Canada: Attack on girl wearing hijab 'did not happen'

Toronto police announce hate crime investigation concluded after evidence shows cutting of girl’s hijab didn’t occur.

    Canadian police say an alleged attack on a young girl wearing a hijab did not happen.

    News reports last Friday said the 11-year-old was approached by a man as she walked to school and he used a pair of scissors to cut the girl’s headdress in the city of Toronto.

    Police were investigating the apparent assault as a hate crime. However, investigators announced on Monday that reports of the incident were false.

    “We put together a lot of evidence, we considered the evidence and came to the conclusion that what was described did not happen,” Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash told Reuters news agency.

    More information on what exactly occurred wasn’t immediately available.

    “We are very thankful that this assault did not, in fact, happen,” the Globe and Mail newspaper quoted a Toronto District School Board statement as saying. “We won’t be commenting further.”

    The alleged assault drew condemnation from a variety of political circles, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who said this is “not what Canada is”.

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    Chinese envoy to Canada warns against any future Huawei 5G ban

    OTTAWA (Reuters) – China’s envoy to Canada on Thursday warned Ottawa of possible repercussions if it banned technology firm Huawei from supplying equipment to Canadian 5G networks, in the latest blast in a deepening bilateral dispute.

    Ambassador Lu Shaye, speaking at a news conference, did not give details. Canada is currently studying the security implications of 5G networks but unlike some allies has not announced a ban on Huawei equipment.

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    U.S. grand jury indicts four Audi managers in VW emissions probe

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A federal grand jury in Detroit on Thursday indicted four managers at Volkswagen AG’s (VOWG_p.DE) luxury Audi unit as part of the U.S. government’s investigation into the German automaker’s diesel emissions cheating scandal, according to court documents.

    VW admitted in September 2015 to secretly installing software in nearly 500,000 U.S. vehicles to cheat government exhaust emissions tests and pleaded guilty in 2017 to felony charges. In total, 13 people have been charged in the United States, including the four Audi managers.

    Managers Richard Bauder, Axel Eiser, Stefan Knirsch and Carsten Nagel all worked in Audi’s engine development division in Germany. Bauder was head of Audi’s Diesel Engine Development department. A Justice Department spokesman said none are in custody. All are believed to be in Germany.

    Lawyers for the four could not immediately be identified.

    The government previously indicted one former Audi manager in July 2017, Giovanni Pamio. The new indictment is a significant expansion of the government’s criminal probe.

    The four managers are charged in a 12-count indictment with conspiring to evade U.S. emissions standards in diesel vehicles sold in the United States with 3.0-liter engines. The vehicles include the 2009-2015 Audi Q7 vehicles as well as other Q5, A6, A7 and A8 diesel models and VW Touareg vehicles. They are accused of wire fraud, violating the Clean Air Act and conspiracy.

    Volkswagen spokesman Pietro Zollino said the company continues “to cooperate with investigations by the Department of Justice into the conduct of individuals. It would not be appropriate to comment on individual cases.”

    The indictment said the Audi managers realized they could not meet U.S. pollution standards given design constraints by Audi “including the need for a large trunk and high-end sound system.”

    Audi engineers told Bauder in 2008 that unless the tank was larger “Audi had to cheat to pass U.S. emissions tests” and ensure that drivers could go 10,000 miles between dealer service visits, the indictment said.

    In total, Volkswagen has agreed to pay more than $25 billion in the United States for claims from owners, environmental regulators, states and dealers, and has offered to buy back about 500,000 polluting U.S. vehicles. The buybacks will continue through 2019.

    In 2017, VW also pleaded guilty to fraud, obstruction of justice and falsifying statements in a U.S. court. Under the plea deal, the automaker agreed to sweeping reforms, new audits and oversight by an independent monitor for three years.

    U.S. prosecutors previously charged former VW Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn, who remains in Germany. Two other former VW executives have pleaded guilty in the investigation and are in prison. Germany does not typically extradite its citizens for prosecution in U.S. courts.

    Former Audi Chief Executive Rupert Stadler was not among those indicted. He is being investigated in Germany for his alleged role.

    VW in October terminated Stadler’s contract against the backdrop of a criminal investigation into whether he was involved in emissions cheating.

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    Venezuela to receive 2,000 Cuban doctors pulled from Brazil: Maduro

    CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela will receive 2,000 Cuban doctors who left Brazil following a dispute between the Communist-run island and the government of far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who ordered an end to their stay after taking office this year.

    Bolsonaro said some 11,000 doctors were being used as “slave labor” and demanded that the Cuban government, which took 75 percent of their salaries, allow them to be paid in full and have their families join them.

    Cuba refused and pulled the doctors out.

    “Next week, we’re going to have a special event that celebrates the arrival of 2,000 new community doctors that Cuba is sending us. They are coming from Brazil,” President Nicolas Maduro said in a televised broadcast.

    “Brazilian fascism ended the health plan, and the 2,000 doctors are coming to Venezuela,” he said.

    Clinics run by Cuban doctors were a signature program of late socialist leader Hugo Chavez, who enjoyed an oil windfall during his 14-year rule that ended with his 2013 death from cancer. Venezuela paid for the medical services with shipments of oil.

    Maduro, who has overseen a collapse of the once-booming economy, has faced growing complaints of decay in the health system and steady abandonment of the facilities once run by Cuban doctors. He did not give details about how Venezuela would pay for the doctors’ services.

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    More than half of food produced in Canada is wasted: ‘It would horrify our grandparents’

    More than half the food produced in Canada is wasted and the average kitchen tosses out hundreds of dollars worth of edibles every year, says a study researchers are calling the first of its kind.

    “It’s a lot of food,” said Lori Nikkel of Second Harvest, the Toronto-based group working to reduce food waste that commissioned the study.

    “We waste more food than we consume.”

    The study released Thursday is the world’s first to measure food waste using data from industry and other sources instead of estimates, said Martin Gooch of Value Chain Management International, which conducted the study.

    Value Chain works with agriculture, aquaculture, marine and food industries to make them more profitable.

    “What we did was actually go to industry and [said], ‘Give us primary data,’” Gooch said. “This is the first time anywhere in the world that anyone’s gone out and got primary data that connects production with consumers.”

    Results were checked with industry experts.

    “At every point in the process, we ground-truthed it,” said Gooch. “We’re confident our results are conservative.”

    Previous work has suggested that Canadians waste almost 400 kilograms of food per person, one of the world’s highest totals. The new work adds considerable detail to that figure.

    Apples rot in the grass for lack of harvest workers. Surplus milk is flushed. Thousands of hectares of produce are plowed after cancelled orders.

    The report, funded largely by the Walmart Foundation, concludes 58 per cent of Canadian food production is wasted.

    That includes unavoidable waste such as animal bones. But a solid one-third of the waste — more than 11 million tonnes — could be recovered.

    The report says the value of usable groceries that wind up in landfills or other disposal sites is almost $50 billion. That’s more than half the amount Canadians spend on food every year and is enough to feed every Canadian for five months.

    As well, it says avoidable food waste in Canada produces more than 22 million tonnes of climate-changing carbon dioxide emissions.

    The report says processing and manufacturing are the largest sources of avoidable waste, accounting for 43 per cent of it. Produce that doesn’t meet exacting grading standards, inaccurate market forecasts and inefficient processes are all part of the problem.

    So are date codes which remove perfectly healthy food from the market.

    “Best-before doesn’t mean awful-after,” said Nikkel.

    Canadian kitchens are also conspicuous wastrels, responsible for 21 per cent of avoidable waste. That’s about $1,700 per household in a country in which four million people struggle for regular meals.

    Hospitals, restaurants and institutions contribute 13 per cent of avoidable food waste. Retail outlets are close behind at 12 per cent.

    Farmers waste only six per cent of the usable food they produce. Distributors waste even less at five per cent.

    The report details many ways waste could be cut. Better co-ordination between farmer and processor, changes to crop insurance, clearer date codes, improved safety assessments for donated food and liability reform could all help keep nutrition out of the garbage and on somebody’s plate.

    Even avoiding bulk buys that result in excess being tossed away would help, said Nikkel.

    Canadians should change their attitude toward food, she added.

    “We’ve cheapened it so much that it doesn’t have value any more. It would horrify our grandparents.

    “We need to go back to that valuing of food.”

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    Rick Zamperin: Maple Leafs must trade wisely to go from Stanley Cup contender to favourite

    We are a little more than a month away from the NHL trade deadline and Maple Leafs fans are eagerly waiting for General Manager Kyle Dubas to make a move.

    The eagerness has been ramped up because Toronto, for the first time this season, is struggling.

    Every team is going to go through its ups and downs throughout an 82-game season and right now it is the Leafs’ turn to hit the skids.

    Entering Thursday night’s game in Tampa Bay against the NHL-leading Lightning, the Maple Leafs have lost two straight games and five of their last seven, and Toronto’s one-time comfortable lead over teams like Boston and Montreal for second place in the Atlantic Division has evaporated.

    Toronto’s once unstoppable top power-play group has been solved like a New York Times crossword puzzle, falling from the top to eighth in the NHL rankings, and the team’s penalty-killing unit is middling around 13th.

    Listen, the sky isn’t falling here. The Leafs may have come back to Earth over the last little while but Toronto is still among the league’s top teams in wins and goals for/against, and their lineup is littered with talented players.

    Dubas is too smart of a fellow to make a move just to appease the fan base. It just won’t happen no matter how much fans want to boo scuffling players like defenceman Jake Gardiner.

    But when Dubas looks at his roster he must realize that he doesn’t have all the pieces in place to win the Stanley Cup this season, right?

    Come playoff time, Toronto will most likely have to go through teams like Tampa Bay and Boston, defending champion Washington or Pittsburgh, and if they’re fortunate enough to make it all the way to the Stanley Cup final, can the Leafs beat teams like Nashville, Winnipeg, San Jose and Vegas?

    The Maple Leafs are championship contenders, but by adding a little more toughness and sandpaper to their lineup, another playoff veteran, and a big experienced defenceman, Toronto would be among the Stanley Cup favourites.

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    Incoming Pakistan Chief Justice opens new era for powerful court

    ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan swears in a new chief justice on Friday, opening the next chapter for the Supreme Court which has made a name for an expansive agenda that has ranged from ousting a prime minister to pressing authorities to improve the public water supply.

    Outgoing Chief Justice Saqib Nisar cultivated a high profile, launching multiple inquiries aimed at reforming public institutions and going after political leaders, attracting both praise for cracking down on abuse and criticism that he was exceeding the court’s role.

    His successor, Supreme Court judge Asif Saeed Khosa, has a taste for literary quotation but is otherwise considered a more classical judge, preferring to stay out of the limelight.

    “I think Justice Khosa’s tenure will be substantially different,” said Saroop Ijaz, a lawyer for Human Rights Watch, who has been critical of Nisar’s activist court.

    In one of its best-known judgments, the Supreme Court removed three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from office in July 2017 and ordered a corruption probe into his assets that led to Sharif being given a seven-year jail term in December.

    The court enraged hardline Islamists last year by overturning the conviction of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman condemned to death for blasphemy against Islam.

    But it has also used so-called “suo motu” provisions in Pakistani law that allow the court to open cases on its own initiative to set its stamp on wide swaths of public life and denounce the failure of public institutions.

    It has ordered inquiries into issues ranging from payments to farmers by powerful sugar mills to milk prices, city water supplies and corruption allegations against managers of the railways and national airline PIA.

    However the outgoing chief justice’s activism did little to drain the backlog of more than 40,000 cases at the Supreme Court and a staggering 1.9 million combined cases pending in other courts.

    “It’s a highly problematic period at multiple levels,” said legal scholar Osama Siddique, an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Development and Economic Alternatives in Lahore.

    “Justice Saqib Nisar’s entire emphasis was on other institutions and how they should improve their governance but he did not do anything to improve the governance and internal administration of the judiciary.”

    CAUTIONARY TALE

    Nisar’s high media profile has drawn parallels with Iftikhar Chaudhry, a chief justice who initially won plaudits for helping oust military dictator Pervez Musharraf in 2008, but was later criticized for overstepping his constitutional remit.

    “Saqib Nisar’s tenure was in many ways a cautionary tale in unfettered judicial overreach,” said Ijaz. “It was unprecedented in the extent of its activism and disregard of formal legal procedures.”

    Nisar himself has said his suo motu cases and frequent public appearances to inspect development projects and facilities such as schools and hospitals were aimed at protecting the poor.

    Allies of Sharif say his assertiveness served the interests of Pakistan’s powerful military and hinted at a return to the past, when they say judges cut politicians down to size at the behest of the generals.

    The military, which has ruled Pakistan for nearly half its history since independence in 1947, denies involvement in domestic politics.

    But Sharif’s removal and the defeat of his PML-N party in elections last year led to the appointment as prime minister of Imran Khan, a cricketer-turned-politician seen by analysts and opposition politicians as close to the military.

    The new Chief Justice, who will hold office for 11 months, has a tough task to reform Pakistan’s sluggish judiciary.

    Khosa wrote the judgment that ousted Sharif, opening with an epigraph he took from “The Godfather”, Mario Puzo’s bestselling novel on the mafia: “Behind every great fortune there is a crime.”

    But literary flourishes apart, Ijaz said his record suggested he would adopt a much lower profile than his interventionist predecessor.

    “Khosa has in the past written strongly worded judgments (and) has never shown a desire for publicity… The hope is that he will continue on that theme and work towards reform, starting with the judiciary itself.”

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    Man dies after being struck by dump truck in North York, police say

    Toronto police say a man has died following a hit-and-run involving a dump truck near Marlee Avenue and Lawrence Avenue West in North York.

    A Toronto paramedics spokesperson said a male in his 40s was transported to a trauma center in life-threatening condition, just after 1 p.m. on Wednesday. Police said he later succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced at the hospital.

    It is unclear at this time if the man was a pedestrian or a cyclist.

    Police said the intersection is expected to be closed for several hours as traffic services reconstructs the scene.

    Arizona teen carrying airsoft gun fatally shot by police

    TEMPE, Ariz. – Police in a Phoenix suburb say a burglary suspect shot to death by an officer who believed he was armed was a 14-year-old boy not carrying a real gun.

    Authorities say officers in the city of Tempe reported a suspect burglarizing a car Tuesday and that he ran away holding what appeared to be a handgun.

    Authorities say officers in the city of Tempe, Ariz., shot a teen carrying an airsoft gun, mistaking it for a firearm.

    During the chase, police say he turned toward the officers. One officer perceived that as a threat and shot the suspect, who died at a hospital.

    Police said Wednesday that the teen had an airsoft gun in his possession as well as some items taken from the vehicle.

    They say the shooting was captured on the officer’s body camera.

    The name of the teen and the officer who opened fire haven’t been released.

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    Qatari royal 'held against his will in the UAE'

    Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al Thani in video on social media saying he is being treated as a ‘prisoner’ in Abu Dhabi.

      A member of the Qatari royal family says he is being held against his will in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

      Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al Thani released on Sunday a video statement saying he was “a prisoner” in the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi, and that if anything happened to him, “Sheikh Mohammed” is responsible.

      While he did not specify, Sheikh Abdullah appeared to be referring to Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed. 

      “I am currently in Abu Dhabi. I was a guest of Sheikh Mohammed. I am no longer a guest; I am a prisoner,” he said in the video, which was widely circulated on social media.

      “They told me not to leave. I am afraid that anything could happen to me, and the people of Qatar would be blamed. So I just wanted to inform you that if anything happens to me, the people of Qatar are innocent,” added Sheikh Abdullah.

      “I am a guest of Sheikh Mohammed and if anything happens to me after this, he is fully responsible.” 

      Sheikh Abdullah is a son of a Qatari emir from the 1960s, Sheikh Ali bin Abdullah Al Thani. He dropped off the radar for decades but rose to prominence suddenly last summer, when a major diplomatic crisis broke out in the Gulf.

      After Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a land, sea and air blockade on Qatar in June, Sheikh Abdullah appeared frequently on Saudi and UAE television programmes expressing his views in support of the measures against Doha.

      At an Arab League meeting in Cairo in September, Qatar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Soltan bin Saad al-Muraikhi said Saudi Arabia was looking to depose Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and replace him with Sheikh Abdullah.

      ‘Expected behaviour’

      Majed al-Ansari, a professor at Qatar University, said Sheikh Abdullah’s apparent detention could be seen as part of a wider “trend of behaviour” by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in dealing with high-profile Arab personalities that may be used as leverage.

      In November, Lebanese officials alleged that Prime Minister Saad Hariri was being held hostage by Saudi authorities.

      Hariri appeared on television from Saudi Arabia on November 4 to announce his resignation, but retracted it when he returned home.

      Former Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik released a similar video in November, saying he was being barred from leaving the UAE, where he had been living since 2012. 

      “This is now the way that Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi deal with their friends,” al-Ansari told Al Jazeera.

      Sheikh Abdullah is of no use to these countries because their plan to orchestrate a coup in Qatar has failed miserably.”

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