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President Trump to pay state visit to Britain in June

16 hours 13 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

16 hours 23 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

16 hours 46 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

Myanmar lawmaker: 50 believed dead in mudslide at jade mine

16 hours 50 min ago
NAYPYITAW, Myanmar - A lawmaker representing a gemstone-rich area in northern Myanmar says more than 50 people are believed to have died in a mudslide at a jade mining site. Tin Soe said Tuesday that three bodies have been recovered and 54 people remain missing. He said it would be difficult to recover the bodies from under the mud. The accident occurred Monday in the Hpakant area of Kachin state. Such accidents are not rare, and usually occur when mountainous piles of mining scraps slide down on people scavenging pieces of jade. Tin Soe said in this case the victims worked for two mining companies, indicating they were formally employed rather than scavengers. The Associated Press

Sri Lanka minister: Easter bombings a response to NZ attacks

17 hours 8 min ago
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - Sri Lanka’s state minister of defence said Tuesday that the Easter attack on churches, hotels and other sites was “carried out in retaliation” for the shooting massacre at two New Zealand mosques last month, as the Islamic State group sought to claim responsibility for the attack. The comments by Ruwan Wijewardene came shortly before the Islamic State group asserted it was responsible for the bombings in and outside of Colombo that killed over 320 people. But neither Wijewardene nor IS provided evidence to immediately support their claims, and authorities previously blamed a little-known Islamic extremist group in the island nation for the attack. Wijewardene told Parliament the government possessed information that the bombings were carried out “by an Islamic fundamentalist group” in response to the Christchurch attacks. He 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,” he said. “However, this information has been circulated among only a few officials.” 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. Authorities announced a nationwide curfew would begin at 9 p.m. Tuesday. As Sri Lanka’s leaders wrangled with the implications of an apparent militant attack and massive 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. The six near-simultaneous attacks on three churches and three luxury hotels and three related blasts later Sunday was Sri Lanka’s deadliest violence in a decade. Wijewardene said the death toll from the attack now stood at 321 people, with 500 wounded. Word from international intelligence agencies that a local group 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 terrorist attack that was planned to take place “shortly.” The report named 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 from an attack. It was not immediately clear what steps were taken by any of these security directors. Disanayaka did not answer calls or messages seeking comment. 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. Heightened security was evident at an international airport outside the capital where security personnel walked explosive-sniffing dogs and checked car trunks and questioned drivers on roads nearby. Police also ordered that anyone leaving a parked car unattended on the street 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. 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. Later Tuesday, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the Sri Lanka attack via its Aamaq news agency, 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, offer credibility to their 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. Also unclear in Sunday’s attack was the motive. 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

Palace: Trump to pay state visit to Britain in June

17 hours 18 min ago
LONDON - Buckingham Palace says U.S. President Donald Trump will pay a state visit to Britain in June as a guest of Queen Elizabeth II. The palace said Tuesday that Trump and his wife, Melania, have “accepted an invitation from Her Majesty The Queen to pay a State Visit to the United Kingdom.” The visit will take place from June 3-5. Trump made an official trip to the U.K. last summer, though that was not a state visit, which typically features royal pomp including a banquet with the queen at Buckingham Palace. Prime Minister Theresa May extended the invitation for a state visit more than two years ago, but the trip has been deferred amid concerns about the president’s reception and Britain’s extended crisis over Brexit. The Associated Press

Myanmar court rejects appeal of jailed Reuters reporters

17 hours 55 min ago
NAYPYITAW, Myanmar - Myanmar’s Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected the final appeal of two Reuters journalists and upheld seven-year prison sentences for their reporting on the military’s brutal crackdown on Rohingya Muslims. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo earlier this month shared with their colleagues the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting, one of journalism’s highest honours. The reporters were arrested in December 2017 and sentenced last September after being accused of illegally possessing official documents, a violation of a colonial-era law. The court did not given a reason for its decision, which was quickly decried by rights advocates. “Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo should never have been arrested, much less prosecuted, for doing their jobs as investigative journalists,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for New York-based Human Rights Watch. “Sadly, when it comes to media freedom, both Myanmar’s military and the civilian government seem equally determined to extinguish any ability to question their misrule and rights violations.” Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who are being held in a prison in Yangon, were not present for the ruling, but their wives were. Kyaw Soe Oo’s wife, Chit Su, broke down in tears when the ruling was read. “Both he and I hoped for the best,” Chit Su told reporters. “I am terribly sad for this decision.” Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, had denied the charges against them and contended they were framed by police. International rights groups, media freedom organizations, U.N experts and several governments condemned their conviction as an injustice and an attack on freedom of the press. “Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo did not commit any crime, nor was there any proof that they did,” Gail Gove, Reuters chief counsel, said in a statement after the ruling. “Instead, they were victims of a police setup to silence their truthful reporting. We will continue to do all we can to free them as soon as possible.” Khin Maung Zaw, a lawyer for the two, said the pair could still seek their freedom by petitioning the president’s office or the legislature. President Win Myint could reduce the sentence, order a retrial or have them released. Legislative action for a retrial would be a lengthier, more complicated process. “I am greatly disappointed by the decision of the court because it damaged very much our country’s prestige and our right of information and press freedom,” Khin Maung Zaw said. “But I’m not losing hope completely, because all the whole world is on our side. So, as I always said, the case was lost, but the cause was won throughout the whole world. “ Myanmar’s military launched a brutal counterinsurgency campaign in the western state of Rakhine in 2017, driving more than 700,000 members of the Muslim Rohingya minority to flee to Bangladesh. The Reuters reporters had worked on an investigation of the killing of 10 Rohingya villagers in Inn Din village, for which the government last year said seven soldiers were sentenced to up 10 years in prison with hard labour. Investigators working for the U.N.’s top human rights body said last year that genocide charges should be brought against senior Myanmar military officers, while other critics accused the army of ethnic cleansing. The military has denied committing human rights abuses and says its campaign was a response to a series of attacks on security personnel by Rohingya insurgents. Many in Buddhist-dominated Myanmar supported the military and bristled at worldwide condemnation of the military’s alleged wrongdoing. The U.S. Embassy in Myanmar, citing other recent rulings against a filmmaker and a theatre troupe, said the decision was “deeply disappointing.” “Journalism, satire, peaceful protest, and other forms of legitimate expression should not be crimes in a democratic society,” it said in a statement. The reporters’ claim that they were framed was supported by surprise testimony from a whistleblower in the police department, Police Capt. Moe Yan Naing, who told the court that his superior had arranged for two policemen to meet the reporters and hand over documents described as “important secret papers” in order to entrap them. As a result of his testimony, Moe Yan Naing was jailed for a year for violating the Police Disciplinary Act and his family was forced to leave their police housing unit. A report released in February by Human Rights Watch noted that expectations of a new era of freedom of expression under the government of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi remained unfulfilled nearly three years after her party ended more than five decades of harsh military rule. The military, however, remains powerful and controls key ministries that are not under civilian oversight, such as defence and internal security. The report said her government has failed to roll back many of the legal restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly, and has instead toughened some of those laws and enacted a new measure limiting free speech. Journalists have been some of the most high-profile targets. The report cited a Myanmar freedom of expression organization, Athan, as saying that at least 43 journalists had been arrested from when Suu Kyi’s government took power in 2016 through last September. In a new case, the online magazine The Irrawaddy reported Monday that it has been sued by the army for its coverage of recent fighting between the government and the Arakan Army ethnic rebel group. It said the suit was filed under Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law, which provides for up to three years in prison for “extorting, coercing, restraining wrongfully, defaming, disturbing, causing undue influence or threatening any person using a telecommunications network.” There has been an upsurge of fighting since late last year involving attacks by the Arakan Army, which is aligned with Rakhine state’s Buddhist population and seeks autonomy for the region. Aung Naing Soe, The Associated Press

Sri Lanka minister: Easter bombings a response to NZ attacks

18 hours 12 min ago
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - Sri Lanka’s state minister of defence said Tuesday that the Easter attack on churches, hotels and other sites in the South Asian nation was “carried out in retaliation” for the shooting massacre at two New Zealand mosques last month, according to a statement. The minister, Ruwan Wijewardene, told Parliament the government possessed information that the series of bombings in and outside of Colombo that killed more than 300 people was carried out “by an Islamic fundamentalist group” in response to the Christchurch attacks. He did not provide evidence or explain the source of the information. Wijewardene 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,” he said. “However, this information has been circulated among only a few officials.” As Sri Lanka’s leaders wrangled with the implications of an apparent homegrown militant attack and massive 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 the devastating civil war that ended in 2009. The six near-simultaneous attacks on three churches and three luxury hotels and three related blasts later Sunday was Sri Lanka’s deadliest violence in a decade. Wijewardene said the death toll from the attack now stood at 321 people, with 500 wounded. Word from international intelligence agencies that a local group 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, named its leader as Zahran Hashmi, and said it was targeting “some important churches” in a suicide terrorist attack that was planned to take place “shortly.” The report named 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 from an attack. It was not immediately clear what steps were taken by any of these security directors. Disanayaka did not answer calls or messages seeking comment. 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. Heightened security was evident at an international airport outside the capital where security personnel walked explosive-sniffing dogs and checked car trunks and questioned drivers on roads nearby. Police also ordered that anyone leaving a parked car unattended on the street 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. 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. Also unclear was a motive. 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

Myanmar court rejects appeal of jailed Reuters reporters

18 hours 32 min ago
NAYPYITAW, Myanmar - Myanmar’s Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected the final appeal of two Reuters journalists and upheld seven-year prison sentences for their reporting on the military’s brutal crackdown on Rohingya Muslims. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo earlier this month shared with their colleagues the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting, one of journalism’s highest honours. The reporters were arrested in December 2017 and sentenced last September after being accused of illegally possessing official documents, a violation of a colonial-era law. The court did not given a reason for its decision, which was quickly decried by rights advocates. “Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo should never have been arrested, much less prosecuted, for doing their jobs as investigative journalists,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for New York-based Human Rights Watch. “Sadly, when it comes to media freedom, both Myanmar’s military and the civilian government seem equally determined to extinguish any ability to question their misrule and rights violations.” Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who are being held in a prison in Yangon, were not present for the ruling, but their wives were. Kyaw Soe Oo’s wife, Chit Su, broke down in tears when the ruling was read. “Both he and I hoped for the best,” Chit Su told reporters. “I am terribly sad for this decision.” Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, had denied the charges against them and contended they were framed by police. International rights groups, media freedom organizations, U.N experts and several governments condemned their conviction as an injustice and an attack on freedom of the press. “Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo did not commit any crime, nor was there any proof that they did,” Gail Gove, Reuters chief counsel, said in a statement after the ruling. “Instead, they were victims of a police setup to silence their truthful reporting. We will continue to do all we can to free them as soon as possible.” Khin Maung Zaw, a lawyer for the two, said the pair could still seek their freedom by petitioning the president’s office or the legislature. President Win Myint could reduce the sentence, order a retrial or have them released. Legislative action for a retrial would be a lengthier, more complicated process. “I am greatly disappointed by the decision of the court because it damaged very much our country’s prestige and our right of information and press freedom,” Khin Maung Zaw said. “But I’m not losing hope completely, because all the whole world is on our side. So, as I always said, the case was lost, but the cause was won throughout the whole world. “ Myanmar’s military launched a brutal counterinsurgency campaign in the western state of Rakhine in 2017, driving more than 700,000 members of the Muslim Rohingya minority to flee to Bangladesh. The Reuters reporters had worked on an investigation of the killing of 10 Rohingya villagers in Inn Din village, for which the government last year said seven soldiers were sentenced to up 10 years in prison with hard labour. Investigators working for the U.N.’s top human rights body said last year that genocide charges should be brought against senior Myanmar military officers, while other critics accused the army of ethnic cleansing. The military has denied committing human rights abuses and says its campaign was a response to a series of attacks on security personnel by Rohingya insurgents. Many in Buddhist-dominated Myanmar supported the military and bristled at worldwide condemnation of the military’s alleged wrongdoing. The U.S. Embassy in Myanmar, citing other recent rulings against a filmmaker and a theatre troupe, said the decision was “deeply disappointing.” “Journalism, satire, peaceful protest, and other forms of legitimate expression should not be crimes in a democratic society,” it said in a statement. The reporters’ claim that they were framed was supported by surprise testimony from a whistleblower in the police department, Police Capt. Moe Yan Naing, who told the court that his superior had arranged for two policemen to meet the reporters and hand over documents described as “important secret papers” in order to entrap them. As a result of his testimony, Moe Yan Naing was jailed for a year for violating the Police Disciplinary Act and his family was forced to leave their police housing unit. A report released in February by Human Rights Watch noted that expectations of a new era of freedom of expression under the government of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi remained unfulfilled nearly three years after her party ended more than five decades of harsh military rule. The report said her government has failed to roll back many of the legal restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly, and has instead toughened some of those laws and enacted a new measure limiting free speech. Journalists have been some of the most high-profile targets. The report cited a Myanmar freedom of expression organization, Athan, as saying that at least 43 journalists had been arrested from when Suu Kyi’s government took power in 2016 through last September. In a new case, the online magazine The Irrawaddy reported Monday that it has been sued by the army for its coverage of recent fighting between the government and the Arakan Army ethnic rebel group. It said the suit was filed under Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law, which provides for up to three years in prison for “extorting, coercing, restraining wrongfully, defaming, disturbing, causing undue influence or threatening any person using a telecommunications network.” There has been an upsurge of fighting since late last year involving attacks by the Arakan Army, which is aligned with Rakhine state’s Buddhist population and seeks autonomy for the region. Aung Naing Soe, The Associated Press

NHL players discuss their least-favourite rules

18 hours 49 min ago
The Associated Press and Canadian Press asked players from all 31 NHL teams what they see as being the worst rule in hockey. Here are some of their responses:   “I don’t know about the challenge on offsides. I don’t know if you should take it away or not. Maybe a whistle gets blown sometimes a little too quickly. I understand why the ref or linesman might do it, to protect themselves if there’s a tough call. And the linesmen, they’re the best in the world, I think we should trust they can make the call and let them do it. Let them make the decision like it was before. I don’t know if I’m totally against it, but I think that’s one we can look into.” - MIKAEL BACKLUND, Calgary Flames — “Offside reviews. Let the refs do their job. If they miss an offside it’s never by much, and shouldn’t be the difference maker in why the team ends up scoring.” - JONATHAN TOEWS, Chicago Blackhawks — “Diving. I think if you dive, the other person should not get a penalty because you dove. I feel like it shouldn’t be a tripping call and a diving call. I think it should just be a diving call. I mean, there’s no point. The guy dove, he dove. He embellished. So I think that’s the worst call.” - ZACH BOGOSIAN, Buffalo Sabres — “The over the glass delay of game penalty. I can’t stand that one. Can’t make it a discretion call because it would open a can of worms, but I don’t know many guys who intentionally shot the puck over the glass to get a whistle, so that one drives me crazy.” - CORY SCHNEIDER, New Jersey Devils — “I think one of the ones I don’t like is not being able to waste your timeout on an icing. I think ‘Why not?’ If you want to waste your timeout for an icing, you only get one per game. If that’s how you tactically want to use it, why not? I think it just came in last year maybe. If they want to waste their timeout there, let them.” - JASON DICKINSON, Dallas Stars The Canadian Press

Survey: NHLers don’t like delay of game rule, like 3-on-3 overtime

18 hours 49 min ago
The Associated Press and The Canadian Press surveyed an NHL Players’ Association representative or alternate representative from all 31 teams on several questions related to the state of the game. While the players polled love 3-on-3 overtime, results were mixed when it came to which rules they don’t like.   Q: Do you like 3-on-3 overtime? Yes: 30 players (97 per cent) No: 1 player (3 per cent)   Q: What’s the worst rule in hockey? Delay of game: 5 players (16 per cent) Goalie interference: 3 players (10 per cent) Offside reviews: 3 players (10 per cent) Other: 9 players (29 per cent) No answer: 11 players (35 per cent) The Canadian Press

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

18 hours 49 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

New study suggests oilsands greenhouse gas emissions underestimated

19 hours 49 min ago
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. But the emissions intensity of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.’s Horizon and Jackpine mines averaged 37 per cent higher than they reported. And Syncrude’s Mildred Lake mine was emitting two-and-a-quarter times more of the climate change-causing gas than it told Ottawa’s pollutant registry. “We find a pretty significant difference,” said Liggio, whose paper is published in Nature Communications. Until now, all carbon dioxide emission estimates from the oilsands have been based on a combination of some ground measurement and a great deal of mathematical modelling - so-called bottom-up estimation. The new study is the first to use actual field measurements taken from aerial overflights, or top-down measurements.  The findings of industry underestimation echo those of a previous Alberta study, which found methane emissions from heavy oil facilities were much higher than thought. They also agree with many other studies that have compared bottom-up to top-down. “There’s still more work to be done,” Liggio said. “But I will say there are many, many studies using top-down approaches which have also shown that top-down (measurements) are generally higher.” The measurements in Liggio’s paper include emissions from mining, processing, upgrading and tailings ponds. Industry has criticized such flyover measurements for only providing a snapshot of emissions instead of long-term data. Liggio defends his work, saying that measuring emissions against oil production evens out sudden spikes resulting from higher output. “We’re looking at what they emit relative to what they produce,” he said.  He said his team is currently analyzing data from similar overflights conducted to measure oilsands emissions in two different seasons. Industry has had a chance to comment on the paper, said Liggio. “Generally, industry was positive and supportive. They do want to work together to get to the bottom of where the discrepancies are coming from.” Liggio said the apparent problem at the four sites in the current paper could point to an issue throughout the industry. He adds the apparent underestimates occurred despite the fact the mines studied were using strict United Nation’s measurement protocols. “The results indicate that overall (oilsands greenhouse gas) emissions may be underestimated and suggest that reporting that follows this Tier 3 approach may universally underestimate CO2 emissions,” the paper says.  Researchers don’t yet understand why top-down measurements tend to be so much higher than bottom-up estimates, Liggio said. “In a complex facility like the oilsands, there are hundreds of sources, hundreds of stacks. It’s quite complicated.” - By Bob Weber in Edmonton. Follow him on Twitter at @row1960 Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

Powerful quake hits Philippines, day after deadly temblor

19 hours 52 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

Powerful quake hits Philippines, day after deadly temblor

20 hours 5 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

Strong voter turnout expected in Prince Edward Island provincial election

20 hours 39 min ago
CHARLOTTETOWN - 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. Dennis King has only been leader of the Progressive Conservatives since February, but says he is focused on adding to the eight seats his party held. Joe Byrne, who has led the New Democrats for the past year, is looking for his party’s first win in more than 20 years. The Polls open at 9 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. The Canadian Press

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

20 hours 49 min ago
TORONTO - 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. 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 city was gripped with grief in the wake of the attack and more than $4 million was raised in support of the victims and their families. 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.  The Canadian Press

In the news today, April 23

20 hours 49 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

New commemorative loonie marking ‘progress’ for LGBTQ2 people to be unveiled today

20 hours 49 min ago
TORONTO - 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. A group of activists and academics is holding a news conference near the mint’s event today to challenge myths surrounding the 1969 Criminal Code reform. York University historian Tom Hooper, who is part of the group, says LGTBTQ people faced continued criminalization over the decades that followed the legal changes. He said discrimination against LGBTQ people persists today, noting as examples that trans and queer people of colour still face issues with policing and people with HIV remain subject to criminalization. The mint “could have consulted people who have knowledge of this history but they didn’t,” Hooper said, adding he hopes the agency will do so in the future. He acknowledged no campaign can compete with roughly three million coins but said the project is at least fuelling a public conversation about LGBTQ history. “As a historian, I’m hoping to inform as many people as I can about our history. So in some ways the coin is opening up that opportunity,” he said. The mint has said it is largely informed by the Department of Canadian Heritage and its “anniversaries of significance” when it comes to selecting commemorative themes for coins. The Canadian Press

Sri Lanka security brief warned of attacks on churches

20 hours 50 min ago
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - The warning in the April 11 letter was plain: A local group was planning a suicide terror attack against churches in Sri Lanka. Priyalal Disanayaka, the deputy inspector general of police, signed the letter addressed to the directors of four Sri Lankan security agencies. He identified Mohammed Zaharan as the leader of “National Thawheek Jaman” and said state intelligence showed Zaharan’s group was planning a suicide attack in the country. Disanayaka asked the four security directors to “pay extra attention” to the places and VIPs in their care. The intelligence report attached to his letter, which has circulated widely on social media, was written in both the local Sinhala language and English. It called the group National Towheed Jamaar and said was led by Zahran Hashmi, and was targeting “some important churches” in a suicide terrorist attack that was planned to take place “shortly.” The report named six individuals likely to be involved in the plot. The variance on the names wasn’t explained. The letter bears the seal of the ministerial security division. 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 from an attack. It was not immediately clear what steps were taken by any of these security directors. Disanayaka did not answer calls or messages seeking comment. But as Sri Lanka’s leaders wrangled the aftermath of an apparent homegrown militant attack and massive intelligence failure, security was heightened Tuesday and the military was employing powers to make arrests it last used when the devastating civil war ended in 2009. Among the 40 people arrested on suspicion of links to the Easter bombings were the driver of a van allegedly used by the suicide bombers and the owner of a house where some of them lived. Heightened security was evident an international airport outside the capital where security personnel walked explosive-sniffing dogs and checked car trunks and questioned drivers on roads nearby. Police also ordered that anyone leaving a parked car unattended on the street must put a note with their phone number on the windscreen, and post officers 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. On what was declared a national day of mourning for the attacks, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said the death toll had risen to 310, with hundreds more wounded. Sri Lankan authorities also Tuesday planned to brief foreign diplomats and receive assistance from the FBI and other foreign intelligence-gathering agencies. The six near-simultaneous attacks on three churches and three luxury hotels and three related blasts later Sunday were the South Asian island nation’s deadliest violence in a decade. 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. Word from international intelligence agencies that a local group 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. Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said the warnings started April 4, the defence ministry wrote to the police chief and police wrote April 11 to the heads of security of the judiciary and diplomatic security division. Sirisena, who was out of the country Sunday, had ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in October and dissolved the Cabinet. The Supreme Court reversed his actions, but the prime minister has not been allowed into meetings of the Security Council since October, leaving him and his government in the dark about the intelligence. 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, Senaratne said. Also unclear was a motive. 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 26-year civil war, the Tamil Tigers, a powerful rebel army known for using suicide bombers, was finally crushed by the government in 2009 but had little history of targeting Christians. Anti-Muslim bigotry fed by Buddhist nationalists has swept the country recently, but there is no history of Islamic militancy. Its small Christian community has seen only scattered incidents of harassment. Two of the stricken churches are Catholic and one Protestant. The three hotels and one of the churches, St. Anthony’s Shrine, are frequented by foreigners. Tourism Minister John Amaratunga said 39 foreigners were killed, although the foreign ministry gave the figure as 31. The reason for the discrepancy wasn’t clear, but some victims were dual nationals. Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the archbishop of Colombo, said the attacks could have been thwarted. “We placed our hands on our heads when we came to know that these deaths could have been avoided. Why this was not prevented?” he said. ___ 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

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