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Updated: 57 min ago

Sri Lanka minister: Easter bombings a response to NZ attacks

13 hours 26 min ago
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - A top Sri Lanka official said Tuesday the Easter bombings that killed 321 people were carried out by a Islamic fundamentalists in apparent retaliation for the New Zealand mosque massacres last month by a white supremacist, while the Islamic State group sought to claim responsibility for the suicide blasts at churches, hotels and other sites. The comments in Parliament by Ruwan Wijewardene, the state minister of defence, came shortly before IS asserted it was responsible for the bombings in and outside of Colombo, although the group gave no evidence to support its claims. Sri Lankan authorities previously blamed the attack on National Towheed Jamaar, a little-known Islamic extremist group in the island nation. Wijewardene also blamed “weakness” within Sri Lanka’s security apparatus for failing to prevent the nine bombings. “By now it has been established that the intelligence units were aware of this attack and a group of responsible people were informed about the impending attack,” Wijewardene said. “However, this information has been circulated among only a few officials.” He said the government had evidence that the bombings were carried out “by an Islamic fundamentalist group” in retaliation for the mosque shootings on March 15 in Christchurch, New Zealand, that killed 50 people, although he did not disclose what the evidence was. The office of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern issued a statement responding to the Christchurch claim that described Sri Lanka’s investigation as “in its early stages.” “New Zealand has not yet seen any intelligence upon which such an assessment might be based,” it said. An Australian white supremacist, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, was arrested in the Christchurch shootings. As Sri Lanka’s leaders wrangled with the implications of the apparent intelligence failure, security was heightened Tuesday for a national day of mourning and the military was employing powers to make arrests it last used during a devastating civil war that ended in 2009. Among the 40 people arrested on suspicion of links to the bombings were the driver of a van allegedly used by the suicide attackers and the owner of a house where some of them lived. Authorities announced a nationwide curfew would begin at 9 p.m. The six near-simultaneous attacks on three churches and three luxury hotels and three related blasts Sunday was Sri Lanka’s deadliest violence in a decade that left 321 dead and 500 wounded. In some places, the violence struck entire families. On Easter Sunday, as they did every Sunday, Berlington Joseph Gomez and his wife, Chandrika Arumugam, went to church at Colombo’s St. Anthony’s Shrine. And as always, they brought their three sons: 9-year-old Bevon, 6-year-old Clavon and baby Avon, just 11 months old. Two days later, they were all being mourned by dozens of neighbours gathered at the modest home of Berlington’s father, Joseph Gomez. “All family, all generation, is lost,” Gomez said. Word from international intelligence agencies that the local group National Towheed Jamaar was planning attacks apparently didn’t reach the prime minister’s office until after the massacre, exposing the continuing political turmoil in the highest levels of the Sri Lankan government. On April 11, Priyalal Disanayaka, Sri Lanka’s deputy inspector general of police, signed a letter addressed to the directors of four Sri Lankan security agencies, warning them that a local group was planning a suicide attack in the country. The intelligence report attached to his letter, which has circulated widely on social media, named the group allegedly plotting the attack, National Towheed Jamaar, identifying its leader as Zahran Hashmi, and said it was targeting “some important churches” in a suicide attack that was planned to take place “shortly.” The report identified six individuals likely to be involved in the plot, including someone it said had been building support for Zahran and was in hiding since the group clashed with another religious organization in March 2018. On Monday, Sri Lanka’s health minister held up a copy of the intelligence report while describing its contents, spurring questions about what Sri Lanka police had done to protect the public. It was not immediately clear what steps were taken by any of these security directors. Disanayaka did not answer calls or messages seeking comment. Heightened security was evident at an international airport outside the capital where security personnel patrolled with explosives-sniffing dogs, checked car trunks and questioned drivers on roads nearby. Police also ordered that anyone leaving a parked car unattended must put a note with their phone number on the windscreen, and postal workers were not accepting pre-wrapped parcels. A block on most social media since the attacks has left a vacuum of information, fueling confusion and giving little reassurance the danger had passed. Even after an overnight curfew was lifted, the streets of central Colombo were mostly deserted Tuesday and shops closed as armed soldiers stood guard. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said he feared the massacre could unleash instability and he vowed to “vest all necessary powers with the defence forces” to act against those responsible. He later warned at a news conference that more militants and explosives were “out there.” Authorities said they knew where the group trained and had safe houses, but did not identify any of the seven suicide bombers, whose bodies were recovered, or the other suspects taken into custody. All seven bombers were Sri Lankans, but authorities said they strongly suspected foreign links. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the Sri Lanka attack via its Aamaq news agency, but offered no photos or videos of attackers pledging their loyalty to the group, which has often accompanied such claims. The group, which has lost all the territory it once held in Iraq and Syria, has made a series of unsupported claims of responsibility. It recently offered its first claim of an attack in Congo. Also unclear was a motive for the bombings. The history of Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka, a country of 21 million including large Hindu, Muslim and Christian minorities, is rife with ethnic and sectarian conflict. In the nation’s 26-year civil war, the Tamil Tigers, a powerful rebel army known for using suicide bombers, had little history of targeting Christians and was crushed by the government in 2009. Anti-Muslim bigotry fed by Buddhist nationalists has swept the country recently. In March 2018, Buddhist mobs ransacked businesses and set houses on fire in Muslim neighbourhoods around Kandy, a city in central Sri Lanka that is popular with tourists. After the mob attacks, Sri Lanka’s government also blocked some social media sites, hoping to slow the spread of false information or threats that could incite more violence. Sri Lanka, though, has no history of Islamic militancy. Its small Christian community has seen only scattered incidents of harassment. ___ Associated Press journalists Bharatha Mallawarachi, Jon Gambrell and Rishabh Jain in Colombo and Gemunu Amarasinghe in Negombo, Sri Lanka, contributed to this report. ___ Follow Emily Schmall on Twitter @emilyschmall Emily Schmall And Krishan Francis, The Associated Press

Saudi Arabia executes 37 prisoners for terrorism crimes

13 hours 39 min ago
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Saudi Arabia executed 37 Saudis for terrorism-related crimes including attacks on security installations, the Interior Ministry said Tuesday. The report said the executions were carried out by beheading and that two of the executed men’s bodies were publicly pinned to a poll for several hours in a process that is not frequently used by the kingdom and has sparked controversy for its grisly display. The government defends such executions as a powerful tool for deterrence. The Interior Ministry statement said those executed had adopted extremist ideologies and formed terrorist cells with the aim of spreading chaos and provoking sectarian strife. It said the individuals had been found guilty according to the law and ordered executed by the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh, which specializes in terrorism trials, and the country’s high court. The individuals were found guilty of attacking security installations with explosives, killing a number of security officers and co-operating with enemy organizations against the interests of the country, the Interior Ministry said. The statement was carried across state-run media, including the Saudi news channel al-Ekhbariya. The statement read on the state-run news channel opened with a verse from the Qur'an that condemns attacks that aim to create strife and disharmony and warns of great punishment for those who carry out such attacks. Those executed hailed from Riyadh, Mecca, Medina and Asir, as well as Shiite Muslim populated areas of the Eastern Province and Qassim. The executions also took place in those various regions. The statement named all those executed, which included several from large families and tribes in Saudi Arabia. The mass execution that took place Tuesday was ratified by a royal decree. It comes a day after the Islamic State group said it was behind an attack on Sunday on a Saudi security building in the town of Zulfi in which all four gunmen were killed and three security officers were wounded. Aya Batrawy, The Associated Press

Bill Cosby fighting $1M/month legal bill in arbitration

13 hours 39 min ago
PHILADELPHIA - A fee dispute between actor Bill Cosby and one in a string of law firms hired to address his legal problems shows the firm was billing Cosby $1 million a month in the run-up to his first sex assault trial. The imprisoned Cosby is challenging a California arbitration award that trims the $9 million bill from Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan to below $7 million. Cosby, 81, accuses the firm of elder abuse and “egregious” billing practices, and of fraud for representing both him and the insurance company he was battling in court, American International Group Inc., over his coverage. The arbitration panel found that Quinn Emanuel told Cosby’s personal lawyer and “general counsel,” Monique Pressley, of the potential conflict, but not the actor himself, and voided Cosby’s 2015 contract with the law firm that included $1 million retainer. However, the panel found the potential conflict never caused Cosby any harm, and the firm did solid work for Cosby. The Quinn Emanuel team was led by partner Christopher Tayback, the son of the late actor Vic Tayback. Quinn Emanuel lawyers charged about $500 to $1,000 an hour. Cosby is seeking refunds of the approximately $4.3 million he has paid the firm, while the arbitration panel ordered him to pay an additional $2.4 million, for a total of about $6.7 million. Cosby said that, given his age and blindness, he did not understand the scope of the work or other parts of the contract when he signed it in October 2015. The firm worked on the case, along with local lawyer Brian McMonagle and others, through Cosby’s arrest two months later and several key pretrial hearings. They parted ways with Cosby less than a year later, long before his first criminal trial in June 2017 or the April 2018 retrial, when he was convicted of drugging and molesting a woman at his Philadelphia-area home in 2004. The Quinn Emanuel team was among more than a dozen lawyers to help Cosby defend a dizzying array of legal problems across the country as dozens of women came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct or defamation. The firm was hired to work on civil cases involving just three accusers, but its work grew to include cases involving 10 women, and 40 “same-act” witnesses lodging similar accusations, across the country, according to the arbitration papers. Over nine months of work, the firm said it racked up more than 11,000 hours of work by lawyers, along with costs including $300,000 in online searches and $48,000 for a lawyer’s work reading two gossip novels and a book about the Playboy Mansion, where one of the alleged Cosby assaults occurred. The retired judges on the arbitration panel rejected those two items. The law firm did not immediately return a message left late Monday seeking comment. Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt said he has not been involved in the fee dispute, which echoes an earlier lawsuit, later settled, that a Philadelphia firm lodged against Cosby over unpaid legal bills. Cosby is serving a three- to 10-year prison term after he was convicted at a 2018 retrial near Philadelphia. He is appealing the conviction. Maryclaire Dale, The Associated Press

Myanmar lawmaker: 50 believed dead in mudslide at jade mine

13 hours 48 min ago
NAYPYITAW, Myanmar - More than 50 people are believed to have died in a mudslide at a jade mining site in northern Myanmar, a lawmaker representing the area said Tuesday. Tin Soe said three bodies have been recovered and 54 people remain missing after the accident Monday night in the Hpakant area of Kachin state. “The rescue process will not be easy as they’re under the mud, not just ordinary soil. It is really difficult to get the bodies back,” he said. The mud flowed down on the workers from a collapsed reservoir made from a disused mining pit to contain materials discarded from the mining process. The landscape in the area is extremely uneven, with mountains of debris and valleys formed from abandoned mines. The mud covered not only the workers but also mining equipment, including bulldozers and backhoes, from the Myanmar Thuya Co. and 9 Dragons Co. Tin Soe said the missing were buried under mud up to 100 feet (30 metres) deep. “There is no machine to pump out the mud,” he said by phone. “It could cost millions of dollars.” Local officials did not answer phone calls seeking comment on the accident. Myanmar’s Information Ministry said on its Facebook page that rescue operations have been carried out since Tuesday morning by local authorities together with social welfare organizations. A similar accident involving the release of a massive amount of mud occurred in March, damaging some equipment but causing no deaths. Accidents involving heavy casualties in the jade mining area are not rare, but usually have a different cause. They usually occur at the foot of giant mounds of discarded earth that has been mined in bulk by heavy machinery, with scavengers searching for scraps of jade at their base. The scavengers are usually itinerant workers from other areas who are not registered with local authorities, so the identities of victims, and even the death toll, often remain unknown. Scavenging for jade remnants is dangerous and not well regulated. More than 100 people were killed in a single landslide in November 2015. Hpakant, 950 kilometres (600 miles) north of Myanmar’s biggest city, Yangon, is the centre of the world’s biggest and most lucrative jade mining industry. According to Global Witness, a London-based group that investigates misuse of revenues from natural resources, the industry generated about $31 billion in 2014, with most of the wealth going to individuals and companies tied to Myanmar’s former military rulers. Local activists said the profitability of jade mining led businesses and the government to neglect enforcing already very weak regulations in the industry. The region is also enmeshed in an armed conflict between the government and ethnic rebels from the Kachin Independence Army. “Many jade mining companies do not follow rules and regulations on where or how to dump waste piles,” Maw Htun Awng, a mining governance researcher, said after an accident last year that killed at least 15. “Then there are no actual mechanisms to watch if these companies are following these rules and that’s why this is part of the cumulative impact.” The Associated Press

US new-home sales climbed 4.5% in March

13 hours 50 min ago
WASHINGTON - Sales of new U.S. homes increased 4.5% in March, the third straight monthly gain as the housing market appears to be cautiously recovering from a mortgage rate spike last year that caused homebuying to slump. The Commerce Department says that new homes sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 692,000 in March, up from 662,000 in February. For the first three months of 2019, new-home sales are 1.7% higher than the same period a year ago. March’s sales pace was the strongest since November 2017, a sign that the market is building some momentum. New-home sales began to rebound after the average 30-year mortgage rate fell from its recent peak of 5% in November 2018. The median sales price of a new home in February tumbled 9.7% to $302,700. Josh Boak, The Associated Press

Ceremonies, vigils planned in Toronto to honour victims of deadly van attack

13 hours 55 min ago
Toronto’s mayor says a deadly van attack that left the city grappling with grief a year ago also set off a wave of solidarity and support among its residents. Hours before a ceremony to honour those hurt or killed in the April 23, 2018, attack, John Tory said he hopes the city will show the same strength and heart in the future, and not just in the face of tragedy. “This unfathomable loss of life left our city in mourning . . . this was a tragedy the likes of which we’d never seen before,” Tory said Tuesday morning. “We saw people from all walks of life running to the rescue of those in need and offering to help in the aftermath. We saw people of all faiths gather to mourn and to provide comfort to those who needed it so very badly and many of whom continue to need and continue to receive support. . . . We saw our city united against evil and dedicated to healing and to love.” Many of those who helped that day - first responders and Good Samaritans alike - are still affected by what they saw, Tory said. Ten people were killed and 16 were injured when a white rental van plowed into pedestrians along busy Yonge Street in the city’s north.  Alek Minassian, 26, is charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. He is set to face trial next February.  Several events were planned Tuesday to remember the incident and pay tribute to the victims and their families. The City of Toronto is holding an event at the Mel Lastman Square Amphitheatre at 1:30 p.m. to coincide with the time of the incident. The city is also expected to install temporary signs in the area to commemorate what it has dubbed the “Yonge Street Tragedy” until permanent memorials are created. The city says consultations on the memorials will begin this spring. Events are also planned elsewhere in the neighbourhood where the attack took place. The Willowdale community is hosting a moment of silence, an evening vigil and a free dinner, among other events. It is also bringing in trauma counsellors and therapy dogs for those who need support. The Canadian Press

Powerful quake hits Philippines, day after deadly temblor

14 hours 1 min ago
PORAC, Philippines - A new powerful earthquake hit the central Philippines on Tuesday, a day after a magnitude 6.1 quake rattled the country’s north and left at least 16 people dead, including in a collapsed supermarket, where rescuers scrambled to find survivors. The U.S. Geological Survey put the magnitude of Tuesday’s quake at 6.4, while the local seismology agency said it was 6.5. The quake was centred near San Julian town in Eastern Samar province and prompted residents to dash out of houses and office workers to scamper to safety. There were no immediate reports of casualties or major damage from the new quake. Classes and office work were suspended in San Julian, where cracks on roads and small buildings and a church were reported. Power was deliberately cut as a precaution in the quake’s aftermath, officials said. Meanwhile, rescuers worked overnight to recover bodies in the rubble of a supermarket that crashed down in Monday’s quake, which damaged other buildings and an airport in the northern Philippines. The bodies of five victims were pulled from Chuzon Supermarket and seven other villagers died due to collapsed house walls in hard-hit Porac town in Pampanga province, north of Manila, said Ricardo Jalad, who heads the government’s disaster-response agency. An Associated Press photographer saw seven people, including at least one dead, being pulled out by rescuers from the pile of concrete, twisted metal and wood overnight. Red Cross volunteers, army troops, police and villagers used four cranes, crow bars and sniffer dogs to look for the missing, some of whom were still yelling for help Monday night. Authorities inserted a large orange tube into the rubble to blow in oxygen in the hope of helping people still pinned there to breathe. On Tuesday morning, rescuers pulled out a man alive, sparking cheers and applause. “We’re all very happy, many clapped their hands in relief because we’re still finding survivors after several hours,” Porac Councilor Maynard Lapid said by phone from the scene, adding that another victim was expected to be pulled out alive soon. Jalad said at least 15 people died in Pampanga province, including those who perished in Porac town. The quake damaged houses, roads, bridges, Roman Catholic churches and an international airport terminal at Clark Freeport, a former American air base, in Pampanga. A state of calamity was declared in Porac to allow contingency funds to be released faster. A child died in a landslide in nearby Zambales province, officials said. At least 14 people remained missing in the rice-growing agricultural region, most of them in the rubble of the collapsed supermarket in Porac, while 81 others were injured, according to the government’s disaster-response agency. The four-story building housing the supermarket crashed down when the quake shook Pampanga as well as several other provinces and Manila, the Philippines’ capital, on the main northern island of Luzon. More than 400 aftershocks have been recorded, mostly unfelt. The U.S. Geological Survey’s preliminary estimate is that more than 49 million people were exposed to some shaking from the earthquake, with more than 14 million people likely to feel moderate shaking or more. Clark airport was closed temporarily because of damaged check-in counters, ceilings and parts of the departure area, airport official Jaime Melo said, adding that seven people were slightly injured and more than 100 flights were cancelled. In Manila, thousands of office workers dashed out of buildings in panic, some wearing hard hats, and residents ran out of houses as the ground shook. Many described the ground movement like sea waves. A traffic-prone Manila street was partially closed after a college building was damaged by the quake and appeared to tilt slightly sideways toward an adjacent building, officials said. Many schools and government offices, including courts, in the densely packed Manila metropolis were closed Tuesday to allow inspections of their buildings. Philippine seismologists said the back-to-back quakes in the last two days were unrelated and caused by different local faults. One of the world’s most disaster-prone countries, the Philippines has frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions because it lies on the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire,” a seismically active arc of volcanos and fault lines in the Pacific Basin. A magnitude 7.7 quake killed nearly 2,000 people in the northern Philippines in 1990. ___ Associated Press writer Jim Gomez in Manila contributed to this report. Bullit Marquez, The Associated Press

Saudi Arabia executes 37 prisoners for terrorism crimes

14 hours 10 min ago
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry says it has executed 37 people, all Saudi nationals, for terrorism-related crimes. The news was carried in statements across state-run media, including the Saudi news channel al-Ekhbariya, on Tuesday. The statement said those executed hailed from various parts of Saudi Arabia and had adopted extremist ideologies and formed terrorist cells with the aim of spreading chaos and provoking sectarian strife. A day earlier, the Islamic State group said it was behind an attack on Sunday on a Saudi security building in the town of Zulfi in which all four gunmen were killed and three security officers were wounded. The Associated Press

Affable Green leader sets sight on potential P.E.I. election victory

14 hours 26 min ago
CHARLOTTETOWN - An affable dentist with a distinct Scottish accent, Peter Bevan-Baker ran nine times for the Green party -federally and provincially - before finally winning a seat in the P.E.I. legislature in 2015. The leader of the Island’s Green party, Bevan-Baker could become leader of Canada’s first Green government after Island voters cast their ballots in Tuesday’s provincial election race. Successive polls have shown Bevan-Baker is well-liked in this tiny island province, and his party is well positioned to improve upon the two seats they held in the legislature prior to last month’s election call. “He’s a very likable person and he’s very popular,” said Don Desserud, a political scientist at the University of Prince Edward Island. “He has support way beyond the party. People are supporting him regardless of what party they are voting for.” Bevan-Baker grew up in Scotland and, as a young boy, was a member of the Cubs and later the Sea Scouts.  He said that experience instilled a sense of order and responsibility in him.  He immigrated to Canada in 1985, living in Newfoundland and then Ontario before settling in Prince Edward Island in 2003. He became a Canadian citizen in 1992. Bevan-Baker and his wife have four children. On the Island, he operated a dental clinic, cafe and community hall in Hampton, P.E.I. He became the first Green member of the P.E.I. legislature in 2015. Desserud said Bevan-Baker has politics in his blood. “He’s also a descendant of George Brown, the original publisher of the Globe and leader of the responsible government movement in Ontario in the 19th Century. So he has very solid Canadian political credentials,” he said. However, Desserud also said Bevan-Baker is an unlikely politician who does politics differently. “He’s very reluctant to criticize. He does when he thinks it is necessary … but he tends to try to promote much more of a positive message than a negative one.” That positive message seems to have set the tone for the campaign, which was a rather polite affair. The Green party released its entire $30-million platform at the beginning of the campaign, with a third of its planned spending - $10-million - aimed at increasing social assistance rates. Increasing the inventory of affordable housing was also a top priority. The campaign took on a sombre tone in the final days with the tragic death of Green candidate Josh Underhay. He and his young son died in a canoeing accident Friday afternoon. The Greens, who have led recent opinion polls, cancelled all campaigning on the weekend, and Bevan-Baker issued a statement Sunday confirming the party had cancelled all events for Monday. Bevan-Baker said he was struck by the unconditional support he has received from other politicians and from concerned citizens from across Canada. The Green leader also noted that his campaign rivals also stopped campaigning on the weekend. Elections P.E.I. has cancelled the vote in Underhay’s district, saying a byelection will be held within the next three months. “The past two days have been among the most difficult of my political life, torn between my private grief at the death of candidate and friend, Josh Underhay, and my obligations as Green party leader,” Bevan-Baker said in his statement.  He declined interviews Monday, out of respect for Underhay, but in an earlier interview with The Canadian Press, said he was prepared for a possible win. “That possibility is there. Emotionally, politically and intellectually, I feel like I’m ready for that challenge, in a way that I wasn’t perhaps a year ago,” he said. “If you vote Green you’re going to be voting for something different and something new. I think Islanders are ready for change.” The standings at dissolution in the Island legislature were 16 Liberals, eight Tories, two Green and one Independent. Liberal Premier Wade MacLauchlan has described Bevan-Baker as a career politician from off the island, but Desserud said the label didn’t stick. “It doesn’t seem to have worked. If anything, because of his social activities. He plays in a jazz group, he’s well known at charity events. He’s seen as an established member of the Island community and I have no sense people see him as an outsider at all,” Desserud said.   Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version gave an incorrect first name for Josh Underhay.

Woman held for allegedly dumping puppies in California trash

14 hours 30 min ago
COACHELLA, Calif. - A woman has been arrested for allegedly throwing seven newborn puppies into a Southern California dumpster. Riverside County authorities arrested 54-year-old Deborah Culwell on Monday at her Coachella home. Surveillance video showed a woman get out of a car and drop a bag containing the pups into a dumpster behind an auto parts store on Thursday. A man rummaging for recyclables found the dogs. KABC-TV reports that authorities believe the 3-day-old terrier mix pups might not have survived the day’s 90-degree heat if they hadn’t been found within an hour of being dumped. Authorities say they found another 30 dogs at Culwell’s home. They were impounded. Culwell could face charges of animal cruelty. She remained jailed and it’s unclear whether she has an attorney. The Associated Press

Swole, buzzy, among new words in Merriam-Webster dictionary

14 hours 31 min ago
BOSTON - Get swole, prepare a bug-out bag, grab a go-cup and maybe you’ll have a better chance of surviving the omnicide. Translation: Hit the gym and bulk up, put a bunch of stuff essential for survival in an easy-to-carry bag, grab a drink for the road, and perhaps you’ll live through a man-made disaster that could wipe out the human race. Swole, bug-out bag, go-cup and omnicide are just a few of the 640 additions to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary added Monday. Deciding what gets included is a painstaking process involving the Springfield, Massachusetts-based company’s roughly two dozen lexicographers, said Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster’s editor at large. They scan online versions of newspapers, magazines, academic journals, books and even movie and television scripts until they detect what he calls “a critical mass” of usage that warrants inclusion. The words are added to the online dictionary first, before some are later added to print updates of the company’s popular Collegiate Dictionary, which according to company spokeswoman Meghan Lunghi, has sold more than 50 million copies since 1898, making it the “bestselling hardcover book after the Bible.” “So many people use our website as their principal dictionary and we want it to be current,” Sokolowski said. “We want to be as useful as possible.” The latest additions include mostly new words, or phrases, but also some old words with new meanings or applications. Take unplug and snowflake, for example. Unplug means to literally tug an electric plug from a wall socket, but now, it also has a more metaphorical meaning, as in to disconnect from social media, he said. And yes, a snowflake is still a beautiful ice crystal that floats from the sky during winter, but it now also has a usually disparaging meaning of “someone who is overly sensitive,” according to Merriam-Webster’s definition. Some of the words have been around for decades, but are included in the dictionary because of increased usage. Omnicide, which means “the destruction of all life,” dates to the Cold War and was used in reference to the threat of nuclear annihilation, but lately it has been used to define the risk of other man-made disasters, primarily climate change. Popular culture -movies, TV and sports - is a common source of new words, such as buzzy, an adjective that literally means creating a buzz, such as a “buzzy new movie.” And then there’s EGOT, a noun that refers to an entertainer who has won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony. Audrey Hepburn, Marvin Hamlisch, Mel Brooks and Whoopi Goldberg are among the elite group . Garbage time, those painful final minutes of a game when one team has an insurmountable lead and both teams empty their benches, has been around since 1960, but is on the latest list of new words. With the rapid advance of science, many new words come from the fields of technology and medicine. In the internet age when it’s sometimes difficult to determine whether the vast amounts of information we’re exposed to is accurate, the dictionary is a rock, Sokolowski said. “We need the dictionary more than ever now that we have information flying at us from all directions,” he said. Mark Pratt, The Associated Press

Bill Cosby fighting $1M/month legal bill in arbitration

14 hours 37 min ago
PHILADELPHIA - A fee dispute between actor Bill Cosby and a Los Angeles law firm shows the firm billed him about $1 million a month in the run-up to his first sex assault trial. The 81-year-old Cosby is challenging a California arbitration award that trims the $9 million bill from Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan to below $7 million. Cosby accuses the firm of fraud, elder abuse and “egregious” billing practices in a petition Friday. The arbitration panel cut the bill by 25 per cent, but found its lawyer rates of about $500 to $1,000 an hour reasonable for its share of pretrial work on the criminal case and nine civil cases filed around the country. The law firm did not immediately return a message late Monday seeking comment. Cosby is serving a three- to 10-year prison term in Pennsylvania after a 2018 retrial. The Associated Press

Delay of game calls, goalie interference top worst rules for NHLers: survey

14 hours 46 min ago
The pace and excitement of 3-on-3 overtime isn’t just a thrill for hockey fans - NHL players love it too. An Associated Press/Canadian Press survey of NHLPA representatives from all 31 teams found that 97 per cent of those polled enjoy the league’s current overtime format. The survey also shows there are other rules the athletes are less thrilled with, ranging from delay-of-game penalties to confusion about goalie interference. And whole the 3-on-3 period is popular, Arizona Coyotes defenceman Kevin Connauton says the worst rule in hockey is resolving a game with a shootout when overtime fails to produce a winner. “I don’t really like the shootout,” he said. “I think you just play 3-on-3 and eventually someone will score.” The survey found that 30 players like the 3-on-3 setup, while one player said he doesn’t. Playing a five-minute 3-on-3 period provides a fair way to end the game while allowing fans to see some pure skill, said Toronto Maple Leafs centre John Tavares. “(It’s) exciting and you see the best players in the world with that type of time and space,” he said. “It goes to show it’s a good way to end games. There’s no perfect science to this. We want a winner, but we can’t play forever. It’s a great way to showcase the talent, the skill of the game.” But the pace can be tough for the guys on the ice, said New Jersey Devils netminder Cory Schneider. “I hate it as a goalie, but I like it as a hockey fan,” he said. “I think it’s better than the shootout, for sure. And I know it’s not perfect, but it gets you a decision, it gets people excited, you see some amazing skill and the way the league is now, it’s a great showcase for what these guys can do.” The NHL moved from 4-on-4 overtime in the 2015-16 regular season in a bid to create more space on the ice, allow for more goals and reduce the number of games going to shootouts. In the post season, overtime is in 20-minute, sudden-death periods at 5-on-5. There are no shootouts. Radko Gudas liked the previous 4-on-4 setup better and said having fewer players on the ice is too much like “summertime hockey.” “You work your bag off 60 minutes 5-on-5 and then all of a sudden it’s 3-on-3, a speedier, faster guy pretty much wins,” said the Philadelphia Flyers defenceman. “I think 4-on-4 would be more hockey-like situations than 3-on-3.” Dylan DeMelo of the Ottawa Senators loves 3-on-3, but said there’s one tweak he’d like to make. The defenceman wants to see a rule put in place that would stop players from taking the puck over centre ice and then back again to regroup. The move would make overtime even more entertaining, DeMelo said. There are a number of other rules players would love to see changed, including 63.2 which stipulates that a puck shot or batted over the glass earns a delay of game penalty. “I don’t think it should be a penalty. I think it should be the same as an icing. Whistle, faceoff in your end, no ability to change,” said Colorado Avalanche defenceman Ian Cole, one of five players (16 per cent) who said the rule is the worst in hockey. “A penalty for a play that has a high chance to happen in a course of a game or a (penalty kill) or whatever, it seems a little drastic.” For other players, the uncertainty around rules the goalie interference rule is particularly irritating. Three players (10 per cent) said inconsistency or a “grey area” around the measure is their least-favourite part of the NHL rule book. “What is goaltender interference and what’s not?” said Edmonton Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse. “Maybe having more of a clear line, but any time you talk about something within the game, things happen so fast out there that judgment calls and whatnot, they’re hard to make.” According to the league, there are only two situations where goaltender interference should result in a disallowed goal: if an attacking player stops the goalie from being able to move freely within his crease or defend his goal, or an attacking player intentionally or deliberately makes contact with the goalie. But some players say what counts as interference in one game might not be the same in the next. On Friday, Flyers goalie Cam Talbot tweeted his dissatisfaction with how the rule was applied in the Leafs 2-1 win over the Boston Bruins. “Once again the NHL goalie interference review is flawed,” Talbot wrote. “Someone that’s played the game in the blue paint should be in the situation room. Games are being lost in the playoffs and it’s not right. #inconsistent” Three players (10 per cent) said what they most dislike is offside reviews. Nine NHLers named another rule, including tripping being called alongside diving, and the ban on time outs being used when the puck is iced. Eleven others didn’t give a firm answer when asked what’s the worst rule in hockey. Anders Lee of the New York Islanders said he simply didn’t know. “Rules are the rules. I just follow them,” said the left-winger. Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

After IS fall, some women who joined plead to come home

14 hours 59 min ago
AL-HOL CAMP, Syria - The women say it was misguided religious faith, naivety, a search for something to believe in or youthful rebellion. Whatever it was, it led them to travel across the world to join the Islamic State group. Now after the fall of the last stronghold of the group’s “caliphate,” they say they regret it and want to come home. The Associated Press interviewed four foreign women who joined the caliphate and are now among tens of thousands of IS family members, mostly women and children, crammed into squalid camps in northern Syria overseen by the U.S.-backed Kurdish-led forces who spearheaded the fight against the extremist group. Many in the camps remain die-hard supporters of IS. Women in general were often active participants in IS’s rule. Some joined women’s branches of the “Hisba,” the religious police who brutally enforced the group’s laws. Others helped recruit more foreigners. Freed Yazidi women have spoken of cruelties inflicted by female members of the group. Within the fences of al-Hol camp, IS supporters have tried to recreate the caliphate as much as possible. Some women have re-formed the Hisba to keep camp residents in line, according to officers from the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces guarding the camp. While the AP was there, women in all-covering black robes and veils known as niqab tried to intimidate anyone speaking to journalists; children threw stones at visitors, calling them “dogs” and “infidels.” The four women interviewed by the AP said joining IS was a disastrous mistake. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces gave the AP access to speak to the women at two camps under their administration. “How could I have been so stupid, and so blind?” said Kimberly Polman, a 46-year-old Canadian woman who surrendered herself to the SDF earlier this year. The women insisted they had not been active IS members and had no role in its atrocities, and they all said their husbands were not fighters for IS. Those denials and much in their accounts could not be independently confirmed. The interviews took place with Kurdish security guards in the room. To many, their expressions of regret likely ring hollow, self-serving or irrelevant. Travelling to the caliphate, the women joined a group whose horrific atrocities were well known, including sex enslavement of Yazidi women, mass killings of civilians and grotesque punishments of rule-breakers, ranging from lashings, public shootings and crucifixions, to beheadings and hurling from rooftops. Their pleas to return home point to the thorny question of what to do with the men and women who joined the caliphate and their children. Governments around the world are reluctant to take back their nationals. The SDF complains it is being forced to shoulder the burden of dealing with them. Al-Hol is home to 73,000 people who streamed out of the Islamic State group’s last pockets, including the village of Baghouz, the final site to fall to the SDF in March. Nearly the entire population of the camp is women or children, since most men were taken for screening by the SDF to determine if they were fighters. At the section of the camp for foreign families - kept separate from Syrians and Iraqis - women and children pressed themselves, four deep, against the chain link fencing, pleading with guards and aid workers for aid, favours and to be sent home. Many shared the same cough, and some wore surgical masks. Behind them, children played in puddles of mud, as women washed clothes in plastic tubs. Girls as young as three wore veils, while men and boys wore dishdashas, often associated with Central Asia. Around 11,000 people are held in the foreign section of al-Hol; The Associated Press met some from South Africa, Germany, Canada, Turkey, Russia, India, Tunisia, and Trinidad and Tobago. The women interviewed by the AP there and in Roj Camp, another site for foreign women and children, said they were deceived by IS’s promises of an ideal state ruled by Islamic law promoting justice and righteous living. Instead, they said their lives became a hell, with restrictions, punishments and imprisonment. But in a measure of the West’s broad skepticism about these narratives, governments say they are focusing on repatriating children and not the parents, who took them to Syria. Belgium’s current policy is to bring back child nationals under 10 years old. “Up to today our priority remains to return these kids because they are the victims, so to speak, of the radical choices made by their parents,” said Karl Lagatie, deputy spokesman of the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Aliya, a 24-year-old Indonesian, said that back home she grew up in a conservative Muslim family but was not herself practicing. Then her boyfriend broke up with her and, brokenhearted, she threw herself into religion. To “make up for” her past, she said she went far to a hard-line direction, watching videos of IS sermons. “I believed they were the real Islamic state … They said when you make hijra (migration to the caliphate), all your sins are cleared,” she said. She spoke on condition her full name not be used for fear of drawing harassment to her family back home. In 2015, she flew to Turkey, planning to go on to Syria. In Turkey, she married an Algerian man she met there who was also considering joining IS. But he had doubts, and suggested they move to Malaysia. She was the one who insisted they go to the “caliphate,” she said. They settled in IS’s de facto capital, Raqqa, and soon after their son Yahya was born in February 2017. She said it was not what they’d been promised. Their passports were confiscated, their communications monitored. She said her husband was imprisoned for a month by IS for refusing to become a fighter, then worked in the IS administration’s welfare office. She said she was unable to escape IS territory until late 2017, when the militants gave her and her son permission to leave. Her husband had to stay behind. She has been unable to contact him for nearly a year and believes he is now in SDF hands. Her parents are trying to convince Indonesian officials to allow her home. “I want to tell my government I regret, and I hope for a second chance. I was young,” Aliya said. “Some people still love ISIS. Me, because I’ve lived there, I see how they are, so I’m done with them.” Gailon Lawson, of Trinidad and Tobago, said she began to regret her decision even before she reached the “caliphate.” The night she crossed with her then 12-year-old son and her new husband into Syria in 2014, people had to dash across in the darkness to evade Turkish border guards. “I saw people running, and that’s when I realized it was a mistake,” the 45-year-old Lawson said. She had converted recently to Islam and married a man in Trinidad who apparently had been radicalized - becoming his second wife. Only days after they married, they travelled to Syria. “I just followed my husband,” she said. They divorced not long after arriving. Lawson’s biggest concern over the next years was keeping her son from being enlisted as a fighter. He was arrested three times by IS for refusing conscription, she said. During the siege at Baghouz, she dressed her son as a woman in robes and a veil, and they slipped out. Kurdish security forces detained the son, and Lawson has not heard from him in a month. Samira, a 31-year-old Belgian woman, said that back home when she was young, she drank alcohol and went dancing at clubs. Then “I wanted to change my life. I found Islam.” She said she came to believe IS propaganda that Europe would never accept Muslims and only in the caliphate could one be a proper member of the faith. “It was very stupid, I know,” she said. When she reached Syria, IS militants put her in a house for women and brought suitors for marriage. Samira chose a French citizen, Karam El-Harchaoui. She said IS imprisoned her husband for a year for refusing to become a fighter. After his release, he sold eggs and chickens. In 2016, they tried to pay a Syrian smuggler to escape, but the smuggler pocketed the money and ratted them out to IS. Finally in January 2018, she and her husband fled with their 2-year-old child and surrendered to Kurdish-led forces. Her husband was imprisoned and has since been sent to Iraq to stand trial there. “I know he will not have a fair trial,” Samira said. Iraqi courts are notorious for cursory trials of suspected IS members in which almost no evidence is presented. Meanwhile, she is trying to get home to Belgium. “What we saw with Daesh was a lesson to us and allowed us to gain perspective on the extremists. All we want is to reintegrate in our society,” she said, using an Arabic acronym for IS. “I hate them,” she said of the group. “They sold us a dream, but it was an open prison. They kill innocent people. All that they do, these things, it’s not from Islam.” Lagatie, the Belgian Foreign Ministry spokesman, said his government would not comment on individual cases, but said Samira was “well known to Belgian authorities.” Polman, the Canadian woman, came to the caliphate to join her new husband, a man she knew only from online. One of her siblings in Canada, contacted by the AP, confirmed this part of her story. Soon after they were united in Syria, the husband became abusive and they divorced. She married again and worked in a hospital, treating children wounded in the fighting. “I saw an incredible number of children die,” she said. She recounted mopping up blood on the hospital floor and breaking down after failing to revive a dying 4-month-old. Polman said she came to blame the militants for the horrors she saw. “Why would the rest of the world be responding to this if you were any kind of normal human being? Why? …You can say this is about religion but I don’t buy it,” she said, referring to other IS supporters who often accuse the world of ganging up against the group because it is Muslim. In early 2019, she and her husband surrendered to the SDF. She wants to return to Canada, saying she is not safe in the camp because she has spoken out against IS. “I feel so badly that I think I don’t deserve a future. I shouldn’t have trusted.” ___ Associated Press writers Michael C. Corder in Brussels, Sarah El Deeb in Beirut, Soyini Grey in Trinidad and Lori Hinnant in Paris contributed to this story. Maya Alleruzzo, Philip Issa And Andrea Rosa, The Associated Press

Impeachment, felons voting divides Democrats at CNN forums

15 hours 4 min ago
MANCHESTER, N.H. - California Sen. Kamala Harris joined the call for President Donald Trump’s impeachment as five leading Democratic presidential contenders clashed in a series of prime-time town hall meetings that exposed deep divisions in a party desperate to end the Trump presidency. Harris’ unexpected support for impeachment follows Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s push for Congress to begin the process to remove the Republican president following the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted report - a plan all but certain to fail without significant Republican support. “There is no political inconvenience exception to the United States Constitution,” Warren said. “If any other human being in this country had done what’s documented in the Mueller report, they would be arrested and put in jail.” The impeachment debate, which is raging among Democrats nationwide, played out on national television Monday as five 2020 hopefuls representing different wings of the party addressed young voters in first-in-the-nation primary state New Hampshire. While they took turns on stage, the forum, hosted by CNN, marked the first time this young presidential primary season in which multiple candidates appeared on national television for the same event. The five-hour marathon marked a preview of sorts for the party’s first formal presidential debate , set for late June. On Monday, they clashed from afar while taking questions from college students about free college, free health care, gun control and impeachment. A central question faced candidates throughout the night: Who is best positioned to deny Trump a second term? Bernie Sanders, a front-runner in the crowded Democratic field who has pushed much of his party to the left in recent years, was asked to defend his decision to embrace democratic socialism. “It’s a radical idea. Maybe not everyone agrees. But I happen to believe we ought to have a government that represents working families and not just the 1 per cent,” he said. Republicans, led by Trump, have spent much of the last year warning voters that Democrats would take the country toward socialism should they win in 2020. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who has cast herself as a Midwestern pragmatist well positioned to appeal to the middle of the country, refused to embrace “Medicare for All,” free college or Trump’s impeachment. “I wish I could staple a free college diploma to every one of your chairs,” Klobuchar told the audience of college students. “I have to be straight with you and tell you the truth.” Warren, a champion for her party’s more liberal wing, called for an “ultra-millionaires’ tax” on income over $50 million to help pay for free college, free child care for all children 5 and younger, free universal prekindergarten and student-debt forgiveness. “We say good for you that you have now gotten this great fortune,” she said of the nation’s wealthiest taxpayers. “But you gotta pay something back so everybody else gets a chance.” The Republicans tasked with helping Trump win re-election paid close attention to the Democrats’ answers, seeking political ammunition to tear them down. GOP Chair Ronna McDaniel pounced on Sanders’ call to restore the voting rights of felons, including people like the Boston Marathon bomber, who killed three people and injured hundreds in 2013 with a pair of pressure-cooker bombers and was sentenced to death. “I think the right to vote is inherent to our democracy,” Sanders said. “Yes, even for terrible people.” McDaniel responded on social media: “If you had any doubt about how radical the Democrat Party has become, their 2020 frontrunner wants to let terrorists convicted of murdering American citizens vote from prison. It’s beyond extreme.” South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who has generated tremendous buzz recently in the Democratic field, also opposed Sanders’ position. The 37-year-old openly gay former military officer said felons should have their voting rights restored only after they leave prison, not before. There was very little discussion of immigration, an issue that has largely defined Trump’s presidency. Most of the Democrats seeking the presidency support a pathway to legal status for immigrants in the country illegally, particularly those brought to the country as children. Buttigieg noted that most Americans support such a plan, based on public polls. And he condemned Trump for inflaming immigration tensions for political gain. “We’ve got a White House that’s actually computed that it’s better off politically if this problem goes unsolved,” Buttigieg said. “It’s been used to divide us.” Foreign policy was also an afterthought for most of the night, though Sanders drew cheers from the young crowd when he condemned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for treating Palestinians “unfairly.” The Vermont senator said he believes the United States should “deal with the Middle East on a level-playing-field basis.” The goal, he continued, must be to try to bring people together and “not just support one country, which is now run by a right-wing, dare I say, racist government.” Just five of the roughly 20 Democratic presidential candidates participated in Monday’s forum. Former Vice-President Joe Biden, expected to announce his candidacy later in the week, was among the missing. CNN did not explain how it chose the participants. The cable network has held prime-time town halls for many of the candidates, including four of the five who appeared Monday. On impeachment, an issue that has exposed deep divisions within the Democratic Party in recent days, both Harris and Warren broke from Sanders and Klobuchar by openly calling for elected officials to begin proceedings to remove the president from office. Democratic leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have urged a more cautious approach because impeachment would be nearly impossible politically without significant Republican support. Harris said the special counsel’s recently released report “tells us that this president and his administration engaged in obstruction of justice.” “I believe Congress should take the steps toward impeachment,” she said. Buttigieg said Trump has “made it pretty clear he deserves impeachment,” but that he’s focused on delivering the Republican president “an absolute thumping at the ballot box.” Klobuchar, like Sanders, sidestepped direct questions about impeachment. Sanders warned that pushing too hard to remove the president before the next election might distract from Democrats’ priorities on health care and the economy. “At the end of the day,” he said, “what is most important to me is to see that Donald Trump is not re-elected.” Steve Peoples And Hunter Woodall, The Associated Press

Sri Lanka, like world, again sees scourge of suicide attacks

15 hours 5 min ago
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - The Easter attacks in Sri Lanka are a bloody echo of decades past in the South Asian island nation, when militants inspired by attacks in the Lebanese civil war helped develop the suicide bomb vest. Government ministers have said seven Sri Lankans from a little-known local group carried out the six nearly simultaneous bombings at churches and hotels on Sunday that killed more than 300 people and wounded about 500. While little else was known about the group or their motives, Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger fighters used suicide bombings in the country’s 26-year civil war before being wiped out by government forces. Similar bombs would then detonate across Israel, wielded by Palestinian militants, and later across the wider Middle East, Africa and Europe by Islamic extremists in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Such attacks strike fear around the world because of their indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, like those eating breakfast at a hotel or worshipping in a church on Easter. Sunday’s assault also raises questions about whether the perpetrators had help or experience from abroad. “I call today the age of the suicide bomber. This is very much a time of extreme acts that have to, in a way, usurp the previous attacks,” said Iain Overton, executive director of the London-based group Action on Armed Violence, who wrote a book on suicide bombings. “They have to be much more devastating, more impactful, more hurtful, to get as much media headlines as possible.” Experts put the first modern suicide bombing in 1881, when a radical killed Tsar Alexander II of Russia. What may be the first photographs of a suicide bomb vest came in the 1930s, when China used them in its war against Imperial Japan. Japanese kamikaze pilots turned their own planes into weapons. But the shock of the suicide bomber only struck the minds of many in the West in the 1980s with Lebanon’s civil war. Suicide truck bomb attacks struck both the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, killing 63 people, and later a U.S. Marine barracks, killing 231 American troops in the bloodiest day for the armed forces since World War II. The U.S. later would blame the Shiite militant group Hezbollah, which formed out of Lebanon’s civil war, and Iran for the bombings. Both deny involvement. At that time, however, a small contingent of Tamil fighters was receiving weapons training in Lebanon and took what they learned back to Sri Lanka, Overton said. Their first suicide attack, in which a bomb-laden truck drove into a Sri Lankan army barracks and killed 55 people in 1987, resembled the U.S. Marine barracks attack. Over 26 years of civil war, the Tamil Tigers would launch more than 130 suicide bomb attacks, making them the leading militant group in such assaults at the time. They killed a Sri Lankan prime minister and a former Indian prime minister, among others, including bystanders. The war ultimately ended in 2009 with the government crushing the Tamil Tigers, with some observers believing that tens of thousands of Tamils died in the last few months of fighting alone. But while the Tamils were secular nationalists, Islamic extremists in the Middle East would embrace the suicide bomb as a weapon. By the 1990s, Palestinian militants from both Hamas and Fatah would use suicide bombs against Israel. Then al-Qaida under Osama bin Laden would employ them against U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and later against the USS Cole off Yemen. Then came Sept. 11 and the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan. Up until then, there were some 350 suicide attacks worldwide from 1980, said Robert A. Pape, a political science professor at the University of Chicago who directs the school’s Chicago Project on Security and Threats. The U.S. war in Iraq followed, fueling bloody sectarian violence that put Iraq on the brink of civil war. Suicide bombers pounded the country. An al-Qaida branch there would morph into the Islamic State group, which would launch its own suicide attacks around the world. Today, the number of suicide attacks since 1980 is around 6,000, Pape said, with around half in Iraq and Syria alone. “When we invaded and conquered Iraq, we touched off the largest suicide terrorist campaign in modern times,” he said. Sri Lankan authorities have blamed a local Islamic group, National Thowfeek Jamaath, for the Easter attacks. However, there is no recent history of Muslim extremist attacks in Sri Lanka, a predominantly Buddhist island nation off the southern tip of India. Nor was there any explanation for how a group previously not known for violence could engineer such a massive attack, which experts said resembled an assault by the Islamic State group or al-Qaida. “What they are seeking to push is this ISIS mantra, which is ‘We love death more than they love life,'” Overton said, using an alternate acronym for the militant group. “It is the icon of a death cult.” The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the Sri Lanka attack via its Aamaq news agency on Tuesday, but offered no photographs or videos of attackers pledging their loyalty to the group. Such material, often showing suicide bombers pledging loyalty before their assaults, offers credibility to their claims. Since the Islamic State group has lost all the territory it once held across Iraq and Syria, there’s been more concern among nations about foreign fighters returning home. Sri Lanka’s justice minister told parliament in 2016 that 32 Muslims from “well-educated and elite” families had joined the Islamic State group in Syria. It’s unclear what happened to them. “There weren’t many, but there don’t have to be many,” Pape said. ___ Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellap Jon Gambrell, The Associated Press

Myanmar lawmaker: 50 believed dead in mudslide at jade mine

15 hours 13 min ago
NAYPYITAW, Myanmar - More than 50 people are believed to have died in a mudslide at a jade mining site in northern Myanmar, a lawmaker representing the area said Tuesday. Tin Soe said three bodies have been recovered and 54 people remain missing after the accident Monday night in the Hpakant area of Kachin state. “The rescue process will not be easy as they’re under the mud, not just ordinary soil. It is really difficult to get the bodies back,” he said. The mud flowed down on the workers from a lake. The landscape in the area is extremely uneven, with mountains of debris and valleys formed from abandoned mines. The mud covered not only the workers but also mining equipment, including bulldozers and backhoes, from the Myanmar Thuya Co. and 9 Dragons Co. Tin Soe said the missing were buried under mud up to 100 feet (30 metres) deep. “There is no machine to pump out the mud,” he said by phone. “It could cost millions of dollars.” Local officials did not answer phone calls seeking comment on the accident. Myanmar’s Information Ministry said on its Facebook page that rescue operations have been carried out since Tuesday morning by local authorities together with social welfare organizations. A similar accident involving the release of a massive amount of mud occurred in March, damaging some equipment but causing no deaths. Accidents involving heavy casualties in the jade mining area are not rare, but usually have a different cause. They usually occur at the foot of giant mounds of discarded earth that has been mined in bulk by heavy machinery, with scavengers searching for scraps of jade at their base. The scavengers are usually itinerant workers from other areas who are not registered with local authorities, so the identities of victims, and even the death toll, often remain unknown. Scavenging for jade remnants is dangerous and not well regulated. More than 100 people were killed in a single landslide in November 2015. Hpakant, 950 kilometres (600 miles) north of Myanmar’s biggest city, Yangon, is the centre of the world’s biggest and most lucrative jade mining industry. According to Global Witness, a London-based group that investigates misuse of revenues from natural resources, the industry generated about $31 billion in 2014, with most of the wealth going to individuals and companies tied to Myanmar’s former military rulers. Local activists said the profitability of jade mining led businesses and the government to neglect enforcing already very weak regulations in the industry. The region is also enmeshed in an armed conflict between the government and ethnic rebels from the Kachin Independence Army. “Many jade mining companies do not follow rules and regulations on where or how to dump waste piles,” Maw Htun Awng, a mining governance researcher, said after an accident last year that killed at least 15. “Then there are no actual mechanisms to watch if these companies are following these rules and that’s why this is part of the cumulative impact.” The Associated Press

President Trump to pay state visit to Britain in June

15 hours 19 min ago
LONDON - U.S. President Donald Trump will pay a state visit to Britain in June as a guest of Queen Elizabeth II, Buckingham Palace said Tuesday. The palace said Trump and his wife, Melania, had accepted an invitation from the queen for a visit that will take place June 3-5. Though many other presidents have visited the monarch, only two - George W. Bush and Barack Obama - were honoured with a state visit, which typically features royal pomp including a banquet with the queen at Buckingham Palace. It’s rare for a state visit to be announced just a few weeks before it takes place. Prime Minister Theresa May extended the invitation for a state visit soon after Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, but the trip has been deferred amid concerns about the president’s reception in the U.K. and Britain’s extended crisis over Brexit. Trump finally made an official trip to the U.K. last summer, though that was not a state visit. Demonstrators followed him everywhere nonetheless, with tens of thousands flooding the streets of central London to protest his presence and a 20-foot (6-meter) balloon depicting the U.S. president as a screaming baby flown near Parliament. In addition to meeting with the queen, Trump will also sit down with May, whose handling of Brexit he has repeatedly criticized. It has not been announced whether he will address Parliament, an honour granted to presidents including Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. May said in a statement that Britain and the United States “have a deep and enduring partnership that is rooted in our common history and shared interests.” “The state visit is an opportunity to strengthen our already close relationship in areas such as trade, investment, security and defence, and to discuss how we can build on these ties in the years ahead,” she said. Trump and the first lady also plan to attend a ceremony in the naval city of Portsmouth to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings on the final day of his visit, the White House said. Nations that took part in the campaign to liberate Europe from Nazi Germany have been also been invited to attend. They include Canada, France, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Luxembourg, Poland, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Greece, and Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Germany has also been invited in keeping with previous D-Day commemorative events. After leaving Britain, Trump and his wife will travel to Normandy, in northern France, as a guest of President Emmanuel Macron to attend D-Day ceremonies at the Normandy American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer. While in France, Trump will also meet separately with Macron. ____ Associated Press reporter Darlene Superville contributed from Washington. Danica Kirka And Jill Lawless, The Associated Press

President Trump to pay state visit to Britain in June

15 hours 29 min ago
LONDON - U.S. President Donald Trump will pay a state visit to Britain in June as a guest of Queen Elizabeth II, Buckingham Palace said Tuesday. The palace said Trump and his wife, Melania, had accepted an invitation from the queen for a visit that will take place June 3-5. Though many other presidents have visited the monarch, only two - George W. Bush and Barack Obama - were honoured with a state visit, which typically features royal pomp including a banquet with the queen at Buckingham Palace. It’s rare for a state visit to be announced just a few weeks before it takes place. Prime Minister Theresa May extended the invitation for a state visit soon after Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, but the trip has been deferred amid concerns about the president’s reception in the U.K. and Britain’s extended crisis over Brexit. Trump finally made an official trip to the U.K. last summer, though that was not a state visit. Demonstrators followed him everywhere nonetheless, with tens of thousands flooding the streets of central London to protest his presence and a 20-foot (6-meter) balloon depicting the U.S. president as a screaming baby flown near Parliament. In addition to meeting with the queen, Trump will also sit down with May, whose handling of Brexit he has repeatedly criticized. It has not been announced whether he will address Parliament, an honour granted to presidents including Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. May said in a statement that Britain and the United States “have a deep and enduring partnership that is rooted in our common history and shared interests.” “The state visit is an opportunity to strengthen our already close relationship in areas such as trade, investment, security and defence, and to discuss how we can build on these ties in the years ahead,” she said. Trump and the first lady also plan to attend a ceremony in the naval city of Portsmouth to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings on the final day of his visit, the White House said. Nations that took part in the campaign to liberate Europe from Nazi Germany have been also been invited to attend. They include Canada, France, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Luxembourg, Poland, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Greece, and Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Germany has also been invited in keeping with previous D-Day commemorative events. After leaving Britain, Trump and his wife will travel to Normandy, in northern France, as a guest of President Emmanuel Macron to attend D-Day ceremonies at the Normandy American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer. While in France, Trump will also meet separately with Macron. ____ Associated Press reporter Darlene Superville contributed from Washington. Danica Kirka And Jill Lawless, The Associated Press

In the news today, April 23

15 hours 52 min ago
Three stories in the news for Tuesday, April 23 --- IT’S ELECTION DAY IN PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND It’s election day in Prince Edward Island and voter turnout is expected to be strong. More than 36 per cent of eligible voters have already cast their ballots in the advance polls, in a province that traditionally sees voter turnout at more than 80 per cent. The Greens and leader Peter Bevan-Baker are hoping to turn strong support in opinion polls into victories and build on the two seats they held prior to the campaign. The Liberals have governed the Island since 2007, including the last four years under Premier Wade MacLauchlan who is hoping to continue efforts to bolster the province’s economy. --- OILSANDS CARBON OUTPUT MAY BE UNDERESTIMATED New federal research suggests greenhouse gas emissions from Alberta’s oilsands may be significantly higher than industry reports. In a study published Tuesday, Environment Canada scientists say four major oilsands mines are releasing an average of about one-third more carbon dioxide per barrel of oil than they report - a crucial number used for everything from determining national emissions levels to calculating carbon tax. Lead author John Liggio and his colleagues analyzed air monitoring samples captured in a series of flights above the four sites during the course of a month in 2013. Suncor’s facility was 13 per cent over its estimated emissions. --- TORONTO MARKS ANNIVERSARY OF DEADLY VAN ATTACK Ceremonies and vigils are planned today to honour those killed or injured in last year’s deadly van attack in north Toronto. The City of Toronto is holding an event at the Mel Lastman Square Amphitheatre at 1:30 p.m. to coincide with the time of the April 23, 2018 incident that left 10 dead and 16 injured. In the hours before the ceremony, the city is expected to install temporary signs in the area to commemorate what it has dubbed the “Yonge Street Tragedy” until permanent memorials are created. The city says consultations on the memorials will begin this spring. --- MAN WHO KILLED DAUGHTER, 5, TO BE SENTENCED A Newfoundland man who killed his five-year-old daughter in what the Crown said was a calculated plan to inflict suffering on his estranged wife will be sentenced today. A jury convicted Trent Butt of first-degree murder in March in the death of his daughter Quinn. The conviction carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years. A provincial Supreme Court justice is expected to deliver the details of Butt’s sentence on Tuesday morning. --- NEW COMMEMORATIVE LOONIE UNVEILED TODAY The Royal Canadian Mint is unveiling a new commemorative loonie today meant to mark what it calls a key milestone for lesbian, gay, transgender, queer and two-spirited people in the country. The agency says the new one-dollar coin pays tribute to Parliament’s passing of legislation that “initiated the decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada.” It says the coin, which will be presented in Toronto today, celebrates “50 years of progress for LGBTQ2 Canadians.” But historians and advocates are raising concerns about the message behind the new loonie, saying it mistakenly suggests equality has been achieved and largely as a result of the federal government’s actions. ---   ALSO IN THE NEWS: - Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould announces the next phase of the Canada Summer Jobs program. -  Finance Minister Bill Morneau speaks at an event hosted by the Royal Canadian Mint in recognition of the progress made in the journey to equal rights for LGBTQ2 Canadians. - Kegan Muxlow to appear in court on charge of second-degree murder in the death of Nathan Hutt during an alleged home invasion. Muxlow was subsequently charged with attempted murder in a separate “loosely related” event early that day. --- The Canadian Press

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