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Shuffle in Senate as Dagenais quits Tories, Downe exits new Liberal group

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 12:35
OTTAWA - Ongoing efforts by senators to distance themselves from party politics took another turn Monday, as efforts by the last remaining group of Liberal-appointed senators to rebrand themselves as a new caucus ended abruptly. Meanwhile, a Conservative senator also quit his caucus over the socially conservative views of his party leader. A decision by Sen. Percy Downe, who was appointed as a Liberal senator for Prince Edward Island, to leave the newly-named Progressive Senate Caucus in favour of another independent group left his previous band without the nine members required for official status. That status comes with funding and other privileges. Sen. Joseph Day, who had been serving as interim leader of the short-lived group set up just last week, said they intend to continue working as a unit. “I can assure you the Progressive group has not disbanded,” he said in an interview. “We are continuing and we’re very positive.” The Senate Liberals had not welcomed any new members in their caucus since Justin Trudeau, as Liberal leader, severed all ties with them in 2014. When Trudeau formed government the next year, he began appointing senators as independents. Those appointees are part of the Independent Senators Group. It includes senators who were appointed under different prime ministers but are also no longer part of party caucuses. Downe was appointed to the Senate as a Liberal in 2003, having previously served as chief of staff to then prime minister Jean Chretien. On Monday, he and Quebec Conservative Sen. Jean-Guy Dagenais were welcomed into the Canadian Senators Group, an independent coterie of senators formed earlier this month. Nearly all have links to the Conservative party, and said they were banding together to ensure regional interests are best represented.  Dagenais said he chose to join that group due to concerns about leader Andrew Scheer’s socially conservative views. He blamed them for a “mass exodus” of support in the province of Quebec, effectively ending the chances of electing more candidates there. There’s no possibility things will change in time for the next election, Dagenais said. “We have wasted a unique opportunity and the result will be the same the next time if the current leader and those who advise him remain in office as is the case at this time,” Dagenais said. He said his opinions would make it inappropriate for him to continue to participate in the Conservative caucus, but he intends to remain a member of the party. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2019.   The Canadian Press

AP Exclusive: US softens position on Israeli settlements

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 12:19
WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to announce on Monday that the U.S. is softening its position on Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, the latest in a series of Trump administration moves that weaken Palestinian claims to statehood. Pompeo plans to repudiate a 1978 State Department legal opinion that held that civilian settlements in the occupied territories are "inconsistent with international law." The move will likely anger Palestinians and put the U.S. at odds with other nations working to end the conflict. The Trump administration views the opinion, the basis for long-standing U.S. opposition to expanding the settlements, as a distraction and believes any legal questions about the issue should be addressed by Israeli courts, according to a draft of Pompeo's remarks on the policy obtained by The Associated Press. "Calling the establishment of civilian settlements inconsistent with international law has not advanced the cause of peace," Pompeo says in the draft. "The hard truth is that there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict, and arguments about who is right and who is wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace." U.S. administration moves that have weakened Palestinian efforts to achieve statehood have included President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the movement of the U.S. Embassy to that city and the closure of the Palestinian diplomatic office in Washington. Even though the decision is largely symbolic, it could also give a boost to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is fighting for his political survival after he was unable to form a coalition government following recent elections. In addition, it could spell further trouble for the administration's oft-promised peace plan, which is unlikely to gather much international support by endorsing a position contrary to the global consensus. The Netanyahu government was dealt a blow on settlements just last week when the European Court of Justice ruled products made in Israeli settlements must be labeled as such. The 1978 legal opinion on settlements is known as the Hansell Memorandum. It had been the basis for more than 40 years of carefully worded U.S. opposition to settlement construction that had varied in its tone and strength depending on the president's position. The international community overwhelmingly considers the settlements illegal. This is based in part on the Fourth Geneva Convention, which bars an occupying power from transferring parts of its own civilian population to occupied territory. In the final days of the Obama administration, the U.S. allowed the U.N. Security Council to pass a resolution declaring the settlements a "flagrant violation" of international law. Pompeo was expected to say that the U.S. would not take a position on the legality of specific settlements and that that the new policy would not extend beyond the West Bank and create a precedent for other territorial disputes. He also planned to say that the decision did not mean the administration was prejudging the status of the West Bank in any eventual Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. The shift is a victory for Netanyahu, a longtime booster of the settlements, and had been strongly supported by U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and big Trump donor Sheldon Adelson. Friedman was a major fundraiser for the settlements before becoming ambassador. It may be taken by Netanyahu and the settlement movement as a green light for additional construction, or even annexation, of lands claimed by the Palestinians for a future state. The anti-settlement monitoring group Peace Now, along with AP reporting, has found a sharp increase in settlement planning and construction since Trump took office. For Netanyahu, the welcome boost comes at a time when he has been weakened domestically by mounting legal woes and two inconclusive elections this year. Unable to secure a parliamentary majority, Netanyahu is now anxiously waiting to see if his chief rival, Benny Gantz, can put together a coalition. If Gantz fails, the country could be forced into a third election with Netanyahu facing the distraction of a trial. Israel captured the West Bank and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and quickly began settling the newly conquered territory. Today, some 700,000 Israeli settlers live in the two areas, which are both claimed by the Palestinians for their state. After the war, it immediately annexed east Jerusalem, home to the holy city's most important religious sites, in a move that is not internationally recognized. But Israel has never annexed the West Bank, even as it has dotted the territory with scores of settlements and tiny settlement outposts. While claiming the fate of the settlements is a subject for negotiations, it has steadily expanded them. Some major settlements have over 30,000 residents, resembling small cities and serving as suburbs of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The Palestinians and most of the world say the settlements undermine hopes for a two-state solution by gobbling up land sought by the Palestinians. Israel's settlement activities have also drawn attention to its treatment of Palestinians. While Jewish settlers can freely enter Israel and vote in Israeli elections, West Bank Palestinians are subject to Israeli military law, require permits to enter Israel and do not have the right to vote in Israeli elections. ___ Associated Press writer Josef Federman in Jerusalem contributed to this report. Matthew Lee, The Associated Press

Police chief: 3 people killed in Oklahoma Walmart shooting

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 12:14
DUNCAN, Okla. - Two men and a woman were fatally shot Monday outside a Walmart store in southwestern Oklahoma, the chief of police said. Two victims were shot inside a car and the third was in the parking lot outside the store in Duncan, Police Chief Danny Ford said. Police are looking for witnesses to the shooting, Ford said. No staff members were involved in the shooting and the store was not evacuated, Walmart spokeswoman LeMia Jenkins said in an email. "This was an isolated incident in the parking lot and was not an active shooter situation," Jenkins said. Police said in a Facebook post that a handgun was found at the scene. Duncan is about 80 miles (130 kilometres) south of Oklahoma City. ___ Associated Press reporter Cedar Attanasio in El Paso, Texas, contributed to this report. Sean Murphy, The Associated Press

Habs forwards Drouin, Byron to undergo surgery, will be out indefinitely

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 12:07
Montreal Canadiens coach Claude Julien says forwards Jonathan Drouin and Paul Byron are scheduled to undergo surgery Tuesday and will be out indefinitely. Drouin suffered a wrist injury and Byron hurt his knee in the Canadiens’ 5-2 win at Washington on Friday. Drouin was levelled by a thunderous check by Capitals star Alex Ovechkin in the second period, though the Canadiens say his injury came from an unrelated play in the third period. “Obviously, he’s one of our best players,” Canadiens forward Max Domi said. “To be missing him now, it’s a tough pill to swallow. Other guys are going to have to step up. … We all know we have the character in here for guys to step up. “When someone goes down, it gives the opportunity for someone else. When you have the depth we have, it’s a good opportunity for guys to prove some stuff here.” Byron limped to the locker room late in the game. Drouin has seven goals and eight assists in 19 games this season, while Byron has one goal and three assists. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2019.   The Canadian Press

US softens position on Israel settlements in West Bank

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 12:04
WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to announce on Monday that the U.S. is softening its position on Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, the latest in a series of Trump administration moves that weaken Palestinian claims to statehood. Pompeo plans to repudiate a 1978 State Department legal opinion that held that civilian settlements in the occupied territories are "inconsistent with international law." The move will likely anger Palestinians and put the U.S. at odds with other nations working to end the conflict. The Trump administration views the opinion, the basis for long-standing U.S. opposition to expanding the settlements, as a distraction and believes any legal questions about the issue should be addressed by Israeli courts, according to a draft of Pompeo's remarks on the policy obtained by The Associated Press. "Calling the establishment of civilian settlements inconsistent with international law has not advanced the cause of peace," Pompeo says in the draft. "The hard truth is that there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict, and arguments about who is right and who is wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace." U.S. administration moves that have weakened Palestinian efforts to achieve statehood have included President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the movement of the U.S. Embassy to that city and the closure of the Palestinian diplomatic office in Washington. Even though the decision is largely symbolic, it could also give a boost to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is fighting for his political survival after he was unable to form a coalition government following recent elections. In addition, it could spell further trouble for the administration's oft-promised peace plan, which is unlikely to gather much international support by endorsing a position contrary to the global consensus. The Netanyahu government was dealt a blow on settlements just last week when the European Court of Justice ruled products made in Israeli settlements must be labeled as such. The 1978 legal opinion on settlements is known as the Hansell Memorandum. It had been the basis for more than 40 years of carefully worded U.S. opposition to settlement construction that had varied in its tone and strength depending on the president's position. The international community overwhelmingly considers the settlements illegal. This is based in part on the Fourth Geneva Convention, which bars an occupying power from transferring parts of its own civilian population to occupied territory. In the final days of the Obama administration, the U.S. allowed the U.N. Security Council to pass a resolution declaring the settlements a "flagrant violation" of international law. Pompeo was expected to say that the U.S. would not take a position on the legality of specific settlements and that that the new policy would not extend beyond the West Bank and create a precedent for other territorial disputes. He also planned to say that the decision did not mean the administration was prejudging the status of the West Bank in any eventual Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. The shift is a victory for Netanyahu, a longtime booster of the settlements, and had been strongly supported by U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and big Trump donor Sheldon Adelson. Friedman was a major fundraiser for the settlements before becoming ambassador. It may be taken by Netanyahu and the settlement movement as a green light for additional construction, or even annexation, of lands claimed by the Palestinians for a future state. The anti-settlement monitoring group Peace Now, along with AP reporting, has found a sharp increase in settlement planning and construction since Trump took office. For Netanyahu, the welcome boost comes at a time when he has been weakened domestically by mounting legal woes and two inconclusive elections this year. Unable to secure a parliamentary majority, Netanyahu is now anxiously waiting to see if his chief rival, Benny Gantz, can put together a coalition. If Gantz fails, the country could be forced into a third election with Netanyahu facing the distraction of a trial. Israel captured the West Bank and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and quickly began settling the newly conquered territory. Today, some 700,000 Israeli settlers live in the two areas, which are both claimed by the Palestinians for their state. After the war, it immediately annexed east Jerusalem, home to the holy city's most important religious sites, in a move that is not internationally recognized. But Israel has never annexed the West Bank, even as it has dotted the territory with scores of settlements and tiny settlement outposts. While claiming the fate of the settlements is a subject for negotiations, it has steadily expanded them. Some major settlements have over 30,000 residents, resembling small cities and serving as suburbs of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The Palestinians and most of the world say the settlements undermine hopes for a two-state solution by gobbling up land sought by the Palestinians. Israel's settlement activities have also drawn attention to its treatment of Palestinians. While Jewish settlers can freely enter Israel and vote in Israeli elections, West Bank Palestinians are subject to Israeli military law, require permits to enter Israel and do not have the right to vote in Israeli elections. ___ Associated Press writer Josef Federman in Jerusalem contributed to this report. Matthew Lee, The Associated Press

US to soften position on Israeli settlements in West Bank

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 12:02
WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is planning to announce that the U.S. is softening its position on Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. It's the latest in a series of Trump administration moves that weaken Palestinian claims to statehood. Pompeo is scheduled to announce the change Monday. He is expected to repudiate a 1978 State Department legal opinion that held that civilian settlements in the occupied territories are "inconsistent with international law." A draft of his remarks obtained by The Associated Press shows that the Trump administration believes that legal questions about the settlements are a matter for the Israeli courts. The move will likely anger Palestinians and put the U.S. at odds with other nations working to end the conflict. Matthew Lee, The Associated Press

Police chief: 3 people killed in Oklahoma Walmart shooting

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 12:00
DUNCAN, Okla. - Two men and a woman were fatally shot Monday outside a Walmart store in southwestern Oklahoma, the chief of police said. Two victims were shot inside a car and the third was in the parking lot outside the store in Duncan, Police Chief Danny Ford said. Police are looking for witnesses to the shooting, Ford said. No staff members were involved in the shooting and the store was not evacuated, Walmart spokeswoman LeMia Jenkins said in an email. "This was an isolated incident in the parking lot and was not an active shooter situation," Jenkins said. Police said in a Facebook post that a handgun was found at the scene. Duncan is about 80 miles (130 kilometres) south of Oklahoma City. Sean Murphy, The Associated Press

Bettman declines to weigh in on Cherry, says MacLean “spoke from the heart”

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 11:53
TORONTO - NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Sportsnet broadcaster Ron MacLean “spoke from the heart” during his monologue on “Hockey Night in Canada” over the weekend. MacLean opened the first intermission segment on Saturday night - the first since Don Cherry was fired last week - by speaking alone on camera for nearly five minutes. Bettman, a panellist at the PrimeTime sports management conference on Monday at a downtown Toronto hotel, said MacLean “obviously made his feelings clear.” Bettman declined to weigh in on Cherry’s departure. “I believe the CBC has had a number of statements, we’ve had a number of statements, Don has spoken and I’m not going to start another news cycle,” he said. HNIC was a longtime CBC Saturday night staple, but the show and its games moved to Sportsnet in 2014 after Rogers agreed to a lucrative, long-term rights deal with the NHL. “Coach’s Corner” and HNIC are still broadcast on CBC in a sub-licensing deal with Rogers Media, which owns Sportsnet. Cherry used the phrase, “You people,” during the “Coach’s Corner” segment on Nov. 9 but later denied that he was singling out visible minorities. MacLean, who apologized the day after, talked at length about his close relationship with Cherry during his monologue but said he had to choose “principle over friendship,” adding “Coach’s Corner is no more.” Sportsnet president Bart Yabsley was originally scheduled to be a panellist on a sports media roundtable at the conference Monday morning. He was unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict, a spokesperson said. Cherry’s firing and its ramifications have dominated the Canadian news cycle since his departure was announced Nov. 11. The 85-year-old native of Kingston, Ont., joined HNIC in 1980 as a playoff analyst and was so popular that he was kept on as a colour commentator. CBC later created “Coach’s Corner” as a vehicle to showcase Cherry, with MacLean eventually replacing Dave Hodge as co-host. Sportsnet is exploring new format options for the first intermission, a spokesperson said.  This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2019. Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter. Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press

Police chief: 3 people killed in Oklahoma Walmart shooting

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 11:49
DUNCAN, Okla. - Two men and a woman were fatally shot Monday outside a Walmart store in Oklahoma, the chief of police said. Two victims were shot inside a car and the third was in the parking lot outside the store in Duncan, Police Chief Danny Ford said. Police are looking for witnesses to the shooting, Ford said. Police said in a Facebook post that a handgun was found at the scene. Duncan is about 80 miles (130 kilometres) south of Oklahoma City. Sean Murphy, The Associated Press

Oilers C McDavid, Avs C MacKinnon, Panthers D Yandle named 3 stars of the week

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 11:49
NEW YORK - Edmonton Oilers centre Connor McDavid, Colorado Avalanche centre Nathan MacKinnon and Florida Panthers defenceman Keith Yandle are the NHL three stars of the week. McDavid led the league with 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in three games, including a six-point game (three goals, three assists) in a 6-2 win over Colorado on Thursday. MacKinnon had four goals and three assists in three games, including a four-point performance in a 4-0 win over Winnipeg on Tuesday. Yandle recorded multiple points in each of his three appearances last week to lead all defencemen with eight points (one goal, seven assists). This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2019. The Canadian Press

Water Security Agency predicts above-average spring runoff

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 11:42
A wet fall could mean a higher-than-normal spring runoff in southern Saskatchewan. The Water Security Agency (WSA) issued its 2019 Conditions at Freeze-up Report on Monday. In it, the agency said precipitation in the fall was well above average, so conditions are "favourable" for a higher runoff in much of the southern part of the province. The wettest areas in Saskatchewan are around Swift Current and in the Souris River Basin. The potential for an above-average spring runoff is a result of the wetter-than-normal soil conditions this fall. The agency says less moisture than normal will sink into the soil in the spring because of current conditions. The agency stressed that its forecast doesn’t mean there will be flooding in southern Saskatchewan. The amount of snow that falls through the winter will be a determining factor — and the agency said long-range weather forecasts are calling for near-normal precipitation and above-average temperatures for the first three months of winter. Northern Saskatchewan had a wetter-than-normal summer, but precipitation levels in the fall were below average. As a result, that area of the province enters the winter with normal conditions. The next report on the spring runoff is to be released in early February.

Environment groups say climate change should dominate cabinet choices

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 11:39
OTTAWA - Several environment leaders say Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needs to put action on climate change in the mandate letter of every minister he names to his inner circle. Trudeau is set to unveil his first post-election cabinet Wednesday morning. Isabelle Turcotte from the Pembina Institute says climate action is not only for the environment minister to manage and the way Trudeau sets up his next cabinet should reflect that. She says if the government agrees it is a crisis, then it must make all its decisions through the lens of the impact it might have on emissions and climate change. Catherine Abreu, executive director of the Climate Action Network Canada, says Trudeau also needs to highlight the transition to a clean economy. Abreu says she would love to see a separate ministry dedicated to helping Canada transition to a new economy, including for dealing with the impact of other changes such as technology and the gig economy. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2019. The Canadian Press

AP Exclusive: US officials knew of Ukraine’s Trump anxiety

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 11:33
WASHINGTON - U.S. State Department officials were informed that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was feeling pressure from the Trump administration to investigate former Vice-President Joe Biden even before the July phone call that has led to impeachment hearings in Washington, two people with knowledge of the matter told The Associated Press. In early May, officials at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, including then-Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, were told Zelenskiy was seeking advice on how to navigate the difficult position he was in, the two people told the AP. He was concerned President Donald Trump and associates were pressing him to take action that could affect the 2020 U.S. presidential race, the two individuals said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the diplomatic and political sensitivity of the issue. State Department officials in Kyiv and Washington were briefed on Zelenskiy's concerns at least three times, the two sources said. Notes summarizing his worries were circulated within the department, they said. The briefings and the notes show that U.S. officials knew early that Zelenskiy was feeling pressure to investigate Biden, even though the Ukrainian leader later denied it in a joint news conference with Trump in September. Congressional Republicans have pointed to that public Zelenskiy statement to argue that he felt no pressure to open an investigation, and therefore the Democrats' allegations that led to the impeachment hearings are misplaced. "Both presidents expressly have stated there was no pressure, no demand, no conditions, no blackmail, no corruption," one Republican lawmaker, John Ratcliffe of Texas, argued on the first day of public hearings last week. The central allegation in the impeachment inquiry is that Trump, through his allies, demanded that Ukraine, which is fending off Russian aggression, launch an investigation that would benefit him politically in exchange for crucial military and strategic support. Witnesses have detailed, in closed-door depositions and public impeachment hearings, that allies of Trump pressed Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son while withholding military aid and a coveted meeting between the newly elected Zelenskiy and Trump. The U.S. briefings - and contemporaneous notes on Zelenskiy's early anxiety about Trump's interest in an investigation - suggest that Democrats have evidence in reach to contradict Republican arguments that Zelenskiy never felt pressure to investigate Biden. The Associated Press reported last month about Zelenskiy's meeting on May 7 with, two top aides, as well as Andriy Kobolyev, head of the state-owned natural gas company Naftogaz, and Amos Hochstein, an American who sits on the Ukrainian company's supervisory board. Ahead of the meeting, Hochstein told Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador, why he was being called in. Zelenskiy's office has not replied to requests for comment about the May 7 meeting. Notes circulated internally at the State Department indicated that Zelenskiy tried to mask the real purpose of his May 7 meeting __ which was to talk about political problems with the White House __ by saying it was about energy, the two people with knowledge of the matter said. After the meeting with Zelenskiy, Hochstein separately briefed two U.S. Embassy officials, Suriya Jayanti and Joseph Pennington, about Zelenskiy's concerns, said the two people who spoke to the AP. Jayanti and Pennington took notes on the meeting, the people said. Hochstein told the embassy officials about Zelenskiy's concerns and then travelled to Washington to update Yovanovitch on the meeting. The ambassador, who was facing a smear campaign, had just been called back to Washington, where she was informed that she no longer had the confidence of the president. She was relieved of her duties as ambassador on May 20. Jayanti was also one of three witnesses to a phone call in which Trump discussed his interest in an investigation of Biden with his ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland. The call occurred while Sondland was having lunch with three embassy officials in Kyiv. David Holmes, political counsel at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, has already detailed to House investigators what he overheard. Jayanti and the third witness, Tara Maher, have not been interviewed. Hochstein, a former diplomat who advised Biden on Ukraine matters during the Obama administration, has also not been questioned in the impeachment proceedings. The Republican arguments about Zelenskiy's lack of concern stem from a Sept. 25 joint media appearance by the American and Ukrainian leaders in which Zelenskiy discussed the July call with Trump that effectively launched the impeachment inquiry. The appearance came shortly after Trump released a rough transcript of the call. "You heard that we had, I think, good phone call. It was normal. We spoke about many things. And I - so I think, and you read it, that nobody pushed - pushed me," Zelenskiy said in the appearance with Trump on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York. "In other words, no pressure," Trump spoke up to add. In the impeachment hearings, Democrats have countered that Zelenskiy's public comments came when he was trying to calm the waters with the U.S. president in the immediate wake of the transcript's release. The burgeoning scandal has brought further uncertainty for Ukraine with its most important Western partner as the country faces simmering conflict with Russia. Zelenskiy's May 7 meeting suggests that he had been concerned about U.S. support from the start. ___ Follow Associated Press investigative reporters Desmond Butler at https://twitter.com/desmondbutler , Michael Biesecker at http://twitter.com/mbieseck Desmond Butler And Michael Biesecker, The Associated Press

Some military personnel linked to hate warned, disciplined but allowed to stay

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 11:32
OTTAWA - The Department of National Defence says 16 military members that a report last year linked to hateful actions or groups have been warned, disciplined or ordered to take counselling, but allowed to remain in uniform. National Defence had previously reported that seven of the 36 members identified through the 2018 military-intelligence report on white supremacy and hate groups in the ranks were no longer in the Canadian Armed Forces. The department had been unable to provide any further information on the others until now, sparking questions and criticism from anti-hate advocates over whether military officials were taking the issue seriously enough. As for the remaining 13 cases, National Defence would only say some of them are ongoing. The update comes as new documents obtained by The Canadian Press through an Access to Information request reveal military officials initially wanted to charge an officer cadet and kick him out of the Forces for associating with the far-right Proud Boys group. Military prosecutors eventually said there was no reasonable prospect of convicting the cadet because it would violate his charter rights while senior officers decided to let him stay after he told them that he was no longer part of the Proud Boys. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2019. The Canadian Press

Habs forwards Drouin, Byron to undergo surgery, will be out indefinitely

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 11:05
Montreal Canadiens coach Claude Julien says forwards Jonathan Drouin and Paul Byron are scheduled to undergo surgery Tuesday and will be out indefinitely. Drouin suffered a wrist injury and Byron hurt his knee in the Canadiens’ 5-2 win at Washington on Friday. Drouin was levelled by a thunderous check by Capitals star Alex Ovechkin in the second period, though the Canadiens say his injury came from an unrelated play in the third period. Byron limped to the locker room late in the game. Drouin has seven goals and eight assists in 19 games this season, while  Byron has one goal and three assists. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2019. The Canadian Press

Campus under siege as Hong Kong police battle protesters

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 11:02
HONG KONG - Police tightened their siege of a university campus where hundreds of protesters remained trapped Monday night in the latest dramatic episode in months of protests against growing Chinese control over the semi-autonomous city. The pitched battle for control of the campus of Hong Kong Polytechnic University has been the focus of the latest protests as demonstrators for days fortified the campus to keep the police out. Now cornered by security forces determined to arrest them, they desperately tried to get out but faced a cordon of officers armed with tear gas and water cannons. Senior government officials said they were trying to de-escalate the situation and urged the protesters to peacefully leave the campus and co-operate with police - advice that seemed certain to lead to arrests and therefore strengthened the protesters' resolve to resist. Officers repelled one escape attempt early Monday with tear gas, driving hundreds of protesters back onto the campus. Later, huge crowds of supporters advanced on foot toward the police from outside the cordon to try to disrupt the police operation. Some protesters descended by ropes from a footbridge to a road below, where they were met by motorbike riders trying to help them flee as police fired tear gas. It was unclear whether they got away safely. Throughout the day, multiple protests disrupted traffic in the Asian financial centre, where schools remained closed because of safety concerns stemming from the demonstrations, which began in June but have become increasingly violent in recent weeks. Local council elections scheduled for Sunday were at risk of being delayed because of the unrest, said Patrick Nip, Hong Kong's secretary for constitutional affairs. "The situation in the past weekend has obviously reduced the chance of holding the election as scheduled. And I am very anxious about this," Nip said, adding that the government "won't take this step unless absolutely necessary." The give-and-take has played out repeatedly during the city's months of anti-government unrest. The protesters want to avoid arrest. The police want to pick up as many as they can. "These rioters, they are also criminals. They have to face the consequences of their acts," said Cheuk Hau-yip, the commander of Kowloon West district, where Polytechnic is located. "Other than coming out to surrender, I don't see, at the moment, there's any viable option for them," he said, adding that police have the ability and resolve to end the standoff. While both sides dug in at the campus, protest supporters rallied across Kowloon in an attempt to reach the police cordon around the university and disrupt the security operation to help those trapped inside. But they were met by riot police firing tear gas, turning the busy streets teeming with apartment blocks into a battle zone. Riot officers broke into one university entrance before dawn Monday as fires raged inside and outside, but they didn't appear to get very far. Fiery explosions could be seen as protesters responded with gasoline bombs. Police, who have warned that everyone in the area could be charged with rioting, reportedly made a handful of arrests. The protesters made gains, meanwhile, on a legal front when the high court struck down a ban on face masks imposed by the government last month. The court said it did not consider anti-mask laws unconstitutional in general, but in this case, the law infringed on fundamental rights further than was reasonably necessary. Many protesters wear masks to shield their identities from surveillance cameras that could be used to arrest and prosecute them. The ban has been widely ignored, and police have brought charges against protesters wearing masks. The protests started peacefully in early June, sparked by proposed legislation that would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to the mainland. But by the time the bill was withdrawn, the protests had hardened and broadened into a resistance movement against the territory's government and Beijing. Activists see the extradition bill as an example of Hong Kong's eroding autonomy under Beijing's rule since the 1997 handover from colonial power Britain. The head of a nationalistic Chinese newspaper said Hong Kong police should use snipers to fire live ammunition at violent protesters. "If the rioters are killed, the police should not have to bear legal responsibility," Global Times editor Hu Xijin wrote on his Weibo social media account. Anti-government protesters barricaded themselves inside Polytechnic last week. Police surrounded the area Sunday night and began moving in after issuing an ultimatum for people to leave the area. The crowd wore raincoats and carried umbrellas to shield themselves from police water cannons. At daybreak, protesters remained in control of most of the campus. In one outdoor area, some demonstrators made gasoline bombs while others wore gas masks. Two walked about with bows and arrows, while many stared at their smartphones. "We are exhausted because we were up since 5 a.m. yesterday," said a protester who gave only his first name, Matthew. "We are desperate because our supplies are running low." A few hundred protesters streamed out of the campus early Monday in an apparent bid to escape, but they were driven back by police tear gas. Some wearing gas masks calmly picked up smoking tear gas canisters and dropped them into heavy-duty bags, but the protesters decided to retreat with a phalanx of officers lined up across the road in the distance. Other protesters blocked a major road not far from the Polytechnic campus to distract police and help those inside the campus escape. They tossed paving stones onto stretches of Nathan Road as police chased them with tear gas. An injured woman arrested for participating in an unlawful assembly escaped after protesters stopped her ambulance and hurled rocks and bricks inside. Police issued a "wanted" notice for the 20-year-old woman and said anyone who aided her could be charged with assisting an offender, which can be punished by up to 10 years in prison. The road closure added to transport woes during the morning commute, with several train stations still closed because of damage by protesters last week and a section of one line closed completely near Polytechnic. The Education Bureau announced that classes from kindergarten to high school would be suspended for the sixth straight day Tuesday because of safety concerns. Most classes are expected to resume Wednesday, except for kindergarten and classes for the disabled, which are suspended until Sunday, the bureau said. ___ Associated Press journalist Dake Kang contributed to this report. Ken Moritsugu, The Associated Press

Highway Patrol: 3 killed in shooting at Oklahoma Walmart

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 10:58
DUNCAN, Okla. - At least three people have been shot and killed at a Walmart store in Oklahoma, according to local media citing the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. The shooting happened Monday morning at the store in Duncan, Oklahoma. The Associated Press was not able to immediately confirm the reports that people were killed. A dispatcher told The Associated Press that "everyone is at the scene." Duncan is about 80 miles (130 kilometres) south of Oklahoma City. The Associated Press

Bettman declines to weigh in on Cherry, says MacLean “spoke from the heart”

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 10:57
TORONTO - NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Sportsnet broadcaster Ron MacLean “spoke from the heart” during his monologue on “Hockey Night in Canada” over the weekend. MacLean opened the first intermission segment on Saturday night - the first since Cherry was fired last week - by speaking alone on camera for nearly five minutes. Bettman, a panellist at the PrimeTime sports management conference on Monday at a downtown Toronto hotel, said MacLean “obviously made his feelings clear.” Bettman declined to weigh in on Cherry’s departure. “I believe the CBC has had a number of statements, we’ve had a number of statements, Don has spoken and I’m not going to start another news cycle,” he said. HNIC was a longtime CBC Saturday night staple, but the show and its games moved to Sportsnet in 2014 after Rogers agreed to a lucrative, long-term rights deal with the NHL. “Coach’s Corner” and HNIC are still broadcast on CBC in a sub-licensing deal with Rogers Media, which owns Sportsnet. Cherry used the phrase, “You people,” during the “Coach’s Corner” segment on Nov. 9 but later denied that he was singling out visible minorities. MacLean, who apologized the day after, talked at length about his close relationship with Cherry during his monologue but said he had to choose “principle over friendship,” adding “Coach’s Corner is no more.” Sportsnet president Bart Yabsley was originally scheduled to be a panellist on a sports media roundtable at the conference Monday morning. He was unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict, a spokesperson said. Cherry’s firing and its ramifications have dominated the Canadian news cycle since his departure was announced Nov. 11. The 85-year-old native of Kingston, Ont., joined HNIC in 1980 as a playoff analyst and was so popular that he was kept on as a colour commentator. CBC later created “Coach’s Corner” as a vehicle to showcase Cherry, with MacLean eventually replacing Dave Hodge as co-host. Sportsnet is exploring new format options for the first intermission, a spokesperson said.  This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2019. Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter. Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press

Highway Patrol: 3 killed in shooting at Oklahoma Walmart

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 10:53
DUNCAN, Okla. - At least three people have been shot and killed at a Walmart store in Oklahoma, according to local media citing the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. The shooting happened Monday morning at the store in Duncan, Oklahoma. The Associated Press was not able to immediately confirm the reports that people were killed. A dispatcher told The Associated Press that "everyone is at the scene." Duncan is about 80 miles (130 kilometres) south of Oklahoma City. The Associated Press

Wray Morrison: Coach and QB

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 10:46
Saskatchewan Roughriders offensive co-ordinator Stephen McAdoo is on the hot seat in Saskatchewan today. Not a lot, but a little bit. Red zone play-calling in Sunday’s West Division final against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers is a topic of discussion in this province today. That’s going to happen when the Riders fail to score a touchdown. From what I’ve seen, there appears to be unwavering support for Cody Fajardo and Craig Dickenson. These are two people who have shown they owe it to the supporters of this football team to not only win, but to treat the fan base with dignity and respect. If Sunday’s events played out exactly the same way with Chris Jones as coach and Zach Collaros at quarterback, I believe the tone would be much different. It’s not that often that Rider Nation is happy with status quo after a playoff loss. That looks to be the case when it comes to coach and quarterback going into 2020.

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