Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, died on Friday, Buckingham Palace confirmed. He was 99.
Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, died on Friday, Buckingham Palace confirmed. He was 99.
NEW DELHI (AP) — Scores of dead bodies have been found floating down the Ganges River in eastern India as the country battles a ferocious surge in coronavirus infections. Authorities said Tuesday they haven't yet determined the cause of death. Health officials working through the night Monday retrieved 71 bodies, officials in Bihar state said. Images on social media of the bodies floating in the river prompted outrage and speculation that they died from COVID-19. Authorities performed post mortems on Tuesday but said they could not confirm the cause of death due to the decomposition of the bodies. More corpses were found floating in the river on Tuesday, washing up in Ghazipur district in neighboring Uttar Pradesh state. Police and villagers were at the site, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Monday’s incident. “We are trying to find out where did these dead bodies come from? How did they get here?” said Mangla Prasad Singh, a local official. Surinder, a resident of Ghazipur who uses one name, said villagers didn't have enough wood to cremate their dead on land. “Due to the shortage of wood, the dead are being buried in the water,” he said. “Bodies from around 12-13 villages have been buried in the water.” Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are experiencing rising COVID-19 cases as infections in India grow faster than anywhere else in the world. On Tuesday, the country confirmed nearly 390,000 new cases, including 3,876 more deaths. Overall, India has had the second highest number of confirmed cases after the U.S. with nearly 23 million and over 240,000 deaths. All of the figures are almost certainly a vast undercount, experts say. The Associated Press
TORONTO — The Toronto Zoo says an endangered tiger cub born just over a week ago has died after experiencing serious health issues. The zoo says in a Facebook post that the Amur tiger cub, one of three born on April 30, was euthanized Sunday evening. It says the decision was made after the cub's health deteriorated despite days of critical care by veterinarians. The zoo says the male cub started looking lethargic last Friday, and tests eventually showed it had severe liver damage and life-threatening electrolyte imbalances. The organization says an autopsy has since confirmed the liver damage and indicated the cub was not properly digesting milk. It says the two other cubs appear to be doing well and continue to be monitored by zoo staff. The cubs were born after their mother, an Amur tiger nicknamed Mazzy, was paired with the male tiger Vasili through a program meant to promote conservation. This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 11, 2021. The Canadian Press
Health Minister Paul Merriman recently challenged Saskatchewan millennials to match the high COVID-19 vaccination numbers recorded so far among the province's older populations. Like the cool kids say: Challenge accepted. Statistics reported daily by the Ministry of Health show Saskatchewan residents in their 30s are taking their first doses at a rapid clip. As of May 9, just over a quarter of Saskatchewan residents aged 30 to 39 — or 27 per cent of the province's estimated 183,246 thirtysomethings — had received their first dose of vaccine. That level of vaccination, among one of the province's largest age populations, was reached only six days after the first chunk of the 30s cohort, people aged 37 to 39, were allowed to book vaccine appointments starting on May 4 —aside from any young workers or vulnerable people offered early doses, that is. In the days since, eligibility has opened up to people aged 32 to 36. But the 27-per-cent vaccination level reported Monday was reached even though remaining cohort members aged 30 and 31 only became eligible on Monday morning and therefore did not factor into those latest vaccine takeup numbers. (Government of Saskatchewan) What's more, Saskatchewan residents in their 30s reached the benchmark of one quarter of their population receiving one dose more quickly than either people in their 40s or 50s. By comparison, one quarter of fortysomethings were vaccinated with a single dose as of April 28 — 13 days after the first segment of that group, people aged 48 and 49, could book an appointment. Meanwhile, 26 per cent of Saskatchewan people in their fifties had been inoculated once against COVID-19 as of April 12 — 11 days after the first segment of that group, people aged 58 and 59, became eligible for vaccination. Seniors prioritized in rollout Data on when people in their 60s reached the 25-per-cent first-dose level was not available at the time due to an update in the province's reporting systems, according to the ministry. Exactly when people in their 70s and 80s hit that goal is also unclear because the ministry's table on vaccine uptake did not become a staple of its daily reporting until late March, by which point the vaccination of Saskatchewan's seniors was well underway. However, by March 23, 30 per cent of Saskatchewan residents in their 70s had received one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. That's 11 days after the first segment of people in that age group, people 76 and older, became eligible. Many caveats should be noted when comparing vaccine take up between age groups, not the least of which is vaccine supply, which has ebbed and flowed at various points in Saskatchewan's vaccine rollout but increased considerably as of last week. More location options, including drive-thrus and pharmacies, have launched since the early days of the vaccine rollout. Also worth considering is that young prioritized health care workers may have been vaccinated early. On the other hand, seniors and others living in care homes were also among those prioritized for early vaccination ahead of younger portions of the general population and had vaccine clinics come to them, as opposed to having to travel to a clinic or drive-thru. As of Sunday, 88 per cent of Saskatchewan seniors aged 80 and over had received one dose — the highest uptake rate of any age group. Initially, the Ministry of Health reported separately on vaccine levels among care home residents and seniors living independently. Now all seniors are simply recorded in the same age categories, regardless of whether they were inoculated while in a care home or not. Merriman, the health minister, expressed hope late last week that the strong vaccination numbers among seniors would be bested by younger generations. "It'd be very interesting to see if the millennials could take up that challenge," Merriman said. "They seem to be very interested in challenges these days. It seems to be the trending thing online." For more stories of vaccinated Saskatchewan thirtysomethings, click here.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — A man who fatally shot six people at a Colorado birthday party before killing himself was upset after not being invited to the weekend gathering thrown by his girlfriend’s family, police said Tuesday, calling the shooting an act of domestic violence. The shooter, 28-year-old Teodoro Macias, had been in a relationship with one of the victims, 28-year-old Sandra Ibarra, for about a year and had a history of controlling and jealous behavior, Colorado Springs police Lt. Joe Frabbiele said at a news conference. Police said there were no reported incidents of domestic violence during the relationship and that the shooter didn't have a criminal history. No protective orders were in place. “At the core of this horrific act is domestic violence,” Police Chief Vince Niski said, adding that the gunman had “displayed power and control issues” in the relationship. About a week before the shooting, there was another family gathering where there “was some sort of conflict” between the family and Macias, Niski said. The other victims of the shooting early Sunday were Ibarra’s extended family. They were identified as Melvin Perez, 30; Mayra Ibarra de Perez, 33; Joana Cruz, 52; Jose Gutierrez, 21; and Jose Ibarra, 26. Investigators don’t know yet how the shooter got the weapon, which Frabbiele described as a Smith & Wesson handgun. He said it was originally purchased by someone else in 2014 at a local gun store but was not reported stolen. The gunman had two 15-round magazines, one of which was empty, and police recovered 17 spent shells at the scene. The shooting occurred at a home in the Canterbury Mobile Home Park on the east side of Colorado’s second-largest city. Three children at the party, ages 2, 5 and 11, were not hurt. Two families were celebrating the birthdays of family members, and 10 people were inside the home when the gunman arrived “and shot all six victims in quick succession” before turning the gun on himself, Frabbiele said. The children inside were in “close proximity” to the shots fired, he said. Police received the first of three 911 calls from inside the home. Another was made by an adult who managed to escape. Three teenagers had left the party just before the shooting, Frabbiele said. They returned shortly after to discover what happened. Arriving officers found Jose Gutierrez gravely wounded inside; he told the officers the suspect was in the home, Frabbiele said. Gutierrez died later at a hospital. “One of the smaller children and some of the teenagers lost both parents,” Frabbiele said. Police say the families of the victims had requested privacy. “In Colorado, we’ve had domestic terrorism incidents where lots of people were killed, we’ve had random acts like going into a King Soopers or a movie theater, but let’s not forget about the lethality of domestic violence,” Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said. Suthers was referring to a March 22 attack on a King Soopers supermarket in Boulder, Colorado, that killed 10 people, including a police officer, and a 2012 shooting at a movie theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora that killed 12 and injured 70. “What we have here is a situation where all these people were together and (we) apparently had the anger directed at the adults and his partner. And the tragic consequences are unfathomable. We’ve got children orphaned by this situation,” Suthers said. Gladis Bustos, who lives three homes away, had tearfully identified the home’s owner as Joana on Monday. Bustos called her a warmhearted, hardworking person who always took the time to say hello to her neighbors and brag about her children. Colorado Springs police say eight of 15 homicides this year, including Sunday's victims, were related to domestic violence. Last year, nine of 39 homicides were tied to domestic violence. The weekend attack follows a series of mass shootings — defined as four or more dead, not including the shooter — to plague the U.S. this year. Before the Colorado Springs shooting, a database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University showed there had been at least 11 mass shootings since Jan. 1, compared with just two public mass shootings in 2020. After the Boulder shooting, Colorado lawmakers introduced a bill to create a state Office of Gun Violence Prevention to educate residents about gun safety and collect data on Colorado gun violence. Other bills advancing through the Democratic-led Legislature would tighten background checks, allow municipalities greater freedom to adopt gun control laws that are stricter than state law, and require a person facing a protection order related to domestic violence to report what firearms they possess. ___ Associated Press writers James Anderson and Patty Nieberg in Denver contributed to this report. ___ This story has been corrected to show that Colorado Springs police Lt. Joe Frabbiele's last name was misspelled and that one of the children at the party, as well as some teenagers, were orphaned, not that all of the children were orphaned. Thomas Peipert, The Associated Press
Ellie sits like so many Great Dane do....what we call "sitting like the peoples do". Dane problems!
ROME (AP) — Pope Francis on Tuesday formally created a new lay ministry to encourage greater participation of secular women and men in the teaching of the Catholic faith, especially in places where priests are in short supply. The new law creating the lay ministry of catechists officially recognizes for the universal Catholic Church a practice that has been used for centuries in local dioceses, and goes out of its way to emphasize women's participation in it. In many parts of the world, lay men and women introduce people to the Catholic faith, educate them on receiving the initial sacraments of baptism and Communion and accompany them in their faith journey. Soon, the Vatican’s liturgy office will publish a specific rite of installation to be used around the world when these lay catechists formally begin their ministry. Individual bishops conferences are being asked to develop guidelines to train them. It’s the latest reform by Francis to address longstanding complaints that lay people — and specifically women — have been shut out of all levels of church decision-making, governance and participation in favor of the all-male clerical class of priests, bishops and cardinals. Earlier this year Francis issued another law decreeing that women can be installed in the lay ministries of lectors, to read Scripture, and acolytes to serve on the altar as eucharistic ministers. Such roles had been officially reserved to men even though exceptions were made. Francis has firmly upheld Catholic doctrine that women cannot be ordained priests. He remains under pressure, however, to allow women to be deacons — ministers who perform many of the same functions as priests, such as presiding at weddings, baptisms and funerals. Currently, the ministry is reserved for men even though historians say the ministry was performed by women in the early church. The head of the Vatican’s evangelization office, Monsignor Rino Fisichella, denied that Francis' new lay ministries were a substitute for a possible female diaconate. He told reporters Tuesday that “each ministry has its uniqueness” with the lay faithful called to different ones. The Women’s Ordination Conference, which advocates for women priests, welcomed the new law as a long overdue affirmation of the “authentic vocational calls many women experience and the unique ways women enrich the church.” While repeating its call for the inclusion of women in ordained ministries of deacon and priest, it said the new law was evidence that “glacially, the Vatican is beginning to open its eyes to the possibility that women might be equal collaborators in faith.” In the new law, Francis recalled that throughout the history of the church, lay catechists have been fundamental in spreading the faith, particularly in mission territories. Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press
The Higgs government is cutting income taxes to offset the impact of carbon taxes on the majority of New Brunswickers. Finance Minister Ernie Steeves introduced legislation Tuesday that would lower the tax rate on the lower income bracket from 9.68 per cent to 9.4 per cent, a rate that applies to the first $43,835 of income. The tax cut accounts for $28 million of the $163 million in carbon tax revenue the province will collect this year under a pricing system it adopted to comply with the federal government's requirements. "It is anticipated to benefit over 420,000 taxpayers, putting money back in the pockets of the taxpayers," Steeves said, as he introduced the bill. The Progressive Conservatives had faced calls to use the revenue on climate fund projects. Tax cut 'a sensible approach' But returning the money to New Brunswickers falls in line with calls by many economists and environmentalists. "It's a sensible approach," said University of Ottawa economist Nic Rivers, an expert on carbon pricing, who said it creates a disincentive to burn fossil fuels while giving people more money to stimulate the economy. Nic Rivers, an economist at the University of Ottawa, commended the province's tax cut in the context of offsetting the carbon tax.(Nicholas Rivers) "This is 'tax what you burn, not what you earn,'" Rivers said. Premier Blaine Higgs said it was always the goal of the federal plan to have at least a portion of carbon tax revenue refunded to consumers. "That was kind of the principle, and that's why we did it," he said. In provinces that have refused to adopt carbon prices, Ottawa is applying the tax and is sending people rebates. The national climate plan requires provinces to tax greenhouse gas emissions at $40 per tonne this year, which translates into 8.8 cents per litre of gasoline. Last year Higgs opted to slash the provincial gas excise tax to partially offset the carbon tax. But this year, rather than slash it even more — an approach Ottawa frowns on — he said he wanted to find another way to return some of the money to New Brunswickers. Use extra revenue to further reduce emissions, says opposition Opposition Liberal Leader Roger Melanson said he calculated the tax cut would work out to $68 per person per year. "It's not significant when you stop and do the math." Melanson said he'd rather see the $28 million used to pay for more government programs to reduce emissions. Opposition Liberal leader Roger Melanson says he wants to see the $28 million earned from income tax cuts used to fund programs to reduce emissions.(CBC News) Higgs said Melanson's per-person math "wouldn't be far off," but he said the reduction is an important signal the province wants lower taxes. "This is a start to continue the momentum that we're feeling right now in our province, the people who want to live here, who want to work here," he said. But he ruled out using the entire $163 million in carbon tax revenue for a much larger income tax cut. "There's a balance here," he said. The income tax cut only accounts for a small portion of the total carbon tax revenue this year, and $36 million will still be devoted to climate change projects, about the same as last year. Ottawa requires the carbon tax to increase each year, and the premier said he could lower income taxes further each year in tandem with carbon price hikes. "I'd like to say yes," he said. "A tax reduction is as good as a wage increase." Steeves's bill also raises the low-income tax threshold to $17,840 from $17,630. People below that threshold pay no provincial income tax.
The final chapter of a land claim dating back more than 100 years has finally been closed. On Monday, the Mosquito-Grizzly Bear's Head-Lean Man First Nation announced a final settlement with the federal government for $141 million, plus interest. In January, the Specific Land Claims Tribunal gave the First Nation a $121 million settlement, acknowledging that the surrender of the land was invalid and that the Crown had breached its duties to the First Nation. The increase in the settlement money came from the passage of time since the land was appraised in 2017, as well as loss of use stemming from the time of the appraisal. The settlement came after decades of advocacy by the First Nation's members over 5,800 hectares of reserve land taken by the federal government in the Battlefords area in 1905. "The award of $141 million is a huge success for the Mosquito-Grizzly Bear's Head and Lean Man First Nation," read a statement from Chief Tanya Aguilar-Antiman. "Our people have been seeking a fair and just settlement for the unlawful taking of our lands for more than 26 years." The land claim was started back in the 1990s and the First Nation spent decades negotiating with the government. "Although the facts in this claim were egregious, the Chief and Council are proud that Canada and the First Nation have taken a meaningful step toward reconciliation, as reflected in the agreement of the parties," said Chief Aguilar-Antiman.
A New Brunswick mom whose seven-year-old was hospitalized after eating what he thought were Oreo cookies is calling for a crackdown on cannabis-product packaging. Tobi Russo, who lives on Eel Ground First Nation southwest of Miramichi and is recovering from surgery, says she was having a rest on the couch Saturday morning when her youngest son, Moises, came upstairs to tell her he wasn't feeling well. Russo said it was plain to see he was in distress — his pupils were dilated and he was having heart palpitations — and she asked him what had happened. He told her he'd eaten some cookies, and she asked him to bring her the package. Russo was astonished: the packaging looked strikingly similar to the packaging for Oreo cookies, right down to the distinctive shiny blue cellophane wrap, and the font on the image of a chocolate creme cookie against a splash of white cream in the background. Except that they were in fact Stoneo cookies, by "Dabisco," which is not a legal product, and contained a total of 500 mg of THC. For comparison, a typical legal edibles product for sale at Cannabis NB contains between 2.5 and 10 mg of THC. Moises had eaten both of the cookies in the package. Alarmed, Russo called the poison control line and an ambulance. Moises was taken to Miramichi Regional Hospital, where he was diagnosed with an overdose and was hospitalized and monitored for 24 hours. He's home now and safe, and is not expected to have any long-term health issues because of the incident, but it has left Russo badly shaken. Stoneo cannabis cookies are sold in packaging that is almost identical to Oreo cookies packaging. (Weed Deals ) Cookies brought into home without her knowledge Russo said she had no idea the cookies had been brought into the house. "I live a drug- and alcohol-free life," said Russo, who has worked as an addictions counsellor. "If I would have known they were in the house, I would have destroyed them." There are adult relatives and four children, including teenagers, in the house, and there are friends who come and go, Russo said. She is quick to point out that she isn't trying to spark a "witch hunt" in her household or in her community. If anything, she said, she blames herself. "I am his mother and I'm responsible for what comes into this house," Russo said. Her real beef is with the companies that appear to directly target children with packaging that is dangerously similar to that of products they love. Stoneo cookies, by Canadian online dispensary Weed Deals, are just one example. There are Stoner Patch Kidz gummies, whose packaging mimics the distinctive packaging of Sour Patch Kids gummy candies, Fruit Gushers medicated gummies, Nerds Rope candy, and others. All of them mimic the original candies, from the packaging colour to the font to the graphic design. Oreo brand tries to stop 'misappropriation' "These big corporations should have a responsibility to not make it so inviting" to children, Russo said. "Adults would buy these products whether they had fancy packaging or not, they would buy it for the effect, so there's really no need to make it look all fun and fanciful." CBC News has reached out to Weed Deals, which sells the Stoneo cookies and other edibles, but did not immediately receive a response. On Tuesday, Mondelez International, which owns Oreo and many other snack brands, said in a statement that it takes the misuse of its products and brands seriously and "will act as necessary to protect consumers from actions that misrepresent" them. "In this case, the misappropriation of our OREO name and our packaging to sell THC-containing products is particularly troubling as the use of our designs may make the products more attractive and appealing to children," the statement said. "While we have reported the misuse to various agencies globally, we feel strongly about taking action to defend the OREO brand and to prevent its use by third parties to sell unregulated and infringing products. …Our products are safe to consume." Oreo cookies packaging. (Mondelez International) First Nation dispensary drops products The sale of cannabis in Canada has had some grey areas from the start. While Cannabis NB is the only legal retailer of cannabis in New Brunswick, First Nations leaders have argued that their communities weren't consulted when the Cannabis Act was being established, and that they do in fact have the right to sell cannabis in their own territories. Federal cannabis laws will come up for a three-year review this fall, giving First Nations an opportunity to make a new deal with the Canadian government that would allow them to sell legally. Cannabis NB does not sell Stoneo or other edibles that do not conform to Health Canada's quality control standards and guidelines, including packaging and THC levels. But such products are available online and at some dispensaries throughout the province, including some First Nation dispensaries, and calls for something to be done about their packaging are mounting. On Monday night, the co-owner of a cannabis dispensary on the Eel Ground First Nation, also known as Natoaganeg, posted a statement on Facebook announcing it will be dropping all products that employ the brand-mimicking tactic in the wake of Moises' accidental overdose. Although we may not be able to convince a company to alter their marketing strategies, we can make a difference by choosing not to offer these products in our store. - Devin Ward, co-owner of Lefty's Canna dispensary Lefty's Canna did not sell the Stoneo product in question, Devin Ward noted in his statement. However, he said, distributors have a responsibility to ensure that "incidents like the one this past weekend are avoided." "Ultimately, we are a collection of families that operates Lefty's. We have kids of our own and really sympathize with this unfortunate situation," he said in the statement. "Although we may not be able to convince a company to alter their marketing strategies, we can make a difference by choosing not to offer these products in our store." In an interview Monday night, Ward, himself a father of young boys, explained that Moises' hospital scare "hit close to home." "Moises is the same age as my son, they were in kindergarten together a few years ago. We know them on a personal level, so it was upsetting," he said. Devin Ward, with wife Kayla and their sons, Dexter, left, and Jackson. Ward co-owns a dispensary on the Eel Ground First Nation and said Monday night that the dispensary will be dropping all products whose packaging mimics brands known to children.(Submitted by Devin Ward) Public Health to discuss incident with Health Canada In an email Tuesday, New Brunswick's Public Health department said it was not aware of the packaging, but now plans to share the information with Health Canada. "We will share with Health Canada colleagues for followup as they are responsible for packaging," department spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane said. He noted individuals can also report concerns to Health Canada, via the Cannabis Reporting Form section on Health Canada's website. Health Canada said Monday that it is looking into the matter. MLA commends Russo for coming forward Michelle Conroy, the People's Alliance MLA for Miramichi, also knows Russo and Moises. On Monday, Conroy called Moises' close call "horrifying," and questioned how companies can be allowed to blatantly target children in their marketing of adult products. "We've been seeing posts about Doritos bags, candies and gummies, all of which are pointed towards children's treats. … it's very concerning." Conroy praised Russo for sharing her story, knowing that she would face online trolling and posting hurtful comments. "I really commend her for having the bravery to come forward because it will bring a lot of awareness to people who have no idea this is even happening," Conroy said. "I have two teenage boys here and you never know who's coming and going half the time, they're in the basement, they're bringing in treats and snacks … it can easily happen." Conroy said she'd like to see "stronger rules" around the packaging of such products, similar to the rules around cigarettes, and plans to look into the matter further. "It's really alarming that this can be done on any level," she said. "I don't think they should be able to do this at all."
A shutdown of the Windsor Assembly Plant that started in late March has been extended once again. The Stellantis factory is one of many in the auto sector affected by a global shortage of semiconductors, which are used in electronics. Other automakers, such as Ford and General Motors, have slashed production. The plant, which produces minivans including the Chrysler Pacifica, Voyager and Grand Caravan, was slated to be closed for a four-week period starting on March 29. The reopening has been delayed several times. On Monday, Unifor Local 444 said the plant will be closed for the week of May 17. "The company has informed the Union that the Windsor Assembly Plant will be down the week of May 17th," the union said in a social media post. A spokesperson for Stellantis confirmed the plant will be shut down next week because of the "unprecedented global microchip shortage." "Stellantis continues to work closely with our suppliers to mitigate the manufacturing impacts caused by the various supply chain issues facing our industry," spokesperson LouAnn Gosselin said in a statement. The auto company, formerly known as Fiat Chrysler, employs roughly 5,000 people at the Windsor Assembly Plant. The factory has been shuttered twice this year because of the semiconductor shortage. In February, production was halted for three weeks. During the plant's downtime, workers are eligible to receive Employment Insurance benefits, and some get a union-negotiated top up that brings their wages up to about 80 per cent of their regular earnings. Nick Dimitriou, who has been an employee for 26 years, said he's lucky to get that supplement. But he worries about those who are not eligible, including some junior workers. "Those that don't have that negotiated into their contracts, my heart goes out to them and it is a struggle," he said. He said he's been helping out family and his community during the extended downtime. "You try to keep busy. You gotta stay healthy, right?" he said.
BELFAST (Reuters) -British soldiers unjustifiably shot or used disproportionate force in the deaths of nine of the 10 innocent people killed in a 1971 incident in Belfast that sparked an upsurge of violence during Northern Ireland's "Troubles," a judge-led inquiry found. A Catholic priest and a mother of eight who served soldiers tea were among the victims in an event Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney described on Tuesday as "one of the most tragic days" of Northern Ireland's three decades of bloodshed. Judge Siobhan Keegan delivered her findings to applause from families of the victims shortly after the British government announced it would introduce legislation to give greater protection to former soldiers who served in Northern Ireland, plans Dublin and many in Belfast fiercely oppose.
A woman who says she was sexually assaulted by a man she met online told a Charlottetown jury on Tuesday that she felt shocked and violated by what happened. Stephanie Douglas was testifying at the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island trial of the accused man. He is Edward Thomas Mundle, 58. The Charlottetown man has pleaded not guilty to the single charge of sexual assault. Douglas's name is not covered by a publication ban, as is usually the case in Canadian sexual assault trials, because she has told the Crown she wants people to hear what she has to say. Consensual relationship began in 2013 On Tuesday, Douglas testified that she had been in "a no-strings-attached relationship" with Mundle after they met on the dating website Plenty of Fish in 2013. This photo shows Stephanie Douglas in 2013, the year she met Edward Mundle through the dating website Plenty of Fish. (Court exhibit) That relationship included sex with dominant and submissive role-playing, both sides agree. "It was consensual so I had no issues with it," Douglas testified about those early dates. Yet Douglas told the court she did not give her consent for what she alleges happened to her in the early hours of New Year's Day, 2014. It was more painful than trying to give birth. It was the most physical pain I had been subject to up to that point in my life. - Stephanie Douglas She testified that Mundle disregarded their pre-arranged safe word, "Rumpelstiltskin," and sexually assaulted her using a handheld sex toy. "All I felt was excruciating pain," she said in court. "It was more painful than trying to give birth. It was the most physical pain I had been subject to up to that point in my life." Douglas said she couldn't at first process what had happened, as she'd been drinking rum: "I didn't have the capacity to think clearly." More than a week after the incident, she said, having experienced bleeding, fever and chills, she called for an ambulance. She was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown and spent three weeks there. She testified that the diagnosis was life-threatening sepsis, a severe type of bacterial infection. "I walk with a cane now," she said. "Back in 2013 I did not. I was quite active … I did not have chronic pain, PTSD, liver damage [or] kidney decline." Reliability, cause of infection disputed Mundle's lawyer's cross-examination is focusing on the reliability of Douglas's version of events — and the cause of her infection. Defence lawyer Peter Ghiz is pointing to hundreds of pages of medical records that he says suggest Douglas was dealing with psychiatric issues at the time of the incident, and for years leading up to it. Edward Thomas Mundle, 58, has pleaded not guilty to the charge of sexual assault against Stephanie Douglas. (Brian Higgins/CBC) On Tuesday afternoon, he cross-examined her about a diagnosis of PTSD in British Columbia in 2016, and her treatment by a psychiatrist in Halifax before she moved to P.E.I. for the second time in 2013. He also asked about prescription medications she had taken. Then he moved on to questions about the sex toy she said had been used to assault her. Douglas acknowledged it was hers. She said she took it home with her after the New Year's Day incident and threw it away years later. Complaint laid in 2017 Douglas told the court that she wrestled for a long time with the pros and cons of going to police, not sure they would believe she was assaulted. She finally laid a complaint in 2017, about three years after the alleged incident. Mundle elected trial by judge and jury, so a panel of four women and eight men is hearing the case. Proceedings resume on Wednesday. More from CBC P.E.I.
A Canada-wide warrant has been issued for a suspect in a stabbing death in downtown Calgary last month. Police said the victim, who was identified by police as Russell David Younker, 49, was stabbed on April 15 during a fight on 11th Street S.W. near the Downtown West-Kerby CTrain station. Younker collapsed at the scene while the attacker ran away. Younker later died in hospital. Police believe the victim and the accused knew each other, and the altercation resulted from a previous incident that occurred between them. Christopher Douglas Mathers, 34, was identified as a suspect because of a tip provided by a member of the public, police said Tuesday. Upon attempting to locate Mathers, investigators said they learned he had moved out of his house and had potentially left Calgary. Mathers is believed to have connections to British Columbia, Halifax and London, Ont. A warrant has now been issued for Mathers. He faces a second-degree murder charge. Police describe him as six-foot-one, about 220 pounds and having brown hair and blue eyes. Investigators are still hoping to speak with a potential witness.(Calgary Police Service) Investigators are still hoping to speak with a potential witness. The witness was seen wearing a blue hoodie with a red logo on the front, a baseball cap, sunglasses and a backpack. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Mathers is asked to call the homicide tip line at 403-428-8877, or the Calgary Police Service non-emergency line at 403-266-1234.
B.C. health officials announced 515 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths on Tuesday, marking a steady downward trend in the province's caseload. In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said there are currently 6,020 active cases of people infected with the novel coronavirus in B.C. — the lowest number of active cases the province has seen since March 25. A total of 426 people are in hospital with COVID-19, including 141 who are in intensive care. Overall hospitalizations, which typically lag behind spikes and dips in new cases, are down by 12 per cent from last Tuesday when 486 people were in hospital with the disease. The number of patients in intensive care is down by about 18 per cent from 173 a week ago. The seven-day rolling average of new cases also continues to trend downward, hitting its lowest level since March 22. The provincial test positivity rate has also fallen from a high of about 11 per cent in early April to just over seven per cent. Meanwhile, Monday set a new high for the number of people getting shots in B.C., with 60,483 jabs recorded. So far, 2,219,856 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, including 110,516 second doses. "The number of people protected with a COVID-19 vaccine is going up every day, and the number of people requiring care in hospital is trending down. This is what we want to see and what we want to keep going," Henry and Dix said in Tuesday's statement. "We are calling on every adult in our province to join our efforts and register for your vaccine today. Last week, almost 400,000 people registered for their vaccine. We can break that record this week." The provincial death toll from the disease is now 1,624 lives lost out of 136,623 confirmed cases to date. Public health orders and sick days Also on Tuesday, the provincial government announced yet another extension of the state of emergency related to the pandemic, which will remain in place until at least May 25. B.C. has been in a state of emergency since March 18, 2020. "Most British Columbians have been doing their part to stay close to home and follow public health guidance, and that commitment is showing as the number of cases and hospitalizations begin to ease," Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said in a statement. "But we're not through this yet, and everyone must continue to follow the rules or face enforcement. More importantly, by following orders for the next while and avoiding non-essential travel, you'll be doing your part to get us all through this sooner." On Tuesday morning, the provincial government announced it is going to start giving all workers in the province up to three days of paid sick leave if they have to miss work due to COVID-19. A statement said employers will be required to pay workers their full wages. For employers without an existing sick-leave program, the government has promised to reimburse up to $200 a day for each absent worker. Currently, anyone 18 and older in British Columbia can register for their vaccination if they have not already done so. This can be done online through the "Get Vaccinated" portal, by calling 1-833-838-2323, or in person at any Service B.C. location. People who are pregnant and front-line workers are also being prioritized. British Columbians continue to remain under restrictions to curtail the spread of the virus. Non-essential travel is not permitted between three regional zones, defined by health authority boundaries, until after the May long weekend. Violators can face a fine of $575.
With record numbers of COVID-19 patients in Nova Scotia, a team at Nova Scotia Health has been working around the clock to fine-tune a program that will monitor those who are sick at home. It's a system they believe is the only one of its kind in the country — and it's why the health authority has been pleading with those who are waiting for test results to answer their phones. Dr. Ashley Miller, the chief medical information officer for the province, and Graeme Kohler, the director of primary health care in the northern zone, came up with COVID Community Virtual Care during the first wave. Aggressive variants have put new pressure on their ability to stay in contact with hundreds of people at a time as the province grapples to contain the coronavirus. "We're actually looking to intervene quicker because we don't want people to be at home, unwell, and missing the window of opportunity to be treated in the hospital," said Miller. The nasopharyngeal test to detect COVID-19 involves inserting a swab into the nasal cavity.(Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images) So what happens if you test positive in Nova Scotia? It starts with that phone call. On the other line is a physician or clinician who will deliver the test results, and then do an immediate assessment on the patient. They'll ask about any other medical conditions, and flag any high-risk people to a separate group that will be monitored closely. Miller said she has made many of those phone calls herself. Many express fear, but Miller said she tries to ease their concerns. "I will say overwhelmingly that people have communicated to us that they feel reassured that they're hearing from a health-care provider and they're connected with this team," she said. At-home monitoring The patient will then be asked if they want a pulse oximeter. It's a small monitor that is easily placed on the finger and tracks oxygen levels. If the patient agrees, one will be sent to their doorstep within 24 hours. Miller said they've sent hundreds of them out in the last 72 hours alone. The package comes with instructions on how to use the monitor, as well as a phone number to reach an on-call physician directly. If an otherwise healthy person's oxygen level is below 92, they are told to call the physician immediately. For pregnant women, that threshold is 94 per cent. Those numbers mean the patient needs to be admitted in the hospital. Pulse oximeters are shipped to a patient's door within 24 hours. They're told to check their oxygen levels at least twice a day. If their oxygen drops below a certain level, they're immediately admitted to the hospital.(Antonio Calanni/The Associated Press) The percentages are actually higher than the 90 per cent benchmark that was used in the first wave — a reflection of how fast the new variants progress, said Miller. Tracking oxygen can be crucial in showing what is really going on. Miller points to cases where people have died suddenly at home. Sometimes, people who have low oxygen levels can still talk without getting out of breath. "That's the rationale for our program," she said. "We recognized very early on that sometimes people can have quite low oxygen levels but they don't really feel it." Nova Scotia Health received 1,000 pulse oximeters through a grant from the QEII Health Foundation, and the health authority recently bought thousands more to ensure that anyone who wants home monitoring will receive one. Miller said home monitoring has already led to several Nova Scotians being admitted in the third wave, and they were taken to hospital with minimal contact with others. "They actually were able to bypass the emergency department, and that's a pretty incredible feat," she said. Missed calls a significant issue Miller and Kohler said the program hinges on people picking up their phones, so the physicians don't have to spend their time trying to find other contact information. Kohler estimated 20 per cent of calls go unanswered, even though people know they're waiting for their test results. He acknowledged part of the problem has been that call display shows an unknown caller, and they won't leave a voicemail. Some people refuse to answer calls from unknown numbers because they assume it's a scam. Kohler, the director of primary health care in the northern zone, worked with Miller to create the home-monitoring program. He says one of their biggest problems is that people aren't answering their phones. (Carolyn Ray/CBC) Kohler said nearly all physicians and clinicians who are making the diagnosis calls will have phones that read NS Health on the display as of Wednesday. He said they'll also send text messages, telling people they are about to call and they need to answer their phones. Once someone picks up, they'll be asked for the last four digits of their health card number and their birthdate. "You have every right to ask for us to repeat back to you your full health card number and also to provide something else," Kohler suggested for those who still feel uncertain. But after spending nearly a year figuring out this system, Kohler and Miller are hopeful they are helping people before they realize they need it. MORE TOP STORIES
MONTREAL — After years in and out of jail in Dubai, one escape attempt, and being embroiled in a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme, André Gauthier is finally home.Gauthier, a geologist who spent years in legal limbo after allegedly uncovering fraud in a gold company, said on Tuesday he was at a Dubai hotel last week when he received a call from authorities telling him he could leave the country.The criminal charges against him had been dropped last June but it took nearly a year to get parallel civil cases dismissed and for authorities to negotiate his release."It was Day 328 that I'd been waiting for that call," he said in a phone interview from Quebec City, referring to the time he spent waiting to leave Dubai after the criminal charges were dropped."I don't have to tell you, I didn't sleep that night."The 67-year-old said he was first arrested in 2015 after he alerted authorities in the United Arab Emirates to irregular dealings in gold-trading company Gold AE.He and his lawyer, however, say he was made a scapegoat in the $30-million fraud case after the real perpetrators left the country and the company's investors filed complaints against him.Gauthier said the hardest thing about his ordeal was feeling unheard. "You think you’re doing the right thing by whistleblowing something and bringing it to the authorities, and bringing it to the leadership of the company,” said Gauthier, who was himself one of the company's directors.“(You feel) like you’re doing all this for nothing, basically because nobody wanted to solve it."A low point came when Gauthier, who was facing about 70 criminal charges, tried to escape to Oman in 2019 and was intercepted and jailed. It was the only time his faith in his release wavered."I just sent a message to my son, my wife and my daughter to say that they better be forgetting me because with what I had in front of me, I don't know when or if I would be back," he said.U.K.-based lawyer Radha Stirling credits the Canadian government for making a sustained diplomatic effort to free her client, as well as Gauthier's family for lobbying tirelessly for his release."I think the Canadian government's done a good job and set a very good example to other countries on how this can be done," she said in a phone interview on Tuesday. Her only criticism is that she feels it took too long to secure his freedom. The real perpetrators of the case, Stirling said, have not been brought to justice.Stirling, founder of the organization Detained in Dubai, said she also believes foreign governments need to do more to stand up to the U.A.E. government. "These money-laundering scams in the U.A.E. are going on all the time and we're getting more and more, and they're targeting Canadian investors and American investors, and we're turning a blind eye to this kind of abuse," she said.Gauthier said his father died in Quebec while he was detained, and he exhausted his financial resources fighting the cases. Now home quarantining with his wife, he says he'll spend the next few weeks and months getting his driver's licence and health insurance back, and wants to visit his extended family in Quebec's Saguenay region. Eventually, he's interested in getting back into the mining industry.He wants to pass on a message to the families of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, the two Canadians who have been detained in China in an apparent retaliation for Canada's arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, to tell them not to give up."I can tell those families it’s important to keep the faith that the government will try to find a solution," he said."How long will it take, unfortunately it’s a file that’s much more complicated than mine, but they have to keep the hope that everything will work out in a reasonable time frame."This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 11, 2021. Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press
A message from some Yukoners today: "Fire them!" This, in reference to two MLAs who were part of a vulgar text chat about some of their political opponents that went public last week. The Yukon Party has said the MLAs will attend anti-bullying training but remain in caucus. Today a few dozen protesters in Yukon, both in Whitehorse and in Dawson City, said that is not enough. Mary Holozubiec was at the protest in Whitehorse, which was called End Transphobia and Sexism in the Yukon Legislative Assembly. She held a sign that said, "I voted Yukon Party. Not next time." "I feel like letting these MLAs work for full pay without doing their full job is not acceptable punishment," Holozubiec said. "It condones the texts that were sent." Grey Capot-Blanc spoke as part of a new group called Northern Voices Rising. They said the MLAs' comments were offensive and deserved greater censure. "I don't want people to see what they said to be normal. Having homophobic and transphobic remarks normalized is not good," Capot-Blanc said. Sean Ladue also attended today's protest. He's an activist and advocate for LGBTQ2S+ people in the territory who spoke this year at the raising of the Progress Price flag before the legislative assembly. "The people are coming together to show support for those who have been maligned by the MLAs ignorant text messages," he said. "Those texts are indicative of their thought processes, which are uncalled for at this time." Vanessa Thorson was also in attendance. "I think it's somehow the notion that your masculinity or femininity are defined by whether you have power, and your genitalia is a determinant of that," she said. "It's just so crude and disrespectful." Molly Hobbis, 16, holds a sign that reads 'Fire them' before the Legislative Assembly. "It's not OK for such comments to be said in a modern times! This is 2021 not the 1950s," she said.(Philippe Morin/CBC)
CALGARY — Neighbouring provinces are eyeing Saskatchewan's plan to ease COVID-19 restrictions in tandem with vaccination rates, but experts are warning the approach could lead some to a false sense of security. Saskatchewan's "reopening road map" outlined last week says public health measures are to start to relax three weeks after 70 per cent of residents 40 and older have received their first shot and all adults are eligible. Step 1, which could take effect as soon as month's end, would allow restaurants and bars to seat six at a table, fitness classes to resume with three metres between participants and gathering limits to ease. Restrictions are to further loosen three weeks after 70 per cent of those 30 and over are vaccinated once, and then again three weeks after the same percentage of anyone 18 and over has had a first shot. "This has worked in other jurisdictions and we firmly believe that it will work here in Saskatchewan," said Premier Scott Moe, citing the United Kingdom and Israel as examples. Nazeem Muhajarine, a professor of community health and epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan, points out that more than 20 per cent of the U.K.'s population has received a second vaccination, which affords greater protection against the virus than just one shot. The country is also reopening after having imposed much more severe restrictions. In Israel, more than half the population has received two shots. Muhajarine said Saskatchewan's dual-dose coverage is likely to be closer to 10 per cent. "One dose of a vaccine is not enough to give the population full protection, particularly against the variants," he said. "The variants are unpredictable, unknown and the dark horse in all of this." Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister has said his Progressive Conservative government is working on a plan he hopes will provide hope and help people comply with health orders. Health officials have said Manitoba's plan will be connected to vaccine rates, but will also consider hospital capacity and case numbers. Alberta recently eased restrictions on visits to long-term care facilities because almost all residents have received both doses. Premier Jason Kenney has said Saskatchewan has a "thoughtful" framework that his province is exploring. "We've seen some governments, some public health experts, say that even if you've received the double dose, it makes no difference. You've got to stay shut down at home indefinitely," Kenney said. "That I think disincentivizes people from getting the vaccine, especially the people who are vaccine hesitant." Muhajarine said dangling vaccines as a carrot could have the opposite effect. "People could actually get a false sense of security." He said he understands that people need to see a path toward ending restrictions. "Canadian summer is what we live through the winter for," he said. "We also have to make sure that we don't put our lives and our loved ones lives at risk unnecessarily or too hastily." Dr. Daniel Gregson, an associate professor with the University of Calgary's Cumming School of Medicine, said Saskatchewan has a "wise" plan overall. "(Moe's) not just saying when (the vaccination rate) hits 70 per cent, we're going to flap open the doors," he said. "We're going to do it in a stepwise manner with a combination of vaccination and restrictions." Gregson noted a segment of the population would still remain unprotected. "If you are in an age group where you're at really high risk of dying and death, and you're not vaccinated, this plan will help protect the health-care system, but it's not going to protect you as an individual," said Gregson. Outbreaks will still occur as "birds of a feather flock together" and like-minded unvaccinated people gather, said Gregson. But, he adds, it's less likely those would grow into super-spreader events in the broader community. "This virus is not going away, no matter what percentage of the population we get immunized," said Gregson. "And if you think herd immunity is going to work for you, you are wrong." This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 11, 2021. Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press
NAXOS, Greece (AP) — A vaccination program for Greek islands is being accelerated to cover all local residents by the end of June, the government announced Tuesday ahead of the launch of the tourism season. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said a nationwide priority system for age groups and medical vulnerability was being waived for permanent residents of nearly 100 islands. “This initiative is aimed at supporting local island communities and their economy and it also aspires to send a positive overall message for our tourism,” Mitsotakis said after a video conference with island mayors and regional governors. Greece is fighting to revive its key tourism sector that was battered by the pandemic in 2020 but its vaccination rates remain below the European Union average and the country has only recently stabilized a surge in cases. On the island of Naxos, a popular family holiday destination, officials welcomed the initiative. Mayor Dimitris Lianos told The Associated Press that the single dose vaccine manufactured by Johnson & Johnson was also being deployed to speed up the program. “By the end of June, all our year-round residents will be vaccinated and that’s very important for us because it creates a sense of safety for the people that live here and for the people who will visit our island,” Lianos said. Robin Rose Varthalitou, and 69-year-old Naxos resident from Wales said she was relieved the vaccination drive was expanding. “There's been no problem. No worries. It’s fine,” she said of the immunization program so far. "I reckon everybody should do it by law... This (pandemic) is a tragedy everywhere, financially and for people. A tragedy.” Islanders make up around 1.5 million of Greece’s population of 10.7 million. Many holiday islands have a year-round population of under 10,000, while Crete has the largest with more than 600,000 residents, followed by Evia, Rhodes, Corfu, Lesbos, and Chios. The tourism season officially opens Friday. ___ Derek Gatopoulos and Theodora Tongas in Athens contributed. Thanassis Stavrakis And Srdjan Nedeljkovic, The Associated Press
JERUSALEM (AP) — The Latest on confrontations between Israelis and Palestinians, sparked by weeks of tensions in contested Jerusalem and as Israel has signaled it's widening its military campaign: CAIRO — Arab foreign ministers have urged the International Criminal Court to proceed with an investigation into Israel’s possible war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Palestinians, including the planned eviction of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in east Jerusalem. The minister met virtually on Tuesday to discuss on the latest escalation of violence in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and the Gaza Strip. In a statement after the meeting, they called for the ICC to mobilize resources for such an investigation. They strongly condemned what they call Israel’s crimes against Muslim worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the latest court orders to evict families of Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. The ministers urged the U.N. Security Council to take action in order to stop the “Israeli aggression” and provide “international protection” to the Palestinian people. ___ TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has urged all nations to condemn Israel’s “brutal and cruel crime” against Palestinians in the wake of the latest Mideast escalation. Iranian state TV on Tuesday quoted Khamenei as saying that it was a duty of every state to take a stand and condemn this “evil, criminal, brutal and cruel” action by Israel. Khamenei also said Palestinian need to be empowered in order to “force” Israel to accept their rights. “They should make themselves powerful, resist and confront so as to force the other party to withdraw from crime and surrender to what's right and fair,” Khamenei said. Khamenei added: “You cannot speak to these criminals except in the language of power.” Iran is considered Israel’s archenemy and backs anti-Israel militant groups across the region, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip. ___ JERUSALEM — Israel’s police chief is beefing up deployments across the country in response to a wave of unrest in Arab communities. Koby Shabtai issued the order on Tuesday as crowds set a police cruiser, motorcycle and bus on fire during protests in the central city of Lod. Protests were expected in dozens of other Arab communities across the country. In a statement, police said Shabtai instructed his commanders “to intensify police presence on the streets” following widespread unrest and protests in dozens of Arab communities across the country Monday night. The mounting unrest came at a time of heightened tensions following weeks of violence in Jerusalem and heavy fighting between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip in the past day. Earlier in the day in Lod, Israeli police fired tear gas and stun grenades after mourners started throwing stones at officers during the funeral of an Arab man allegedly killed by a Jewish resident in the area. ___ DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Gulf Arab countries are offering harsh criticism of Israel in the wake of the latest Israeli-Palestinian confrontation as violence rises in Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Hundreds of Kuwaitis staged a sit-in outside Parliament, chanting “No to normalization” with Israel and voicing support for the Palestinians. Tuesday’s protest, which blocked traffic and drew outspoken activists, officials and lawmakers, comes as Gulf Arab sheikhdoms with new diplomatic ties to Israel increasingly condemn the escalation. As part of the U.S.-brokered normalization agreements known as the “Abraham Accords,” the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain opened ties with Israel last fall, reversing the decades-long Arab policy of conditioning relations on a resolution of the Mideast conflict and drawing intense backlash from the Palestinians. The de facto leader of the UAE, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, stressed “the importance of putting an end to all aggressions and practices that exacerbate tension and wrath in the sacred city” of Jerusalem. He discussed flaring Mideast tensions in meetings Tuesday with the Bahraini crown prince and Jordan's prime minister. Bahrain also renewed its criticism of the rising tensions, with the speaker of parliament affirming the kingdom’s support for a two-state solution and denouncing Israel’s “provocations against the people of Jerusalem,” including threatened home evictions and attacks in the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Harsh condemnations also have poured in from regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia and the tiny state of Kuwait, which have traditionally considered themselves among the standard-bearers for the Palestinian cause. ___ JERUSALEM — Israeli police have fired tear gas and stun grenades after mourners started throwing stones at officers during the funeral of an Arab man allegedly killed by a Jewish resident in central Israel. The shooting early on Tuesday in Lod came at a time of heightened tensions following weeks of unrest at a contested holy site in Jerusalem and heavy fighting between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. The fighting has spilled over into Israel’s Arab sector, with protests taking place in dozens of communities across the country. Thousands of people took part in the funeral in Lod. Police said two officers were injured and a patrol car was set on fire. Israeli police have arrested three people suspected of involvement in the shooting. ___ CAIRO — Egypt’s top diplomat says he has conveyed messages to Israel and other nations to help de-escalate the outbreak of violence in Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories. Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry told a virtual meeting of Arab foreign ministers on Tuesday that though Cairo has not received a positive response, it will continue with efforts to calm down the escalation in the holy city. He did not elaborate. Earlier in the day, an Egyptian intelligence official said Cairo is engaged in “intensive” talks with Israel and Gaza militants on reaching a cease-fire to end the latest round of fighting. The Egyptian foreign minister also lashed out at Israel for its what he called “violations” at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem and Israel's planned eviction of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. He called on all Arab nations to unite “at this critical moment” to prevent any attempts to change the status quo in Jerusalem, and to help Palestinians achieve their independent state with east Jerusalem as its capital. ___ COPENHAGEN, Denmark — The head of the Norwegian Refugee Council has urged both Israel and the Palestinians “to avoid further escalation and prevent loss of life,” saying that civilians, and specifically children, pay “the heaviest price” after Israel unleashed new deadly airstrikes on Gaza. The organization's chief, Jan Egeland, said on Tuesday that civilians “once again” were “bearing the brunt of a dramatic escalation in hostilities.” He added that children, whether they are Palestinian or Israeli, are left with “not only physically scarred but also emotionally damaged.” The Oslo-based group called on “all parties to the conflict to stop the provocations and to ensure that civilians are protected.” Egeland said in a statement that the latest events “also shows that the prolonged conflict and occupation are unsustainable.” Since sundown Monday, 26 Palestinians — including nine children and a woman— were killed in Gaza, most by airstrikes, Gaza health officials said. During the same period, Gaza militants fired hundreds of rockets toward Israel, killing two Israeli civilians and wounding 10 others. ___ KARACHI, Pakistan — Dozens of Pakistanis have rallied in the southern port city of Karachi to condemn Israel’s use of force against the Palestinians at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem during the holy month of Ramadan. The demonstrators, who mostly included members of the civil society, chanted against Israel to express solidarity with the Palestinians. They also burned an Israeli and an American flag to express their anger against the use of force against Palestinian worshippers. The demonstrators were holding a banner that read as: “Israel is an illegitimate state”. The rally on Tuesday came hours after Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan in a televised comment denounced Israel’s use of force against Palestinians. Pakistan is one of the few countries that have no diplomatic relations with Israel. ___ TEHRAN, Iran — The foreign minister of Iran has denounced what he calls the aggression of Israeli security forces in the holy city of Jerusalem and expressed Iran’s solidarity with the Palestinians amid escalating violence. Mohammad Javad Zarif says in a video message released on Tuesday in Arabic that the “attacks” on the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, one of the holiest sites in Islam, are “the greatest evidence there is of the discriminatory and criminal nature” of Israel. Zarif blamed Israel for fueling “insecurity and instability in the region” and also proposed a “popular referendum” in the Palestinian territories as “the only just solution to the Palestinian issue" so that Palestinians may decide “their own fate.” Zarif affirmed that Iran “is always on the side of the Palestinians and supportive of their cause” and called the Palestinian conflict “the pivotal issue of the Islamic world and people.” Iran is considered Israel’s archenemy and backs anti-Israel militant groups across the region, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip. ___ MADRID — A few dozen people have gathered outside the Israeli Embassy in the Spanish capital to protest Israel’s use of force against the Palestinians. Most of the crowd on Tuesday in Madrid waved Palestinian flags. They shouted “Israel, assassin of the Palestinian people” and “it’s Palestine, not Israel” in Spanish. Some held up photos of Palestinians being arrested by Israeli forces. All wore face masks as stipulated by Spanish health laws to fight the coronavirus pandemic. ___ CAIRO — The head of the Arab League has blamed Israel for the escalation of violence in the Palestinian territories, warning that Israeli policies would blow up the situation in Jerusalem. Ahmed Aboul Gheit, secretary-general of the 22-member organization, spoke on Tuesday as Arab foreign ministers were meeting to discuss the latest bout of violence between the Palestinians and Israelis. He decried what he called Israel’s provocative practices in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and the planned eviction of Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in east Jerusalem. “What we have witnessed is, clearly and frankly, a provocation by the Israeli occupation, that targeted the holiest Islamic sanctities, at at the most sacred time,” he said, referring to the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. He urged the U.N. Security Council to take action. ___ DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A gathering of representatives of Muslim nations has condemned Israel for the outbreak of violence in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, one of the holiest sites in Islam. The emergency meeting of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation was held on Tuesday in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, to present a unified response from the Muslim world to the soaring tensions between Israel and the Palestinians and the latest violent confrontations in Jerusalem. In a communiqué, the meeting denounced Israel’s “continuous violations” of the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque, “barbaric attacks” against worshippers and movement restrictions on Palestinians at the compound. It said that it considered the Israeli actions a “provocation of the feelings of Muslims around the world and serious violation of international law.” It called on the international community to hold Israel liable for the escalation and to press it to halt attacks that threaten “the security and stability of the region.” It also reaffirmed the long-standing Arab stance of support for an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital. ___ ANKARA, Turkey — The office of Turkey's president says he is engaged in intense telephone diplomacy in a bid to end Israel’s use of force against the Palestinians. Since late Monday, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has spoken to Malaysia’s king and the leaders of Qatar, Kuwait and Jordan, as he seeks a strong stance by Muslim nations against Israel, according to Erdogan’s office. The Turkish president, who has has strongly denounced Israel’s actions against Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound during the fasting month of Ramadan, has also spoken to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas chief, Ismail Haniyeh. The latest round of fighting comes as Turkey has reportedly been seeking to restore ties with Israel. The two countries withdrew their ambassadors in 2018, after the United States moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, sparking mass protests by Palestinians. Late on Monday, thousands of protesters marched to Israel’s embassy in Ankara and the consulate in Istanbul to protest Israel, ignoring Turkey’s COVID-19 restrictions. ___ JERUSALEM — The Israeli military says it has assassinated a senior commander of the Islamic Jihad militant group in Gaza on Tuesday, It said the militant was the head of the Islamic Jihad’s rocket unit and identified him as Samih al-Mamluk. The military said other senior militants in the organization were also killed in the same strike. Islamic Jihad confirmed the three killed in an airstrike in an apartment in Gaza City were senior members of its armed wing. The militant group vowed retaliation. ___ ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s prime minister has denounced Israel’s use of force against Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound during the fasting month of Ramadan. Imran Khan said Tuesday that he had asked his foreign minister to contact his Turkish and Saudi counterparts to discuss how to collectively respond. Earlier, Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi at a news conference urged the world community to take notice of Israel’s use of force against innocent Palestinians worshippers. Under discussion is whether Pakistan, Saudi and Turkish officials should convene the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a group of Islamic countries. Pakistan is one of the few countries that have no diplomatic relations with Israel. ___ JERUSALEM — Israeli media reports that a rocket has struck an empty school in the coastal city of Ashkelon, not far from the Gaza Strip. Television footage showed thick smoke rising from cars that had caught on fire. Israel’s Home Front Command had ordered the closure of schools on Monday in the area surrounding the Gaza Strip, including Ashkelon. The move came during the escalation of tension that's built for weeks over contested Jerusalem.. Since Monday, Gaza militants have fired hundreds of rockets toward Israel. Israel has fired back. An airstrike has hit a high-rise building in the middle of Gaza City. Local media reported that Tuesday’s airstrike killed an unknown number of militants inside. The strike in the middle class Rimal neighborhood sent terrified residents of the building into the streets. They included screaming women and children, some of whom were barefoot. Earlier Tuesday, Israel hit a high-rise where it said a Hamas commander was hiding. ___ CAIRO — An Egyptian intelligence official says Egypt is engaged in “intensive” talks with Israel and Gaza militants on reaching a cease-fire to end the latest round of fighting. The official said the efforts began in late April as the situation in Jerusalem worsened. He said Israeli actions, including the recent storming of the Al-Aqsa mosque and the planed evictions of Palestinian families from their homes in an east Jerusalem neighborhood, have frustrated the mediators. The official says “the situation is changing rapidly,” but officials nonetheless hope to reach a truce before the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr later this week. Egypt frequently mediates between Israel and Hamas. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing ongoing diplomatic efforts. —Samy Magdy in Cairo ___ GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — An Israeli airstrike has hit another high-rise building in the middle of Gaza City. Local media reported that Tuesday's airstrike killed an unknown number of militants inside. But the airstrike in the middle-class Rimal neighborhood in Gaza sent terrified residents of the building into the streets. They included screaming women and children, some of whom were barefoot. Earlier on Tuesday, Israel hit a high-rise where it said a Hamas commander was hiding. Palestinian health officials said a woman and her 19-year-old disabled son were killed. The fate of the Hamas commander was not immediately known. Since Monday, Gaza militants have also fired hundreds of rockets toward Israel. The escalation in the conflict was sparked by weeks of tensions in contested Jerusalem. The Associated Press