Ghislaine Maxwell: Hackers 'breached' computer belonging to Jeffrey Epstein associate, attorney says

Chris Riotta
Getty

Lawyers for the woman accused of procuring underage girls to have sex with Jeffrey Epstein told a judge that hackers “breached” her computer after a court failed to redact her email address in filings it released last year.

Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyer Ty Gee said in a December letter to Judge Loretta A Preska that, “despite the Second Circuit’s best efforts, it made serious mistakes” when redacting thousands of pages of records associated with a defamation lawsuit filed by one of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Giuffre.

Ms Giuffre’s 2015 lawsuit argued that Ms Maxwell publicly called her a liar for claiming that the British socialite approached her at the age of 15 and encouraged her to sleep with the convicted sex offender.

Lawyers for Ms Giuffre and Ms Maxwell were engaged in a years-long fight to unseal a trove of papers related to the case, with Ms Maxwell arguing the records should remain secret, until a court deemed the previous sealing was unjustified.

In releasing the papers, the court “redacted Ms Maxwell’s email address (which linked to her own domain name) in one location but not another”, Mr Gee’s letter read, adding: “Shortly afterward hackers breached the host computer.”

The letter also addressed other apparent issues with the court’s release of the case filings.

“For example, it redacted a non-party's name in one location but not another,” the letter continued, “so the media immediately gained access to that name.”

The letter, which was made public earlier this week, did not state who may have been responsible for hacking Ms Maxwell’s computer.

It did, however, argue that currently sealed records should remain secret and out of the public eye, citing privacy concerns and claiming those pages may contain “untrustworthy, unreliable and incorrect information”.

Ms Maxwell has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing after the court filings said she was involved in procuring underage women to have sex with Epstein, even going so far as training the young girls who said they were sexually abused by Epstein.

Ms Giuffre said she was “trafficked” by Epstein and his associates, and claimed she was made to have sex with his high-profile associates, including Prince Andrew.

“This is not some sordid sex story. This is a story of being trafficked. This is a story of abuse and this is a story of your guys’ royalty,” Ms Giuffre told BBC Panorama.

Previously reported emails showed Prince Andrew emailing Ms Maxwell in 2015: “Let me know when we can talk. Got some specific questions to ask you about Virginia Roberts.”

“Have some info,” she reportedly responded, adding: “Call me when you have a moment.”

Prince Andrew also denies having any involvement in Epstein’s sexual abuse and said he does not remember meeting Ms Giuffre, despite a photo showing him and Ms Maxwell with her when she was underage.

Epstein died of an apparent suicide in federal prison last year. The FBI has since launched an investigation into his death.

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  • As stock markets fall, the time to stock up at the store  is before COVID-19 comes to town: Don Pittis
    News
    CBC

    As stock markets fall, the time to stock up at the store is before COVID-19 comes to town: Don Pittis

    Stocks markets fell sharply for a second day around the world in response to new signs that the COVID-19 virus is spreading outside China.But while investors did not want stocks again yesterday, people in the parts of northern Italy now facing an outbreak of the new coronavirus were anxious to stock up on food.Experts who watched grocery store shelves empty — first in Wuhan, China, then in other places where the virus seems to be spreading widely — say the time for Canadians to get ready for an emergency is before it happens. And that means even if it never happens.The inability of households to get the goods they need represents a fundamental breakdown of the economic system, but it is merely a visible sign of trouble in the supply chain that applies across the economy, says Amin Mawani, who teaches at York University's Schulich School of Business in Toronto."When you see empty store shelves, you often think about consumers," said Mawani, whose research includes how companies cope with employee absenteeism. "Corporations and business also find a lack of similar supplies."Preparation makes an economic differenceHe says that the masks considered most effective against the virus are already unavailable from Canadian retailers, and that in the 2003 SARS epidemic, hand sanitizer was sold out for months."We have to prepare across governments, across communities and as families and individuals in the event of more widespread transmission in our community," said Canada's chief public health officer, Theresa Tam, on Monday.Mawani says that when consumers and businesses prepare ahead of time, it really makes an economic difference.While so far, there has been at least one report of COVID-19 spreading from person to person among close contacts in this country, outbreaks in Italy, South Korea and Iran are an early warning of what the World Health Organization director general recently referred to as "the spark that begins the bigger fire."That bigger fire is the moment when an epidemic in a few countries becomes a worldwide pandemic. But even if the virus never comes to your town, there are good economic reasons for consumers and businesses not to wait until it does."Absolutely, they should be thinking ahead," said Darryl Culley, president of the consultancy Emergency Management & Training.Based in Barrie, Ont., the company has a team of experts to help businesses and public sector groups plan for the unknown.Prepare for self-sufficiency"In the event of a major emergency, regardless of the type — here in Canada it could be an ice storm, on the West Coast it could be an earthquake, it could be a pandemic — people need to be prepared to be self-sufficient for a period of time," said Culley.Preparing for an emergency should not be confused with "prepper" culture, the survivalist outlook that saw Saskatoon's Iris Sparrow die at 79 with an accumulated $20,000 worth of dried food in her basement.Even if the current virus were to spread around the world, previous experience, including the 1918 flu pandemic, shows that eventually, the overall economy will adapt and bounce back, although Mawani notes that some businesses, including restaurants, did not survive in 2003.He says parts of the economy may also change. As an example he cites an increase in telecommuting in China that may become permanent once it has been tried for several months and found effective.Disasters in the news elsewhere can help remind people to plan ahead, including stocking up on essentials. But the example of hurricane season on the eastern seaboard, when shoppers strip the shelves of everything from dog food to toilet paper, shows people tend to ignore warnings until the last minute."That's why you see shelves going bare very quickly," said Culley.And that's economically inefficient. Gradually stocking up on things you might need to get you through a hypothetical quarantine means grocery stores will have time to adjust supplies, reducing the chances of empty shelves later. Culley said that since power and water should not be a problem during a disease outbreak, ready-to-eat canned goods could be supplemented with grain and beans as a longer-term safety net. As long as it is kept dry and safe from pests, a bag of white rice will last for up to 30 years and still taste good, says a report from Utah State University.Keeping employees healthy  While food and medicine are essential for household emergency preparation, plans for keeping the economy functioning while people are sick or in quarantine are also essential. "Businesses need to have a pandemic plan, and it needs to be done in advance, not at the time of the threat," said Culley, who says he has been getting an increasing number of inquiries as public concern over of the epidemic rises.Among the strategies to keep operations running during a pandemic is imagining how to make the organization continue to function when one-third of staff is sick or in quarantine. That involves creating a complex plan that includes training people to do one another's jobs and thinking about how employees could work from home.The primary goal for employers, said Mawani, is to keep employees healthy, because as well as potentially saving lives, workers are essential to a company's financial health. And as SARS showed, even if the transmission of a disease is under control, the economic effect spreads much more widely."The financial contagion of an outbreak like this is always much more significant than the health contagion," he said.Follow Don on Twitter @don_pittis

  • Michael Douglas, Zeta-Jones to co-host Jerusalem ceremony
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    The Canadian Press

    Michael Douglas, Zeta-Jones to co-host Jerusalem ceremony

    JERUSALEM — Hollywood power couple Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones are set to return to Israel as co-hosts of this year’s Genesis Prize ceremony.The Genesis Prize Foundation announced on Wednesday that the pair would co-host the June 18 event, where former Soviet dissident and Israeli politician Natan Sharansky is to be honoured as the 2020 laureate.Douglas, 75, was the 2015 winner of the prestigious $1 million prize, granted each year in recognition of professional achievement, contribution to humanity and commitment to Jewish values and Israel. He is recognized for his cinematic work and advocacy for disarmament as a U.N. Messenger of Peace.Douglas, whose mother wasn’t Jewish and who himself is intermarried, directed his award toward projects promoting diversity and inclusiveness in the Jewish world.“Catherine and I look forward to returning to Israel, a country our entire family loves so much,” Douglas said in a statement. “We are particularly honoured to have the opportunity to host the ceremony honouring a true Jewish hero, Natan Sharansky.”Douglas said the visit will also be a way for his family to honour the memory of his father, Kirk Douglas, who died on Feb. 6 at the age of 103. Kirk Douglas, born Issur Danielovitch and raised in a religious home, reconnected with his Jewish roots in his later years and had a strong connection to Israel.“His re-discovery of his Jewish faith, his passion for his heritage has been a guiding light for me, passed down to my children,” Douglas said.The foundation said that during Douglas’ visit, it will hold a special event honouring his father’s cinematic legacy.Douglas, who has acted and produced in dozens of films over a five-decade career, won the Academy Award for best actor for his role as ruthless financier Gordan Gekko in the 1987 movie “Wall Street.” Other films have included “Fatal Attraction,” “Basic Instinct,” “Romancing the Stone,” “Traffic” and the recent “Ant-Man” superhero movies. He also won an Emmy and Golden Globe for his portrayal of Liberace in the 2013 HBO production “Behind the Candelabra.”Zeta-Jones, 50, won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in the 2002 musical “Chicago” and collected the 2010 Tony Award for Lead Actress in a Musical for her work in the Broadway hit “A Little Night Music.” Her other films include “Ocean’s 12,” “The Terminal,” and “The Mask of Zorro” and “Traffic.”The Genesis Prize was inaugurated in 2014 and is run in a partnership between the private Genesis Prize Foundation and the chairman’s office of the Jewish Agency, a non-profit that works closely with the Israeli government to serve Jewish communities worldwide.Other previous winners include Michael Bloomberg, violinist Itzhak Perlman, sculptor Sir Anish Kapoor and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. The 2018 winner, actress Natalie Portman, pulled out of the prize ceremony because she did not want to appear to be endorsing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The same year, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg received the foundation’s first Lifetime Achievement Award.Josef Federman, The Associated Press

  • Bolder actions, words from protesters behind Quebec and Ontario rail blockades
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    The Canadian Press

    Bolder actions, words from protesters behind Quebec and Ontario rail blockades

    Protesters behind rail blockades in Quebec and Ontario ramped up their actions and rhetoric Wednesday as government officials accused them of compromising public safety.In a video posted on the Real People's Media website, demonstrators in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory near Belleville, Ont., were shown standing on rail tracks as a CN Rail train approached Wednesday, then jumping out of the way at the last second.Provincial police said a handful of protesters also lit fires near and on railway tracks at a secondary camp that remained in place after a raid on another, larger blockade earlier this week.The latest disruptions were denounced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, who called the protesters' actions unsafe."It is extremely concerning to see people endangering their own lives and the lives of others by trying to interfere with the trains," Trudeau said.Meanwhile, Quebec Premier Francois Legault suggested provincial police had not moved in to dismantle a blockade on the Kahnawake Mohawk territory south of Montreal because those on the reserve are armed, potentially with assault rifles. His comments, which came as protesters on the Mohawk territory south of Montreal reinforced a blockade that has been in place since Feb. 8, were rejected by the First Nation, which stressed the demonstration is a peaceful one.Kenneth Deer, the secretary of the Mohawk Nation at Kahnawake, said the protesters are not armed and the suggestion that there are AK-47s at the site is "highly irresponsible and ludicrous."Earlier in the day, Deer spoke out against a possible intervention by outside police, saying any efforts to forcibly remove the site would be seen as an "act of provocation and aggression that will exacerbate an already volatile situation.""Ultimately, coercive state-sponsored force is the wrong way to make peace," Deer said in a statement.The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador also took issue with Legault's statements, urging him to be more careful in discussing the issue."Premier Legault is making very dangerous and offensive comments by suggesting the presence of weapons in Kahnawake," AFNQL Chief Ghislain Picard said in a statement."He certainly did not consider the consequences of his words for community members who live with the memories of 30 years ago on a daily basis."The rail company obtained an injunction on Tuesday to end the blockade, one of several such protests in support of Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs who oppose a natural gas pipeline cutting across their traditional territory.Rail and road disruptions have continued in recent days after several high-profile blockades were dismantled by police in B.C. and Ontario earlier this week.The agency responsible for a major commuter rail service covering much of southern Ontario said Wednesday it was not anticipating any of the delays and cancellations that brought trains to a standstill during the previous day's rush hour.Metrolinx, operator of the GO Transit network, suspended service Tuesday on multiple routes as a series of protests sprang up in and around Toronto.City police said they arrested three people at the demonstrations. They said Wednesday morning that officers provided protesters with an injunction and began moving them from rail tracks.The blockade had threatened to delay morning commutes west of the city, but police said the rail line has been cleared and most commuter rail lines were running on time or with minor delays.Demonstrators also set up new sites in Ontario and Quebec this week, though some dispersed or were dismantled in less than a day.A protest at a GO station in Hamilton caused numerous cancellations and delays starting Monday evening, but local police said protesters left the blockade site in the city peacefully at around 5 p.m. Tuesday.Other new disruptions that surfaced Tuesday included a blockade along a highway near the site of an ongoing land dispute in Caledonia, Ont., and one along a stretch of rail in Sherbrooke, Que., about 150 kilometres east of Montreal.Police moved in to end the Sherbrooke blockade on Tuesday afternoon, arresting protesters who had blocked a rail line in the city's Lennoxville district. The protest along Highway 6 in Ontario remains active.The hereditary chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en Nation, whose opposition to the Coastal GasLink project has spurred the widespread protests and disruptions, were meeting in British Columbia on Wednesday. Federal officials said they were waiting to hear whether the hereditary chiefs would invite them and their provincial counterparts to discuss the issue but late Wednesday one of the chiefs said plans for a meeting had been cancelled.Na'moks, who also goes by John Ridsdale, said government officials asked the hereditary chiefs to request that its supporters and other First Nations end their protests and blockades, but the chiefs said they can't tell others what to do.The federal governments could not immediately be reached for comment, but the B.C. premier's office said it is "unfortunate" an agreement couldn't be reached to meet with the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs."We had hoped the hereditary chiefs would agree to a period of peace and respect during the talks, which would include encouraging their supporters to remove blockades," the premier's office said in a statement.— With files from Liam Casey in Toronto, Dirk Meissner in Victoria, Amy Smart in Vancouver, and Teresa Wright in OttawaThis report by The Canadian Press was first published on Feb. 26, 2020.Morgan Lowrie and Paola Loriggio, The Canadian PressNote to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version incorrectly spelled the name of Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller

  • As blockades continue, Kenney tells First Nations they should be partners in projects
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    CBC

    As blockades continue, Kenney tells First Nations they should be partners in projects

    As blockades continue to pop up across Canada, disrupting rail and road traffic to protest against the Coastal GasLink pipeline through Wet'suwet'en territory, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney told a conference on Indigenous participation in large projects Wednesday that First Nations are key partners in pushing energy projects forward. In what has become a common refrain for Kenney, he said "green left militants" are hurting Indigenous communities by removing any potential for economic growth in their territories."These people in Toronto and Vancouver who say shut it all down and leave it in the ground, where is their concern?" he said. Kenney emphasized the Alberta government's commitment to supporting Indigenous communities financially through its Indigenous Opportunities Corporation, which offers a $1 billion backstop to allow communities to invest in projects.He said that represented the single biggest fiscal commitment of his government in an economic downturn. "There's been a change. There's been a coming together. That is the spirit of reconciliation, and I have never once been criticized by Albertans for making that choice," he said. "We did that because we know that for many of your nations, it is very difficult to obtain credit and equity and financing. The banks are not easily accessible for borrowing, because the anachronistic Indian Act makes it all but impossible for bands to use land or assets for collateral."Litigation fund for Indigenous communitiesKenney also announced the first recipients of the Indigenous litigation fund, meant to finance court challenges for groups that support resource development, which he says is needed to offset funding of opposition groups. The Woodland Cree First Nation will receive $187,688 to join the province's challenge to the contentious Bill C-69, which outlines new rules for resource projects in Canada."We really see this as creating uncertainty and vulnerability for Alberta, our nation, but also the country," said Chief Isaac Laboucan-Avirom of the Woodland Cree. He said his First Nation wants to be involved in development on their land because they're the ones left behind when companies leave."We don't want our children just living in poverty and then our grandchildren. We want our children to go to the universities," said Laboucan-Avirom.Chief Sharleen Gale, of the Fort Nelson First Nation in British Columbia, had another way of putting it. "It's no longer where you just come to a community and drop off a box of doughnuts [and] tell them what you're going to be doing," she said. "Nations are building up their capacity to be able to deal with these issues a little bit stronger by incorporating their own Indigenous values on how these projects should be laid out on the land and how they want to be involved economically."That view was shared by Stephen Buffalo, the president and CEO of the Indian Resource Council, which advocates for greater control over natural resources for Indigenous communities. "It's my view that no one in Canada should live in poverty with the resources that we have here in Canada," he said. Buffalo says they agree with a lot of environmental concerns, but have to find a balance with economic development. Both Laboucan-Avirom and Buffalo said they can't speak for other nations like the Wet'suwet'en and what's best for them. "Well, it's just really an assertion of our jurisdiction," said Buffalo when asked about the protest and blockades. "And, you know, we have to respect the fact that they still  follow our hereditary clan system in B.C., and we have to leave it up to them to solve those issues. Until then, I'm hoping the rest of the Canadian First Nations can respect that and leave it with them to deal with it, because as Canada we still need to move together."Throne speechKenney's speech at the Indigenous Participation in Major Projects conference in Calgary came one day after a throne speech in the Alberta legislature that doubled down on the province's commitment to oil and gas development, with pledges to crack down on those who disrupt "critical infrastructure."Earlier in the day, he said the government may invest directly in energy projects.Kenney's speech was supposed to be followed by a panel discussion that featured the chief executive officer of Coastal GasLink, the company squarely in the centre of the national storm, but David Pfeiffer did not show up.

  • Now that Teck Frontier is dead, is there a future for Canada's oilsands?
    News
    CBC

    Now that Teck Frontier is dead, is there a future for Canada's oilsands?

    Alberta's oilpatch was dealt another devastating blow this week with Teck Resources' decision to pull the plug on its Frontier oilsands mining project — a move that has some analysts wondering whether the sector has a future in the long term.Beyond Teck, all the major oilsands players have cancelled projects, indefinitely delayed final decisions or dramatically scaled back investments in recent months.The industry is facing a perfect storm of low oil prices, legal challenges, regulatory uncertainty, Indigenous opposition, constrained pipeline capacity and a government in Ottawa seized with stopping and reversing the disastrous effects of climate change.Oil is still Canada's most valuable export, and the volume this country sells abroad is still growing year-over-year thanks to companies squeezing more from existing operations. But long-term growth prospects are in doubt, analysts say."A lot of companies are saying, 'Why bother with Canada, forget it, we're going elsewhere,'" said Laura Lau, who helps manage $2 billion in assets at Brompton Corp. in Toronto.The Frontier project may very well be the last open-pit mining operation ever pitched in Canada, she said.'This may be the nail in the coffin'The only projects likely to move forward now, she said, are expansions to existing operations and those that use steam to extract crude from deep under the earth — known as "in-situ" projects."This may be the nail in the coffin," Lau said.Teck reduced the emissions intensity of its operations, committed to going net-zero by 2050 and signed impact benefit agreements with every First Nations in the area — and it still wasn't enough to get the project over the line, she said."They did everything the federal government asked them to do and it still wasn't good enough. So the question is, what is good enough?" Lau said. "The political risk is just too high for these companies."Harrie Vredenburg is a professor of global energy at the University of Calgary's school of business. He said persistently low oil prices are partly to blame for Teck's decision — but so too is Ottawa's handling of the rail blockades."The political morass we're in, it's a mess. What you have are investors or directors of a company like Teck who are saying, 'This isn't the kind of place we want to be investing in,'" Vredenburg said.He said the headwinds faced by the Coastal GasLink project — which is to carry natural gas, not oil, to the coast for export — has also created a chilling effect.While that project's proponent, TC Energy, has received the necessary provincial permits and secured agreements with all of the neighbouring elected Indian Act band councils, some hereditary chiefs derailed years of planning by blocking a single roadway, Vredenburg said.'Existential crisis'"Companies comply with all the regulations and in the end it still comes down to a political decision. There's a lot of ambiguity and uncertainty in this country for investment in any type of resource," he said."This is a serious existential crisis for this country."He said federal-provincial "bickering" over the country's energy policy, and how it agrees with a national commitment to lower greenhouse gas emissions and address decades-old questions about Indigenous rights and title, has sent capital fleeing to safer jurisdictions.Teck's president and CEO, Don Lindsay, cited this uncertainty as reason enough to cancel major capital investments like the $20 billion the mining firm was ready to invest in the Frontier mine.Lindsay said Teck did not want to be "at the nexus of much broader issues that need to be resolved ... there is no constructive path forward."Alberta has seen foreign investment all but evaporate — some $30 billion in foreign capital has fled in the last five years — leaving only the domestically owned players ready to invest in the sector."If you're on the outside looking in, you're saying, 'Whoa, we'll wait to see if that ever passes.' Canada is all risk, risk, risk," Vredenburg said.Lau said Teck's decision validates earlier moves by France's Total and Norway's Equinor, among others, to divest many of their Canadian oilsands assets and jump ship for projects elsewhere."Oil and gas projects are getting built all over the world right now, everywhere except Canada. Death by delay is a tactic that Justin Trudeau has used for years to kill energy projects that are of national importance," said Conservative MP Shannon Stubbs, the party's energy critic.Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan said Ottawa isn't abandoning the sector."Important parts of Canada's economy have been built on our natural resource sector and the workers across the country who have powered it for generations. Our government is committed to developing our natural resources sustainably and to creating good, middle class jobs," he said in a statement after the Teck decision was announced.But the list of projects that companies say they're willing to build is literally shrinking by the day.Only days ago, the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) approved the Meadow Creek West development — but the proponent, Suncor, has said it's not ready yet to make a final investment decision. One of the company's most promising developments has been deferred. Suncor has said that construction of Meadow Creek — if it happens — is still years away and wouldn't start producing oil until closer to end of the decade.Last November, Imperial put its Aspen oilsands project in northern Alberta on hold. The company, owned in part by U.S. giant ExxonMobil, also shelved plans for a $2.4 billion expansion of its existing Cold Lake operation in favour of a much smaller investment in another site.Cenovus finished a large expansion of its Christina Lake facility early last year but it has yet to pump more oil from the site because Alberta's oil curtailment policy — enacted because Canadian oil prices are substantially lower than the going world rate — has limited the possibility of profits.Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNRL) bought a controlling stake in the proposed Pike development, a project that has secured all of the necessary permits, but the company just isn't ready to commit.Investors have noticed: Cenvous is trading near five-year lows despite a moderate improvement in oil prices in recent months. Suncor's share price also has been battered. Imperial Oil trades at just half of where it was some six years ago.In addition to the political and legal risks, the cost of extracting oil from Alberta's oilpatch is higher than it is in other jurisdictions.Based on estimates reported by the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) and the Canadian Energy Research Institute (CERI), the break-even price for a new stand‑alone mine like Frontier is currently within the US$75‑85 a barrel range.The break-even price for new steam‑assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) operations, the most commonly used technique for the thermal in‑situ recovery, is around US$60 a barrel.West Texas Intermediate (WTI) traded at just US$50 a barrel at close Tuesday. Western Canadian Select, which includes product from the oilsands, changed hands at US$34.50 — meaning many projects are simply unviable given the existing cost structures of the Canadian industry.

  • A who's who of the Wet'suwet'en pipeline conflict
    News
    CBC

    A who's who of the Wet'suwet'en pipeline conflict

    The conflict over a natural gas pipeline project in northern British Columbia has swelled across the country, drawing intense attention to the Wet'suwet'en Nation.To outsiders, the organization and the dual Wet'suwet'en power structures can seem confusing, and parsing who has legitimate authority over the decision to support or block the pipeline can be challenging.Along the pipeline's route, 20 elected First Nation councils have signed benefit agreements, but across the country, Indigenous groups have taken part in demonstrations and blockades to protest the project.Here's a guide to some of the main Wet'suwet'en people who have emerged as leaders, spokespeople, advocates and opponents of the project, and how they fit into the nation's elected, hereditary and corporate organizational structures.Note that there's the Wet'suwet'en First Nation, which has an elected chief and council, and the broader Wet'suwet'en Nation, which includes both the elected bands within the colonial system of governance and a traditional hereditary clan system, which has responsibility for a broader unceded territory covering 22,000 square kilometres.IN FAVOUR OF THE PIPELINEFive of the six elected band councils within Wet'suwet'en Nation have signed benefit agreements with the pipeline company, Coastal GasLink (CGL), a subsidiary of TC Energy. (Hagwilget Nation is not on the pipeline route and has not signed any agreements.)The elected councils, which also include Witset First Nation, Skin Tyee Nation, the Nee Tahi Buhn Band, Ts'il Kaz Koh First Nation (Burns Lake Band) and the Wet'suwet'en First Nation, represent First Nations on reserves created by the federal government under the Indian Act.Karen Ogen-ToewsKaren Ogen-Toews is a former elected chief of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation. She signed one of the agreements to approve the pipeline, and remains a vocal supporter of the plan. "In my heart I know I'm doing the right thing. I've done the right thing for our people and my heart is in the right place," Ogen-Toews told CBC News. "If our people are living in poverty, the way to overcome it is through proper training, trades, education and a job."She's now CEO of the First Nations LNG Alliance, a collection of First Nations that are taking part in and supporting liquefied natural gas developments in B.C.Troy YoungTroy Young runs a Wet'suwet'en-owned company. He's the general manager and director of Kyah Resources Inc., which is owned by a Witset First Nation Limited Partnership.Kyah Resources has a contract to provide pipeline-related work, including clearing, heli-logging, road building, security and first aid services, according to the B.C. Supreme Court injunction decision. Young's comments were included in the injunction decision. He argued a delay in the pipeline construction "would have a severe impact on the local Wet'suwet'en community and the Wet'suwet'en people."Gloria George, Darlene Glaim and Theresa Tait-DayGloria George, Darlene Glaim and Theresa Tait-Day were stripped of their hereditary titles in recent years after creating the Wet'suwet'en Matrilineal Coalition. They held titles in Tsaiyex (Sun House), Cassyex (Grizzly House) and Kwen Beegh Yex (House Beside the Fire), respectively, though their loss of title remains in dispute.Tait-Day said the coalition was formed to set up a process for the hereditary groups to consider projects on Wet'suwet'en territory and negotiate agreements, according to the injunction decision.The coalition has a board with five members, including George, Glaim and Tait-Day and two others representing all five of the Wet'suwet'en hereditary clans."A few house chiefs cannot make decisions for our nation. Everyone in our nation is equal and has a voice that deserves to be heard," said Tait-Day in an affadivit filed in B.C Supreme Court.According to the Environmental Assessment Office, the Wet'suwet'en Matrilineal Coalition was not among the list of Indigenous groups CGL had to consult with on the project.AGAINST THE PIPELINEWhile the elected band councils have agreed to the pipeline construction, the hereditary chiefs have maintained opposition to the project.They assert Wet'suwet'en territory was never ceded to the federal government, and that they have responsibility over it and to the Wet'suwet'en people who aren't confined to the pockets of reserve governed by the elected chiefs and councils.In 1997, the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed Aboriginal title rights in Delgamuukw vs. British Columbia, a decision that recognized Wet'suwet'en have a system of laws that predates colonialism.The hereditary chiefs and their respective houses are nearly all represented by the Office of the Wet'suwet'en for the purposes of consultation with CGL, with the exception of Yex T'sa Wilk'us (Dark House) of Gilseyhu Clan (Big Frog Clan).The Wet'suwet'en Nation is organized into five clans. Within each clan, there are two or three houses. It's at the house level that chiefs hold hereditary title. Each of the 13 houses also has various chiefs below the head chief, including wing chiefs, sub-chiefs and alternate chiefs.Currently, four of the house hereditary chief positions are vacant, leaving nine hereditary chiefs. Eight of the hereditary chiefs have clearly opposed the pipeline and this group signed an eviction letter to CGL in early January ordering workers off unceded Wet'suwet'en territory.The chiefs who signed the letter are: * Knedebeas (Warner William), Yex T'sa Wilk'us (Dark House) * Woos (Frank Alec), Cassyex (Grizzly House) * Madeek (Jeff Brown), Anaskaski (Where It Lies Blocking the Trail) * Gisday'wa (Fred Tom), Kaiyexweniits (House in the Middle of Many) * Hagwilnegh (Ron Mitchell), G'en Egh La Yex (House of Many Eyes) * Na'Moks (John Ridsdale), Tsa K'en Yex (Rafters on Beaver House) * Smogelgem (Warner Naziel), Tsaiyex (Sun House) * Kloum Khun (Alphonse Gagnon), Medzeyez (Owl House)Samooh (Herb Naziel), hereditary chief of Kayex (Birchbark House), doesn't appear to have voiced a position on the pipeline and did not sign the eviction notice.Chief Na'MoksChief Na'Moks has frequently served as spokesperson for the hereditary chiefs, and has thus risen to prominence in media coverage of the issue. "We do expect [RCMP and Coastal GasLink] to meet and discuss things," said Na'Moks in early January in the face of an injunction order and enforcement by police."We need them to understand that what they are doing is destroying our lands, our ecological sites, our burial sites," he said. "They have no comprehension of how important it is to our people."Chief WoosChief Woos has also played the role of spokesperson for the hereditary chiefs, especially when the issue in question involves the land of the Grizzly House.Woos was part of the delegation that travelled to Ontario and Quebec to meet with members of other First Nations who have established solidarity rail blockades.In a press conference after the meeting on Jan. 21, Woos spoke out against the police enforcement of the court-ordered injunction against the blockades on Wet'suwet'en land."We demand the remote detachment community-industry service office established by the RCMP on Wet'suwet'en territory without our consent be immediately removed, and that the RCMP are completely removed from our territory and cease patrols on our lands. Out means out," said Woos."We demand that all CGL activities cease within Wet'suwet'en territory while nation-to-nation talks are going," he said.Chief SmogelgemChief Smogelgem is central to one of the three blockades, or checkpoints created in opposition to the pipeline. Along with the title Smogelgem of Tsaiyex (Sun House), Warner Naziel holds the hereditary title of Toghestiy of Medzeyex (Owl House).He is one of only two named defendants in the injunction against the Wet'suwet'en blockades along the pipeline route.Naziel helped set up an original blockade in 2012, according to the B.C. Supreme Court injunction decision, and assisted the emerging group known as Unist'ot'en with trapping, hunting, gathering and logistical support.Freda HusonFreda Huson has served as spokesperson for Yex T'sa Wilk'us (Dark House) and Unist'ot'en. She holds the hereditary title Howihkat within Dark House.Unist'ot'en is a camp created by Wet'suwet'en pipeline opponents to strategically reoccupy land along the pipeline route. It's associated with Dark House.Huson, along with Naziel, is named in the injunction as a central character in the opposition to the CGL pipeline.Molly WickhamMolly Wickham is a member of the Gitdumden clan who speaks for the group behind the Gidim'ten Access Point at 44 km, along the Morice Forest Service Road. The B.C. Supreme Court ordered an injunction barring people from obstructing CGL workers at the camp, resulting in 14 arrests on Jan. 9.Soon afterward, Wickham coordinated the construction of a new camp at the 27-kilometre mark near the RCMP checkpoint, as directed by the hereditary chiefs. She is seen in a video posted on social media Jan. 19 appealing for help from supporters."Come out, be self-sustaining. Be dressed for the weather. Come to 27 km for a day. Come to 27 km for a few days. Come and support us on this front line on Wet'suwet'en territory," said Wickham as a generator hummed in the background.According to the injunction decision, Wickham made public statements that the people occupying the camps were doing it to prevent CGL from completing the work required to get permits and authorizations, "and to ultimately prevent the pipeline project from being completed."Rob AlfredRob Alfred is identified in court documents as being associated with a group calling itself Tsayu Land Defenders, which established one of the Wet'suwet'en camps along the pipeline right-of-way. Alfred holds the hereditary title Ste ohn Tsiy under Chief Na'Moks in Tsa K'en Yex (Rafters on Beaver House), and is active on Twitter using the handle @showmekittys."This isn't just about a pipeline. It's about Indigenous title," Alfred told CBC News. "We wouldn't have this conflict if the governments would step up and deal with that issue. I do wholeheartedly believe the project won't be completed as is."Do you have more to add to this story? Email rafferty.baker@cbc.caFollow Rafferty Baker on Twitter: @raffertybaker

  • South Korea, US postpone annual military drills due to virus
    News
    The Canadian Press

    South Korea, US postpone annual military drills due to virus

    SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — The South Korean and U.S. militaries announced Thursday that they were postponing their annual joint drills due to concern about a viral outbreak that has infected soldiers in both countries' armed forces, put many troops in quarantine and closed base facilities.Twenty South Korean soldiers and one American service member in South Korea have tested positive for the new coronavirus, which has infected about 1,600 people in the Asian country, the second largest outbreak outside mainland China.In a joint news conference, South Korean and U.S. military officers said their joint drills planned for the first half of this year will be put off until further notice.South Korean military chief Park Han-ki proposed the delay out of concerns for troop safety and Robert Abrams, the commander of the U.S. military in South Korea, accepted Park’s proposal based on the severity of the virus outbreak, said Kim Joon Rak, a spokesman at the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff.Lee Peters, a U.S. military spokesman, said the postponement decision "was not taken lightly" and that two countries’ alliance remains “ironclad and unbreakable."“Despite the postponement of combined training, the ROK-US alliance remains committed to providing a credible military deterrence and maintaining a robust combined defence posture to protect the ROK against any threat," he said. ROK stands for the Republic of Korea.South Korea boasts a 600,000-strong military, while the U.S. has 28,500 troops in the country and those troops are at particular risk due to the close quarters at the bases where they are stationed.In recent days, South Korea suspended some unilateral field training, placed 9,570 troops under quarantine and banned most of its enlisted soldiers from leaving their bases. The U.S. military closed some amenities at several bases and was urging its personnel to avoid handshakes and large gatherings if possible.Experts say the postponement of the drills was inevitable because the potential spread of the virus into military barracks could significantly weaken military readiness.The allies have previously suspended or scaled back their regular military exercises, but that was part of diplomatic efforts to disarm North Korea, which views the training as a rehearsal for an invasion.North Korea has not publicly reported any case of the virus, but many experts say the the country also likely reduced its own military training as it’s preoccupied with guarding against the virus.An epidemic in North Korea could cause a devastating consequence because of its dilapidated medical and health care infrastructures, experts say.This makes it unlikely that North Korea would launch any major provocation anytime soon though leader Kim Jong Un in late December threatened to unveil “a new strategic weapon" soon, said analyst Kim Dae-young at the Korea Research Institute for National Strategy in South Korea.The allies were supposed to hold their major springtime drills in March, mostly tabletop exercises and simulations. The drills were revised to create more space in nuclear disarmament diplomacy with North Korea and replaced much bigger exercises that had particularly irritated Pyongyang.Yang Wook, a military expert who teaches at South Korea’s Hannam University, said the springtime command post drills involve officers gathering at a small place so it’s easier for them to catch the virus if there is a patient.“If they all wear gas masks and train together, they could be safe. If they can’t do so, it’s not a bad idea to be more cautious,” Yang said.Hyung-Jin Kim, The Associated Press

  • Debate takeaways: Bernie bruised but not broken
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Debate takeaways: Bernie bruised but not broken

    CHARLESTON, S.C. — Democrats held their final debate before the South Carolina presidential primary and the critical Super Tuesday contests that follow three days later.Here are some key takeaways.BERNIE BASHBernie Sanders is rarely a quiet voice, but he has managed to get through nine debates with few bruises. That ended Tuesday night when he was attacked on multiple fronts by every opponent.The overarching themes: Sanders can rile up a crowd but can’t get things done. He is unelectable as a democratic socialist. He will drag down the Democratic House majority.“Can anyone imagine moderate Republicans voting for him?" former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg asked. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar noted that Sanders’ proposals cost $60 trillion — triple the U.S. economy. “The math does not add up,” she warned.Sanders parried some of the blows but also got into shouting matches. Asked by a moderate how he’d pay for his plans, he responded coolly, “How many hours do you have?”Centrist Democrats who hoped the Vermont senator would come off as not electable may be heartened, but so could Sanders’ supporters who see their candidate as passionate and authentically unpolished.BLOOMBERG TRIES TO BOUNCE BACKThe good news for Bloomberg is this debate didn’t go as badly as the last one. The bad news is no one is grading on the curve.He ceded prime target status to Sanders, but took his share of criticism. He still got scratched and occasionally came off as brittle.Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren continued to be his nemesis, slamming him for funding Republican senators and for accusations that women at his company were mistreated. She brought up an allegation that Bloomberg had told a pregnant woman in his employ to “kill it" — which Bloomberg heatedly denied.Later, he tried to make a joke about how everyone else onstage should have been scared to show up “after I did such a good job of beating them last week.”The joke was one of many he offered up that didn’t land. A comedian's timing he does not possess. A billionaire's wallet, though, he does. And he bought advertising for the commercial breaks during the debate.BIDEN BALANCEDFormer Vice-President Joe Biden has called South Carolina his “firewall,” even before his dismal finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire. If he gets the breakthrough he needs, it probably won't be because of a sterling debate performance.Biden seemed as comfortable as he has on any Democratic debate stage since the first encounters last June. But he little to offer a new rationale for his candidacy.He emphasized his affinity for issues dear to black voters and reminded them of his decades-long advocacy.Overall, it was a steady performance when Biden most needed it. And he expressed some confidence. Pressed on whether he’d drop out if he doesn’t win Saturday, Biden declared, “I’m going to win South Carolina.”WARREN'S CASE AGAINST SANDERS (AND BLOOMBERG)Warren had to make a difficult straddle at the debate — she wanted to spotlight her liberal positions to pry voters from front-runner Sanders, but she also had to make a pitch for why they should back her rather than him.She has been hesitant to fully voice her criticism of Sanders but leaned into it Tuesday night. “Bernie’s winning right now because the Democratic Party is a progressive party and progressive ideas are popular ideas,” she said.Warren also reprised her attacks on Bloomberg, which might not help her win votes, but clearly helps her raise money.BUTTIGIEG: ANOTHER GOOD NIGHT, BUT WILL IT MEAN VOTES?If the race were about skill on the debate stage, it might be hard to deny Pete Buttigieg the nomination. He continued to answer questions with calm and clarity, and showed he could throw an elbow too.But his path forward is still unclear, given that his support is overwhelmingly white — and the Democratic electorates in most upcoming primaries are not.Buttigieg helped lead the moderates’ charge against Bernie Sanders, almost mocking the idea of a general election between Sanders and President Donald Trump. “Imagine spending the better part of 2020” listening to such a match-up, he pondered.It added up to another consistent performance for Buttigieg. The question is whether that will mean anything at the ballot box.KLOBUCHAR FIGHTS TO BE HEARDThe star of the New Hampshire debate had to fight to be heard in Charleston.Klobuchar pulled out some of her go-to lines — like the one about checking with the duck hunters in her family as she formulates gun control policies — but she was often cut off by moderators for going over her time.She consistently made the case for a Midwestern moderate as the best candidate to take on Trump. She hammered Sanders on the cost of his plans.And she had one striking moment, when she was asked about coronavirus and said the issue was too serious for politics. "I'm not going to give my campaign website," Klobuchar said. Instead, she pointed viewers to CDC.gov, the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.But she had a hard time breaking through at a time she may have needed it most.THE OTHER BILLIONAIRETom Steyer has pinned his hopes on snatching South Carolina from Biden. But on Tuesday he looked like someone whose momentum has been yanked away.Steyer spluttered after Biden accused him of investing in private prisons as a hedge fund manager. He condemned both Sanders and Bloomberg as unelectable but never was able to make a clear case for himself.Without a clear win in South Carolina, it’s hard to see how Steyer wins anywhere else.MODERATE MUDDLE CONTINUESThe moderate, anti-Bernie lane remains crowded. So crowded that several candidates couldn't agree on a strategy to clear some of the space.Buttigieg acted as if Biden wasn't on the stage at all, trying to make himself the clear alternative to Sanders. Biden and Bloomberg barely acknowledged one another. Klobuchar and Buttigieg did not renew their blood feud.The jumble underscores the uncertainty of the race beyond the reality that Sanders is still the front-runner. He's not a commanding one yet. But he may not have to be if the moderate muddle continues.WHITE STAGE, BLACK VOTEThe seven white Democratic presidential candidates took turns offering various reasons black voters should support them. Some attacked their rivals — or struggled to defend their own records.Biden immediately took aim at Sanders for contemplating a primary challenge to President Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president, in 2012.Steyer said he’d spent his career and his political activists fighting for, among other things, “racial justice.” But Biden went after him, too, for his investments in private prisons.The scenes highlight the oddity of an all-white slate of presidential candidates in party where about four out of 10 voters are non-white. It’s even more stark in South Carolina, where black voters are likely to make up more than 60% of the primary electorate.When they weren't attacking each other on race, several candidates found ways to name drop Rep. Jim Clyburn, the House majority whip and the most influential Democrat in the state. Clyburn is expected to endorse a candidate Wednesday.___Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”Bill Barrow And Nicholas Riccardi, The Associated Press

  • How deadly is new coronavirus? It's still too early to tell
    News
    The Canadian Press

    How deadly is new coronavirus? It's still too early to tell

    WASHINGTON — Scientists can’t tell yet how deadly the new virus that’s spreading around the globe really is — and deepening the mystery, the fatality rate differs even within China.As infections of the virus that causes COVID-19 surge in other countries, even a low fatality rate can add up to lots of victims, and understanding why one place fares better than another becomes critical to unravel.“You could have bad outcomes with this initially until you really get the hang of how to manage" it, Dr. Bruce Aylward, the World Health Organization envoy who led a team of scientists just back from China, warned Tuesday.WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE DEATH RATE?In the central China city of Wuhan, where the new coronavirus first exploded, 2% to 4% of patients have died, according to WHO. But in the rest of hard-hit China, the death rate was strikingly lower, 0.7%.There’s nothing different about the virus from one place to another. Instead, the never-before-seen strain of coronavirus struck Wuhan fast — before anyone knew what the illness was — and overwhelmed health facilities. As is usual at the beginning of an outbreak, the first patients were severely ill before they sought care, Aylward said.By the time people were getting sick in other parts of China, authorities were better able to spot milder cases — meaning there were more known infections for each death counted.And while there are no specific treatments for COVID-19, earlier supportive care may help, too. China went from about 15 days between onset of symptoms and hospitalization early in the outbreak, to about three days more recently.Still, Aylward expressed frustration at people saying: “'Oh, the mortality rate’s not so bad because there’s way more mild cases.' Sorry, the same number of people that were dying, still die.”WHAT ABOUT DEATHS OUTSIDE OF CHINA?Until the past week, most people diagnosed outside of China had become infected while travelling there.People who travel generally are healthier and thus may be better able to recover, noted Johns Hopkins University outbreak specialist Lauren Sauer. And countries began screening returning travellers, spotting infections far earlier in places where the medical system wasn’t already strained.That’s now changing, with clusters of cases in Japan, Italy and Iran, and the death toll outside of China growing.Aylward cautioned that authorities should be careful of “artificially high” death rates early on: Some of those countries likely are seeing the sickest patients at first and missing milder cases, just like Wuhan did.HOW DOES COVID-19 COMPARE TO OTHER DISEASES?A cousin of this new virus caused the far deadlier severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak in 2003, and about 10% of SARS patients died.Flu is a different virus family, and some strains are deadlier than others. On average, the death rate from seasonal flu is about 0.1%, said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.That's far lower than what has been calculated so far for COVID-19. But millions of people get the flu every year around the world, leading to an annual death toll in the hundreds of thousands.WHO’S MOST AT RISK FROM COVID-19?Older people, especially those with chronic illnesses such as heart or lung diseases, are more at risk.Among younger people, deaths are rarer, Aylward said. But some young deaths have made headlines, such as the 34-year-old doctor in China who was reprimanded by communist authorities for sounding an early alarm about the virus only to later succumb to it.In China, 80% of patients are mildly ill when the virus is detected, compared with 13% who already are severely ill. While the sickest to start with are at highest risk of death, Aylward said, a fraction of the mildly ill do go on to die — for unknown reasons.On average, however, WHO says people with mild cases recover in about two weeks, while those who are sicker can take anywhere from three to six weeks.___The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.Lauran Neergaard, The Associated Press

  • 'A fruitless search:' Holly Clark's family preparing return to Calgary
    News
    CBC

    'A fruitless search:' Holly Clark's family preparing return to Calgary

    After six weeks of intense searching for Holly Ellsworth-Clark with no new clues, the family of the missing 27-year-old is preparing to return home to Calgary.Dave Clark, Holly's father, tells CBC News the family is spending this week and the next spreading awareness in Toronto. If nothing new surfaces, they'll pack Holly's possessions, which are still in her room, and fly out of Hamilton."We didn't have the energy to do anything with Holly's stuff at the end of her rental period … it's a natural end point for some things, it's a natural going back to Calgary point," he says."It's heartbreaking to take the cards and pictures off her fridge."Holly's apartment, Dave says, is full of plants waiting to be watered, seeds waiting to be planted, handmade lyric books  and groceries she bought for an event on Jan. 11 — the night she disappeared.Lead detective John Obrovac tells CBC News she hasn't been seen since."The trail has gone cold."Holly left her home on Jan. 11 near Sanford Avenue North and Cannon Street with the last confirmed sighting of the 6'1 and 200 pound missing woman being at roughly 5 p.m. that day, walking north on Wentworth Street toward Shaw Street.Holly was wearing what looked like a rain poncho with black pants and black boots, while carrying a black garbage bag that appeared full.Dave and the family have found more videos, including an unreleased clip from Feb. 3 of what they think is Holly passing her own poster.After six weeks of searching, they can only account for a roughly 1.5 km stretch between her home and Burlington Street East. But most of the evidence they have is unconfirmed. 'I hope she's hiding from us'The circumstances around the case are unclear — police say Holly was "in crisis" when she left and Holly told her family two men chased her in the woods before she went missing.  She left almost all her belongings behind including her cell phone, vehicle and clothing to shield her from the rain. Her bank account hasn't been touched either.But investigators don't think foul play is involved.While Dave loses sleep thinking of every possibility imaginable, he is trying to remain positive, even if the best case scenario is looking for someone who might not want to be found, even by her family."I hope she's hiding from us, from someone … that would be an optimistic outcome," Dave says.The family's efforts have spurred city-wide ground searches with hundreds of residents."I've never seen anything like it … they're doing a great job," Obrovac says.But Dave knows they can't continue searching with this level of intensity. And with more than $20,000 spent, no new leads and few details on why Holly vanished to begin with, he has "no reason" to stay in Hamilton."We've always been expecting to find her next week … nobody wants to find their child dead but the longer something goes on, the more statistically likely that is … we don't want to waste people's money in a fruitless search," he says."We still have phones [in Calgary] … but if we need to be back in Hamilton, we'll come back."Holly's brother and sister, Kate and Caleb, are raising awareness in Toronto. Her boss and close friend, Elle McFearsin, will spend Wednesday morning handing out posters at the Mulberry Street Coffee House in Hamilton.Holly moved to Hamilton in October 2019 to pursue music after growing up in Calgary. She is a champion amateur wrestler and political science grad from the University of Calgary.Anyone with information can call the police at 905-546-3816. The Clark family is also accepting tips at bringhollyhome2020@gmail.com.

  • News
    Reuters

    China says WSJ admitted mistakes after its reporters expelled

    China's foreign ministry said on Wednesday the Wall Street Journal had been in touch with the Chinese government over a February column that Beijing says carried a racist headline, and had admitted its mistakes. Toby Doman, spokesman for Wall Street Journal's publisher Dow Jones & Co, declined to comment on the matter when contacted by Reuters. Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters that the newspaper had not formally apologised.

  • How a Toronto company is making self-driving technology a reality on our roads
    News
    CBC

    How a Toronto company is making self-driving technology a reality on our roads

    X-Matik founder and CEO Nima Ashtari sits behind the steering wheel of a cargo van while it drives itself down the Don Valley Parkway."So all I do is hit a button ... and let it go," he says.His company, which started in 2015, creates kits, called LaneCruise, that can be added to any car made in the last 20 years to turn it into a semi-automated vehicle. It's not for your average driver, though — it's for professionals only, including those who drive limos and delivery vans. It must be monitored all the time, it can't change lanes yet and, ideally, it works best with highway driving.Ashtari says his product is designed to lessen the drudgery of being behind the wheel all day. "At the job site, when I arrive, I'm going to be this much better at my job, because I wasn't doing this super boring, put-me-to-sleep job," the 33-year-old former Tesla engineer explains.Watch CBC reporter Ieva Lucs as she finds out how autonomous driving tech works on the road"That's really what automation's all about — it's about replacing the most mundane parts of our lives." In 2018, the City of Toronto used LaneCruise during a provincially-funded pilot program. In January, the Ontario government started allowing the public purchase of up to Level 3 technology — where the vehicle becomes the co-pilot, one step above the LaneCruise. The city now has 10 vehicles in its fleet fitted out with the kits. The kit consists of hardware that attaches to your steering wheel and brake, as well as a camera, all of which are connected to a computer.Once it's activated, the computer takes over, observing the road through the camera and gently adjusting the wheel when it sees a bend in the road, or putting on the brake when the car in front slows down.The system is, at times, hesitant — slowing down quickly when a car stops or slows in front of it, but slow to speed back up when traffic gets moving again. A couple of frustrated drivers honk at the van as it creeps along the right lane of the highway. "People are very aggressive and the system is very conservative," Ashtari explains, adding this is the main complaint customers have.However, the software is meant to get better at driving as more data is fed into the master computer back at the company's headquarters, nestled in a suburban home in Ashtari's own childhood neighbourhood in North York.1 million km of data gatheredSo far, X-Matik has gathered about one million kilometres of data, and it's accumulating 5,000 to 10,000 more a month through its customers, he says."It will observe and then it will make predictions based on what it's seen other humans do and what it's learned from observing other humans drive," Ashtari says.The kit costs about $4,000 and has a monthly operating fee of $50 to $100, which includes regular software updates and real time support to customers.Ashtari says he has no interest in selling the product for passenger vehicles because there's a danger of non-professional drivers getting lazy behind the wheel. But he's confident the future of driving is for professional use. "Less of our time is spent going out to get stuff, and more of it is people bringing stuff to us ... that's actually where the focus of the technology should be, is on those vehicles that do more of the driving on the roads today," he says. 'It's the future'Vehicles range in their autonomy from Level 0 to Level 5. With a Level 0, there is no automation. "It's the Model-T Ford being driven around in the year 2020," says Colin Dhillon, chief technical officer for the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association.Level 1 means a human driver is needed for all critical functions but there are some intelligent features.For a Level 2, there is some control, but it can replace the driver at times. It requires drivers to stay fully alert and engaged while behind the wheel.X-Matik is one of the few companies in the world offering an aftermarket kit at this level of autonomy. Tesla offers autonomy at this level for its passenger vehicles, but for a much higher price, as you have to buy the car first.The goal for X-Matik is to provide a Level 3 update to the software in the next two years. That will let drivers take their eyes off the road for an extended period of time.Dhillon says we're probably less than five years away from seeing Level 3 and 4 cars on the road. Level 4 is fully self driving technology with the ability for the human to take over.At Level 5, there is no steering wheel and no foot pedals. "It's absolutely and utterly being driven by a robot," explains Dhillon.Toronto is working on a plan to make city streets ready for driverless technology by 2022. "It's the future," Dhillon says. The reason, he says, is safety. "Ninety-four per cent of all accidents are because of human error. And the reason we've all moved toward these semi-autonomous vehicles is to make the roads and the vehicles and the ecosystem a lot safer."

  • Fear around coronavirus spreading in Cornwall, top doctor cautions
    News
    CBC

    Fear around coronavirus spreading in Cornwall, top doctor cautions

    There's something spreading in Cornwall, Ont., but it's not coronavirus — it's fear and misinformation about the outbreak, according to eastern Ontario's medical officer of health. On Friday, 129 Canadians who were aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship began a 14-day coronavirus quarantine at Cornwall's Nav Centre. According to Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, medical officer of health and chief executive officer of the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, only federal employees and Red Cross volunteers are delivering services to the quarantined guests. Nav Centre staff don't interact with them in any way, and "staff and their families are not at increased risk of infection or of spreading the virus," he confirmed in an email to CBC.Nevertheless, some people are taking unnecessary precautions, Roumeliotis told Cornwall city council Monday. I'm also getting phone calls from schools saying the kids are being bullied now because a parent works at Nav Centre. \- Dr. Paul Roumeliotis"Some parents are refusing to send their kids to daycare and to schools because [there are children there whose] parents work at Nav Centre," he said."I'm also getting phone calls from schools saying the kids are being bullied now because a parent works at Nav Centre," he said. Roumeliotis said he also had to allay the fears of the employees themselves."The Nav Centre employees were quite worried, and I spent a lot of time speaking to them," he said. "There's absolutely no risk to them. There's no way that somebody working ... a thousand metres away from the quarantine zone, which is blocked off completely, can transfer that virus. There's no way."Roumeliotis said he would be sending out letters to parents in Cornwall to explain the situation.Roumeliotis said there is also "no increased risk" to visitors to the centre, or to the general public, of contracting the virus.A company has been hired to clean and disinfect the rooms where the quarantined guests are staying. Its employees wash bedding and towels, but guests are responsible for washing their own clothes using the onsite facilities.Food is prepared onsite, but it's not delivered by Nav Centre staff and comes with disposable containers and utensils.The quarantined guests are allowed outside under supervision, but must wear masks and gloves, and must keep a certain distance from one another."For now, our risk in Canada, our risk in eastern Ontario [of contracting COVID-19], with or without the passengers at the Nav Centre, remains low," Roumeliotis said.While there have been clusters of the respiratory illness in other countries including Italy and Iran, Roumeliotis said he's more worried about the spread of the flu in eastern Ontario, where there have been nine or 10 outbreaks in the Cornwall area, including three in daycares.Just like with any respiratory illness, health officials are urging people to wash their hands well and often, and to cough into their sleeves.Roumeliotis has daily phone calls with the chief of staff of the Cornwall Hospital, but said the vast majority — more than 80 per cent — of patients who get the respiratory illness would likely stay home.In the event someone does need to be hospitalized, protocols are in place, he said."It's not unlike if we had a patient who had the flu," Roumeliotis said. "I'm not worried about it just because it's a novel virus. The containment procedures are the same."

  • Documents outline talks between Organigram, province during legionnaires' outbreak
    News
    CBC

    Documents outline talks between Organigram, province during legionnaires' outbreak

    Newly released documents offer a behind-the-scenes look at discussions between New Brunswick's health department and Organigram as the province investigated a legionnaires' disease outbreak in Moncton that sickened 16 people last year.More than 230 pages of documents, with the location and name of the company blacked out, were released to CBC News by the department in response to a right-to-information request.The correspondence ranges from lab testing results, discussion of various testing methods, notice of what would be said at upcoming news conferences, to outlining how the company could be consulted on what to release in response to right to information requests.Details in the documents along with previously reported information show the outbreak was pinpointed to cooling towers on the roof of a section of Organigram's cannabis production facility under construction in the Moncton industrial park.The documents also show multiple calls with the company through the outbreak, that coincided with regular retesting of the cooling towers after they had been cleaned. They don't include notes about what was said during those calls, but many parts of the emails are blacked out. The province has refused to say where the outbreak began. Organigram has neither confirmed nor denied it was the source. Company won't commentRay Gracewood, Organigram's senior vice-president of marketing and communications, declined to comment and referred an interview request to the health department.Dr. Yves Léger, regional medical officer of health, told reporters last summer he decided not to release the location because the cooling towers were identified and cleaned, resolving the issue. Bruce Macfarlane, a spokesperson for the health department, said in a statement that Léger made the decision on what to disclose and then informed the company of the decision.An outbreak was declared Aug. 1 and health officials declared it over in mid-September. All 16 people infected survived exposure to the disease.The bacteria that causes the illness can be dispersed into the air from cooling towers, components of a large building cooling system, and then carried by the wind for kilometres.Several people who contracted the severe form of pneumonia last year told CBC they lived near, worked in or travelled through the industrial park.The emails show public health officials routinely updated the company, including about how much information it would share with the public regarding the source.On Aug. 22, Léger informed Organigram that the public would not be told the source of the outbreak. In an email he wrote "Our position is still that we will not publicly provide the name of the company or its location," Léger wrote.As the outbreak continued, Léger emailed the company about a right to information request the province had received. As is standard when such requests deal with third-party information, the third party is consulted on what can be released by the government. "So there is a possibility that your company could be solicited to provide comment/feedback on the info that is being considered for release under the RTI request. I'll keep you informed as I know more," Leger wrote Sept. 3. By that point, CBC had filed several such requests. CBC asked the health department if it's normal for a doctor to offer updates, versus department staff who normally handle right to information requests.Macfarlane, the spokesperson, told CBC that the email was in response to the company asking Léger about the right to information process. The health department documents include email exchanges from when lab results confirmed the strain of bacteria that infected the people was the strain in the cooling towers at one location.Previously released records show that by Aug. 11, testing had already been done at various sites in the city - except for one location where samples were collected on Aug. 12.That morning, Léger wrote that health officials collected the last set of samples from five cooling towers at one site. Léger wrote the bacteria levels found exceeded guidelines from various agencies and required immediate shutdown and disinfection of the towers.Léger wrote in later emails that he called someone with the company about the sample results and an order requiring immediate shutdown and cleaning of the towers. "They were very cooperative on the call," Léger wrote. The next day, Organigram's director of human resources sent an email to its employees. CBC News obtained an unredacted copy of that email last year. It describes "elevated bacteria counts" discovered Aug. 12 in its cooling towers on Phase 4A, which is an expansion of its facility. "Please note this system is external and does not impact air quality within the facility, or the health of our products," the Organigram email states. As a result of the reported bacteria, the email says the company took immediate steps to clean the system.The Organigram email notes the discovery would result in "regular site visits by the health department and other consultants," and other internal testing. On Aug. 14, the health department asked the company to forward whatever it had told the company's employees about the issue. A person with the company responded, writing "as per request, this went out to our employees Tuesday evening on behalf of myself."The text of the message is blacked out in the version released by the province, however the timeline, number of paragraphs and length of those paragraphs match the email sent to Organigram employees separately obtained by CBC. The records also include the discovery of a Sept. 3 Facebook post by a person who said Organigram was the source of the outbreak based on "inside sources.""I got a call from my contact at [redacted] around 7h45 last night, [redacted]," Léger wrote to other public health officials the following morning. "They have prepared messaging in case they need to respond, but don't plan to do so proactively. They will share with me today and I'll keep you in the loop."Macfarlane wrote to health officials Sept. 4 he had received calls from the media asking to confirm the location of the outbreak. Part of that email, which has the subject line "Twist to the plot," is blacked out.Company considered 'proactive' disclosureThe series of emails includes a copy of the Facebook post. Macfarlane recommended a conference call that day. Later that day, Leger wrote to the same group that he had a 1:30 p.m. call with the company. "[I] think they are changing approaches and are planning a proactive media release."It's not clear what was discussed on that call with the company. The records released end Sept. 4, the day before the CBC right to information request that resulted in their disclosure was filed.There was never a voluntary disclosure about the source of the outbreak.

  • Bouygues, Free, Orange and SFR apply for French 5G telecoms spectrum
    News
    Reuters

    Bouygues, Free, Orange and SFR apply for French 5G telecoms spectrum

    French telecoms companies Bouygues Telecom, Free Mobile, Orange and SFR have made offers for France's new 5G telecoms spectrum, the regulator, Arcep, said on Wednesday. "All four candidates have stipulated their desire to obtain one of the four blocks of 50 MHz that will be awarded in exchange for the commitments set forth in the procedure," Arcep said in a statement. Arcep added it was hoping to award the 5G licenses by June at the latest.

  • News
    CBC

    OPINION | UCP meddling undermines Alberta universities' basic purpose

    This column is an opinion from Eric Strikwerda, who teaches Canadian History at Athabasca University.Quaecumque vera. It's the motto of the University of Alberta, my alma mater. It means whatsoever things are true, and for more than a century, Alberta students and researchers and professors have engaged in a collective project in its pursuit. Quaecumque vera is not just a slogan or a pithy Latin phrase adorning the U of A's crest.It means to pursue truth no matter its implications; it means to follow evidence wherever it leads; it means to seek out deeper insights into our place in the world, into our place in the universe. Even if that pursuit is uncomfortable. Maybe especially if it's uncomfortable. It's on these principles that the bedrock of our very society rests. All universities, both here in Alberta and around the world, follow the same basic project. It's not a complicated one. Lately, however, we seem to be moving ever further from truth. In early September, Alberta's so-called Blue Ribbon Panel reported on the province's finances. With an analysis ranging widely over the main business of government, including health care, education, and social services spending, the Blue Ribbon Panel concluded that Alberta spends too much and suggested ways to save money.Evidence of this overspending was scant, and what evidence there was appeared more cherry-picked to support the panel's conclusion than it did to reveal the actual state of the province's finances. The panel's suggestions for savings came straight out of the now widely discredited austerity playbook.The panel's report was a political document, light on facts, and heavy on ideology.Whatsoever may be true? Not so much.By January, news reports made clear that the panel itself was far from the "independent body" meant to report honestly on the province's finances.The day before the panel's members were even publicly named, panel chair Janice MacKinnon received straight from the premier's office a draft op-ed meant to be published under her name."The op-ed is great," MacKinnon wrote back to staff in the premier's office, "Well done. I have no changes."The Calgary Herald ran the op-ed four days later, under the headline "Opinion: If We Make Measured Choices Now, We Can Avoid Draconian Cuts Later."Whatsoever may be true? Not so much.But whatever. These sorts of panels, after all, are usually cobbled together hastily and made up of panelists with a decided bias sympathetic to the governing party's ideology.They're PR agents meant to cast a generous light on the government benches. They ought not be used as credible blueprints for future policy directions.Nevertheless, 26 recommendations stood precariously atop the report's shaky foundations.One of them called for the implementation of a performance-based post-secondary funding model. It wanted the province to "link funding to the achievement of specific goals or priorities," including skills required for the "current and future labour market," the commercialization of research and technology, and, more vaguely, "achieving broader societal and economic goals."Not surprisingly, the minister of Advanced Education adopted the recommendation enthusiastically, announcing in January the imposition of a performance-based funding model on all public universities and colleges.The precise details of how it's all supposed to work remain as yet unclear. What is clear is that the ministry expects Alberta's post-secondary institutions to concentrate their efforts on serving the needs of the labour market (read employers), commercializing research to serve business interests, and measuring post-secondary success in terms of graduate incomes.The trouble is that all available evidence shows clearly that none of these performance-based metrics actually achieves the goals they set out.Researchers have carefully shown how the needs of the labour market are dynamic, and that trying to match today's university programs to tomorrow's labour market needs is folly.They have documented how efforts at commercializing research and technology in other jurisdictions have led to a narrowing of research and a strangling of innovation.And they have pointed out the obvious: that universities and colleges have no influence over the incomes of their graduates. Here's the thing, though. The ministry already knows all about the failure of performance-based metrics. It tried to make them work in the early 1990s here in Alberta, and then quietly shelved the idea when it became clear that it wouldn't work.So why push ahead with such an ill-considered scheme anyway? (This is where the attack on truth lies). Because improving Alberta's post-secondary system is not the goal. It never was.The goal instead is to coax a crisis out of nothing at all, reduce post-secondary institutions' autonomy by gutting their funding, and narrow researchers' fields of inquiry to ones supported by the government's ideology. Make no mistake. I'm deeply unhappy with the broader direction this government is taking our province. Unhappy, but not surprised. After all, austerity governments gonna austere. But I'm utterly disappointed in the senior leadership of our post-secondary institutions for their weak-kneed acquiescence to the minister's cynical directives. If ever there was a moment to stand up to bad methods that lead to worse outcomes, then that moment is now. Quaecumque vera. It means we don't truck in untruths here. It means we don't trade in falsehoods.Well, it's supposed to, anyway.This column is an opinion. For more information about our commentary section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.

  • GO train service getting back to normal around Toronto
    CBC

    GO train service getting back to normal around Toronto

    Commuter rail service is resuming around the GTA after police broke up blockades overnight.

  • Alberta government to add tourism levy to short-term rentals
    News
    CBC

    Alberta government to add tourism levy to short-term rentals

    Renting an Airbnb or VRBO in Alberta will soon be more expensive.The Alberta government plans to introduce details this week about extending its tourism levy to short-term rentals like Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO.A government spokesperson confirmed that details of the levy will be announced in Thursday's budget, but declined to provide further information citing budget confidentiality. The levy adds a four-per-cent charge to any rental under 28 days, though most short-term rentals aren't included under the current guidelines. Though specifics aren't outlined, the change is mentioned in the government's 2019-23 Fiscal Plan. According to the plan, the tourism levy change is expected to generate about $5 million in 2020-21. The tax will be charged through the service used to book the rental. Currently, most short-term rentals are exempt, as only establishments with more than three bedrooms that can be rented separately are subject to the levy. The government's fiscal plan said the levy was not designed with short-term rentals in mind and "gives these operators an unfair advantage over hotels and other accommodation providers that are subject to the levy."The Alberta Hotel and Lodge Association has applauded the move as an important step in levelling the playing field Other jurisdictionsIf enacted, Alberta won't be the first province to tax short-term rentals. Both British Columbia and Quebec have taxes that are charged through platforms like Airbnb.In Quebec, guests pay a 3.5-per-cent lodging tax on the cost of the listing for any reservation under 31 nights. In B.C., there is a eight-per-cent provincial sales tax (PST) for the listing price (including cleaning fees) for reservations 26 nights and shorter. A municipal and regional district tax (MRDT) of two to three per cent is also applied. On a municipal level, several cities in Ontario apply a municipal accommodation tax of four per cent to short-term rental reservations, among them: Barrie, Brockville, Greater Sudbury, Mississauga, Ottawa, Kitchener and Windsor.  Some Alberta cities have also begun to regulate short-term rentals. Both Calgary and Edmonton require short-term rental hosts to have a business licence to operate in the city.'Pay our fair share'Airbnb said it has been working with the provincial government on the addition of the tourism levy and the company hasn't been negatively affected by taxes in Quebec and B.C. "We're proud to pay our fair share and help to promote the tourist economy," said Nathan Rotman, Airbnb Canada's deputy director of public policy.According to Airbnb, there are about 12,000 listings in Alberta including rooms in homes, entire home listings, boutique hotels and traditional B&Bs. Rotman said he didn't have the details on Alberta's plan for the tourism levy, but said B.C.'s model has been a "very successful tool to help promote the tourist economy in that province."Airbnb's provincial and municipal tax collection in B.C. was almost double what was expected and generated $42.9 million in one year, with $33.7 million of that coming from PST and the other $9.2 million from municipal and regional district tax.'Catching up with other provinces'Dave Kaiser, president and CEO of the Alberta Hotel and Lodge Association (AHLA), said extending the tourism levy to short-term rentals has been a long time coming."It's been a file we've been working on for several years and couldn't get any traction with previous governments here in Alberta. We're happy that it's finally happening, and in reality I think Alberta is catching up with some of the other provinces."The AHLA provided input to the government about the tourism levy change and gave several recommendations. The association wants the restriction about the number of rooms removed and wants online platforms to collect and remit the levy on behalf of the properties. It also wants data collected from online platforms shared with municipalities. Kaiser said the the AHLA has other recommendations for the regulation of short-term rentals, including one significant change federally: GST."Without GST and without a tourism levy, someone who is operating a short-term rental has a nine per cent tax advantage or price advantage on hotels."

  • Met opera gets visionary new “Dutchman”
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Met opera gets visionary new “Dutchman”

    NEW YORK — Francois Girard created quite a splash — literally — at the Metropolitan Opera seven years ago when he flooded the stage with fake blood for a scene in "Parsifal." Now he's back for another Wagner opera with a production dominated by a giant eye, a red dress, and 47 hanging ropes.The French-Canadian director is bringing the Met his vision of “Der Fliegende Holländer” (“The Flying Dutchman”), which tells of a sailor condemned to sail the seas for eternity unless he can find a woman willing to be faithful to him until death. He finds such a woman in the heroine, Senta, who is obsessed by a portrait of the Dutchman hanging in her home.In Girard's interpretation, the focus of the opera is more on Senta than on the Dutchman himself.“This is the central argument of the piece,” he said in an interview a week before the opening. “It's the story of a girl who is looking at a painting so intensely that it comes to life and will swallow her into death.”The first thing audiences will see as they enter the auditorium is a painting by set designer John Macfarlane that is framed by the Met's gold proscenium and shows a glowering eye embedded in a stormy sky. It represents the Dutchman's portrait, and as soon as the curtain rises during the overture we see another eye in the background and a dancer dressed in red who stands in for Senta. (In Wagner's libretto, Senta doesn't appear until Act 2.)That red dress is the only splotch of colour in a production where sets and costumes are deliberately drab, filled with blacks, whites and grays.“It's the red of passion, of human life and blood,” Girard said. “She's the centre of gravity of the piece and she has to stand out.”As for the Dutchman, he becomes an extension of Senta's imagination, “a ghost who comes out of the cosmos and takes a human form.” A giant shadow figure mirrors his movements in the background, and we glimpse his ship taking form in the cloud-smeared sky. Later, his crew is depicted by blobs of light.Perhaps the most striking visual image is a forest of ropes dangling from the flies in Act 2. The women of Senta's village twirl these to suggest their weaving — instead of using spinning wheels as indicated in the libretto.“It's really Senta's destiny that they're weaving,” Girard said. “They become twisted and increasingly knotty as she's getting caught in the web.”Girard, who is also a filmmaker best known for “Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould” and “The Red Violin,” said his decision to focus on Senta is “a little bit like a film where you have a choice of using a wider lens or going a little bit closer up. Yes, I am making the directorial choice to stress certain elements vs. others, but it's done in light of the meaning of what is in the text and the music.”The new production, which opens March 2, stars bass-baritone Yevgeny Nikitin as the Dutchman and soprano Anja Kampe as Senta and will be conducted by Valery Gergiev. (Nikitin was a late replacement for Bryn Terfel, who broke his ankle shortly before he was to arrive for rehearsals.) The March 14 matinee performance will be televised live in HD in movie theatres around the world.Girard's first venture into Wagner was in 2006 when he directed “Siegfried,” the third of four operas in the “Ring” cycle for the Canadian Opera Company. His Met debut came in 2013 with his widely acclaimed “Parsifal,” Wagner's last and most complex masterpiece.“Dutchman,” on the other hand, is the earliest of Wagner's works frequently performed and shows a composer still finding his way.“To go from 'Parsifal' to 'The Flying Dutchman' is a big, big step backward,” Girard said. “But if you accept to direct it you have to serve it with as much generosity and love as you can.“'And I have to admit that at first I was a little scared of that,” he added. “Because I was so into 'Parsifal.' The transcendence of every aspect of it. Then you listen to 'Flying Dutchman' and say 'I have to direct this? Eccch.' But very soon I embraced it because Wagner's genius is present all along. I don't think there's any part of this opera now that I don't love.”And he'll be back at the Met with more Wagner. The company said he's developing a new production of “Lohengrin” for a future season.Mike Silverman, The Associated Press

  • B.C. prof accuses Air Canada of racist behaviour, files Human Rights complaint
    News
    Yahoo News Canada

    B.C. prof accuses Air Canada of racist behaviour, files Human Rights complaint

    A professor from Simon Fraser University has filed a complaint over humiliating treatment she says she experienced while flying with Air Canada.

  • Toronto prepares for significant snowfall as winter storm moves in
    Global News

    Toronto prepares for significant snowfall as winter storm moves in

    The City of Toronto is preparing for a significant snowfall event on Wednesday, with up to 25 centres expected. Miranda Anthistle explains what the city is doing in preparation as the winter storm has already begun falling in several parts of Ontario.

  • News
    CBC

    20-year-old Regina man wanted for assaulting woman with bladed weapon

    Police are looking for a 20-year-old man accused of assaulting a woman with a bladed weapon. A release from the Regina Police Service said a 42-year-old woman attempted to intervene in a struggle between Warren Crane and a 21-year-old woman last Friday on the 1400 block of Rae Street. The 42-year-old woman sustained severe injuries and was transported to hospital. Police said Crane fled the scene after the incident.Crane is described as six feet tall, of medium build and light complexion, with straight brown hair and brown eyes. He has numerous identifiable tattoos, including an upside down cross on his mid brow, "Gang Life" on his left brow, and "NSK" vertically on his right temple. Crane has two teardrops tattooed under his right eye and two feathers bound together under his left eye.Crane has "Sex Money Murder" tattooed on his left forearm and "Loyalty" tattooed on his right arm. He also has the North Carolina Tar Heels "NC" tattooed on the right side of his neck.Anyone with information about this incident or Crane's whereabouts was asked to contact police in Regina or Crime Stoppers.

  • Nova Scotia class action against charity Gospel for Asia alleges $100M fraud
    News
    CBC

    Nova Scotia class action against charity Gospel for Asia alleges $100M fraud

    After a three-year legal battle south of the border that ignited a major controversy in evangelical circles, the charity Gospel for Asia has now become the focus of a class-action lawsuit filed in Canada.Plaintiff Greg Zentner of Woodburn, N.S., alleges the charity "defrauded or made negligent misstatements" to him and other donors. The statement of claim also said the "defendants civilly conspired to misrepresent the nature of donations collected."In other words, Zentner alleges the money raised didn't go where it was supposed to. He is seeking damages for the "misuse of donor funds in excess of $100 million."The statement of claim was filed in Nova Scotia Supreme Court on Tuesday. Gospel for Asia (GFA) settled a class-action lawsuit in the U.S. with similar allegations last year for $37 million.GFA has been operating in Canada since 1980. It continues to have strong support and raises about $9 million through donations each year — on average, $25,000 a day. The proceeds are intended to go to the poor in India and surrounding countries. Some of the most popular gift items include farm animals, bicycles, blankets and drinking wells. Donors also give monthly to support child and missionary sponsorships. Zentner and his wife donated thousands to GFA between 2006 and 2014. He learned about alleged financial discrepancies through his pastor, Bruce Morrison, who meticulously researched GFA's money trail after hearing from former GFA staff members in the U.S.As part of a recent CBC News investigation, Morrison and 28 former staff and board members disclosed concerns of how they believe donations have been misused over the years.Some ex-staff, along with Morrison, uncovered that tens of millions were allegedly sitting in foreign bank accounts and millions more were being held in reserve funds.Morrison also found that between 2007 and 2014, Gospel for Asia reported to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) that it had sent nearly $94 million to India. Meanwhile, financial records submitted to the Indian government showed the charity received no funds from Canada during that time period."I suppose the greatest impact I've had, or the greatest thing that has impacted me, is the denial that comes from Gospel for Asia that 'we've done nothing wrong,' when there is so much evidence to the contrary," said Morrison.Charity disputes allegationsGFA litigation spokesperson Johnnie Moore told CBC in a recent interview the charity is "misunderstood.""Not only [was GFA] not required to make an admission of guilt when they settled the [U.S.] lawsuit, but had the lawsuit actually continued in the court, they either would have won in court or certainly won on the appeal," Moore said in a recent interview with CBC.Moore said the allegations made in the U.S. lawsuit were "absolutely false" and the legal settlement proves it. "It explicitly states that all the funds that … were designated to go to the field went to the field," said Moore. GFA has not yet responded to the Canadian lawsuit filed on Tuesday.$20M 'anonymous' donationMorrison said the U.S. lawsuit provided him with new information about how Canadian money was being spent. In court, lawyers representing Gospel for Asia confirmed that $20 million was taken from Canadian donations to help pay for construction of the charity's $45-million headquarters in Wills Point, Tex."They said in the financial statements that were issued in the U.S. [that] … the money had come from an anonymous donor," said Morrison. "And then we find out through court hearings in the United States that this money was Canadian money and donors here had no idea that had happened."Gospel for Asia confirmed to CBC the money did come from Canadian donations, but said it was later paid back.In the Canadian court filing, Zentner is seeking the "return of $20 million in funds misdirected to GFA USA.""The plaintiff states that the transfers were made in order to hide the actual source of the funds and to mislead class members and the Canadian and Indian tax authorities," the document said.Marc Stanley, the lawyer who represented the plaintiff in the U.S. class-action lawsuit, is named as legal counsel on the statement of claim along with Halifax lawyer John McKiggan.MORE TOP STORIES

  • News
    CBC

    OPP end search for body of 9-year-old Alex Ottley

    After 11 days trying to find the body of 9-year-old boy Alex Ottley in Lake Erie, Ontario Provincial Police say they have called off their search.Const. Rodney Leclair, a media relations officer with the OPP, says it was an "extremely difficult decision."He said "we've searched an extensive portion of the lake and shoreline and it is unknown, at this time, where the body may have gone to.""We worked the area for 11 days and the weather affected efforts during that time. The decision is discontinue was extremely difficult as we really wanted to make a recovery to give the family a little bit of closure."The police service says periodic aerial and shoreline searches will continue in the future.Ottley, 9, and an eight-year-old boy were sitting on an ice platform on Feb. 15 at Peacock Point, a town 60 kilometres south of Hamilton when a wave swallowed the younger boy, knocking him off the ledge and into the water.Leclair says Alex tried to save his friend when a wave came but the wave swept him in.Police exhausted their resources, drawing in icebreakers, drones from locals and helicopters from the OPP and the U.S. Coast Guard — all amid "dangerous" conditions in the water. Their most recent efforts included shorelines searches, divers and boats with sonar scanners.A GoFundMe set up for Alex's family has raised more than $18,000 as of Wednesday morning.

  • Lawyer explains why Windsor pharmacist charged with opioid trafficking still has license
    News
    CBC

    Lawyer explains why Windsor pharmacist charged with opioid trafficking still has license

    The case of a Windsor pharmacist accused of being at the centre of a drug ring came up Tuesday in a Newmarket, Ont. courtroom.Last December, York Regional Police arrested and charged John Gerges with three counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking and one count of possession of a forged document.His arrest came after years of professional misconduct — but he still has his license.The Ontario College of Pharmacists (OCP) lists a number of violations Gerges faced, dating back to 2015 — for dispensing too many tablets to patients, failing to maintain accurate records and not upholding the standards of the profession.Gerges was also disciplined for bribing patients not to report his behaviour.While none of the aforementioned violations are criminal, his recent alleged violations are.The December incident saw police seize more than $500,000 worth of opioids, a firearm and more than $220,000 in cash.Gerges registered with the OCP in 2011, and still holds a license — but he cannot be anywhere in or near a pharmacy.A lawyer who works with pharmacists said the OCP's primary mandate is to protect the public."It all depends on what happened at the panel or at the hearing. What was the evidence against the pharmacist? What were the replies? What was his defence?" said Marianne Keriakos, principal counsel at MKLAW."There are many steps that come into play prior to a decision being made. Some steps, we are privy to as the public, and some steps we're not," she said.There are more than 11,000 pharmacists practising in Ontario — but for one to pick up a rap sheet like this is rare. He will be tried. He has not been convicted as of yet. These are charges right now, so we're all waiting to see what happens. - Marianne Keriakos"Many were shocked when they heard this news," Keriakos added. "He will be tried. He has not been convicted as of yet. These are charges right now, so we're all waiting to see what happens."The OCP said Gerges will have to reapply for his license once it expires. At that point, the college will decide whether to renew it."Generally speaking, if an investigation results in a referral of allegations to the College's Discipline Committee, and a panel of the committee finds a registrant guilty of professional misconduct or incompetence, their certificate of registration can be suspended or revoked," the OCP said in an email to CBC News.If people want to learn about any violations their own pharmacist may have faced, that information is available publicly on the Ontario College of Pharmacists' website.