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Fri, 29 Sep 2023
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First Nations meeting with prime minister thrown into disarray

A meeting between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Assembly of First Nations chiefs is in question amid demands that the Governor General be present at the gathering.

Questions over who will attend the meeting - and new demands about where it should be held - created confusion on the eve of the gathering called to discuss concerns about the relationship between the federal government and First Nations.

Chiefs gathered at a meeting at the Delta hotel in Ottawa on Thursday evening, with some saying they will attend the meeting with the prime minister, but "many" saying they won't, Evan Solomon, host of CBC News Network's Power & Politics, reported via Twitter.

"The meeting is up in the air," another Solomon tweet said at about 9:30 p.m. ET

As chief after chief got up to announce support for Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence's stance that the Governor General must attend, Atleo eventually took the microphone to plea for unity. He admitted he had made mistakes and that the membership of the Assembly of First Nations was divided. What he left unsaid was whether any meeting with Harper would take place at all, or how he would proceed.

"This is not a perfect organization and I am not a perfect person. I accept a share of responsibility and I have responded to criticisms from last January," Atleo told a rowdy crowded room of chiefs and delegates.

"We need to continue to stand united - chiefs, delegates.... If we are to be divided at a moment like this, the governments will see that."


India gang-rape suspects beaten by police, lawyer says

Manohar Lal Sharma
© Saurabh Das/Associated Press
Manohar Lal Sharma, lawyer for one of the accused, speaks to journalists outside the Saket district court complex where the accused in a gang rape are to be tried, in New Delhi on Thursday.
Lawyer accuses officials of 'manipulated evidence' in bringing charges.

Police badly beat the five suspects arrested in the brutal gang rape and killing of a young woman on a New Delhi bus, the lawyer for one of the men said today, accusing authorities of tampering with evidence in the case that has transfixed India.

"They are innocent," Manohar Lal Sharma said of the five suspects ahead of a court hearing, which ended quickly after it turned out some of the official court paperwork listing the charges was illegible. He said police have beaten the men and placed other prisoners into the suspects' cells to threaten them with knives, adding, "You can't believe the reality of Indian prisons."

Five men have been charged with attacking the 23-year-old woman and a male friend on a bus as it was driven through the streets of India's capital. The woman was raped and assaulted with a metal bar on Dec. 16 and eventually died of her injuries. Rape victims are not identified in India, even if they die, and rape trials are closed to the media.

Sharma, who has made a series of inflammatory and often-contradictory statements over the past two days, at one point Thursday said the dead woman's male companion, who boarded the bus with her after the pair saw a movie together, was "responsible for the whole thing." He gave no details, though, and a few hours later said the man's responsibility "was only my opinion."

The case has sparked protests across India by women and men who say India's legal system doesn't do enough to prevent attacks on women. Women have told stories of relentless abuse - from catcalls to bus gropings to rapes - and of a police and judicial system that does little to stop it, often blaming victims' unchaste behaviour.


Six dead in Philippines hotel fire

Philippines flag
© Alamy
Manila, Philippines - A fire swept through three adjacent hotels in a Philippine resort city early Friday, killing three American retirees, one South Korean and two Filipino women, authorities said.

One of the Americans was trapped on a staircase and the two others died in separate rooms in Olongapo city, a former U.S. naval base west of the capital, Manila, said disaster response official Angelito Layug.

The blaze hit a row of the small hotel buildings that are located next to each other at 3 a.m. and was put out three hours later, he said.

The cause of the fire was under investigation, and it was not clear if anyone else was hurt.

Olongapo is close to the capital and a popular beach destination, especially among American visitors, many of whom are former service members who were deployed there when the coastal city hosted one of the largest U.S. bases overseas. The base closed in 1991.

The victims' identities were not immediately available.

Heart - Black

Alleged deathbed intrusion triggers lawsuit

A former Vernal resident has filed a lawsuit against the city claiming that local police officers invaded his home during an intimate time of mourning.

Ben D. Mahaffey filed the complaint saying officers made a warrantless drug search of his home moments after his wife's death.

Represented by attorney Andrew Fackrell, Mahaffey filed a federal suit in the U.S. District Court of Utah last week.

Barbara Alice Proud Mahaffey died of colon cancer on May 21, 2012, with her husband by her side in their Vernal home.

While waiting for the coroner, Mahaffey's grief was interrupted by two Vernal police officers, who "insisted that (Mahaffey) abandon his attendance to his wife's body and aid them in their search for prescription drugs," cites the complaint.

Once secured, the officers proceeded to inventory the drugs in the same room as the woman's body, further intruding upon Mahaffey's seclusion, says the suit.

Snakes in Suits

Jerry Sandusky's attorneys seek new trial for ex-Penn State coach

Jerry Sandusky
© Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press
Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky arrives at Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa. His lawyers are seeking a new trial.
Jerry Sandusky's lawyers argued Thursday that the former Penn State assistant football coach should receive a new trial because they didn't have time to properly prepare for his child molestation trial.

Sandusky's attorney told a court hearing that the defense was overburdened by more than 10,000 pages of documents.

"We felt we didn't have nearly sufficient time to review these materials the way we needed to," Joe Amendola said, according to the Allentown Morning Call.

Sandusky's lawyers also argued that Judge John Cleland should have instructed jurors about the long lag time between the alleged abuse and when the accusers came forward, the Associated Press reported.

Sandusky, 68, was convicted in June of sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years. Some of the attacks took place in the showers of Penn State University's football training facility.


Group says more cops in schools not the answer

© The Associated Press/Steve Hanks
In the wake of last month's Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, many educators and school-safety advocates are pushing for an increased armed presence in schools.
  • Students in Los Angeles this week saw the first patrols by uniformed officers, newly assigned to every school.
  • In Newtown, Conn., a few parents say the sight of uniformed officers is a comfort to children. Superintendent Janet Robinson has said she wants the police presence to continue.

But a few advocates for children aren't sold on the idea.

The Advancement Project, a Washington, D.C.-based civil rights group, has long complained that armed officers in schools actually make safety worse for many kids, making it more likely that they'll end up in trouble with the law. The group on Friday will propose that schools develop long-term safety plans and invest funding that would otherwise go to more police into conflict resolution and better access to mental health services for students.

"No more money should be thrown at police," Advancement Project co-Director Judith Browne-Dianis said.


Lisa Biron, New Hampshire lawyer with ties to conservative Christian group, arrested on child pornography charges

gavel justice
© iStockphoto
Concord - Lisa Biron, a New Hampshire lawyer associated with coalition of Christian lawyers, was arrested on federal child pornography charges after investigators say she took a teenager to Canada where she allegedly convinced the girl to engage in sexual activity and let it be filmed, reports the Concord Monitor.

Biron, 43, was arrested by FBI agents on Nov. 16 and charged with seven counts of child exploitation, including transporting a child for illegal sexual conduct. She was also charged with manufacturing and possessing child pornography.

Biron will be held without bail until her trial, which is scheduled to begin Jan. 8.


Judge strikes down smoking ban at parks and beaches

Sarasota, Florida - Sarasota County's prohibition on smoking is over, at least for the time being.

On Tuesday, County Commissioners were made aware by County Attorney Steve DeMarsh that the county could no longer enforce the ban at public owned parks and beaches, including Siesta Beach. The ban has been in place for several years.

"We were very disappointed," said Commissioner Christine Robinson. "Health and environmental concerns continue to remain a concern. Healthwise, we do not want people smoking around children. Many smokers will agree it does not belong in playgrounds and ballfields."

Bizarro Earth

The spiritual but not religious likely to face mental health issues, drug use, study says

Can being spiritual but not religious lead to mental health issues? The answer is yes, according to a recent study.

The study, published in the January edition of the British Journal of Psychiatry, says spiritual but not religious people, as opposed to people who are religious, agnostic or atheist, were more likely to develop a "mental disorder," "be dependent on drugs" and "have abnormal eating attitudes," like bulimia and anorexia.

"People who have spiritual beliefs outside of the context of any organized religion are more likely to suffer from these maladies," said Michael King, a professor at University College London and the head researcher on the project.

Thirty percent of respondents who identified as spiritual said they had used drugs, a number that was nearly twice as much as the 16% of religious respondents who said they had used drugs, according to the study. Among the spiritual respondents, 5% said they were dependent on drugs, while 2% of religious respondents identified as dependent.

Comment: This is just more evidence that people are being forced to conform to specific profiles or else be branded mentally disabled, or to go just a little further, a terrorist. Don't stray too far outside the box or else you'll be labelled mentally sick. The fact is that people have been running away from organized religions for decades and forming their own individual opinions on spirituality, and who can blame them with the evidence of pedophilia and corruption within organized religion. Evidently the powers that be are afraid of people abandoning this form of control. So now we have this "official study" by "experts" who claim that such thinking is evidence of mental disorder. Thought control in action.


French Muslims join opposition to same-sex marriage

© Thibault Camus / AP
Young people in Paris march against same-sex marriage during a Nov. 18 protest organized by the fundamentalist Christian group Civitas Institute. French Muslims are joining the opposition.
French Muslims have begun joining a mostly Catholic-led movement against same-sex marriage, widening opposition to the reform that the Socialist-led government is set to write into the law by June.

Fifty Muslim activists issued an open letter on Monday urging fellow Muslims to join a major Paris protest against the law on Sunday. That followed a similar appeal last Saturday by the influential Union of French Islamic Organisations (UOIF).

Leaders of almost all main faiths in France have spoken out against the law, but not called on their followers to march in Sunday's demonstration to avoid giving the opposition campaign an overly religious tone.

President Francois Hollande and his government clashed with the Catholic Church last weekend, telling Catholic schools not to discuss the law with their pupils and urging state education officials to report anti-gay discussions at Catholic schools.