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Harry Dunn: Anne Sacoolas extradition request rejected by US


Harry DunnImage copyright
Justice4Harry19

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Harry Dunn died in hospital after his motorbike was involved in a crash outside RAF Croughton

The US has turned down an extradition request for a woman who is to be charged with causing the death of teenage motorcyclist Harry Dunn.

Mr Dunn, 19, died after a crash in Northamptonshire in August which led to the suspect Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a US intelligence officer, leaving for the US under diplomatic immunity.

Family spokesman Radd Seiger said they had taken the news “in our stride”.

The Home Office said the decision appeared “to be a denial of justice”.

Extradition proceedings were launched earlier this month.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Seiger said the latest move had been “factored it into our planning and strategy”.

“The reality is that this administration, which we say is behaving lawlessly and taking a wrecking ball to one of the greatest alliances in the world, they won’t be around forever whereas that extradition request will be,” he added.

“We will simply plot and plan for a reasonable administration to come in one day and to reverse this decision.”

‘Highly inappropriate’

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo turned down the extradition request in an email to the UK Government on Thursday evening.

Washington said granting the request would “render the invocation of diplomatic immunity a practical nullity”.

The family’s constituency MP Andrea Leadsom is due to meet the US ambassador Woody Johnson in London later to discuss the case.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously said the chance of Ms Sacoolas, who is to be charged with causing the death by dangerous driving, ever returning to the UK was very low.

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Aiken Standard Archive

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Anne Sacoolas pictured on her wedding day in 2003

Mr Seiger said “no reason” was given by Mr Pompeo in rejecting the extradition request.

“It’s one of the darkest days in the history of this special relationship,” he said.

“Boris Johnson wanted to be prime minister, he is now being tested severely.

“I expect him today to rise to that challenge and come and meet with me and the family and tell us what he’s going to do about it.”

Mr Dunn died after his motorbike was in collision with a car owned by Mrs Sacoolas.

The crash happened outside RAF Croughton where Mrs Sacoolas’ husband Jonathan worked as an intelligence officer.

The 42-year-old left the UK and returned to her native US, claiming diplomatic immunity.

In a statement released on behalf of the suspect after she was charged in December, Mrs Sacoolas’s lawyers said: “Anne will not return voluntarily to the United Kingdom to face a potential jail sentence for what was a terrible but unintentional accident.”

Image caption

Harry Dunn’s mother Charlotte Charles is expected to be react fully to the news on Friday

The Home Office said it was “disappointed in this decision which appears to be a denial of justice”.

“We are urgently considering our options,” a spokeswoman added.

A statement from the US State Department said: “At the time the accident occurred, and for the duration of her stay in the UK, the US citizen driver in this case had immunity from criminal jurisdiction.

“If the United States were to grant the UK’s extradition request, it would render the invocation of diplomatic immunity a practical nullity and would set an extraordinarily troubling precedent.”



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Canada slips out of list of world’s ten least-corrupt countries after SNC-Lavalin scandal


Canada slid to its lowest level in at least a decade on a global index of corruption, driven down by the SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. scandal, a new report shows.

The country was ranked 12th of 180 countries on Berlin-based Transparency International’s 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index, an annual worldwide list from least corrupt country to worst issued Thursday. Canada ranked ninth in 2018 and sixth in 2010.

While Canada had the best score in the Americas – 77 out of 100 —, the country has slipped four points since last year and 12 points since 2010, the data shows.

“A former executive of construction company SNC-Lavalin was convicted in December over bribes the company paid in Libya,” Transparency International said in the report. “Our research shows that enforcement of foreign bribery laws among OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ) countries is shockingly low,” it said, referring to a group of 36 countries sometimes called the rich nations club.

Denmark and New Zealand co-led the index, emerging as the world’s least corrupt states with scores of 87, while Somalia had the worst score at nine, followed by war-torn nations South Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The U.S. ranked 23rd and the U.K. tied with Canada, Australia and Austria.

The corruption index is among a handful of indicators — such as the Washington, D.C.-based World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking that measures red tape in countries, and the United Nations’ Human Development Index that assesses lifespan, education and income — that give snapshots of a country’s performance. They can help influence foreign policy and even debt ratings.

The report didn’t specifically mention the political realm of the SNC-Lavalin scandal, and how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was criticized by Parliament’s Ethics Commissioner for improperly influencing then-Minister of Justice and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to intervene in the bribery case facing the Montreal-based company. Wilson-Raybould later resigned from her posts and Trudeau expelled her from the Liberal party caucus.

“The controversy surrounding the attorney general, the governing party and the allegations of influence — another word for influence is corruption — that has to play into the index, and it should,” Len Brooks, associate professor of business ethics at University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, said by phone.

Trudeau said he wanted SNC-Lavalin to face a deferred prosecution agreement — essentially a fine negotiated with a judge instead of a criminal trial — because it would help save jobs that might be put at risk from lost contracts after a criminal conviction. A bribery conviction could ban a company from federal contracts for a decade under government law and also risk contracts linked to the World Bank.

Last month, the Court of Quebec ordered SNC-Lavalin to pay a $280-million fine over five years, with three years of probation, in what appeared to be a break for the company. The RCMP had charged the builder with fraud and bribing Libyan officials in Moammar Gadhafi’s regime with $48 million from 2001 to 2011 to secure contracts.

Brooks said Canada still has work to do on corruption issues, such as stamping out the paying-for-access to politicians, a trend that Transparency International cited as affecting many countries along with concerns over conflicts of interest, preferential treatment, electoral integrity, lobbying activities and civil liberties.

“The work around pipelines and Indigenous groups — there’s all kinds of stuff that comes up there,” said Brooks, who noted Canada’s score would barely earn a B+ at Rotman. “Certainly arguments can be made that we’re not recognizing certain groups of people as best we should.”

Financial Post

• Email: [email protected]



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Madagascar floods kill at least 12 people, with more missing


ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) – Floods across the island of Madagascar has killed at least 12 people this week, with 18 missing, after unseasonably heavy rain, the national disaster office said on Thursday.

Parts of Africa have experienced heavy rain in recent months because the Indian Ocean is warmer than usual, partly as result of a cyclical weather phenomenon and partly because oceans are warming everywhere.

Floods, landslides and a cyclone killed more than 1,200 people across East and Southern Africa last year, according to a Save the Children count based on U.N. and government figures.

Flooding also displaced nearly half a million people in Southern Sudan, 200,000 in Ethiopia and at least 370,000 in Somalia last year, the United Nations said.

(Reporting by Lovasoa Rabary; Writing by Duncan Miriri; editing by Nick Macfie)



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Davos 2020: Javid, Merkel and Soros in spotlight – business live | Business






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Man ordered to perform contract for sale of lands where he lives in Co Dublin


A man has been ordered to perform a contract for the €460,000 sale of lands in Co Dublin where he lives in a house with his partner and father.

The Court of Appeal on Wednesday upheld a High Court order directing specific performance of the 2014 contract executed by Gavin Crowley concerning lands at Newbarn, Kilsallaghan.

In circumstances including that Mr Crowley has a debt of some €1 million to Start Mortgages, the High Court had not erred in refusing to award damages in lieu of specific performance, it held. On the application of David Allen BL, for Brian Leggett, purchaser of the lands, it lifted a stay imposed by the High Court, pending appeal, on the specific performance order.

Giving the Court of Appeal judgment, Ms Justice Caroline Costello said Mr Crowley, a builder, bought the lands in 2002 and constructed a house there. He later provided the property as security for loan facilities advanced to him by Bank of Scotland(Ireland) in 2006 and 2008. After he experienced financial difficulties and defaulted on his loan obligations, the bank demanded repayment of almost €1 million.

In late 2012, after the bank sought possession, Mr Crowley’s solicitors advised the property was for sale. Mr Leggett, who was anxious to buy a home for his family, viewed the property twice and a purchase price of €460,000 was agreed.

A contract for sale was executed about February 24th/25th 2014 with a closing date of March 4th, 2014. After Mr Crowley failed to complete that sale, Mr Leggett issued proceedings for specific performance.

In opposing those, Mr Crowley alleged the contract was illegal and unenforceable because he and Mr Leggett had allegedly agreed on a €65,000 “under the table” cash payment along with the purchase price, thereby under-declaring the stamp duty payable. He also alleged there was a boundary dispute and his house was partly constructed on lands of an adjoining owner in respect of which there were outstanding proceedings.

He further alleged he and his father would suffer hardship for reasons including his father would get no compensation for sums advanced to help Mr Crowley buy the lands in 2002.

The High Court’s Mr Justice Tony O’Connor rejected the claim of an under the counter payment rendering the contract illegal and unenforceable, a finding which was not appealed. He also dismissed the other grounds of defence.

Ms Justice Costello noted trespass proceedings by an adjoining landowner against Mr Crowley were adjourned generally in July 2006 with no further steps taken although a notice of intention to proceed was served in 2012. Mr Crowley had previously specifically confirmed there was no litigation pending or threatened concerning the property and no boundary dispute regarding it, she said.

The High Court accepted Mr Leggett’s evidence he only became aware in 2017 of a possible boundary dispute. It concluded there was no evidence of a continuing dispute in relation to the boundary or alleged trespass and Mr Leggett was aware of the risk in that regard. Ms Justice Costello said a purchaser can elect to take whatever title the vendor has to give. Hardship was never pleaded in advance of the trial and no case was made Mr Crowley and his partner and father will have nowhere else to live, she said.

The High Court had not erred in refusing to order specific performance on the basis of Mr Crowley’s claim he had to sell his family home by reason of his indebtedness and this amounted to hardship.

The High Court finding Mr Crowley had entered the contract willingly was binding on the Court of Appeal, she added.

Mr Crowley was registered as sole owner of the folio and no case was made out of hardship in respect of the father, she held. Mr Crowley had entered into a “binding and enforceable” contract for sale and the purchaser was “entitled to what he bargained for”.



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Number of bites, deaths has dropped in US, world


  • 64 unprovoked shark attacks were reported around the globe, which was down from the average of 82.
  • Sharks killed two people in 2019, which is below the average of four.
  • As usual, the U.S. led the world in shark attacks, with 41.

Shark attacks were down again both in the U.S. and worldwide in 2019, according to a report released Tuesday.

Last year, 64 unprovoked shark attacks were reported around the globe, down from the average of 82, according to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File.

As for deaths, sharks killed two people in 2019, which is below the average of four. 

Last year marked the second straight year shark attacks were well below average: There were only 62 attacks worldwide in 2018.

“We’ve had back-to-back years with unusual decreases in shark attacks, and we know that people aren’t spending less time in the water,” said Gavin Naylor, director of the Florida Museum of Natural History’s shark research program, in a statement. “This suggests sharks aren’t frequenting the same places they have in the past. But it’s too early to say this is the new normal.”

Researchers at the International Shark Attack File track “unprovoked” attacks, which are defined as incidents in which an attack on a live human occurs in the shark’s natural habitat with no human provocation.

Shark attacks:How to avoid them and whether shark repellents really work

Where do shark attacks happen?

One of the two fatal unprovoked shark attacks was near Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, and the other was in the Bahamas.

In the U.S., on average, one person dies each year from a shark attack.

Humans kill about 100 million sharks and rays each year. Most are killed by commercial fishermen for their fins and flesh.



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‘We need to do this.’ On the picket lines with Liz Stuart, head of the Catholic teachers’ union


On a day of massive strike action, Education Minister Stephen Lecce and Catholic teachers’ union chief Liz Stuart spoke to the Star separately, but jointly share their frustrations.

It was just before dawn on Tuesday, as Liz Stuart zipped up her parka and pulled on her boots, that the enormity of what was coming suddenly hit her.

The head of Ontario’s Catholic teachers’ union had spent several “frustrating” months at the negotiating table trying to hammer out a deal with the province and was about to witness the impact of those failed talks as she joined members on the picket line for the first time.

“It really kind of hit at 5 a.m. as I was getting myself ready, making sure I had my thermals on and making sure I was good to go,” she told the Star Tuesday, when all Catholic schools in Ontario closed, along with elementary and secondary schools in various boards.

“You realize, ‘This is it. We’re going to do this.’ Yeah, there was a moment’s pause. But we’re ready … We need to do this.”

At Chaminade College School — the first picket line the president of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association visited — seeing teachers there lifted her spirits and reinforced her resolve.

“They’re in the trenches everyday in the classroom,” said Stuart, who was warmly greeted by teachers, chanting “Cuts Hurt kids” and waving protest signs while drivers passing by honked in support.

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath delivers snacks to teachers on the picket line outside Our Lady Of Lourdes Catholic School on Sherbourne Street Tuesday.

“It’s really good to come out here and connect with them and see them all out here saying, ‘Yes, we need to fight this,’” she said. “Now I really know we’re on the right track.”

It’s a track that has put OECTA, and the province’s other three teachers’ unions — representing public elementary and secondary teachers as well as the French school boards — on a collision course with the province. All the unions have launched work-to-rule campaigns and three scheduled one-day strikes this week involving tens of thousands of teachers.

In Toronto, public elementary teachers went on strike Monday, followed by public high school teachers on Tuesday.

At Chaminade high school, located near Jane Street and Highway 401, strike captain Anthony Perrotta hit the picket line for the first time in his 15-year career and planned to picket in the afternoon with his two children outside their elementary school.

“I feel completely empowered as an active citizen and an advocate for publicly funded education,” said Perrotta, who lives in King-Vaughan riding represented by Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

The unions want to protect full-day kindergarten, to receive a cost-of-living raise of about 2 per cent and are opposed to the province’s plan to boost class sizes and introduce mandatory online courses in high school. The government maintains the sticking point is salary, noting it’s offering a 1 per cent increase yearly, which is in line with recent legislation limiting public sector wage increases.

At Chaminade College School, school strike captain Anthony Perrotta hit the picket line for the first time in his 15-year career on Tuesday.

During a wide-ranging interview on the biggest day of action for her members since 1997 — teachers province-wide walked off the job then for two weeks despite not being in a legal strike position — Stuart spoke about the last few months, describing them as a “roller coaster.”

While ministers don’t sit in on negotiations, Stuart isn’t sure whether it would even make a difference to have Lecce there.

“We strongly believe that the mandate, ultimately, is going to come from the minister of finance, the treasury board president and the premier — we believe that’s where the stumbling block is,” she said. “We’ve been clearly told that the goal of the government is to find permanent savings in education. And that couldn’t possibly be the goal of the minister of education, who consistently talks about how he’s in it for the kids.”

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Stuart said she last spoke with Lecce in September. “He talked extensively about how much he valued teachers, how much he wants to retain good teachers, about making sure that students have what they need. But nothing he does demonstrates that.”

At another picket — Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School on Sherbourne Street near Wellesley Street East — Ontario’s NDP Leader Andrea Horwath dropped by with muffins and urged the government to “get back to bargaining.”

Teachers picket outside Our Lady Of Lourdes Catholic School on Sherbourne Street on Tuesday during a day of massive labour unrest in the education sector.

Stuart said arriving at the “difficult” decision to proceed with the one-day strike was the toughest moment in recent months. She recalls hitting the picket lines, taking along her two kids in strollers, during the 1997 strike when teachers across Ontario protested the education reforms of Bill 160.

“I remember that sense of anxiety. I knew it was the right thing to do, but I still had a family to feed,” said Stuart. “For any leader, even when you know that you’ve got the support and the mandate of your members, you think long and hard about the fact that 45,000 people (OECTA members) are out on a picket line today … That gives everybody pause.

“It’s about recognizing that people are going to make sacrifices, some more than others. And it’s about recognizing that we’re asking parents, some of whom I know are precariously employed themselves, to make a sacrifice today. And you don’t do any of that lightly.”

Isabel Teotonio





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Schiff: Trump ‘Guilty’ if Senate Rejects Democrats’ Demand for New Witnesses, Evidence



WASHINGTON, DC — House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) argued on Tuesday that a refusal by the Senate to agree to Democrats’ demand to allow new witnesses and evidence in the impeachment trial without a vote would deem President Donald Trump guilty regardless of the verdict.

In other words, if the Republican-led Senate does not carry out the impeachment trial the way the Democrats want it to, Trump will be considered guilty even if the upper chamber acquits him. A guilty verdict in the Senate would remove Trump from office.

Schiff told reporters:

If the Senate and the senate leadership … will not allow the calling of witnesses or the presentation of documents, If [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell makes this the first impeachment trial in history without witnesses or documents, it will not prove the president innocent. It will merely prove the Senate guilty of working with the president to obstruct the truth from coming out, so I do think that by structuring the trial this way, it furthers our case that what’s going on here really is a cover-up of evidence to the American people.

While McConnell says his newly unveiled resolution outlining the rules that will govern the Senate trial makes the process fair, Schiff argues otherwise, saying the guidelines “make it impossible to hear a fair trial.”

The Senate, nevertheless, is expected to approve the resolution.

Speaking from the Senate’s floor on Tuesday, McConnell noted that the resolution that lays out the rules for how Senators will carry out the impeachment trial allows for a vote on whether both parties can introduce new evidence and witnesses.

McConnell made it clear that he will not pre-commit to allowing new evidence before hearing the Democrats’ arguments for convicting Trump. Moreover, he acknowledged that no one pushed the House’s hand to rush the impeachment inquiry, noting that they could have waited for more evidence if they thought it necessary.

McConnell stressed that the GOP-led Senate would not do the Democrat-controlled House’s investigation.

Key congressmen have recently threatened to call new witnesses to testify in the House if the Senate does take their deposition. They have also said they are continuing with their impeachment inquiry. Their comments came after House Democrats transmitted the two articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — to the Senate, a move that is supposed to end the House’s role in the impeachment process.



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Gemma Atkinson furious at baby Mia’s first word after her ‘traumatic labour’


Gemma Atkinson has revealed what her baby daughter Mia’s first word was today – and she is fuming.

The 35-year-old shares Mia with her husband and former Strictly partner Gorka Marquez.

Mia was born in May 2019, and said her first word today – but it wasn’t what former Emmerdale actress Gemma hoped.

Taking to her Instagram stories, she said: “I carried her, I had a kidney infection with her around seven months, and was taken to A&E.

“I had an achey back, swollen feet, quite a traumatic birth.

“Followed by a hemorrhage.

The actress, 35, is focusing on being a new mum to baby Mia

“This morning the first thing she starts saying….’Dadadada.'”

She mocked Mia jokingly as she pretended to rage that Mia’s first word wasn’t “mama”, pointing the camera to a very smug looking Gorka.

“Now I know ‘dadada’ is easier than ‘mamama’ but COME ON MIA.

Gemma Atkinson and partner Gorka Marquez welcomed their daughter Mia last year

“COME ON”, she ranted.

Meanwhile Gorka raised his arms at the camera in triumph as he celebrated his daughter’s tribute to him.

Gemma recently shared a hilarious mishap regarding Mia, as she pined for her holiday in Greece.

Alongside a photo with Gorka as they cuddled up on the stunning beach, she wrote: “When you wish you were back in Greece but the reality is it’s Monday and Mia’s poo went up her back”.


Emmerdale fans have been asking for the actress to make a come back to the soap as character Carly Hope, a role she left in 2017.

However, Emmerdale viewers will be sad to learn that Gemma has said she will not be returning to the Dales any time soon.

The actress, 35, is focusing on her radio show in Manchester as well as being a new mum to baby Mia.


She told the Daily Star Sunday : “I love Emmerdale. It’s a great show. But going back would mean doing a commute to Leeds, doing 12 hours of filming and then going back again.

“So I wouldn’t see Mia.”

She added: “People keep messaging me saying I should go back to save Marlon, but I can’t go back at the moment.”

Gorka and Gemma were out of breath after a gruelling workout together

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She added: “I’m really enjoying my radio show at the moment. I get to work on my doorstep and it’s very short hours.

“That means I can be at home with my daughter. I could maybe do a couple of episodes at Emmerdale, but I can’t go back long-term.”

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Calgary students battle Islamophobia during Islam Awareness Week – Calgary


Students at Mount Royal University in Calgary are fighting Islamophobia by educating themselves and others about Islam.

It’s all part of United Islam Awareness Week, an event that runs from Jan. 20 to 24 and is designed to dispel Islamophobia.

The Muslim Student Affiliations, an on-campus group for Islamic students, is marking UIAW by hosting a speaker series featuring scholars with real-life experiences dealing with racism.


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Dilly Hussain, the deputy editor of Muslim news website 5 Pillars, was the first speaker of MRU’s weeklong series.

Hussain said he has seen a rise in Islamophobia in Europe and the United States, and hopes more people start having tough conversations about religious differences.

“If there is a growing sentiment among non-Muslims in the Western world that Muslims believe in x, y and z or they find certain rituals or beliefs problematic or in contradiction with secular liberal values, then we need to have that conversation,” said Hussain.

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He said his presentation on Monday night focused on Muslims becoming more vocal, especially during tenuous political times.

“The situation isn’t getting any better,” Hussain said. “So the best thing to do is not to become shelled inside. You actually need to be out there and engaged.”

Lectures on combating Islamophobia run through the week at MRU’s Jenkins Theatre at 6:30 p.m. Upcoming topics include “Quran Burning Doubt” and “Is Jihad Lit.”




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