TPM World News

LIESTAL, Switzerland (AP) — A 104-year-old Australian biologist who drew international attention to his right-to-die case ended his life in Switzerland on Thursday, an advocacy group said.

Philip Nitschke, director of Exit International, said David Goodall was declared dead at 12:30 p.m. in Liestal, a town outside the city of Basel, where he had traveled to take advantage of Switzerland’s assisted-suicide laws.

“My life has been rather poor for the last year or so. And I’m very happy to end it,” Goodall said Thursday in the room where he later died.

The British-born scientist said this week that he had been contemplating the idea of suicide for about 20 years, but only started thinking about it for himself after his quality of life deteriorated over the last year.

He cited a lack of mobility, doctor’s restrictions and an Australian law prohibiting him from taking his own life among his complaints, but he was not ill.

Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, but frowned upon by many doctors and some others who say it should be reserved for the terminally ill. Goodall’s supporters want the practice to be more accepted as a legitimate choice for elderly people in sound mind.

Hundreds of people — some far more frail than Goodall, who used a wheelchair — travel to Switzerland every year to take their lives. The best-known group to help foreigners end their days in the Alpine country is Dignitas, but others include Life Circle in Basel, Goodall’s choice.

Goodall took his life with an intravenous drip of pentobarbital, a chemical often used as an anesthetic but which is lethal in excessive doses. A doctor put a cannula in his arm, and Goodall turned a wheel to allow the solution to flow, Exit International said.

Nitschke said that, before activating the drip, Goodall had to answer “several questions so he knew who he was, where he was and what he was about to do.”

“He answered those questions with great clarity, activated the process” while Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony played in the background, he added.

His last words before losing consciousness were “this is taking an awfully long time,” Nitschke said, but “he died shortly thereafter.”

Exit International said Goodall had requested that his body be donated to medicine, or his ashes sprinkled locally.

“He wishes to have no funeral, no remembrance service or ceremony,” the group said in a statement. “David has no belief in the afterlife.”

The Swiss federal statistics office says the number of assisted suicides has been growing fast: Nine years ago, there were 297. By 2015, the most recent year tabulated, the figure had more than tripled to 965. Nearly 15 percent of the cases last year were people under 65 years old.

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JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli military on Thursday said it attacked nearly all of Iran’s military installations in neighboring Syria in response to an Iranian rocket barrage on Israeli positions in the occupied Golan Heights, in the most serious military confrontation between the two bitter enemies to date.

Israel said the targets of the strikes, its largest in Syria since the 1973 war, included weapons storage, logistics sites and intelligence centers used by elite Iranian forces in Syria. It also said it destroyed several Syrian air-defense systems after coming under heavy fire and that none of its warplanes were hit.

Iranian media described the attacks as “unprecedented,” but there was no official Iranian comment on Israel’s claims.

Israel has acknowledged carrying out over 100 airstrikes in neighboring Syria since the civil war erupted in 2011, most believed to be aimed at suspected Iranian weapons shipments bound for the Hezbollah militant group.

But in the past few weeks, Israel has shifted to a more direct and public confrontation with Iran, striking at Iranian bases, weapons depots and rocket launchers across Syria, and killing Iranian troops. Israel accuses Tehran of seeking to establish a foothold on its doorstep. Iran has vowed to retaliate.

Reflecting the scope of the overnight attacks, Russia’s military said 28 Israeli jets were involved, striking at several Iranian and government sites in Syria with 70 missiles. It said half of the missiles were shot down.

Speaking at the Herzliya Conference, an annual security gathering north of Tel Aviv, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel would response fiercely to any further Iranian actions.

“We will not let Iran turn Syria into a forward base against Israel,” he said. “We, of course, struck almost all the Iranian infrastructure in Syria, and they need to remember this arrogance of theirs. If we get rain, they’ll get a flood. I hope that we ended this chapter and that everyone understood.”

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which closely monitors the civil war through sources inside Syria, said the overnight Israeli attacks struck several military posts for Syrian troops and Iranian-backed militias near the capital, Damascus, in central Syria and in southern Syria. The Observatory said the attacks killed 23 fighters, including five Syrian soldiers. It said it was not immediately clear if Iranians were among those killed.

An Iranian state television presenter announced the Israeli strikes, sourcing the information to Syria’s state-run SANA news agency. The broadcaster described the Israeli attack as “unprecedented” since the 1967 Mideast war.

Israel captured the Golan Heights in the 1967 war, annexing it in 1981 in a move not recognized internationally. In 1974, Israel and Syria reached a cease-fire and a disengagement deal that froze the conflict lines with the plateau in Israeli hands.

Damascus shook with sounds of explosions just before dawn, and firing by Syrian air defenses over the city was heard for more than five hours. Syria’s state news agency SANA said Israeli missiles hit air defense positions, radar stations and a weapons warehouse, but claimed most incoming rockets were intercepted.

Russia sent forces to Syria to back President Bashar Assad in 2015. But Israel and Russia have maintained close communications to prevent their air forces from coming into conflict. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to Moscow on Wednesday to meet with President Vladimir Putin and discuss military coordination in Syria.

Israel said early Thursday that Iran’s Quds Force fired 20 rockets at Israeli front-line military positions in the Golan Heights. Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, said four of the rockets were intercepted, while the others fell short of their targets. The incoming attack set off air raid sirens in the Golan.

Conricus said Israel was not looking to escalate the situation but that troops will continue to be on “very high alert.”

“Should there be another Iranian attack, we will be prepared for it,” he said.
It is believed to be the first time in decades that such firepower from Syria has been directed at Israeli forces in the Golan Heights.

Iran’s ability to hit back further could be limited. Its resources in Syria pale in comparison to the high-tech Israeli military and it could also be wary of military entanglement at a time when it is trying to salvage the international nuclear deal.

Iran has sent thousands of troops to back Assad, and Israel fears that as the fighting nears an end, Iran and tens of thousands of Shiite militiamen will turn their focus to Israel.

Earlier this week, Syrian state media said Israel struck a military outpost near Damascus. The Observatory said the missiles targeted depots and rocket launchers that likely belonged to Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard, killing at least 15 people, eight of them Iranians.

Last month, an attack on Syria’s T4 air base in the central Homs province killed seven Iranian military personnel. On April 30, Israel was said to have struck government outposts in northern Syria, killing more than a dozen pro-government fighters, many of them Iranians.

Israel considers Iran to be its most bitter enemy, citing Iran’s hostile rhetoric, support for anti-Israel militant groups and development of long-range missiles. President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the international nuclear agreement with Iran, with strong support from Israel, has further raised tensions.

Israel and Iran have appeared to be on a collision course for months.

In February, Israel shot down what it said was an armed Iranian drone that entered Israeli airspace. Israel responded by attacking anti-aircraft positions in Syria, and an Israeli warplane was shot down during the battle.

But Thursday was the first time Israel openly acknowledged targeting Iran.

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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s president on Tuesday warned the country could face “some problems” ahead of President Donald Trump’s decision on whether to pull out of its nuclear deal with world powers.

Without directly naming Trump, Hassan Rouhani’s remarks at a petroleum conference in Tehran represented the first official Iranian comment on the U.S. president’s overnight tweet that he’d make an announcement on the deal Tuesday.

“It is possible that we will face some problems for two or three months, but we will pass through this,” Rouhani said.

Rouhani also stressed Iran wants to keep “working with the world and constructive engagement with the world.” That appeared to be a nod to Europe, which has struck a series of business deals with Iran since the landmark 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran likely hopes the European Union will pass laws to protect European firms from any potential U.S. sanctions.

Trump’s tweet came late on Monday night, meaning major newspapers across Iran missed the announcement for their front pages.

Iran’s state-run television broadcaster carried the announcement at 10 a.m. local time, and Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency also carried a report on it.

Overnight, Iran’s semi-official news agencies carried the news off Trump’s tweet, while others shared foreign media reports online.

Trump’s announcement, set for the 2 p.m. EST at the White House, will come after nightfall in Iran.

Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal imposed restrictions on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of most of the U.S. and international sanctions against Tehran.

However, the deal came with time limits and did not address Iran’s ballistic missile program or its regional policies. Trump has repeatedly pointed at that, while referring to the accord as the “worst deal ever.” However, proponents of the deal have said those time limits were to encourage more discussion with Iran in the future that could grow into addressing those other concerns.

Rouhani, shown smiling and addressing an audience at a table at the expo Tuesday, sought to show calm to Iranians. Meanwhile, Iran’s parliament speaker Ali Larijani reportedly said Trump pulling out of the deal would increase unity among Iranians. Iran’s Central Bank chief Valiollah Seif also tried to calm nerves, telling state television that the U.S. decisions “does not create a problem” for Iran’s economy.

However, many in Tehran and elsewhere in the country are worried about what Trump’s decision could mean for the country.

Already, the Iranian rial is trading on the black market at 66,000 to the dollar, despite the government-set rate being at 42,000 to $1. Many say they have not seen the benefits of the nuclear deal.

Iran’s poor economy and unemployment already sparked nationwide protests in December and January that saw at least 25 people killed and, reportedly, nearly 5,000 arrested.

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JERUSALEM (AP) — Jerusalem’s city hall says it has put up road signs pointing to the new U.S. Embassy, which is set to move to the contested city next week.

Mayor Nir Barkat placed the first signs on Monday in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood where the embassy is to be located. According to a picture sent by Barkat’s office, the white signs read “U.S. Embassy” in English, Hebrew and Arabic.

The new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem is to be opened on May 14 with a huge American delegation expected to attend, perhaps including President Donald Trump.

The embassy move comes after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last year, heightening Israeli-Palestinian tensions.

Israel claims the entire city as its eternal capital. The Palestinians seek the eastern sector as capital of their hoped-for state.

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MOSCOW (AP) — Vladimir Putin took the oath of office for his fourth term as Russian president on Monday, promising to pursue an economic agenda that would boost living standards across the country.

In a ceremony in an ornate Kremlin hall in Moscow, Putin said improving Russia’s economy following a recession partly linked to international sanctions would be a primary goal of his next six-year term.

“Now, we must use all existing possibilities, first of all for resolving internal urgent tasks of development, for economic and technological breakthroughs, for raising competitiveness in those spheres that determine the future,” he told thousands of guests standing in the elaborate Andreevsky Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace and two adjacent halls.

“A new quality of life, well-being, security and people’s health — that’s what’s primary today,” he said.

Although Putin has restored Russia’s prominence on the world stage through military actions, he has been criticized for inadequate efforts to diversify Russia’s economy away from its dependence on oil and gas exports and to develop the country’s manufacturing sector.

“Russia should be modern and dynamic, it should be ready to accept the call of the times,” he said.

In his speech, he made only brief reference to Russia’s international role, saying “Russia is a strong, active, influential participant in international life. The security and defense capability of the country is reliably ensured. We will give these matters the necessary constant attention.”

He acknowledged that the challenges facing Russia were formidable “but we all remember well that, for more than a thousand years of history, Russia has often faced epochs of turmoil and trials, and has always revived as a Phoenix, reached heights that others could not.”

Putin held onto the presidency in March’s election when he tallied 77 percent of the vote.

Putin has effectively been the leader of Russia for all of the 21st century. He stepped down from the presidency in 2008 because of term limits, but was named prime minister and continued to steer the country until he returned as president in 2012.

The ceremony Monday was covered in assiduous detail on state television, showing Putin working at his desk in his shirt sleeves, then donning a suit coat to begin a long walk through the corridors of the Kremlin’s Senate building, then boarding a limousine for a short drive to the Grand Kremlin Palace.

Thousands of guests stood in the three halls for the inauguration. One of the most prominent was former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who is now chairman of Russia’s state oil company Rosneft and one of the most prominent Western voices arguing for an end to sanctions against Russia.

Schroeder stood with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Putin prominently shook hands with him after the speech.

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GOYANG, South Korea (AP) — The leaders of North and South Korea played it safe Friday, repeating a previous vow to rid the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons but failing to provide any specific measures or forge a potential breakthrough on an issue that has captivated and terrified many since the rivals seemed on the verge of war last year.

In a sense, the vague joint statement produced by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in to achieve “a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula through complete denuclearization” kicks one of the world’s most pressing issues down the road to a much-anticipated summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump in coming weeks.

Even so, the Koreas’ historic summit Friday might be remembered as much for the sight of two men from nations with a deep and bitter history of acrimony holding each other’s hands and grinning from ear to ear after Kim walked over the border to greet Moon, and then both briefly stepped together into the North and back to the South.

Standing at a podium next to Moon after the talks ended, Kim faced a wall of cameras beaming his image live to the world and declared that the Koreas are “linked by blood as a family and compatriots who cannot live separately.”

What happened Friday must be seen in the context of the last year — when the United States, its ally South Korea and the North threatened and raged as the North unleashed a torrent of weapons tests — but also in light of the long, destructive history of the rival Koreas, who fought one of the 20th century’s bloodiest conflicts and even today occupy a divided peninsula that’s still technically in a state of war.

It marks a surreal, whiplash swing in relations for the countries, from nuclear threats and missile tests to intimations of peace and cooperation. Perhaps the change is best illustrated by geography: Kim and Moon’s historic handshake and a later 30-minute conversation at a footbridge on the border occurred only meters (feet) from the spot where a North Korean soldier fled south in a hail of gunfire months earlier, and within walking distance of where North Korean soldiers axe-murdered two U.S. soldiers in 1976.

The latest declaration between the Koreas, Kim said, should not repeat the “unfortunate history of past inter-Korean agreements that only reached the starting line” before becoming derailed.

Many will be judging the summit based on the weak nuclear language. North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests last year likely put it on the threshold of becoming a legitimate nuclear power. The North, which has spent decades doggedly building its bombs despite crippling sanctions and near-constant international opprobrium, claims it has already risen to that level.

But the Koreas made inroads on a raft of other points of friction between them. They agreed to settle their disagreement over their western maritime border by designating it as a peace area and securing fishing activities for both countries.

Moon agreed to visit Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, sometime in the autumn, and both leaders said they’d meet on a regular basis and exchange calls via a recently established hotline. They said they’d open a permanent communication office in the North Korean border town of Kaesong and resume temporary reunions of relatives separated by the 1950-53 Korean War. Both Koreas will also jointly push for talks with the United State and also potentially China to officially end the Korean War, which stopped in an armistice that never ended the war.

“I feel like I’m firing a flare at the starting line in the moment of (the two Koreas) writing a new history in North-South relations, peace and prosperity,” Kim told Moon as they sat at a table, which had been built so that exactly 2018 millimeters separated them, to begin their closed-door talks. Moon responded that there were high expectations that they produce an agreement that will be a “big gift to the entire Korean nation and every peace-loving person in the world.”

Kim acknowledged the widespread skepticism over their summit. “We have reached big agreements before but were unable to fulfill them. … There are skeptical views on whether the meeting today will yield meaningful results,” Kim said. “If we maintain a firm will and proceed forward hand in hand, it will be impossible at least for things to get worse than they are now.”

Kim, during their talks, joked that he would make sure not to interrupt Moon’s sleep anymore, a reference to the North’s drumbeat of early-morning missile tests last year, according to Moon’s spokesman, Yoon Young-chan. Kim also referred to a South Korean island that North Korea attacked with artillery in 2010, killing four, saying the residents of Yeonpyeong Island who have been living in fear of North Korean artillery have high hopes the summit will help heal past scars. Kim said he’d visit Seoul’s presidential Blue House if invited.

The historic greeting of the two leaders, which may be the images most remembered from the summit, was planned to the last detail, though the multiple border crossings may have been impromptu. As thousands of journalists, who were kept in a huge conference center well away from the summit, except for a small group of tightly controlled pool reporters at the border, waited and watched, Moon stood near the Koreas’ dividing line, moving forward the moment he glimpsed Kim, dressed in dark, Mao-style suit, appearing in front of a building on the northern side. They smiled broadly and shook hands with the border line between them. Moon then invited Kim to cross into the South, and, after Kim did so, Moon said, “You have crossed into the South, but when do I get to go across?” Kim replied, “Why don’t we go across now?” and then grasped Moon’s hand and led him into the North and then back into the South.

Moon then led Kim along a blindingly red carpet into South Korean territory, where two fifth-grade students from the Daesongdong Elementary School, the only South Korean school within the DMZ, greeted the leaders and gave Kim flowers. An honor guard stood at attention for inspection, a military band playing traditional Korean folk songs beloved by both Koreas and the South Korean equivalent of “Hail to the Chief.”

They then took a photo inside the Peace House, where the summit took place, in front of a painting of South Korea’s Bukhan Mountain, which towers over the South Korean Blue House presidential mansion and where dozens of North Korean commandos trying to assassinate the then-dictator in Seoul were killed in 1968. Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, was by Kim’s side throughout the ceremony, handing him a pen to sign a guestbook, taking the schoolchildren’s flowers from his hand and scribbling notes at the start of the talks with Moon.

Expectations were generally low on the nuclear issue, given that past so-called breakthroughs on North Korea’s weapons have collapsed amid acrimonious charges of cheating and bad faith. Skeptics of engagement have long said that the North often turns to interminable rounds of diplomacy meant to ease the pain of sanctions — giving it time to perfect its weapons and win aid for unfulfilled nuclear promises.

Advocates of engagement, however, say the only way to get a deal is to do what the Koreas tried Friday: Sit down and see what’s possible.

The White House said in a statement that it is “hopeful that talks will achieve progress toward a future of peace and prosperity for the entire Korean Peninsula. … (and) looks forward to continuing robust discussions in preparation for the planned meeting between President Donald J. Trump and Kim Jong Un in the coming weeks.”

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AP writers Kim Tong-hyung, Hyung-jin Kim and Eric Talmadge contributed to this report.

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon-Jae-in will plant a commemorative tree and inspect an honor guard together after Kim walks across the border Friday for their historic summit, Seoul officials said Thursday.

The talks on the southern side of the border village of Panmunjom are expected to focus on North Korea’s nuclear program, but there will be plenty of symbolism when Kim becomes the first North Korean leader to be in the southern section of the border since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

Moon will receive Kim after he crosses the concrete slabs that form the rivals’ military demarcation line Friday morning. They will then walk together for about 10 minutes to a plaza where they’ll inspect a South Korean honor guard, Moon’s chief of staff Im Jong-seok told reporters.

After signing the guestbook and taking a photo together at Peace House, the venue for Friday’s summit, the two leaders will start formal talks at 10:30 a.m. (0130 GMT). They will later plant a pine tree on the border using a mixture of soil from both counties’ mountains and water from their respective rivers. The tree, which is beloved by both Koreas, dates to 1953, the year the war ended, Im said.

Engraved on the stone plaque for the tree will be the phrase, “Peace and Prosperity Are Planted,” as well as the signatures of the leaders. After the tree-planting, the two plan to stroll together to a footbridge where a signpost for the military demarcation line stands, Im said.

The leaders will meet again in the afternoon and later attend a banquet, Im said.

Im said Kim is to be accompanied by nine top North Korean officials, including his influential sister, Kim Yo Jong. Im said South Korea hopes Kim’s wife, Ri Sol Ju, will attend parts of Friday’s summit, but Ri’s attendance hasn’t been agreed to yet.

It’s also not clear how the leaders will announce the results of the summit. The most difficult part, Im said, centers on North Korea’s level of denuclearization commitment.

Friday’s summit and Kim’s planned meeting with President Donald Trump in May or early June were arranged after Kim recently expressed a wiliness to put his nuclear program up for negotiation after a year of nuclear and missile tests.

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TORONTO (AP) — A 25-year-old who plowed a van into a crowded Toronto sidewalk was ordered held Tuesday on 10 counts of murder 13 of attempted murder as Canadian authorities and the public sought to make sense of what appeared to be one of the deadliest mass murders in the country’s modern history.

Alek Minassian showed little overt emotion as he made a brief appearance in a Toronto courtroom in a white jumpsuit and handcuffs. The judge ordered him detained without bond and scheduled the next hearing for May 10.

Police, meanwhile, still appeared to be gathering evidence. About 20 officers made their way down the van’s deadly path on Yonge Street searching for any evidence. Nearby, mourners had put together a makeshift memorial to the victims.

“It was like he was playing a video game, trying to kill as many people as possible,” said Panna Patel, 42, who stopped by the memorial and had been at the scene a day earlier, getting cash from an ATM as it occurred. “He was looking people directly in the eye, making eye contact, it was so scary. He wasn’t remorseful at all.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dismissed the possibility of terrorism, saying that authorities see no national security element in the case.

He told a news conference that the incident “hasn’t changed the overall threat level in Canada,” though it occurred as Cabinet ministers from the G7 nations were meeting in Toronto.

Authorities so far had not disclosed a possible motive or cause, though “the incident definitely looked deliberate,” Police Chief Mark Saunders told reporters at a late-night news conference.

Saunders said Minassian, who lives in the Toronto suburb of Richmond Hill, had not been known to police previously. An online social media profile described him as a college student.

Authorities released few details in the case, saying the investigation was still underway, with witnesses being interviewed and surveillance video being examined.

“We are looking very strongly to what the exact motivation was for this particular incident to take place,” Saunders said. “We need every single piece of this puzzle so we can have a fulsome picture and account as to exactly what took place here.”

The driver was heading south on busy Yonge Street around 1:30 p.m. and the streets were crowded with people enjoying an unseasonably warm day when the van jumped onto the sidewalk.

Ali Shaker, who was driving near the van at the time, told Canadian broadcast outlet CP24 that the driver appeared to be moving deliberately through the crowd at more than 30 mph.

“He just went on the sidewalk,” a distraught Shaker said. “He just started hitting everybody, man. He hit every single person on the sidewalk. Anybody in his way he would hit.”

Witness Peter Kang told CTV News that the driver did not seem to make any effort to stop.

“If it was an accident he would have stopped,” Kang said. “But the person just went through the sidewalk. He could have stopped.”

Video broadcast on several Canadian outlets showed police arresting the driver, dressed in dark clothes, after officers surrounded him and his rental Ryder van several blocks from where the incident occurred in the North York neighborhood of northern Toronto. He appeared to make some sort of gesture at the police with an object in his hand just before they ordered him to lie down on the ground and took him away.

Witness Phil Zullo said that he saw police arresting the suspect and people “strewn all over the road” where the incident occurred.

“I must have seen about five, six people being resuscitated by bystanders and by ambulance drivers,” Zullo said. “It was awful. Brutal.”

Police shut down the Yonge and Finch intersection following the incident and Toronto’s transit agency said it had suspended service on the subway line running through the area.

Trudeau on Monday expressed his sympathies for those involved.

“We should all feel safe walking in our cities and communities,” he said. “We are monitoring this situation closely, and will continue working with our law enforcement partners around the country to ensure the safety and security of all Canadians.”

The stretch of Yonge Street where the victims were struck remains closed to traffic and was expected to stay blocked off for several days as police continue what is likely to be a lengthy investigation.

The incident prompted police to beef up security and close several streets around the Air Canada Centre on Monday night for the Toronto-Boston NHL playoff game. Police tweeted that similar road closures may be in effect for the Toronto Raptors NBA playoff game on Wednesday night.

The incident occurred as Cabinet ministers from the major industrial countries were gathered in Canada to discuss a range of international issues in the run-up to the G7 meeting near Quebec City in June. Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale called the incident a “horrific attack” and said the G7 foreign ministers extended their condolences.

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TORONTO (AP) — A van apparently jumped a curb Monday in a busy intersection in Toronto and struck eight to 10 people and fled the scene before it was found and the driver was taken into custody, Canadian police said.

It was not immediately clear what caused the van to strike the pedestrians in a busy intersection in the north-central part of the city. Police did not immediately identify the driver.

“At this point it’s too early to tell what if any motive there was. We are also unable right now to tell the extent or the number of persons injured,” Toronto police spokeswoman Meaghan Gray said.

A witness,” Phil Zullo, told Canadian Press that he saw police arresting a man who had been driving a Ryder rental truck and saw people “strewn all over the road” where the incident occurred.

“It must have seen about five, six people being resuscitated by bystanders and by ambulance drivers,” Zullo said. “It was awful. Brutal.”

Toronto paramedic spokeswoman Kim McKinnon said first responders were on scene treating multiple patients, but wouldn’t confirm the number or severity of injuries.

Police shut down the Yonge and Finch intersection following the Monday afternoon incident and Toronto’s transit agency said it has suspended service on the subway line running through the area.

The incident occurred as Cabinet ministers from the major industrial countries were gathered in Canada to discuss a range of international issues in the run-up to the G7 meeting near Quebec City in June.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his sympathies for those involved. “Our hearts go out to everyone affected,” Trudeau said in Ottawa. “We are going to have more to learn and more to say in the coming hours.”

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LONDON (AP) — British lawmakers set up a special group Friday to focus on Russian election interference and disinformation campaigns, saying more must be done to understand the extent of Moscow’s “malign influence.”

Moscow, meanwhile, accused the U.K. of planning an unprovoked cyberattack on Russia.

Britain has accused Russia of using disinformation campaigns to undermine Western democracies. The diplomatic rift between the two countries widened after former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a nerve agent in the English city of Salisbury last month.

Britain’s new Russia Coordination Group unites leaders of several influential parliamentary committees, including those overseeing foreign affairs and defense.

“As unease about Russian malign influence grows, it is essential that we understand the extent of Putin’s activity,” Conservative lawmaker Tom Tugendhat, the group’s chairman, said.

Britain should follow the United States in imposing sanctions on oligarchs and government officials with links to President Vladimir Putin, Tugendhat said.

Russia’s ambassador to London, Alexander Yakovenko, accused Britain of using “offensive cyber capabilities against Russia.”

Yakovenko told reporters that Russia suspected the U.K. was preparing a “massive cyberattack.” He also accused Britain of “destroying all possible evidence” in the Skripal case.

Offering another Russian theory about the poisoning to counter the blame assigned by Britain, he suggested that U.K. intelligence agents might have injected the father and daughter with a nerve agent.

Experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have backed Britain’s finding that the Skripals were poisoned with Novichok, a form of nerve agent first manufactured in the Soviet Union.

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