $190-million, five-year deal, about $50 million more than he could make on a four-year deal with another team. It’s also possible he could work out a short-term deal with the Raptors and test free agency again down the road. Interest is very high in Leonard, who turns 28 on Saturday, since he’s a superstar forward in his prime and one of the best two-way players in the league. Ujiri said he had “very good meetings” with Leonard over the last few days, but will keep those conversations private for now.  “For me they’ve been positive,” Ujiri said. “He challenges me the same way that I challenge him. I think the goal is the same and I appreciate that.” Ujiri acquired Leonard and Danny Green last summer from the Spurs in a blockbuster deal that included franchise player and fan favourite DeMar DeRozan. It was part of a significant retooling in the wake of another early playoff exit. Coach of the year Dwane Casey was let go and assistant Nick Nurse was promoted to replace him. Ujiri was signalling that lasting a round or two in the playoffs wasn’t good enough. He wanted to clear all the hurdles in 2019 and win that elusive conference title and NBA championship.  It was a big gamble since Leonard was signed for just one year and coming off a significant leg injury. But he proved to be a great fit and showed he was a big-time playoff performer.  Dealing DeRozan - a team cornerstone and great friend of Raptors guard Kyle Lowry - was one of the toughest decisions of Ujiri’s career. Both players took the news hard. Ujiri, who was in Kenya at the time, said he walked around his hotel for two hours in the middle of the night to “summon up the courage” to break the news to DeRozan. “When San Antonio came here (this season), I’ve never said this to anybody, but something unbelievable happened,” Ujiri said. “DeMar came into our locker room. To show you the class human being he is, he came up to me and he hugged me and he asked me how my family was doing.” The communication with Lowry, meanwhile, had its low points. Ujiri said their comfort level was noticeably off around the trade deadline, so they got together for a long discussion. “I think I’ll leave that between me and Kyle,” Ujiri said. “The meeting lasted about two hours and it wasn’t easy. It’s always a difficult meeting when you’re both direct and truthful to each other. Kyle is the same way that I am. “It’s funny, DeMar always used to say that. But we resolved it.” Ujiri delivered another whopper at the deadline by landing veteran centre Marc Gasol from Memphis in a multi-player swap that included Jonas Valanciunas. Gasol soon found himself in a starting lineup that included Leonard, Lowry, Green and Pascal Siakam, the NBA’s most improved player. The team used a ‘load management’ system to build Leonard up over the campaign. He quickly showed he could still be an impact player and took his game to a different level in the post-season. Thirty-point games were the norm and Leonard was a force at both ends of the court. He truly shone in the big moments and delivered time and time again. His quiet confidence washed over the team and left players feeling strong even after stinging losses. Leonard would simply take over some games, leaving opposing defences befuddled. His body was banged up at times but he continued to be a force. The two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors had no answer for him and the Raptors in the final, dropping all three games at Oracle Arena to fall in six games. It would be difficult for Toronto to make a stronger pitch for Leonard’s return. Leonard and his advisers have developed a trust with the Raptors. He has a strong rapport with his teammates and was adored by the fanbase. Steady victories kept everyone’s spirits high. Toronto won the Atlantic Division with a 58-24 record before dispatching Orlando, Philadelphia, Milwaukee and finally Golden State. Leonard was an easy choice as NBA Finals MVP. He has earned the right to make his choice as a free agent. But things could not have gone much better in Toronto. “We have to be ourselves and we were ourselves the whole year,” Ujiri said. “I think he saw that. I think we built a trust there.” Two other key starters also have decisions to make. Gasol has a player option for next season and Green is an unrestricted free agent. In addition, Lowry and Serge Ibaka are both entering the final season of their lucrative three-year contracts. A Leonard return would likely make the Raptors the team to beat in the East. His departure could lead to a number of new starters in the lineup and a significant retooling process. “Whenever they make up their mind, we’ll be here,” Ujiri said. “I know we’ll be in touch with them. We’ve built a relationship with them where honestly, I texted with Kawhi last night, I talked to his uncle this morning. “So for us, there’s that trust regardless of wherever it goes. There will be constant communication.” --- Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter. Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press

‘He’s my son: Accused mother cries at trial over boy who died of meningitis

7 hours 13 min ago
LETHBRIDGE, Alta. - The mother of a toddler who died of bacterial meningitis broke down several times Tuesday as she testified at her trial that she is still haunted by her boy’s death. Collet Stephan told court that she still counts Ezekiel, who was 19 months old when he died, among her current living children. “He’s my son,” she said tearfully. “My role as a stay-at-home mom is to care for my children. It’s my purpose. It’s why I was put on Earth.” Stephan and her husband, David, are charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life for Ezekiel, who died in March 2012. The Crown argues the Stephans should have sought medical treatment for the boy sooner. The couple opted to treat him with alternative medicines. A jury convicted the couple in 2016, but the Supreme Court of Canada ordered a second trial. It is being heard by a judge without a jury and David Stephan is acting as his own lawyer. Collet Stephan testified that she has vivid memories of some aspects of Ezekiel’s death but has blocked out others. “It was an extremely traumatic time which no parent should have to go through,” she said. Ezekiel first stopped breathing while she was holding him and listening to him inhale irregularly. “I had patted him on the back and he started breathing again. I carried him to the bedroom and when I laid him on the bed he stopped breathing again.” She said she pinched his nose and blew into his mouth and he coughed up mucus and fluid and seemed to improve. The Stephans called 911 while driving the boy to hospital. The couple have testified that they originally thought Ezekiel had  croup and that they treated him with natural remedies. They saw no reason to take him to hospital despite his having a fever and lacking energy. Collet Stephan said she did research on both viral and bacterial meningitis. “In my mind I’m thinking out of the two he would be closer to viral meningitis than he was the bacterial,” she said. After discussing the matter with her husband, they decided not to take Ezekiel to the hospital right away. “I didn’t see any health concerns warranting him to see the doctor. If he starts to exhibit symptoms, we should take him in.” David Stephan testified they suspected Ezekiel may have contracted viral meningitis. It is less serious and usually clears up on its own, but the bacterial form can be fatal if not treated quickly with antibiotics. “I recall distinctly that bacterial meningitis wasn’t on the radar,” he told Crown prosecutor Britta Kristensen during her cross-examination. “If we thought he had a fatal infection, we would have been to the doctor right away.” He testified that his wife did call a friend at one point who was a nurse and a midwife. The friend mentioned the possibility Ezekiel might have meningitis but she wasn’t sure. Stephan told court that he was “100 per cent convinced” that Ezekiel had recovered, until he noticed the child had an odd breathing pattern.  He said the couple continued to treat him with natural remedies, even after the toddler was declared brain dead at the children’s hospital in Calgary. “We were given no hope whatsoever. We weren’t willing to let go,” he said. “We would cling onto anything.” - Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

Plastics forks at Trudeau lunch a sign of hypocrisy: Conservatives

7 hours 32 min ago
OTTAWA - The federal Conservatives are calling Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a hypocrite over plastic cutlery that was available at a lunch meeting he held with youth activists in his Montreal riding. Trudeau tweeted a picture of himself having lunch on Monday with about half a dozen members of the Papineau Youth Council, including pizzas in cardboard boxes, paper plates, a pitcher of water with glasses, and a handful of plastic forks. In the photo, nobody is visibly using a fork but they also appear to have barely started lunch. Most of the plates have no food on them, the water pitcher is full and the glasses are empty. The Liberals have started a regulatory review that’s expected to end with severe restrictions on single-use plastics as soon as 2021. The most wasteful products, including things like straws and plastic cutlery, could be banned outright. The Tories say the picture shows Trudeau is a phoney environmentalist. “This is no different than how Justin Trudeau will lecture moms and dads driving their kids to and from hockey practice about their carbon footprint and force them to pay a punishing carbon tax one day, and then on the next day Justin Trudeau will jet away to Florida for a sunny weekend getaway,” the party said in an election-style statement. The Canadian Press

Manslaughter trial told Manitoba Mountie made tactically disastrous decision

7 hours 37 min ago
THOMPSON, Man. - An RCMP officer in northern Manitoba made a disastrous tactical decision to step in front a vehicle before he shot the driver, an expert in police use of force testified at the officer’s trial Tuesday. Const. Abram Letkeman is charged with manslaughter in the November 2015 death of Steven Campbell, who was behind the wheel of a Jeep that the Mountie had tried to pull over for erratic driving. Letkeman shot Campbell at least nine times. There were two bullets lodged in the man’s body - one in his jaw and another in his shoulder. Another bullet went through his open mouth. The Court of Queen’s Bench trial has heard that Letkeman attempted to pull over the vehicle shortly after bars had closed in Thompson, Man., on suspicion the driver was impaired. Campbell and four passengers were inside, including the driver’s longtime girlfriend Lori Flett. Christopher Butler, a retired Calgary police inspector, was brought in by the Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba to review what happened. The unit investigates serious actions involving police. Court heard Tuesday that there was a collision between the police car and the Jeep on a road which caused the Jeep to spin out.   It then drive down a trail for all-terrain vehicles and Letkeman continued to follow. At some point, the police car T-boned the Jeep. Butler told court it was unjustified for the officer to continue pursuing the Jeep. He also said that if Letkeman intended to ram the suspect vehicle that would be against protocol and extremely dangerous. Once the Jeep was stopped, the tactical decision for the officer would have been for him to stay in his car and wait for backup, Butler suggested. But Letkeman got out and walked in front of the Jeep. “That is tactically disastrous,” Butler said. “You don’t put yourself in front of the vehicle.” Police at the time of the shooting said the Jeep accelerated towards Letkeman, which prompted him to start shooting. Butler did say that if the Jeep moved toward the officer and he believed that he could die, firing his gun would be consistent with RCMP policy. - By Kelly Geraldine Malone in Winnipeg The Canadian Press

Wisconsin coroner: 6 killed in rural house fire

7 hours 43 min ago
PICKEREL, Wis. - Authorities in Wisconsin say six people have died in a house fire in the northeastern part of the state. Langlade County Coroner Larry Shadlick says two adults and four children died in the fire Tuesday in the small town of Pickerel. Shadlick says two others escaped the blaze. WSAW-TV reports firefighters arrived at the home about 6:20 a.m. The Associated Press

North Dakota abortion clinic files federal suit over 2 laws

7 hours 45 min ago
FARGO, N.D. - North Dakota’s sole abortion clinic filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday over two state laws it believes forces doctors to lie, including one measure passed this year requiring physicians to tell women that they may reverse a so-called medication abortion if they have second thoughts. The complaint from the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of the Red River Women’s Clinic and the American Medical Association also targets an existing law requiring doctors to tell patients that abortion terminates “the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.” The suit says the laws violate the constitutional rights of doctors by forcing them to “convey false information and non-medical statements” to patients. It asks a judge to block enforcement. “The First Amendment prohibits the government from hijacking the doctor-patient relationship to advance a political agenda,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. A spokeswoman for North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said he was served with the complaint late Tuesday and was reviewing it. Stenehjem said earlier when asked about the possibility of a lawsuit that he will be required to defend the current laws. Cass County State’s Attorney Birch Burdick, also named as a defendant, had not seen the lawsuit and said he could not comment. North Dakota is among eight states, including five in the last year, to pass or amend laws requiring doctors to tell women undergoing medication abortions they can still have a live birth after the procedure. The North Dakota law, scheduled to go into effect Aug. 1, also requires doctors to tell the patient that “time is of the essence” if she changes her mind. Republican state Rep. Daniel Johnston said he sponsored the bill so that “women having second thoughts” know they have options. He said the bill does not restrict abortions and couldn’t see “how anyone could be against it.” Johnston did not respond to phone and email messages. AMA President Dr. Patrice Harris told The Associated Press that North Dakota’s law requires doctors to “mislead and misinform” their patients and the consequences could undermine relationships between all physicians and patients. The AMA, which is the country’s largest physician organization, sued the Trump administration in March over funding for family planning organizations offering abortion services. “The AMA will step in when there is any interference with our ability to talk to our patients about legal, evidence-based medical procedures,” Harris said by phone from Belfast, Northern Ireland, where she was attending an event by the British Medical Association. She said AMA lawyers are monitoring all laws they believe infringe on doctor-patient relationships and decided North Dakota’s was the next case to be “actively involved in.” Other states that have passed similar laws that require patients to be informed about medication abortion reversal are Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Utah. The suit says there is no “credible, scientific evidence” that a medication abortion can be reversed and the drug that would be used in the procedure has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The other law requiring doctors to define a fetus is part of the state’s longstanding abortion control act. The suit says the mandate is a “controversial and ideological opinion about when life begins” and is meant to further the state’s attempt to discourage abortion. Tammi Kromenaker, director of the Red River Women’s Clinic, said the measures do not allow doctors to give honest and informed advice. “North Dakota’s laws are forcing us to say things that violate our medical ethics and will soon force us to say things that are simply false and not backed up by science,” Kromenaker said. Lawmakers passed another abortion bill this year that bans the method of so-called dilation and evacuation. It would make it a crime for a doctor performing a second-trimester abortion to use instruments such as clamps, scissors and forceps to remove the fetus from the womb. Opponents have called it “human dismemberment abortion.” ___ This story has been corrected to show that the American Medical Association is monitoring all laws they believe infringe on doctor-patient relationships, not just abortion laws. Dave Kolpack, The Associated Press

Hayley Wickenheiser among six entering Hockey Hall of Fame in 2019

7 hours 45 min ago
The Hockey Hall of Fame wasted no time hustling Hayley Wickenheiser into its gallery of heroes in her first year of eligibility. The 40-year-old from Shaunavon, Sask., joins players Guy Carbonneau, Vaclav Nedomansky and Sergei Zubov and builders Jim Rutherford and Jerry York in the 2019 class of inductees. Wickenheiser was the only first-year eligible player to be selected. She announced her retirement in January, 2017, after playing her last game April 4, 2016, at the women’s world championship. The all-time leading scorer on the Canadian women’s hockey team was similarly accelerated into the International Ice Hockey Federation’s Hall of Fame last month. She is the seventh woman to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto since 2010. Wickenheiser joins former Canadian teammates Angela James, Geraldine Heaney, Danielle Goyette and Jayna Hefford as well as Americans Cammi Granato and Angela Ruggiero. The selections were announced Tuesday, with the induction ceremony to take place Nov. 18. During her 23 years playing for Canada, Wickenheiser scored 168 goals and assisted on 211 more in 276 games while winning four Olympic gold medals and seven world championships. She was captain of national teams that won Olympic gold in 2010, as well as world titles in 2007 and 2012. She pushed the envelope for female sport, twice playing men’s professional hockey in Europe. Wickenheiser is assistant director of player development for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and a medical student at the University of Calgary. She didn’t participate in the Hall’s media conference call Tuesday because she was writing a mandatory exam at the university. “It is richly deserved that she is one of the newest members of the Hockey Hall of Fame,” Hall of Fame board chairman Lanny McDonald said. Carbonneau, a native of Sept-Iles, Que., was the last captain of a Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup, doing so with the Montreal Canadiens in 1993. He won three Selke Awards as the NHL’s top defensive forward and three Stanley Cups - two with Montreal, one with the Dallas Stars. “Just to be on the same list as guys like Jean Beliveau and Guy Lafleur and Wayne Gretzky, it’s unbelievable,” Carbonneau said. “People thought when I did become a defensive player that I sacrificed a lot of offence. I see it the other. It gave me chances.” Rutherford, from Beeton, Ont., began his management career with the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires in 1984. He then became general manager of the Hartford Whalers for 20 years and won a Stanley Cup in Carolina in 2006 after the franchise moved to Raleigh. Rutherford has since won two more Stanley Cups as GM of the Pittsburgh Penguins. “One of the advantages I think for me when I retired as a player, I didn’t try to stay in the NHL,” Rutherford said. “I went back to the grassroots. I went all the way back to youth hockey for a couple of years and then got the opportunity to manage in the Ontario Hockey League and kind of worked my way up. “We won the Stanley Cup in Carolina against the odds. We certainly weren’t the odds-on favourite to win it that year. “And then I was fortunate to have the opportunity to be hired by Pittsburgh and I already had a great advantage when you come into a team with (Sidney) Crosby and (Evgeni) Malkin and (Kris) Letang.” Rutherford and Nedomansky were Detroit Red Wings teammates for four seasons in the late 1970s. “He was terrific,” Rutherford said. “He’s always been a first-class guy and I’m really happy to be going into the Hall at the same time as him.” Nedomansky played 12 seasons in Bratislava before becoming the first athlete from an Eastern European communist country to defect to North America to pursue a pro hockey career. The Czech played 252 career NHL games with Detroit, the St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers. He played in the WHA with Toronto and Birmingham before joining the Detroit Red Wings as a 33-year-old rookie in 1977. “I’m proud to be the first player from a communist country to come and play in North America,” Nedomansky said. Russia’s Zubov joined the Rangers in 1992 after playing four seasons with the Moscow Red Army. He won a Stanley Cup with the Rangers in 1994 and another with Dallas in 1999. “I was eight years old when I travelled with the national team to a tournament in Canada,” Zubov said. “I had a chance to walk into the Hall of Fame. Back then, I couldn’t even think of, dream of, that one day I would have a chance to be part of it. “It’s truly special. You realize you’ve done something in your life that you can be proud of.” York is the winningest coach in NCAA Division 1 men’s hockey with over 1,000 victories. He’s navigated Boston College to four national titles in 26 seasons there. York coached current and former NHL players such as Johnny Gaudreau, Brooks Orpik, Brian Gionta and Patrick Eaves. “They seem to make you a better coach when you have those players,” York said. “Never once did I think I’d go in (the Hall) in any category whatsoever. Just really surprised.” Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An incorrect nationality for Vaclav Nedomansky was published in a previous version.

China bans all Canadian meat before G20

7 hours 48 min ago
OTTAWA - The Chinese Embassy says it has suspended all Canadian meat exports in a dramatic escalation of its diplomatic dispute with Canada over the December arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver. The latest Chinese move comes as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to depart Wednesday for the G20 leaders’ summit, where he is expected to rely on U.S. President Donald Trump to raise the plight of two detained Canadians during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The embassy said in a statement to The Canadian Press on Tuesday that this latest move follows the detection of residue from a restricted feed additive called ractopamine by Chinese customs inspectors in a batch of Canadian pork products. The additive has permitted uses in Canada but is banned in China. “The subsequent investigation revealed that the official veterinary health certificates attached to the batch of pork exported to China were counterfeit and the number of those forgery certificates was up to 188. The Canadian side believes that this incident is criminal offence,” said the embassy statement. “These forged certificates were sent to the Chinese regulatory authorities through Canadian official certificate notification channel, which reflects that the Canadian meat export supervision system exists obvious safety loopholes.” China is therefore taking “urgent preventive measures” to protect Chinese customers and has asked the Canadian government to suspend all meat export certificates, the embassy said. “We hope the Canadian side would attach great importance to this incident, complete the investigation as soon as possible and take effective measures to ensure the safety of food exported to China in a more responsible manner.” A spokeswoman for Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau has yet to comment on the report. A report in the newspaper Journal de Quebec, which first reported the story, quotes a Montreal-based diplomat with the Chinese consulate-general as saying the ban is temporary. China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor and sentenced another Canadian to death in an apparent attempt to pressure for Meng’s release. China has also stopped imports of Canadian canola and has suspended export permits for three pork producers. The Canadian Press

Trudeau leans on Trump to help Canadians detained in China at G20 summit

7 hours 53 min ago
OTTAWA - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will lean on the power and influence of the mercurial Donald Trump to raise the issue of two detained Canadians during a bilateral meeting with the Chinese president at a G20 summit in Japan this week - something the U.S. president publicly committed to doing at “Justin’s request.” The summit comes at a critical moment for Trudeau, just months ahead of the October election and as Canada continues to push for the release of the Canadians in China - Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. Canada is in multiple trade-related disputes with China as well. Tuesday, China suspended imports of Canadian meat on the grounds that its authorities don’t trust Canadian assurances about the quality of its exports. That broadened restrictions on Canadian pork. China has also all but banned Canadian canola seeds on the grounds that previous shipments have contained pests. Exporters of peas and soybeans have also had problems. Canadian ministers and officials have had little luck getting to speak to their opposite numbers in China. Earlier this month in Normandy, France, Trudeau said he was looking forward to attending the G20 and that the “opportunity to engage with the Chinese president directly is certainly something that we are looking at.” So far, however, no such meeting has been confirmed by the Prime Minister’s Office. Trudeau’s staff will only say they expect to have information soon on which leaders Trudeau will meet in Osaka, where key themes include the global economy, trade and investment and innovation. Trump pledged his support during a meeting with Trudeau last Thursday in the Oval Office, where the two leaders sat together in bright yellow armchairs and the president vowed to bring up the issue in a sit-down with Chinese President Xi Jinping. “Are you trying to get a meeting?” Trump asked of Trudeau in response to a reporter’s question, to which the prime minister replied: “We’ve got a lot of things to discuss. “ “Anything I can do to help Canada, I will be doing,” Trump said. Trudeau needs that assistance. The detentions of Kovrig and Spavor are largely viewed as retaliation for the December arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver, where she awaits extradition to the U.S. to face allegations of fraud in violating Iran sanctions. David Mulroney, a former Canadian ambassador to China, said it should not come as a surprise that China is not interested in a meeting between its president and the prime minister. Trump will be Canada’s best shot to address the issue of the detentions, said Mulroney. “That would be the strongest card that could be played in our interests,” he said. “It would be an American card played to say … ‘If you want a normal relationship with us, you’ll leave our allies alone.'” Mulroney said he would also use the G20 to talk to other leaders who face similar challenges with China and are susceptible to its bullying. “If we can build this sense of shared purpose in pushing back against China, in not allowing ourselves to be isolated like this, that’s a big step forward,” he said. “It is in America’s interest and it is in the interest of a lot of other countries to see China pull back from hostage diplomacy and bullying… The only way to counter that is through collective action and that is a long, hard slog.” Christopher Sands, the director of the Center for Canadian Studies at John Hopkins University, said Canada doesn’t play offence very much but he agreed it would be advisable for Canada to talk to other leaders about the detained Canadians. Beyond asking for Trump’s support, countries like Japan, South Korea and perhaps India might be willing to do the same, Sands said, adding that would only strengthen the U.S. president’s commitment to the cause. To date, a list of countries including Australia, France, German, Spain, the U.S. and the U.K. have spoken in support of the detained Canadians.  Rohinton Medhora, the president of the Centre for International Governance Innovation, said he will be watching to see who else Xi meets in one-on-one sessions - called “bilaterals,” or just “bilats,” in diplomatic circles. “Beyond the Trump bilat, how many other bilats does he grant?” Medhora said. “If it turns out that he has very few others, then I wouldn’t read that much into it. On the other hand, if he has half a dozen and Canada isn’t one of them, then I would read something into that.” The G20 is an opportunity to show whether Canada is a player or not and its place in the world, Medhora added. “I would say the pressure (is on), especially going into an election when you have to demonstrate that Canada is better and different than four years ago,” he said. Conservative foreign-affairs critic Erin O’Toole echoed that point, saying it is critical Canada not let the opportunity afforded by the G20 pass, especially given the upcoming election campaign. “As of September, the writ will drop,” he said. “This is really the last major time to really shake up and try to stop the spiral of the China relationship.” -Follow @kkirkup on Twitter   Kristy Kirkup, The Canadian Press

Tributes to Michael Jackson flow on 10th death anniversary

8 hours 1 min ago
LOS ANGELES - Hundreds of fans gathered around the grave of Michael Jackson to honour his memory on Tuesday’s 10th anniversary of his death, while the late King of Pop’s estate paid tribute to his artistry and charity. “Ten years ago today, the world lost a gifted artist and extraordinary humanitarian,” the Jackson estate said in a statement to The Associated Press. “A decade later, Michael Jackson is still with us, his influence embedded in dance, fashion, art and music of the moment. He is more important than ever.” Jackson’s estate has doggedly worked to protect and enhance Jackson’s legacy, a task made more challenging this year when two men accused Jackson of molesting them as boys in the HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland,” sparking new scrutiny of years-old claims that Jackson preyed on children. Jackson was acquitted of abuse allegations in 2005 and always vehemently denied such allegations, and the estate and his family angrily refuted the men’s claims when the documentary was released in March, noting the men had at one time been among Jackson’s biggest defenders and one testified on his behalf at his criminal trial. At Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California, Jackson’s music blasted as more than 200 fans and mourners from around the world gathered outside the mausoleum that is Jackson’s final resting place. Michael Leon, 25, came from Beijing for the occasion and led the crowd in a rendition of “You Are Not Alone,” one of Jackson’s later hits. “That song is my favourite one, and it suits the situation,” Leon said. “I’m not religious, but I hope Michael would be happy.” Other fans came from as far as Tokyo and Florence, Italy. Some were dressed as Jackson including 6-year-old Dominic Lendo, who showed off dance moves wearing the singer’s Billie Jean-era garb. Kurt Williams, 21, who was also dressed as Jackson, flew in from South Carolina to be a part of the scene. He said on this anniversary it was especially important for Jackson fans to demonstrate solidarity in the wake of “Leaving Neverland.” “Now more than ever, we’ve got to show that we know that Michael Jackson is innocent,” Williams said. “There is no muting going on. There is just a life of celebration. It’s cool to be around people who feel the same way.” Early Tuesday, fans and workers began placing huge flower arrangements and poster-sized pictures of Jackson, some featuring signed messages from dozens of fans. A heart made from flowers in the colours of the Iranian flag featured the message “Iran (hearts) MJ.” Another flowered heart read “Love from Denmark.” Fans also plan to gather at Jackson’s last home in the Holmby Hills neighbourhood of Los Angeles, where the singer received a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol from his doctor. Jackson was declared dead at a hospital at age 50. Others planned to gather around Jackson’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. One group planned a Hollywood rally Tuesday to declare his innocence of molestation allegations. Thomas Mesereau, the attorney who successfully defended Jackson at his 2005 trial, issued a statement Tuesday saying “Jackson’s compassion, humanity, empathy and talent continues to inspire family, friends, supporters and fans across the globe. The legend of this great father, son, sibling and artist marches forward with characteristic brilliance and wonder. His legacy can be attacked by opportunists. But it will never be defeated.” John Branca and John McClain, both major figures in Jackson’s career when he was alive, as co-executors have taken his badly debt-ridden estate and grossed over $1.3 billion through various Jackson-related projects in the past decade, including the film “This Is It,” a pair of Cirque du Soleil shows and the sale of Jackson assets that included The Beatles catalogue. Jackson left everything to his mother, his children and charity in his will. The singer’s father, Joe, died last year and is buried in the same cemetery as his son, but Michael’s 89-year-old mother, five brothers, three sisters and three kids remain alive and well 10 years later . Jackson’s brothers tweeted a picture of him with the words, “Forever in our hearts, 1958-2009.” The death of Jackson was a massive cultural phenomenon, bringing an outpouring of public affection and revival of his songs and largely erasing the taint that remained after his criminal trial, despite his acquittal. It was one of the earliest instances of the mass mourning on social media that would soon become common, and a massive worldwide audience both on TV and online watched his July 27, 2009 public memorial that included touching tributes from family members including daughter Paris and performances from Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey and Lionel Richie. ___ This story has been corrected to note Jackson died in 2009, not 2019. ___ Follow AP Entertainment Writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton . Andrew Dalton And Katie Campione, The Associated Press

Report: China bans all Canadian meat before G20 as Trudeau turns to Trump on detainees

8 hours 10 min ago
OTTAWA - A report in a Quebec newspaper says China has suspended all Canadian meat exports in a dramatic escalation of its diplomatic dispute with Canada over the December arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver. The latest Chinese move comes as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to depart Wednesday for the G20 leaders’ summit, where he is expected to rely on U.S. President Donald Trump to raise the plight of two detained Canadians during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. A report in the newspaper Journal de Quebec quotes a Montreal-based diplomat with the Chinese consulate-general as saying the ban is temporary. The diplomat says the move is being taken because about 100 faked veterinary health certificates have been identified on exported meat products. A spokeswoman for Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau has yet to comment on the report. China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor and sentenced another Canadian to death in an apparent attempt to pressure for Meng’s release. China has also stopped imports of Canadian canola and has suspended export permits for three pork producers. The Canadian Press

Rays owner says shared season with Montreal is best option

8 hours 39 min ago
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The principal owner of the Rays says it’s unrealistic for his team to play full time in the Tampa Bay area, and a shared season with Montreal is the best option. Stu Sternberg said at a news conference Tuesday he would be “hard-pressed” for the team to stay exclusively in Tampa or St. Petersburg. He believes “strongly in the sister-city concept” with Montreal and is “asking for open minds.” Tampa Bay is averaging less than 15,000 fans a game. Commissioner Rob Manfred says the Rays have “broad permission to explore what’s available.” An agreement between the Rays and St. Petersburg for Tropicana Field runs through 2027. St. Petersburg’s mayor has shot down the two-city possibility. The Expos left Montreal after the 2004 season and became the Washington Nationals. ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Mark Didtler, The Associated Press

Duncan announces $30 million to promote safety and inclusiveness in sport

8 hours 48 min ago
TORONTO - The federal government is investing $30 million over five years into initiatives to promote safety and inclusiveness in sport. Kirsty Duncan, minister of science and sport, made the announcement in a release Tuesday. The release said the money will be used to fund measures to combat abuse and discrimination in sport, support anti-doping efforts and “move from the management of concussions in sport to the prevention of concussions in sport.” Duncan has announced initiatives to change Canada’s sport culture throughout the year, including the establishment of a secretariat to develop, implement and monitor a gender equity strategy, $3 million in funding to increase participation of women and girls in sport and $9.5 million per year to expand the use of sport for social development in Indigenous communities. “This has been an important year for sport in Canada. We have worked with our partners to drive a systemic culture change by putting our athletes and children in sport at the centre of everything we do,” Duncan said in the release. “Making sport safer and more inclusive is critical to creating a better sport experience for all Canadians.” The Canadian Press

Licence revoked for doc who used own sperm to artificially inseminate patients

8 hours 50 min ago
TORONTO - An Ottawa fertility doctor who used his own sperm as well as that of the wrong donors to artificially inseminate several women caused “irreparable damage” that will span generations, a disciplinary panel with Ontario’s medical regulator said Tuesday as it revoked his medical licence. Dr. Bernard Norman Barwin betrayed the trust of patients who turned to him for help in starting a family, the discipline committee for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario said. The committee also expressed frustration that Barwin, 80, was not present to receive the reprimand, calling it unfair that he would not face the victims of his “disgraceful” conduct. “It is unfortunate that at this time all we can do is revoke your licence to practise medicine and … deliver this reprimand,” said Dr. Steven Bodley, chair of the panel. “We do, however, take some solace in the fact that you are no longer in a position to cause further harm.” The discipline committee had ruled earlier Tuesday that Barwin committed professional misconduct and failed to maintain the standards of the profession. Lawyers for the college had then asked the committee to revoke Barwin’s licence, saying it was the only appropriate penalty for such a shocking abuse of trust. The college’s decision to do so means other medical regulators will be alerted should he apply to practise medicine elsewhere. An uncontested statement of facts laid out the cases of more than a dozen patients who said they suffered irreparable harm as a result of Barwin’s actions, starting in the 1970s through the early 2000s. Barwin pleaded no contest to the allegations through his lawyer. A lawyer for the college said Barwin’s actions traumatized entire families. “There is no precedent for the case you have before you,” Carolyn Silver told the disciplinary committee. “Dr. Barwin’s patients and their families were the unsuspecting victims of his incomprehensible deception.” Some patients discovered their children were half-siblings, even though they had requested the same donor be used for both, the statement of facts said. Several men learned the children they had raised were not biologically theirs. Rebecca Dixon, who waived a publication ban protecting her identity, said she discovered three years ago that Barwin - and not the man who raised her - was her biological father. The committee heard Dixon and her family first became suspicious of her lineage after she was diagnosed with celiac disease, a hereditary condition that neither of her parents shares. Eventually a DNA test confirmed Barwin was her father. “In that moment, my life changed forever,” she told the committee, adding she felt her entire identity was thrown into question. The news made her feel ashamed and “contaminated,” and strained her family, she said. Even now, Dixon said she continues to scan the crowds in Ottawa, looking for people who look like her and who may be her half-siblings. So far, Dixon said she has identified 15 half-siblings, though the case before the college involves only seven patients with children fathered by Barwin. She said after the hearing that more victims may yet emerge as others discover their parentage or that of their children is not what they believed. Dixon also said she was glad that Barwin’s licence was revoked, adding the case raises questions about how the fertility industry is monitored and regulated. A woman who can only be identified as Patient M told the committee she learned recently that her teenage daughter was conceived using an unknown donor’s sperm rather than her husband’s. She has not yet broken the news to her daughter, worried the shock would be debilitating, she said. Patient M said Barwin went out of his way during the procedure to show her the vial of sperm with her husband’s name on it, knowing it contained material from another man. “I still felt so violated, I felt dirty, almost as if I’d been raped,” she said. In a written statement submitted to the committee, a man who learned his daughter was biologically Barwin’s child said he was devastated by the discovery. Barwin was cavalier in his dealings with them, even after the truth was uncovered, claiming he didn’t know what had happened but saw a family resemblance with his newly found biological daughter, the man said. According to the statement of facts, an expert retained by the college to review Barwin’s case found it unlikely the doctor’s use of his own sperm was accidental. Barwin’s explanation that contamination must have occurred when he used his own sperm to calibrate a sperm counter is neither plausible nor believable, Dr. Edward Hughes said. Barwin had previously been disciplined for artificially inseminating several women with the wrong sperm, admitting to professional misconduct when he appeared before committee in 2013. At the time, Barwin said errors in his practice had left a few patients with children whose biological fathers were not the ones they intended. The committee then suspended him from practising medicine for two months, but Barwin gave up his licence the following year. There was no evidence in that case that Barwin was the biological father of any of his patients’ children, said Silver, the college’s lawyer. Barwin intentionally concealed what he was doing, she said. Tuesday’s hearing dealt with fresh allegations against Barwin of incompetence, failing to maintain the standard of practice of the profession and of engaging in dishonourable or unprofessional conduct. As part of his penalty, Barwin will have to pay the college more than $10,000. He is also facing a proposed class-action lawsuit launched by several patients. It alleges more than 50 children were conceived after their mothers were inseminated with the wrong sperm, including 11 with Barwin’s. Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

Tributes to Michael Jackson flow on 10th death anniversary

8 hours 55 min ago
LOS ANGELES - Michael Jackson’s estate paid tribute to his artistry and charity Tuesday as fans began gathering to celebrate his memory on the 10th anniversary of the King of Pop’s death. “Ten years ago today, the world lost a gifted artist and extraordinary humanitarian,” the Jackson estate said in a statement to The Associated Press. “A decade later, Michael Jackson is still with us, his influence embedded in dance, fashion, art and music of the moment. He is more important than ever.” The estate has doggedly worked to protect and enhance Jackson’s legacy, a task made more challenging this year when two men accused Jackson of molesting them as boys in the HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland,” sparking new scrutiny of years-old claims that Jackson preyed on children. Jackson was acquitted of abuse allegations in 2005 and always vehemently denied such allegations, and the estate and his family angrily refuted the men’s claims when the documentary was released in March, noting the men had at one time been among Jackson’s biggest defenders and one testified on his behalf at his criminal trial. The estate is using the anniversary of Jackson’s death to celebrate and accentuate Jackson’s vast humanitarian work. It called on fans to honour Jackson’s memory by engaging in charitable acts “whether it’s planting a tree, volunteering at a shelter, cleaning up a public space or helping someone who is lost find their way. … This is how we honour Michael,” the statement read. Mourners began to gather early Tuesday and placed elaborate flower arrangements and poster-sized pictures of Jackson, some featuring signed messages from dozens of fans, outside his mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. A florist delivered on arrangement from a client in Japan. A heart made from flowers in the colours of the Iranian flag featured the message “Iran (hearts) MJ.” Another flowered heart read “Love from Denmark.” A fan from Las Vegas, dressed as Jackson in bright red shirt and one white glove, was among the first mourners to appear. Fans also plan to gather at Jackson’s last home in the Holmby Hills neighbourhood of Los Angeles, where the singer received a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol on the afternoon of June 25, 2009 from his doctor. Jackson was declared dead at a hospital at age 50. Others planned to gather around Jackson’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. One group planned a Hollywood rally Tuesday to declare his innocence of molestation allegations. Thomas Mesereau, the attorney who successfully defended Jackson at his 2005 trial, issued a statement Tuesday saying “Jackson’s compassion, humanity, empathy and talent continues to inspire family, friends, supporters and fans across the globe. The legend of this great father, son, sibling and artist marches forward with characteristic brilliance and wonder. His legacy can be attacked by opportunists. But it will never be defeated. Michael Jackson was a great and kind man.” John Branca and John McClain, both major figures in Jackson’s career when he was alive, as co-executors have taken his badly debt-ridden estate and grossed over $1.3 billion through various Jackson-related projects in the past decade, including the film “This Is It,” a pair of Cirque du Soleil shows and the sale of Jackson assets that included The Beatles catalogue. Jackson left everything to his mother, his children and charity in his will. The singer’s father, Joe, died last year and is buried in the same cemetery as his son, but Michael’s 89-year-old mother, five brothers, three sisters and three kids remain alive and well 10 years later . The death of Jackson was a massive cultural phenomenon, bringing an outpouring of public affection and revival of his songs and largely erasing the taint that remained after his criminal trial, despite his acquittal. It was one of the earliest instances of the mass mourning on social media that would soon become common, and a massive worldwide audience both on TV and online watched his July 27, 2009 public memorial that included touching tributes from family members including daughter Paris and performances from Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey and Lionel Richie. ___ This story has been corrected to note Jackson died in 2009, not 2019. ___ Follow AP Entertainment Writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton . Andrew Dalton, The Associated Press

Cardi B pleads not guilty to new charges in strip club brawl

8 hours 55 min ago
NEW YORK - Grammy-winning rapper Cardi B was arraigned Tuesday on new felony charges in connection with a fight last year at a New York City strip club. “Not guilty, sir, honour,” said the rapper dressed in a dark blue and light pink pantsuit with her hair tinted blue as she pleaded in state court to two counts of attempted assault and other misdemeanour charges, including harassment, criminal solicitation, conspiracy and reckless endangerment. She didn’t speak to reporters as she entered and left the courthouse, but waved at a small crowd of fans who shouted her name and took video on their cellphones. The 26-year-old Cardi B, whose real name is Belcalis Almanzar, and her entourage argued with a bartender at Angels Strip Club, police have said. They say a fight broke out in which chairs, bottles and hookah pipes were thrown, causing minor injuries to the woman and another employee. Cardi B had originally only been charged with misdemeanours. Prosecutors presented the case to a grand jury after she rejected a plea deal that would have given her a conditional discharge. Two other defendants in the case who allegedly participated in the brawl also pleaded not guilty Tuesday to similar charges. The judge set Sept. 9 as the next court date, but the rapper does not have to appear. Verena Dobnik, The Associated Press

Leonard in Lego: Canadian animator recreates Kawhi’s famous buzzer-beater

9 hours 4 min ago
TORONTO - Calgary-raised stop-motion animator Jared Jacobs is a big Toronto Raptors fan and wants star player Kawhi Leonard to stay with the NBA Championship team. So to help convince the soon-to-be free agent, Jacobs has turned to his own area of expertise: Lego. In a stop-motion video that’s gone viral, Jacobs used the toy pieces to meticulously recreate Leonard’s famous buzzer-beater moment against Philadelphia in Game 7 of the second round.  “It was one of those things where I was like, ‘Maybe this will make a difference in Kawhi picking Toronto, like the plant guy,'” Jacobs said Tuesday in a phone interview from his home in Boise, Idaho. Jacobs was referring to a Raptors fan who became an Internet sensation for carrying an uprooted large plant in the streets of Toronto after the championship win, telling Global News it was “a housewarming gift for Kawhi … a Kawhactus.” “The Internet is a weird place, so every little bit helps and that was my contribution,” said Jacobs, 41. “I didn’t have any housewarming plants, so I just put a Lego video together for him.” Jacobs said he started using Lego in his stop-motion work about five years ago after playing around with his nephews’ pieces in his mother-in-law’s basement during Thanksgiving. He first used the interlocking plastic bricks and figurines to recreate a scene from the series “Breaking Bad” for his Instagram account, which he says got attention from some of the actors on the show. Jacobs made more Lego videos and gained so much buzz, he quit his job to focus exclusively on them as a freelancer, landing contracts with companies including Bleacher Report, the Golf Channel, and the NHL Network. Jacobs said he wanted to recreate the Leonard buzzer-beater scene earlier but felt it was a conflict of interest because he was doing work for the Golden State Warriors during the Finals. He isn’t sponsored by Lego (although he’d like to be) and has to custom-make many pieces. For the buzzer-beater project, his graphic-designer friend created the jerseys. “With Kawhi’s hair I just had to use a nail file to make it look like it was cornrows, because Lego doesn’t make cornrows,” Jacobs said. “I ruined a couple of my hair pieces trying to get it to look just right.” Jacobs made the video in his usual workspace: a corner of his and his wife’s bedroom. It’s an upgrade from the kitchen table, where he used to work. He said he’s soon getting a studio. “We have so much Lego now that we feel like we’re swimming in it,” Jacobs said. Jacobs makes his videos solely himself, using a DSLR camera. The buzzer-beater one took about 40 hours to make, not including the research he put into it. The end where the crowd jumped up and down raising their hands was “painstakingly long,” he said, requiring him to move dozens of little people at the same time each frame. Leonard’s shot bounced four times, but Jacobs had to take a bounce out in order to properly link the sound up with the visuals. “The attention to detail that you have to pay, it’s kind of exhausting, actually,” Jacobs said. “Back when I used to work in construction doing manual labour, this is actually more physically taxing on me…. I think it’s just the brainpower that goes into it. It’s just that hyper focus.” Jacobs said he hasn’t heard whether any Raptors players have seen his video, but the team has posted it on its Instagram and Twitter pages. “This one is cool just because it’s something that has blown up in Canada, which is my homeland,” he said. “It’s just cool to see all the Canadians come out of the woodwork and appreciate my work. That special to me.” Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press

Judge upholds $6.6M judgment against rapper Yo Gotti

9 hours 8 min ago
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - A North Carolina judge is refusing to throw out a $6.6 million judgment against rapper Yo Gotti. The Winston-Salem Journal reports the rapper, whose legal name is Mario Mims, appeared in court Monday asking for the decision to be vacated. Singer Young Fletcher’s manager Michael Terry filed a lawsuit accusing Mims of shirking a $20,000 deal to rap on one of Young Fletcher’s songs and thereby boost sales. Terry says Mims didn’t sign paperwork necessary for putting the song on streaming services. Mims said he was never served the lawsuit and therefore hadn’t been able to defend himself. Terry’s lawyers say Mims was served after a May 6, 2018 concert. Forsyth County Superior Court Judge Todd Burke said Mims waived any challenge by not responding to the lawsuit. Mims’ attorneys say they plan to appeal. ___ Information from: Winston-Salem Journal, http://www.journalnow.com The Associated Press

North Dakota abortion clinic files federal suit over 2 laws

9 hours 17 min ago
FARGO, N.D. - North Dakota’s sole abortion clinic filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday over two state laws it believes forces doctors to lie, including one measure passed this year requiring physicians to tell women that they may reverse a so-called medication abortion if they have second thoughts. The complaint from the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of the Red River Women’s Clinic and the American Medical Association also targets an existing law requiring doctors to tell patients that abortion terminates “the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.” The suit says the laws violate the constitutional rights of doctors by forcing them to “convey false information and non-medical statements” to patients. It asks a judge to block enforcement. “The First Amendment prohibits the government from hijacking the doctor-patient relationship to advance a political agenda,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. A spokeswoman for North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said Stenehjem was not immediately available for comment. He said earlier when asked about the possibility of a lawsuit that he will be required to defend the current laws. Cass County State’s Attorney Birch Burdick, also named as a defendant, had not seen the lawsuit and said he could not comment. North Dakota is among eight states, including five in the last year, to pass or amend laws requiring doctors to tell women undergoing medication abortions they can still have a live birth after the procedure. The North Dakota law, scheduled to go into effect Aug. 1, also requires doctors to tell the patient that “time is of the essence” if she changes her mind. Republican state Rep. Daniel Johnston said he sponsored the bill so that “women having second thoughts” know they have options. He said the bill does not restrict abortions and couldn’t see “how anyone could be against it.” AMA President Dr. Patrice Harris told The Associated Press that North Dakota’s law requires doctors to “mislead and misinform” their patients and the consequences could undermine relationships between all physicians and patients. The AMA, which is the country’s largest physician organization, sued the Trump administration in March over funding for family planning organizations offering abortion services. “The AMA will step in when there is any interference with our ability to talk to our patients about legal, evidence-based medical procedures,” Harris said by phone from Belfast, Northern Ireland, where she was attending an event by the British Medical Association. She said AMA lawyers are monitoring abortion laws in all states and decided North Dakota’s was the next case to be “actively involved in.” Other states that have passed similar laws that require patients to be informed about medication abortion reversal are Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Utah. The suit says there is no “credible, scientific evidence” that a medication abortion can be reversed and the drug that would be used in the procedure has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The other law requiring doctors to define a fetus is part of the state’s longstanding abortion control act. The suit says the mandate is a “controversial and ideological opinion about when life begins” and is meant to further the state’s attempt to discourage abortion. Tammi Kromenaker, director of the Red River Women’s Clinic, said the measures do not allow doctors to give honest and informed advice. “North Dakota’s laws are forcing us to say things that violate our medical ethics and will soon force us to say things are simply false and not backed up by science,” Kromenaker said. Lawmakers passed another abortion bill this year that bans the method of so-called dilation and evacuation. It would make it a crime for a doctor performing a second-trimester abortion to use instruments such as clamps, scissors and forceps to remove the fetus from the womb. Opponents have called it “human dismemberment abortion.” Dave Kolpack, The Associated Press

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