Archive for February 2019

Pope denounces terror attacks in Easter Sunday message

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis tempered his Easter Sunday message of Christian hope with a denunciation of “blind” terrorism, recalling victims of attacks in Europe, Africa and elsewhere, as well as expressing dismay that people fleeing war or poverty are being denied welcome as European countries squabble over the refugee crisis.

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Tens of thousands of people patiently endured long lines, backpack inspections and metal-detecting checks Sunday to enter St. Peter’s Square. Under a brilliant sun, they listened to Francis deliver the traditional noon Easter speech from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.

To their delight, Francis completed a whirl through the square, made colorful with sprays of tulips and other spring flowers, in his open-topped pope-mobile after celebrating Mass on the steps of the basilica. He leaned over barriers to shake hands, as the vehicle ventured past the Vatican’s confines, with his bodyguards jogging alongside on the boulevard.

For years, Islamist extremists in social media have listed the Vatican and Rome as potential targets due to hosting the headquarters of the Roman Catholic church and several basilicas. Despite the threats, Francis has kept to his habit of trying to be in close physical contact with ordinary people.

READ MORE: Police name new suspect in Brussels attack, charge 3 with terror charges

Francis said, for the faithful, Jesus who rose after death by crucifixion “triumphed over evil and sin.” He expressed hope that “will draw us closer to the victims of terrorism, that blind and brutal form of violence.”

At the end of Mass, he chatted briefly with the former king and queen of Belgium, Albert II and Paola, who attended the ceremony.

In his speech, Francis cited recent attacks in Belgium, Turkey, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Iraq.

He called the message of Easter “a message of life for all humanity.”

Easter “invites us not to forget those men and women seeking a better future, an ever more numerous throng of migrants and refugees – including many children – fleeing from war, hunger, poverty and social injustice,” he said.

As he has done repeatedly, Francis lamented that “all too often, these brothers and sisters of ours meet along the way with death or, in any event, rejection by those who could offer them welcome and assistance.”

READ MORE: Refugees protest at Greece-Macedonia border, islands near Turkey

Some European countries have erected barbed-wire fences and other barriers to keep out those who continue to arrive on Greek and Italian shores after risky sea voyages on smugglers’ boats. Another strategy has been for some European countries to express a preference for accepting Christian refugees over Muslim ones – which would effectively rule out the vast majority of Syrian refugees.

Most recently, a host of countries along Europe’s main migrant route north of Greece to central Europe have simply closed their borders to refugees, stranding thousands of refugee families at different border points.

Francis also decried the destruction and “contempt for humanitarian law” in Syria, millions of whose people have fled to Europe or to refugee camps closer to their homeland.

Sanders wins 3 states; Clinton retains big delegate lead

WASHINGTON – Bernie Sanders scored three wins in Western caucus contests Saturday, giving a powerful psychological boost to his supporters but doing little to move him closer to securing the Democratic nomination.

While results in Washington, Alaska and Hawaii barely dented Hillary Clinton’s significant delegate lead, Sanders’ wins underscored her persistent vulnerabilities within her own party, particularly with young voters and liberal activists who have been inspired by her rival’s unapologetically liberal message.

WATCH: #BirdieSanders takes centre stage at Bernie’s Portland rally 

In an interview with The Associated Press, Sanders cast his performance as part of a Western comeback, saying he expects to close the delegate gap with Clinton as the contest moves to the more liberal northeastern states, including her home state of New York. He also said his campaign is increasing its outreach to superdelegates, the party insiders who can pick either candidate, and are overwhelmingly with Clinton.

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“The Deep South is a very conservative part of the country,” he said. “Now that we’re heading into a progressive part of the country, we expect to do much better.”

He added: “There is a path to victory.” With Clinton far in front, however, it is a difficult path.

Clinton anticipated the losses: She barely campaigned in the three states, making just one day of stops in Washington state, and was spending the Easter weekend with her family.

She is turning her focus to the April 19 contest in New York, seeking to win a large share of the delegates at stake and to avoid the blow of losing to Sanders in a state she represented in the Senate. She is trying to lock up an even larger share of delegates in five Northeastern contests a week later, hoping to deliver a big enough haul to unify the Democratic Party and relegate Sanders to little more than a protest candidate.

READ MORE: 桑拿会所 users suggest mock events that are #SaferThanATrumpRally

Sanders, who’s found some success in the industrial Midwest, wants to leverage his working-class support and fiery arguments against free trade into an April 5 victory in delegate-rich Wisconsin. He also plans to compete fiercely in New York and is pushing for the party to schedule a debate in the state, saying in the interview that it would be “really absurd” if one did not take place.

After Sanders’ two early wins in Washington and Alaska on Saturday, Clinton held a delegate lead of 1,234 to 956 over Sanders, according to an Associated Press analysis, an advantage that expands to 1,703-985 once the superdelegates are included. It takes 2,383 delegates to win.

Based on the AP count, Sanders needs to win more than 57 per cent of the remaining delegates from primaries and caucuses to have a majority of those delegates by June’s end.

His bar is even higher when the party officials are considered. He needs to win more than 67 per cent of the remaining delegates overall — from primaries, caucuses and the ranks of uncommitted superdelegates — to prevail.

He was unlikely to emerge from his Saturday sweep with significantly more delegates, winning at least 36 delegates to Clinton’s 11 for the day after his victories in Alaska and Washington. More are likely to be allocated to Sanders in several weeks, when Washington state Democratic party releases vote shares by district. Sixty-seven delegates are awarded based on results in the state’s congressional districts.

WATCH: Bernie Sanders says he still can win enough delegates to secure nomination

But there’s little question that Sanders has tapped into a powerful frustration within the party. He continues to attract tens of thousands to his rallies and has collected more than $140 million from 4.7 million donations.

Most of his 14 primary-season wins have been in states with largely white populations and in caucus contests, which tend to attract the most active liberal Democrats. He’s heavily favoured by younger voters, who were a key part of the coalition that boosted Barack Obama to victory twice. Clinton’s ability to win the White House, should she capture the nomination, will hinge on how well she can motivate his passionate – and politically active – supporters.

In Spokane, Washington, a huge line of caucus attendees — largely Sanders backers — snaked around a high school parking lot Saturday morning.

“I think one of the biggest things is free tuition for students,” said Savannah Dills, 24, a college student who supports Sanders. “And getting big money out of politics. He’s not paid for by billionaires.”

Retiree Dan McLay, 64, attended the caucus in a hard-hat, which he joked he needed because he was one of the relatively few Clinton supporters in the big crowd.

“Look at this thing in Brussels,” McLay said, referring to the deadly attack in Belgium this week. “We need a real experienced leader.”

It was strong support for Sanders that brought Kirsa Hughes-Skandijs out to her first caucus in Juneau, Alaska.

“This is the first time I’ve ever felt that kind of belief in a candidate, that they mean what they say and that they are not saying what they think people want to hear,” she said.

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Associated Press writers Nicholas K. Geranios, Walker Orenstein and Rachel La Corte in Washington state, Bryna Godar in Madison, Wisconsin, Becky Bohrer in Juneau, Alaska, and Hope Yen in Washington contributed to this report.

Syrian troops drive IS out of historic Palmyra

DAMASCUS, Syria – UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the Syrian government’s recapture of the town of Palmyra and its world-famous archaeological site from Islamic State extremists.

Ban told a news conference in the Jordanian capital of Amman on Sunday that “the extremist terrorists, they have been not only killing brutally people, they have been destroying human civilizations.”

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The UN chief says that “we are encouraged and fortunate” that Syrian troops retook Palmyra. He says he is also encouraged that Syria’s government “will try to not only preserve and protect, but try to restore” the site.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin’s spokesman says Russian President Vladimir Putin has congratulated Syrian President Bashar Assad on his army’s recapture of the ancient city of Palmyra.

In a telephone call, Putin “noted the importance of preserving this unique historical site for world culture,” presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying Sunday by Russian news agencies. “Putin once again stressed that despite the withdrawal of the bulk of Russia’s contingent from Syria, Russia’s armed forces will continue to help the Syrian authorities in their anti-terrorist efforts and liberation of their homeland from extremist groups.”

Russia has consistently denied claims that its airstrikes in Syria, which began in late September, are aimed at propping up Assad’s rule.

The government forces’ offensive on Palmyra came as Russia claimed to have run more than 100 warplane sorties in the area in the past week.

Peskov says that Assad “noted that successes such as the liberation of Palmyra would be impossible without Russia’s support.”

Assad has described his army’s recapture of Palmyra as a “significant achievement.”

In comments reported by Syrian state TV on Sunday, he said that the overthrow of the Islamic State group in the historic town offered “new evidence of the effectiveness of the strategy espoused by the Syrian army and its allies in the war against terrorism.”

Government forces had been on the offensive for nearly three weeks to try to retake the town, which is home to famed Roman-era ruins and was once one of Syria’s top tourist destinations. It had been in the hands of militants from IS group since May.

Pats stifle Hurricanes offence: even series at one

Many Lethbridge Hurricanes fans were hoping for an encore performance Saturday night in Game 2 of the ‘Canes best-of-seven series with the Regina Pats. But, after scoring six goals in game one, the ‘Canes offence ran dry on Saturday night as the team lost 3-0.

“It was a tighter game tonight,” said Hurricanes Coach Brent Kisio. “When teams lose they usually come out a little more desperate, and we’re still learning to try and get our killer instinct.”

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The teams were scoreless through the first period, thanks in large part to Regina Pats goaltender Tyler Brown. He was shaky in Game 1 of the series, but made two huge breakaway stops on Carter Folk, and Riley Lindgren to keep the game scoreless through 20 minutes. Outside of those two plays, Lethbridge struggled to generate any significant scoring opportunities.

“I thought we battled a lot harder in our zone defensively tonight then we did last night,” said Regina Pats Coach John Paddock. “We were just much more sound in our own end.”

Regina opened the scoring in the second period when Adam Brooks took a pass from behind the net, waited for Stuart Skinner to go down, then put it upstairs. Brooks, who led the WHL in scoring in the regular season, had three points Friday night, and was every bit as dangerous Saturday night.

The star forward continued to pressure the ‘Canes in the third period. Austin Wagner hit Brooks on a quick feed to send him in on a breakaway and he made no mistake, snapping one past Skinner to make it 2-0 Regina.

“He’s (Adam Brooks) been a challenge to every team he’s played this year,” said Kisio. “That’s why he was the top scorer in the league. We have to do a better job of watching him. Usually with good players it’s time and space and being aware whenever they’re on the ice.”

Sam Steel sealed the Hurricanes’ fate in the final minutes when he added an empty net goal to make it  3-0 Regina. The Pats stifled the Hurricanes offence, limiting them to just 27 shots in the game; a rarity for a team that finished second in the WHL in scoring in the regular season. Hurricanes Captain Tyler Wong believes the lack of offence is more on his teams execution than the Pats’ strong defensive play.

“I don’t think it was them,” said Hurricanes Captain Tyler Wong. “I think we got away from what we need to do to be successful. It’s just going to come down to us supporting each other better. I’m not worried about our offence. This goalie, I think he’s beatable.”

The Hurricanes and Pats are off Sunday and Monday, but meet for Game 3 of the series Tuesday night in Regina.

Endless construction at Vancouver property a nightmare for neighbours

Three floors up and with no balcony attached, neighbours of a Vancouver property under construction call it the sliding glass door to nowhere. It’s one feature on a townhouse development and heritage home restoration project in the West End, where work has been ongoing at a glacial pace for almost five years.

“It is a constant assault…dust, dirt and debris have been part of my reality for five years,” says neighbour Linda Rubuliak.

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Another neighbour, “Guy”, says from 7:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. six days a week, he’s subject to a “constant barrage of noise and disruption.”

“David”, who also lives nearby and did not want to give his full name for fear of retaliation by workers on the site, adds “the pounding and hammering of nail guns has been like a water torture. It’s never-ending.”

A development permit was approved for 1098 Nicola Street in September 2011. With four minor amendments approved in the years since, the work to restore the 1905 heritage house and add three townhouses has dragged on.

The site has been the subject of five WorkSafe BC orders —  from slipping and tripping hazards to protruding rebar — and three WorkSafe BC stop use orders for its scaffolding. In 2014, construction shut down for nearly two months after the City of Vancouver slapped the site with a stop work order. During that same year, the project’s original architect left.

Randy Helten of West End Neighbours says his group supports the preservation of heritage but suggests the City of Vancouver establish better systems to ensure construction activities do not drag on.

Rubuliak agrees.

“There should be development of a bylaw that sets reasonable limits on how long a developer can be doing this. Secondly, there needs to be really good monitoring,” she says.

The City of Vancouver says it has only received five complaints about the property since 2012 and as long as work is done within a six-month period, the building permit won’t lapse.

“I am very shocked that this can happen here and I’m not sure what role…the city is playing,” says neighbour Laura Aveledo.

The area’s NDP MLA, Spencer Chandra Herbert, says he’s heard from many frustrated people.

“I don’t think it’s acceptable to say you can just keep constructing for over five years. I don’t get it it. It makes no sense financially—it doesn’t work for the neighbourhood,” he says.

The City of Vancouver would not provide an interview to Global News, despite repeated requests, but when we caught up with Mayor Gregor Robertson at an event, he said: “We’re very mindful of minimizing the impact of construction in neighbourhoods and I’ll look into that case to find out the details.”

The project’s builder acknowledged there have been some delays but neither he nor the construction phase architect would discuss the reasons for the long construction timeline. Both said they’re doing their best to finish as soon as possible and are on track for completion by May 1.