Day: May 1, 2019

Tory MP Settles Lawsuit With Alberta Student Newspaper That Called Him Racist

Kerry Diotte settled a lawsuit against a University of Alberta student newspaper in April 2019.

Edmonton MP Kerry Diotte has settled a defamation lawsuit against a student newspaper after it apologized for publishing two articles that called him racist.

The University of Alberta’s Gateway Newspaper has retracted a news story and editorial that appeared last November. The articles had criticized Diotte for tweeting a photo of himself and white nationalist Faith Goldy in 2017.

“The characterization of Mr. Diotte (as a racist) is false, damaging his reputation and caused Mr. Diotte and his family unwarranted embarrassment,” The Gateway posted on its website Tuesday.

Diotte was seeking $150,000 in damages, and is now “glad that my lawyer and theirs could come to a mutually agreeable solution without a protracted court fight,” Diotte said in a statement.

“I’m a strong believer in free speech but it’s important to remember there are legal lines that can’t be crossed. Those legal lines against libel apply whether you’re a mainstream journalist, a blogger, or a commentator on Twitter.”

Liberal Minister Amarjeet Sohi, who also represents an Edmonton riding, tweeted yesterday that Diotte told him “he’s not afraid to sue me for tweeting that he praised and stood shoulder to shoulder with white nationalist Faith Goldy. It’s the same tactic he used with several University of Alberta students.”

Sohi added that he’s “not going to back down.”

Diotte also threatened legal action against four people last fall, for calling him racist on Twitter in reference to his tweet with Goldy. One of them, Edmonton writer Bashir Mohamed, left his tweets up and said a lawsuit has yet to materialize.

“If he does then I’m going to go all the way,” Mohamed told HuffPost Canada. “Honestly shows how much of a coward he is. You can quote me on that.”

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By The Wall of Law May 1, 2019 Off

Trudeau feeds anti-refugee scapegoating for election

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends Question Period in Ottawa. Photo: Adam Scotti/PMO

For the past two decades, my late-night trips to 24-hour Tim Hortons restaurants have been synonymous with fear. It’s not the artery-clogging threat of consuming sprinkled Timbits that has made my heart race, however. Rather, it is the look of terror on the faces of those who have requested a meeting.

They are some of the most vulnerable people one could meet. They share a common stigma stamped on them by a callous immigration bureaucracy. They are known by the insulting moniker of “failed” refugee claimants, and have become part of what the Canadian government inhumanely calls its “removals inventory.”

As we sit with our coffees and crullers in what is often the only “neutral” venue available, they look over their shoulders, shrink in their seats, and express their dismay that no one believes them when they document how they were tortured. Furthermore, authorities have dismissed the grave threat they face if deported back to their home country.

Usually, they are couch surfing, because an arrest warrant has been issued, and officers of the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) have been banging on the doors of their former home or questioning friends and neighbours. They are at heightened risk of being exploited because, ironically, to live underground with those they know best — often individuals who are also known to CBSA because they are mentioned in the individual’s case history — is to expose them to the higher likelihood of being apprehended, detained, and deported.

Alternatives to death planes

Because of my work with the Anne Frank Sanctuary Committee — which seeks to open church doors and provide a relatively safe space for such refugees until their cases can somehow be reconsidered — I often get calls seeking both a meeting and an alternative to boarding what can only be called a personal death plane. When we sit and go through the paperwork, it is often quite easy to see how someone who has been through hell has nonetheless been failed by a system that refuses to recognize the obstacles it places in the way of those desperately crying out for safety.

Like women who seek justice in the courts after being abused by the men in their lives, refugees are “tested” for their credibility by questions that are traumatizing and demeaning. Indeed, there are countless cases where individuals with the clear signs of physical torture have been told they had no proof that what had happened to them was done at the hands of police forces. (Violence workers do not issue certificates to their victims congratulating them on surviving a course of torture). LGBTQ2 refugees have been rejected because they are “not gay enough,” while those women and children fleeing the violent men in their lives have been told they can simply move to another part of the country and seek the protection of police forces who are notorious for failing survivors of male violence (just like here).

Life and death issues of refugee acceptance are left to a system with well-documented bias. Indeed, vast discrepancies in acceptance rates based on which Immigration and Refugee Board adjudicator hears one’s case are released annually. Often, a refugee has the misfortunate of hiring a lawyer with little or no experience in refugee law. Sometimes, incorrectly filling out the paperwork is held against them as well.

Once the deportation date has been issued — and even after it has passed, and a warrant is now out as well — the options are going underground, taking a very risky chance on a deportation flight, or seeking sanctuary. Although the last of those journeys can prove excruciating — oftentimes long years spent inside of a church — they more often than not prove successful when a solid team of advocates and community grow around an individual or family and prepare the path necessary for reconsideration of a “failed” case.

Sanctuary works

The issue of refugees at risk is top of mind this week because I just got the good news that someone facing torture in their home country was just accepted as a permanent resident after three years in church sanctuary. Last month, someone who is now a Canadian citizen who also spent time in sanctuary as a “failed” refugee claimant sent me a picture of her baby. And earlier this year, pictures arrived of a joyous wedding from someone who, had they not entered sanctuary, would likely be in an overseas torture dungeon or dead.

These three individuals — and many more — are alive and safe because they sought and received church sanctuary. The toll of years of fear and suffering — even while surrounded by loving communities of faithful supporters — is incalculable, but they knew going into sanctuary that the path would be difficult.

It really should not have to be this way. But rather than making the kinds of improvements that would ease the lives of those who arrive in the territory known as Canada, the Trudeau regime — mortally wounded by scandals ranging from SNC to the upcoming revelations of the Mark Norman trial and the purchase of $105-billion warships — has decided to tack right and attack refugees going into election 2019.

Indeed, the man who won Rolling Stone covers and breathless praise for a couple of disingenuous tweets about Canada being “welcoming” to refugees has inserted into his last budget new changes that will make refugees’ lives even more challenging. Bill C-97, an omnibus budget bill, has embedded these dangerous changes, which the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) says will “place many people at increased risk of being sent back to face persecution, in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and of Canada’s international human rights obligations.”

Because the proposed changes mean someone who made a claim in another country will be ineligible for a hearing at the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), the CCR says:

“[n]umerous refugee claimants, who may need Canada’s protection because they face persecution, torture or death in their country of origin, will be denied access to Canada’s refugee determination system. They will have access only to a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA), a process that provides much less fairness than a hearing at the Immigration and Refugee Board…. With this proposal, Canada is shamefully joining too many other countries who respond to increased numbers of refugees not by matching capacity to needs, but by closing the door on people fleeing rights abuses.”

In addition, the changes include extending the timeline of prohibitions on applications for Pre-Removal Risk Assessment and humanitarian and compassionate consideration for refugee claimants who apply to the Federal Court for judicial review of failed decisions at the IRB. Currently, they cannot apply for either for a full year after their IRB decision; under the proposed changes, that 12-month clock will only start ticking after a decision from the Federal Court on an application for judicial review. In practice, this means they will be “removal ready” much sooner and much longer, leading many a desperate individual and family with the unenviable lack of choices described above: leaving to face danger, going underground where they face increased risk of exploitation, or seeking church sanctuary.

Combined with cuts to legal aid in Ontario under white supremacist enabler Premier Doug Ford, the risk for large numbers of asylum seekers will be significantly heightened.

Scapegoating rhetoric

These changes are accompanied by the kind of scapegoating rhetoric that further demonizes those whose only “crime” is doing whatever they can to escape persecution. Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Bill Blair has been accusing those who have made refugee claims elsewhere of “asylum shopping” when they come to Canada. The media regularly trots out the tired and inflammatory terms of “irregular border crossers” and “illegal immigrants,” ignoring the fact that the U.S. is not a safe country in which to make a refugee claim, especially under the dictatorial powers being wielded by a Trump administration that locks children in freezing boxes and deliberately separates families.

Indeed, look no further than the infamous case of two men who almost froze to death as they tried to cross into Manitoba in 2016. Ghanaian refugee Seidu Mohammed — who lost all his fingers to frostbite — and another man who lost some of his fingers, Razak Iyal, were both rejected by U.S. authorities but accepted as refugees in Canada. They would fall under Blair’s ill considered “asylum shopping” definition and, under the proposed new rules, be turned back to the U.S.

Blair spokesperson Marie-Emmanuelle Cadieux trotted out the usual rationale that such repressive measures will “encourage those who truly need protection to seek asylum at the first possible opportunity, while those who do not need to follow the rules.” Of course, this “deterrent” is meaningless since most refugee claimants do not sit in war zones or detention camps reading the minutiae of Canada’s refugee regulations before determining how and where they will seek safety. The government’s division of “deserving” versus “undeserving” refugees disturbingly mirrors the divide-and-rule austerity regimes use in defining the “truly needy” versus those “underserving” of social assistance.

Completely lost in this discussion is the fact that it is in fact difficult to get directly to Canada without travelling through another country first.

Indeed, the CBSA Multiple Borders Strategy — a kind of “we own the world” approach — extends Canada’s borders to wherever CBSA wants them to go. Indeed, the CBSA “defines a border for immigration purposes as any point at which the identity of the traveller can be verified…[viewing] the border not as a geopolitical line but rather a continuum of checkpoints along a route of travel from the country of origin to Canada or the United States.” A listing of their overseas liaison officers and countries of responsibility indicates that for Canada, the border can include everything from Amman, Jordan to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Lima, Peru.

CBSA regularly prides itself on “interdiction” of refugees overseas, preventing them from boarding ships or planes. In addition, it also has a memorandum of understanding that penalizes airlines if individuals get on board without proper identity documents (despite the fact that many refugees cannot travel using their own names). Thus, the long arm of the Canadian government is subcontracted to private industry, where the incentive to kick refugees off of planes before they can fly to safety is part of ensuring a healthy bottom line.

Deportation quotas

Meanwhile, the Trudeau regime is also continuing the brutal Harper era’s repression against immigrants and refugees with new quotas for deportations.

Last fall, the CBC reported on a new system of robust quotas that would increase deportations by upwards of 35 per cent. While refuges advocates have long known that deportation quotas have been official Canadian policy, it was reiterated in a reminiscing internal memo from Brad Wozny, the director of Canada Border Services Agency’s Enforcement and Intelligence Operations. 

“Over the last few weeks I have been involved in several discussions both regionally and nationally concerning the Government of Canada’s decision to substantially increase removal efforts including the re-establishment of national and regional targets, a practice many of you may still remember,” Wozny wrote to staff, echoing similarly cruel policies south of the border. “Initial discussions have the agency working towards a new national target of 10,000 removals/year. This would imply about a 25-35 per cent increase over the last couple years.”

During the bleakest years under Harper, deportations ranged as high as 18,987 in 2012.

These Trudeau changes clearly violate Canada’s international legal commitments, and come about 10 months after Trudeau sanctimoniously tut-tutted to Ontario Premier Doug Ford, “It didn’t seem to me that the premier was quite as aware of our international obligations to the UN convention on refugees, as he might have been. So I spent a little time explaining how the asylum-seeker system works and how our system is supposed to operate.”

Choices must be made

As more refugees find themselves in desperate circumstances, one thing communities of faith can do is open up their doors and refuse to look the other way when someone knocks on their door. If the proposed Trudeau changes go through, thousands more will be at risk of deportation to a grave fate.

The experience of the Anne Franck Sanctuary Committee and related groups in helping churches to live out one of their oldest core values — welcoming the stranger — has met with mixed success at best. Indeed, it often takes casting a wide net of inquiries ­perhaps 50 to 60 — before one church will even consider offering sanctuary. Yet most major Christian denominations have very clear policies on the issue.

The United Church of Canada’s 34th General Council endorsed “the moral right and responsibility of congregations to provide sanctuary to legitimate refugee claimants who have been denied refugee status.”

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops declared in 2005 that:

“Sanctuary is never a solution for asylum seekers, but may be a step along their journey toward social justice. Each Christian community, after an in-depth study of refugee policies and prayerful discernment, in consultation with diocesan authorities, is called to act in a spirit of hospitality as the Gospel demands.

“According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2242, ‘The citizen is obliged in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons or the teachings of the Gospel.’ As an Episcopal Conference, the CCCB acknowledges the importance of the recourse to sanctuary in order to protect asylum seekers whose safety may be placed in jeopardy. Even though it may not be officially recognized in law, we call upon Canadian authorities to respect the sanctity of sanctuaries.”

Writing in December, 1945, Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker movement, reminded us, “it is no use to say that we are born two thousand years too late to give room to Christ. Nor will those who live at the end of the world have been born too late. Christ is always with us, always asking for room in our hearts. And giving shelter or food to anyone who asks for it, or needs it, is giving it to Christ.” She notes that for early generations of Christians, “in every house then a room was kept ready for any stranger who might ask for shelter; it was even called ‘the strangers’ room.'”

As individuals and congregations discuss their obligations to refugees, hopefully they will see provision of sanctuary not only as a moral duty, but also a civil initiative that is in fact an act wholly in concert with Canadian immigration law as well as the covenants and treaties to which Canada has long been a less-than-compliant party.

In the meantime, immediate pressure is required to halt the new changes embedded in Bill C-97, which will be before the House Finance committee later this week. To learn more about these changes, visit this link.

Matthew Behrens is a freelance writer and social justice advocate who co-ordinates the Homes not Bombs non-violent direct action network. He has worked closely with the targets of Canadian and U.S. ‘national security’ profiling for many years.

Photo: Adam Scotti/PMO

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May 1, 2019

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Mr. Mazzeo has stated that opening his own firm was the next logical step in his professional career. He feels this is in the best interest of his clients. Before opening Mazzeo Law Barristers & Solicitors, Mr. Mazzeo practised with a few law offices throughout the metropolis of The Greater Toronto area.

Paul Mazzeo joined the high ranks of the Ontario Bar in 2009, which is both a priviledge and an honor. He received his LLB from the prestigious Osgoode Hall Law School. Prior to that, Mazzeo earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Law & Society from York University, graduating with honors and as a member of the Dean’s List.

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In SNC-Lavalin saga, everyone wants you to know they’ve turned over a new leaf

Welcome to a sneak peek of the Maclean’s Politics Insider newsletter. Sign-up at the bottom of the page to get it delivered straight to your inbox.

Donors revealed: A late 2000s scheme in which SNC-Lavalin reimbursed some of its employees, directors and their spouses for making donations to the federal Liberal party roared back into the headlines Tuesday, as did the decision by Elections Canada not to prosecute the company for its behaviour. CBC News obtained a list of 18 individuals associated with SNC-Lavalin who Elections Canada believed donated $110,000 to the Liberals from 2004 to 2009, as well as $8,000 to the Conservatives. The list, known to Elections Canada and the Liberals since 2016, was never made public. “We know that the decisions to take part in this scheme took place at the very highest levels of SNC-Lavalin,” said one lawyer with knowledge of election laws. “‘[It] seems to all suggest to me that there should have been a prosecution.” (CBC News)

It was a different Liberal Party then: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today’s Liberal party would never accept those donations. Citing the party’s higher fundraising standards, Trudeau said “that is not what happens any more.” (Canadian Press)

It was a different SNC-Lavalin then: In other SNC-Lavalin news, at least fifty-five pages of documents filed by the company explaining why federal prosecutors should allow it to avoid a criminal trial will not be released to the public because they contain commercially sensitive information about the company. That’s the ruling from federal access to information officials in response to a request by Global News. Some of that information is already in public court documents, like SNC’s assertion that its stakeholders would face “extremely negative consequences” if it’s prosecuted, and that the senior managers who might have been involved in the alleged acts of bribery and corruption are gone now anyway. (Global News)

Check out what page after page of redacted SNC-Lavalin documents look like, here.

Scheeriously? Conservative leader Andrew Scheer‘s favourite line of attack against Trudeau is to go after the carbon tax. In doing so he’s misleading Canadians about the most important issue we face, writes Stephen Maher:

What Scheer can’t say, if he wants to be taken seriously, is that Trudeau’s job-killing carbon tax is going to destroy our economy and do nothing to help the environment. That’s not true, no matter how often he says it, and it is going to be hard to listen to him respectfully if he wants to build his campaign around a false premise. (Maclean’s)

Raise a little mil’: Yesterday’s newsletter noted that Conservatives enjoyed a record fundraising haul, taking in $8 million in the first quarter. The Liberal numbers are out, and are well behind their Tory rivals. Liberals took in $3.9 million in the quarter. Meanwhile the Green Party also enjoyed its strongest quarter, raising $783,000. The NDP have yet to release their fundraising figures. (iPolitics)

Cruel and inhumane“—that’s how Chrystia Freeland described the second death sentence handed down by China against a Canadian since the arrest of a top-level Chinese telecom executive in December. Both execution sentences related to drug cases.  (CTV News)

Buh bye: Sen. Lynn Beyak, who posted racist letters targeting Indigenous people on her website, should be suspended without pay, the Upper Chamber’s ethics committee recommended Tuesday. The committee also said if Beyak, who was kicked out of the Conservative caucus last year over the letters, doesn’t take down the letters herself, Senate administrators should do it themselves. (Canadian Press)

Just watch me: It’s official. Jason Kenney is the premier of Alberta after being sworn in Tuesday, along with his cabinet of 22 ministers. And in keeping with one of his more blusterish campaign promises, he said he’ll now proclaim Alberta’s “turn off the taps” legislation, even if he won’t yet put it into action and block gasoline shipments to B.C.: “We will obviously keep our electoral commitment to proclaim Bill 12, just stay tuned.” (Global News)

Promises, promises: Finally, over the coming weeks and months Canadians will be inundated with campaign promises. To help make sense of it all, we’ve created a live platform comparison that will be updated daily. Bookmark this url and check back often as the campaign heats up.

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AP News in Brief at 12:09 a.m. EDT

2 dead, 4 injured in North Carolina campus shooting

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A man armed with a pistol opened fire on students at a North Carolina university during the last day of classes Tuesday, killing two people and wounding four, police said. Officers who had gathered ahead of a campus concert raced over and disarmed the suspect.

The shooting prompted a lockdown at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and caused widespread panic across campus as students scrambled to take shelter.

“Just loud bangs. A couple loud bangs and then we just saw everyone run out of the building, like nervous, like a scared run like they were looking behind,” said Antonio Rodriguez, 24, who was visiting campus for his friend’s art show.

Campus Police Chief Jeff Baker said authorities received a call in the late afternoon that a suspect armed with a pistol had shot several students. He said officers assembling nearby for a concert rushed to the classroom building and arrested the gunman in the room where the shooting took place.

“Our officers’ actions definitely saved lives,” Baker said at a news conference.


Venezuela awaits more protests after a day of turmoil

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — He called it the moment for Venezuelans to reclaim their democracy once and for all. But as the hours dragged on, opposition leader Juan Guaidó stood alone on a highway overpass with the same small cadre of soldiers with whom he launched a bold effort to spark a military uprising and settle Venezuela’s agonizing power struggle.

Like past attempts to oust President Nicolas Maduro, the opposition seemed outmanoeuvred again Tuesday. What Guaidó dubbed “Operation Freedom” triggered a familiar pattern of security forces using repressive tactics to crush small pockets of stone-throwing youths while millions of Venezuelans watched the drama unfold with a mix of fear and exasperation.

The opposition’s hoped-for split in the military didn’t emerge, a plane that the United States claimed was standing by to ferry Maduro into exile never took off and by nightfall one of the government’s bravest opponents, who defied house arrest to join the insurrection, had quietly sought refuge with his family in a foreign embassy.

Guaidó, the telegenic 35-year-old leader of the opposition-dominated congress who is recognized by the U.S. and over 50 nations as Venezuela’s rightful president, nonetheless pressed forward in calling for a new round of mass street protests Wednesday. Opposition forces are hoping that Venezuelans angered by broadcast images of armoured vehicles plowing into protesters and fed up with their nation’s dire humanitarian crisis will fill streets across the nation.

In one blow to Maduro, the head of Venezuela’s feared intelligence agency announced that he was breaking ranks with the embattled socialist leader.


US military cuts back on Afghan war data

WASHINGTON (AP) — Amid a battlefield stalemate in Afghanistan, the U.S. military has stopped releasing information often cited to measure progress in America’s longest war, calling it of little value in fighting the Taliban insurgency.

The move fits a trend of less information being released about the war in recent years, often at the insistence of the Afghan government, which had previously stopped the U.S. military from disclosing the number of Afghans killed in battle as well as overall attrition within the Afghan army.

The latest clampdown also aligns with President Donald Trump’s complaint that the U.S. gives away too much war information, although there is no evidence that this had any influence on the latest decision.

A government watchdog agency that monitors the U.S. war effort, now in its 18th year, said in a report to Congress on Wednesday that the U.S. military command in Kabul is no longer producing “district control data,” which shows the number of Afghan districts — and the percentage of their population — controlled by the government compared to the Taliban.

The last time the command released this information, in January, it showed that Afghan government control was stagnant or slipping. It said the share of the population under Afghan government control or influence — a figure that was largely unchanged from May 2017 to July 2018 at about 65 per cent — had dropped in October 2018 to 63.5 per cent. The government’s control or influence of districts fell nearly 2 percentage points, to 53.8 per cent.


Mueller frustrated with Barr over portrayal of findings

WASHINGTON (AP) — Special counsel Robert Mueller expressed frustration to Attorney General William Barr last month about how the findings of his Russia investigation were being portrayed, saying he worried that a letter summarizing the main conclusions of the probe lacked the necessary context and was creating public confusion about his team’s work, a Justice Department official said Tuesday night.

Mueller communicated his agitation in a letter to the Justice Department just days after Barr issued a four-page document that summarized the special counsel’s conclusions about whether President Donald Trump’s campaign had conspired with Russia and whether the president had tried to illegally obstruct the probe. Mueller and Barr then had a phone call where the same concerns were addressed. The official was not authorized to discuss Mueller’s letter by name.

The letter lays bare simmering tensions between the Justice Department and the special counsel about whether Barr’s summary adequately conveyed the gravity of Mueller’s findings, particularly on the key question of obstruction. The revelation is likely to sharpen attacks by Democrats who accuse Barr of unduly protecting the president and of spinning Mueller’s conclusions in Trump’s favour. And it will almost certainly be a focus of Wednesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing at which the attorney general will defend his handling of Mueller’s report.

“After the Attorney General received Special Counsel Mueller’s letter, he called him to discuss it,” Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement.

“In a cordial and professional conversation, the Special Counsel emphasized that nothing in the Attorney General’s March 24 letter was inaccurate or misleading. But, he expressed frustration over the lack of context and the resulting media coverage regarding the Special Counsel’s obstruction analysis,” she added.


Physicians seeking Walter Jones seat advance to GOP runoff

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Two physicians advanced Tuesday to a Republican runoff in the special election to succeed the late U.S. Rep. Walter Jones Jr. The last candidate standing from the 17-member GOP field ultimately will take on a former North Carolina mayor who won the Democratic primary.

State Rep. Greg Murphy of Greenville and Joan Perry of Kinston were the top two vote-getters in the very crowded Republican primary for the 3rd Congressional District seat that Jones held for 24 years before his death in February at age 76 .

Murphy, a urologic surgeon who joined the legislature in 2015, finished first but failed to climb above the 30% of the vote required to avoid a July 9 runoff. The second-place Perry, a pediatrician and former member of the state university system’s governing board, will formally request a runoff as the law requires she do, campaign manager Blake Belch said Tuesday night.

The runoff winner will take on ex-Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas, who won a six-candidate primary by receiving 50% of the votes cast. Richard “Otter” Bew, a retired Marine colonel who had served as a legislative aide to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, finished second.

The general election, now set for Sept. 10, also will feature Libertarian and Constitution party nominees. That election winner will succeed Jones, who was considered a conservative maverick by some and a GOP backslider by others.


Minneapolis officer convicted of murder in 911 caller death

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minneapolis police officer was convicted of third-degree murder Tuesday in the fatal shooting of an unarmed woman who approached his squad car minutes after calling 911 to report a possible rape, a rare guilty verdict for an officer asserting he faced a life-or-death situation.

Mohamed Noor was also found guilty of manslaughter in the July 2017 death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond , a 40-year-old dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia whose death bewildered and angered people in both countries.

Noor, a two-year veteran who testified that he shifted to policing from a career in business because he “always wanted to serve,” was acquitted of the most serious charge of intentional second-degree murder.

Minnesota sentencing guidelines call for up to 15 years on the murder conviction and nearly five years on the manslaughter conviction, although judges aren’t bound by the guidelines and can impose much lower sentences.

Noor was handcuffed and taken into custody immediately despite his attorney’s request that he be free on bond. He’ll be sentenced June 7. He showed no visible emotion and did not look back at his family, but his wife was crying.


Japan’s Naruhito in 1st speech vows to stay close to people

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s new Emperor Naruhito inherited Imperial regalia and seals as proof of his succession and pledged in his first public address Wednesday to follow his father’s example in devoting himself to peace and staying close to the people.

Naruhito succeeded to the Chrysanthemum Throne at midnight after Akihito abdicated.

In his address to the people, Naruhito formally announced his succession and pledged to continue learning.

“When I think about the important responsibility I have assumed, I am filled with a sense of solemnity,” he said. Naruhito noted that his father was devoted to praying for peace and sharing joys and sorrows of the people, while showing compassion.

He said he will “reflect deeply” on the path trodden by Akihito and past emperors, and promised to abide by the Constitution to fulfil his responsibility as a national symbol while “always turning my thoughts to the people and standing with them.


Dems say Trump agrees to $2 trillion infrastructure tab

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump and Democratic congressional leaders agreed Tuesday to work together on a $2 trillion infrastructure package — but put off for later the difficult question of how to pay for it.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said there was “good will in the meeting” — a marked departure from the last meeting between Trump, Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which ended with Trump walking out in a huff. Schumer said the two sides agreed that infrastructure investments create jobs and make the United States more competitive economically with the rest of the world.

Most importantly, Schumer said, “we agreed on a number.”

“Originally, we had started a little lower. Even the president was eager to push it up to $2 trillion, and that is a very good thing,” Schumer said.

Added Pelosi: “We did come to one agreement: that the agreement would be big and bold.”


Synagogue shooter struggled with gun, fled with 50 bullets

SAN DIEGO (AP) — After a 19-year-old gunman fired at least eight rounds into a California synagogue, he stopped to fumble with his semiautomatic rifle and then fled with 50 unused bullets, prosecutors said Tuesday.

In his first court appearance, John T. Earnest pleaded not guilty to murder and attempted murder in the shooting that killed a worshipper and injured three others at the Chabad of Poway synagogue on the last day of Passover, a major Jewish holiday. He also pleaded not guilty to burning a mosque last month in nearby Escondido.

Earnest fired eight to 10 shots inside the synagogue near San Diego on Saturday, hitting Lori Kaye, 60, twice as she prayed in the foyer, prosecutors say. Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein lost an index finger.

Then Earnest turned toward a room of children and some adults, where Almog Peretz tried to protect his niece and other kids, prosecutors said. He and his niece Noya Dahan, 8, suffered shrapnel wounds.

It was unclear if the weapon jammed or malfunctioned or if the gunman didn’t know how to reload.


US searches of phones, laptops at airports rising, suit says

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. government searches of travellers’ cellphones and laptops at airports and border crossings nearly quadrupled since 2015 and were being done for reasons beyond customs and immigration enforcement, according to papers filed Tuesday in a federal lawsuit that claims scouring the electronic devices without a warrant is unconstitutional.

The government has vigorously defended the searches, which rose to 33,295 in fiscal 2018, as a critical tool to protect America. But the newly filed documents claim the scope of the warrantless searches has expanded to assist in enforcement of tax, bankruptcy, environmental and consumer protection laws, gather intelligence and advance criminal investigations.

Agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement consider requests from other government agencies in determining whether to search travellers’ electronic devices, the court papers said. They added that agents are searching the electronic devices of not only targeted individuals but their associates, friends and relatives.

The new information about the searches was included in a motion the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts.

“The evidence we have presented the court shows that the scope of ICE and CBP border searches is unconstitutionally broad,” said Adam Schwartz, senior staff attorney for the EFF, based in San Francisco.

The Associated Press

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