Thousands remain without power in New Brunswick after weekend storm

Thousands of people remained without power in Atlantic Canada following heavy wind and rains over the weekend.

NB Power says about 23,000 customers were in the dark this morning after a fierce wind storm knocked down wires and broke poles.

It says about 200 crews have been deployed throughout the province to assess the damage and restore power as quickly as possible, while another 30 crews from neighbouring utilities were also helping out.

Nova Scotia Power says about 20 outages were affecting more than 670 customers.

New Brunswick bore the brunt of the storm Saturday and into Sunday, with NB Power initially reporting more than 94,000 customers in the dark after 100 kilometre per hour winds struck the province.

Some schools in New Brunswick remained closed due to the outages, while there were scattered outages in P.E.I.

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Macron pushes for ‘true European army’

French President Emmanuel Macron has warned that Europeans cannot be protected without a “true, European army”, as he marks the centenary of the World War One Armistice.

On a visit to the former Western Front in Verdun, he said Russia had shown it could be a threat and Europe had to be able “to defend itself better alone”.

Russia’s president will be among world leaders marking the Armistice in Paris.

Mr Macron has already proposed a joint intervention force for crisis missions.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel backed the idea of an intervention force in June, but said it would have to be part of “the structure of defence co-operation”.

The UK, while in favour of such a joint force, is opposed to a European army, because of the potential risk of creating a parallel structure to Nato.

President Macron has already warned that Europeans can no longer rely on the US to defend them, and he revived the theme on Tuesday, in response to President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of a 1987 nuclear treaty with Russia, banning medium-range ground-launched missiles.

“We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America,” he told French radio station Europe 1.

“Who is the main victim? Europe and its security. I want to build a real security dialogue with Russia, which is a country I respect, a European country – but we must have a Europe that can defend itself on its own without relying only on the United States.”

Will there be a European army?

By Defence correspondent Jonathan Marcus

There is no evidence that any group of European countries has the political will or economic muscle to spend sufficiently on defence to make up for the United States’ raw power.

Indeed the deployment of troops “into harm’s way” remains the ultimate sovereign decision of a national government. There is no “Nato army” today – merely an alliance of national components trained and accustomed to operating together.

President Macron’s call for a greater European effort in defence derives from two sets of factors: his support for the greater European project on the one hand, but also horror at much that the Trump Administration is doing on the other, with its overturning of treaties and so on.

But could Europe really stand up to Russia alone? And what of the longer-term threat from China?

The US relationship may be problematic but it could be becoming more important than ever.

President Macron’s battlefield tour will take in the River Somme as well as Verdun.

‘Ultra-liberal Europe’

Last week he warned of the “leprosy” of nationalism spreading worldwide and declared that he had been struck by the similarities of current times and the period between World War One and World War Two.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May will join Mr Macron on Friday at the Somme while President Trump will join dozens of world leaders for Sunday’s ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

During his interview on Tuesday, Mr Macron warned that there was anger against a “too ultra-liberal Europe that no longer allows our middle classes a decent living”.

He spoke of Europe that was becoming increasingly fractured and singled out the UK’s vote to leave the EU as part of that disenchantment.

President Macron’s opponents have accused him of being out of touch with the everyday problems of French voters, and have called for a national protest against higher fuel taxes on France’s roads on 17 November.

The latest opinion poll ahead of May 2019 European Parliament elections suggests Mr Macron’s LREM party is trailing the far-right National Rally party for the first time.

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Missing witness found dead on toilet

An elderly witness died on a toilet in a court in Kiel, northern Germany, and his body was not found for three days.

The man, 70, is thought to have died of a heart attack but staff assumed the cubicle had been locked for maintenance work and did not suspect the truth.

He had been due to attend a criminal trial involving fake car accidents on Monday 29 October, but it was halted when he failed to show up.

An official finally discovered his body last Thursday.

Beate Flatow, vice-president of the court, said that lessons had been learnt and security staff would in future check all “publicly accessible rooms, especially the toilets”.

Why did nobody notice?

After the unnamed witness had failed to appear last Monday, the judge cancelled the main hearing.

Court officials tried in vain to reach the missing man by telephone that day and Tuesday, while Wednesday was a public holiday, Reformation Day.

A court sergeant noticed on Thursday that one of the cubicles in the public toilets was locked but there was no sound from within, Judge Myriam Wolf told local newspaper Kieler Nachrichten.

The sergeant thought this odd, especially as the cubicle had been locked on Monday too.

When he found it still locked some hours later, he looked under the door and discovered the dead man “in a sitting position” with a court document lying on the floor.

Ms Flatow suggested that previous problems with a burst pipe in the toilets might have been the reason cleaning staff did not find it suspicious that a cubicle had been locked, thinking it had been shut by the caretaker as a safety measure.

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Three Girl Scouts killed in hit-and-run

Three Girl Scouts and their escort were killed while picking up rubbish by the side of a Wisconsin road by an intoxicated driver, police say.

Colten Treu, 21, fled after hitting the group near Lake Hallie on Saturday morning, but he later surrendered.

Police said on Monday he had been inhaling cleaning fluid before the crash. The girls were all wearing high-visibility vests when he hit them.

He is being held in the Chippewa County jail on 13 criminal charges.

The charges include four counts of homicide by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle.

Police say that both Mr Treu and a passenger in his vehicle had become intoxicated on a chemical substance directly before the crash occurred around 11:30 (17:30 GMT) on Saturday.

Lake Hallie police have identified the victims as Jayna Kelley, 9, Autum Helgeson, 10, Haylee Hickle, 10, and her mother Sara Jo Schneider, 32.

One girl who survived the crash is in critical condition in hospital.

The girls were from a scout group in Chippewa Falls, about 90 miles (145km) east of Minneapolis.

They were wearing bright green safety vests as they walked along both sides of County Highway P, which they had adopted as a local community service project.

Police say that Mr Trea’s pickup truck swerved across a lane and veered into a roadside ditch where the girls were working, striking them.

“Our hearts are broken for the girls and families of the Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes,” CEO Sylvia Acevedo of Girl Scouts of the USA said in a statement on Sunday, as vigils were held in the girls’ community.

“The Girl Scout Movement everywhere stands with our sister Girl Scouts in Wisconsin to grieve and comfort one another in the wake of this terrible tragedy.”

One vigil, outside the Halmstad Elementary School which some of the girls attended, saw hundreds of mourners gather in near freezing rain to pay their respects to the victims.

Some of the girls sang songs in memory of their friends.

At a court appearance on Monday, prosecutors said that Mr Treu had bought a can of compressed “air duster” at Wal-Mart, which they say he was inhaling prior to the crash.

He was also found with methamphetamines, cannabis and other controlled substances when he was arrested, police say.

A judge ruled that he could be released pending trial if he can post a bond of $250,000 (£190,000), and abstains from using a vehicle or taking drugs.

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Oil prices down on Iran sanction exemptions, demand concerns

LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices fell on Tuesday after Washington granted sanctions exemptions to top buyers of Iranian oil, lifting supply concerns and turning the market’s focus to worries that an economic slowdown may curb fuel demand.

Benchmark Brent crude futures LCOc1 were down 53 cents at $72.64 a barrel by 1243 GMT.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures CLc1 were at $62.80 a barrel, down 30 cents from their last settlement.

Washington gave 180-day exemptions to eight importers – China, India, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Greece, Taiwan and Turkey. This group takes as much as three-quarters of Iran’s seaborne oil exports, trade data shows, meaning Iran will still be allowed to export some oil for now.

Iran’s crude exports could fall to little more than 1 million barrels per day (bpd) in November, compared with a 2018 high of around 2.6 million. But that figure could rise from December as importers use their waivers.

China was given a waiver to import around 360,000 bpd from Iran during the exemption period, sources told Reuters.

The United States on Monday restored sanctions targeting Iran’s oil, banking and transport sectors and threatened more action to stop what Washington called its “outlaw” policies, steps Tehran called economic warfare and vowed to defy.

“The Iran factor continues to occupy the minds of market participants. That said, it is failing to spur buying pressures,” PVM said in a note.

Meanwhile, concerns about demand continue. The trade dispute between the United States and China threatens growth in the world’s two biggest economies and currency weakness is pressuring economies in Asia, including India and Indonesia.

On the supply side, oil is ample despite the sanctions against Iran as output from the world’s top three producers – Russia, the United States and Saudi Arabia – is rising.

The three countries combined produced more than 33 million bpd for the first time in October, meaning they alone meet more than a third of the world’s almost 100 million bpd of crude oil consumption.

Amid ample supply, top crude exporter Saudi Arabia has cut the December price for its Arab Light grade for Asian customers.

The price pressure on oil has scared off financial traders.

Hedge fund managers were net sellers of petroleum-linked futures and options last week, taking their net long position to the lowest level in 15 months, according to records published by regulators and exchanges.

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Apology for Pakistan Khan ‘begging’ typo

Pakistan state TV has apologised after broadcasting a speech by PM Imran Khan in China with a caption displaying the word “begging” instead of Beijing.

The typo appeared during a live address at the Central Party School in Beijing.

Mr Khan is in China for official meetings and is seeking billions of dollars in aid to help stave off a financial crisis.

The Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) later said it would take “strict action” against those responsible.

Pakistan is also seeking a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Following the “typographical error” broadcast at the weekend, PTV posted a short statement on Twitter describing the incident as “regrettable”.

However this was not before the mistake, which reportedly remained on screen for 20 seconds, was ridiculed on social media.

Someone on the news team accidentally mistyped IK’s location as “Begging” instead of “Beijing” and it’s honestly the most hilariously ironic thing ever.🤣🤣🤣🤗🤗🤗🤣🤣🤣🤣 pic.twitter.com/ppkzlvROBV

End of Twitter post by @Shahrukh294Rukh

PTV sources have confirmed that for the ‘Begging – Beijing’ dateline typographical error during PM @ImranKhanPTI speech in China, PTV’s Director News, Director Current Affairs, Director IT and 3 panel-personnel have been suspended and orders came directly from the PM pic.twitter.com/YRwJVt6Gz3

End of Twitter post by @PakPressWatch

On Saturday, China said it had agreed to “firmly move forward” with infrastructure projects in Pakistan following meetings between Mr Khan and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

During his official visit to China, the world’s second largest economy, Mr Khan also met President Xi Jinping.

China has invested tens of billions of dollars in Pakistan in recent years as part of its Belt and Road Initiative – which aims to link the economies of Asia, Africa and Europe via huge infrastructural projects.

The cash-strapped Pakistani government is facing grave economic challenges as it struggles to avoid a financial crisis and keep the economy afloat.

Last month, Saudi Arabia said it would provide Pakistan with a $6bn (€5.2bn; £4.6bn) rescue package, but officials have said it is not enough, and the country still plans to seek a bailout from the IMF.

It would be Pakistan’s 13th rescue package from the multilateral lender since the late 1980s.

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Am I Registered to Vote? Answers to Common Questions on Election Day

Good morning, it’s Election Day. Or, for some, perhaps it would be more fitting to say: Good morning, it’s Election Day?!

In any case, here are answers to some commonly asked questions about voting.

How do I know if I’m registered to vote?

There are a few websites you can visit to check your voter registration.

VoteSaveAmerica asks you to enter basic personal information to determine whether you’re registered. That tool is supported by Vote.org, a nonpartisan nonprofit seeking to increase voter turnout.

Another website that lets people quickly check their voter registration status is run by HeadCount, a nonpartisan group; you can use it to verify that you are registered and the location of your polling place.

Everything You Need to Know for the Midterm Elections

The midterm elections are around the corner. If you haven’t been keeping up with what’s going on, or have been and are still confused, take a look at our cheat sheet.

Do I have to show an ID?

Whether voters must show valid identification at their polling place varies by state. As of August, 35 states have some type of voter ID law, according to VoteRiders, a nonpartisan organization that helps demystify state voter ID laws.

VoteRiders publishes a map that breaks down voter ID laws by state, so you can use it to determine what your state requires.

The strictest voter ID laws can be found in states like North Dakota and Georgia, said Kathleen Unger, the founder of VoteRiders. Those states require residents to bring specific types of identification to their polling place.

States like New York or California generally do not require voters to provide IDs after residents have registered, Ms. Unger said. First-time voters in those states should bring identification, however.

If you need further help, you can contact VoteRiders by phone or email — it will help you figure out the intricacies of your state’s laws.

The Five Battlefields for Control of the House

Democrats or Republicans will piece together a House majority from across five main types of congressional districts that are most competitive this fall. Here’s our field guide to those races.

Can I wear my partisan T-shirt while voting?

Although you might want to show support for your chosen candidate through your outfit, that might not be legal in your state.

This year the Supreme Court struck down a Minnesota law that prohibited voters from wearing T-shirts, hats and buttons expressing political views at polling places. Minnesota’s law was particularly broad, however, and it was enforced to ban even general political messaging on issues like gun rights or labor unions.

State laws that ban apparel supporting or opposing specific candidates or ballot measures are acceptable, according to the court’s majority opinion.

Jeanette Senecal, with the League of Women Voters, suggests that, to be on the safe side, voters leave their partisan apparel at home. But if you end up wearing it anyway, election supervisors will often ask you to turn your shirt inside-out in the bathroom, Ms. Senecal said.

[Make sense of the people, issues and ideas shaping the 2018 elections with our new politics newsletter.]

What if my address has changed?

Every time you change your address permanently, you’re supposed to re-register or change your voter registration information. You should check your state’s laws to determine what sort of documentation, like a driver’s license or utility bill, you may need to bring to the polling place for proof of your new address.

In some states, like Pennsylvania, if you change your address within 30 days before an election you can vote at the polling place associated with your old address. In Wisconsin, you’re eligible to vote with your old address if you’ve lived for fewer than 10 consecutive days at your new address. Details vary, so check your state’s official rules.

What if I’m turned away from my polling place?

Don’t leave just yet.

If you are turned away because you’re told you do not have the right form of identification, ask to speak with the polling supervisor to determine whether you are getting the right information, or call the VoteRiders hotline to get the advice of an expert, Ms. Unger said.

Another hotline to call is 866-687-8683, which is run by Election Protection, a nonpartisan organization.

If your identification or voter registration is still challenged, Ms. Senecal said, you should ask for a provisional ballot, which means your vote is contingent on verification of your eligibility. If your qualifications can be verified later, your vote will be counted. (Here’s more on what to do if you’re told you cannot vote — and how to minimize the chances of it happening in the first place.)

Follow Julia Jacobs on Twitter: @juliarebeccaj.

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Sydney ‘squatter’ wins house after 20 years

Two decades ago, Australian property developer Bill Gertos found a house sitting empty in Sydney. So he changed the locks, repaired the property – and began leasing it to tenants.

Now Mr Gertos has won a legal battle to be declared the official owner of the house – which is estimated to be worth A$1.6m (£0.9m; $1.1m).

It followed a court battle with descendants of its previous owner.

Mr Gertos was granted ownership under a law recognising squatters’ rights.

Squatting is when someone occupies an empty or abandoned property which they don’t own or rent, and without the owner’s permission.

In New South Wales, squatters can be awarded ownership if they have occupied a property for more than 12 years.

The court granted Mr Gertos those rights because he had repaired and maintained the property since 1998.

Australian media outlets described the case as “bizarre” because the relevant law is typically used by those who move into a property themselves.

‘I decided to take possession’

Mr Gertos told the Supreme Court of New South Wales that he first became curious about the house, in the suburb of Ashbury, because it was in “disrepair”.

He said he went to the property in late 1998 and determined that it was unoccupied and uninhabitable.

“I left the property and then decided to take possession of it myself,” he said in a court affidavit.

Mr Gertos spent nearly A$150,000 on repairs and renovations before installing tenants, the court heard.

But the descendants of previous owner Henry Thompson Downie, who died in 1947, launched a legal challenge last year after Mr Gertos applied for ownership.

Mr Downie’s relatives testified that the family had vacated the house before World War Two due to an ant infestation, after which it was rented to a sole tenant. That tenant leased the home until her death in April 1998.

The family argued that Mr Gertos had not acted in an “open” manner, meaning he should not be able to claim ownership through squatting laws.

But Justice Rowan Darke disagreed, ruling: “Mr Gertos succeeded in taking and maintaining physical custody of the land, to the exclusion of all others.”

Mr Downie’s relatives intend to appeal against the decision, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

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India’s tiger killings: A success story gone wrong?

Tigers are in the news in India for all the wrong reasons.

At the weekend, a “man-eating” tigress which was said to have killed 13 people was shot dead after a near two-year hunt. Another tiger was killed by a mob after it mauled a man, who later died in hospital.

A federal minister accused the forest minister of a state ruled by her party of ordering the “ghastly murder” of the “man-eating” tigress.

Maneka Gandhi, a devoted animal activist and a member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP-led government, said the killing of the tigress, simply known as T-1, in the forests of Maharashtra state, was “nothing but a straight case of crime”. Animal rights groups chimed in, saying T-1’s killing was all about “satisfying the hunter’s lust for blood”.

They were alluding to a private sharpshooter who was hired by the government to kill the tiger.

However, the reality on the ground is more complex.

Conservationists believe frequent conflicts between humans and tigers – both are straying into each other’s habitats – are possibly the result of the problem of plenty.

With some 3,000 beasts, India is home to 60% of the world’s tigers.

This is a major conservation success. By one estimate, between 1875 and 1925 alone, some 80,000 tigers were killed in India. Bounty and sports hunting were rampant – kings and officials killed tigers in their thousands, using guns, spears, nets, traps and poison. By the 1960s the number of tigers had dwindled precipitously.

Over the next few decades, the numbers rose as a result of a ban on hunting, government initiatives to streamline conservation, and awareness drives in villages.

A strict wildlife protection law implemented in 1972 made it virtually illegal to kill or capture wild animals even when “problem animals” were involved in severe conflict situations.

Tiger numbers have seen a healthy uptick since 2006, when India – under pressure from global conservationists – upped investments to hire more forest guards, improve protection of reserves and promote voluntary village relocation.

Even the conflict between free ranging tigers and local people is not new. Tigers killed nearly 800 people in 1877, for example, and more than 900 people in 1908 in British-administered provinces.

One of the reasons for more recent human-tiger conflict is that India has too many tigers and too few forests that can sustain them unless more protected reserves are added.

Escalating conflict

According to one estimate, big cats breed and live in only about 10% of India’s total potential tiger habitat of 300,000 sq km (115,830 sq miles). Animal density in many of these forest areas is high, and surplus tigers sometimes venture outside for food. Poachers have gained from the conflict by killing tigers and bribing villagers to set up traps.

Conservationists say conflict with humans is largely restricted to the edges of protected areas, forests and plantations. People living here are sometimes killed or mauled. Many such incidents have happened, they say, when mobs have surrounded tigers who have entered villages to take away livestock.

“Very rarely tigers may maul or kill humans they unexpectedly encounter, and the tiger may sometimes eat a part of the cadaver,” says Ullas Karanth, one of the world’s top tiger experts.

Emotional response

Unless India expands tiger reserves and areas protected for tigers, such conflicts will increase. Wildlife and forestry managers will find themselves coming under increasing pressure from both animal activists and affected villagers when it comes to putting down “man-eating” tigers.

And as conservationists say, in most cases, putting down a “problem” tiger is the only option left for wildlife managers. Tranquilising a big cat is not easy. Also, they say, capturing a tiger is often not an ideal solution as wild tigers do not easily adapt to life in captivity. In any case, India’s overcrowded zoos have little space for more tigers.

But what conservationists cannot figure out is why governments are hiring private hunters to take down “problem” tigers, as happened in Maharashtra over the weekend. They say India’s forest departments have nearly 90,000 workers on their rolls and should use their own trained staff for the purpose.

“Science and practical experience clearly show that we cannot care for every individual wild tiger. Animal lovers and conservationists should focus on saving the species as a whole, rather than saving every individual,” says Karanth. “Conservation interventions must, therefore, be guided by scientific evidence and social practicality, than emotion.”

For the moment, emotion seems to be winning.

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