HALIFAX – The Nova Scotia government, in a bid to improve the accountability and transparency of police in the province, announced Tuesday the creation of an independent, civilian-led agency that will investigate when someone dies or is seriously hurt at the hands of police.
Justice Minister Ross Landry, who promised to set up the agency almost two years ago, said the work of the Serious Incident Response Team will effectively end the controversial practice of having police investigate police when questions of serious misconduct arise.
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“It was the police themselves who came forward, saying the old way just wasn’t working anymore,” Landry told a news conference. “They wanted, along with Nova Scotians, a new model.”
Landry then fielded several questions about the 2008 death of John Simon, a member of Cape Breton’s Wagmatcook First Nation who was shot in his home by an RCMP officer.
A Halifax Regional Police investigation cleared Const. Jeremy Frenette, who shot the allegedly suicidal and drunk man. But Simon’s family and band officials contend the police probe left too many questions unanswered and have called for a public inquiry.
The Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP later released a report that expressed concern that the force did not carry out a disciplinary review of the officers involved.
Ron MacDonald, a former Crown lawyer appointed as director of the new agency, said the team will not investigate incidents that happened prior to its creation.
He also said the two investigators who will be working with him will probably be former police officers, and other serving officers could be called in to help with investigations.
MacDonald said the agency will remain independent despite the presence of former and serving officers.
“They will be under the control of only one person – me,” he said. “I don’t answer to anybody but the public of Nova Scotia.”
Chris McNeil, deputy chief of Halifax Regional Police, said it makes sense to have trained police investigators on the team.
“These are criminal investigations involving very serious charges,” he said after the news conference.
“Nobody would expect that they would not be done by competent, capable people. … The day may come where there’s only civilians. We’re not there yet.”
Landry said people with police training have to be part of the agency.
“I have the utmost respect for police officers,” said Landry, a former RCMP officer. “At times, the skills they bring to the table will be necessary. … Will they be independent? That’s part of the job of the team to ensure that transparency is there.”
Liberal justice critic Michel Samson said he’s adopting a wait-and-see attitude regarding the use of former and current police officers.
“The fact is that officers do bring a specialty to this,” he said.
“The most important stick that will be used to judge how this is carried out is whether the public sees this as an independent agency and not some sort of body where officers are forced to protect the actions of their colleagues.”
Samson’s Conservative counterpart, Allan MacMaster, said it would be difficult for the agency to find civilians who are trained to carry out criminal investigations.
“That’s why we’re going to have to keep a close eye on it,” he said.
Under its mandate, the agency will investigate cases involving death, serious injury, sexual assault and “other areas of public interest involving police.”
It will be up to MacDonald to decide what constitutes an area of public interest.
However, he said the agency will focus its attention on cases that could lead to criminal charges.
The province’s Police Complaints Commissioner’s Office will continue to investigate allegations of police misconduct, which means the two agencies could be working on some of the same cases.
The new agency, which Landry said should be operational by early next year, can launch investigations after receiving complaints from the public, the head of the RCMP in Nova Scotia, a chief of police or the justice minister.
Largely based on Alberta’s Serious Incident Response Team, the Nova Scotia agency will have an $800,000 annual budget. Summaries of the team’s reports to the justice minister will be made public.
Ontario also has a similar unit. That province’s Special Investigations Unit, established in 1990, is a civilian-led body that takes over a scene immediately after police are involved in a death or serious incident.
BRUSSELS – The European Union’s foreign policy chief said Tuesday that Israel’s plan to build 1,100 new housing units in occupied east Jerusalem “should be reversed” since it undermines peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
Catherine Ashton told the EU parliament that she heard “with deep regret” that Israeli settlement plans were continuing and planned to take up the issue again with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when she next meets him.
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“He should stop announcing them and, more importantly, stop building them,” she told legislators in Strasbourg, France.
In an interview published Tuesday, Netanyahu ruled out any freeze in settlement construction, which could further raise tensions in the area following last week’s Palestinian move to seek U.N. membership.
Ashton said the expansion of settlements “threatens the viability of an agreed two-state solution” proposed by the Quartet of Mideast mediators: the EU, the United States, Russia and the United Nations.
The Israeli government on Tuesday backed the construction of 1,100 new homes in occupied east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians claim as their future capital. The government said construction could begin after a mandatory 60-day period for public comment.
“This plan should be reversed,” Ashton said.
Ashton said there was little hope any of the people moving into the proposed settlements would ever be able to live a full life there.
“It is wrong to get people to live in a place which, when you look at a negotiated settlement, they will probably have to move from. Actually, that doesn’t make any sense to me,” she told the legislators.
The Quartet is calling for negotiations to resume in a month and a peace deal by the end of 2012. Ashton said that any momentum would be immediately undermined by the east Jerusalem housing plan.
“We called for parties to refrain from provocative actions if negotiations are really going to resume and, more importantly, be effective,” she said.
Such calls received international backing.
“This sends the wrong signal at this sensitive time,” Richard Miron, spokesman for United Nations Special Coordinator Robert Sery, said in a statement.
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said the plan was going in the face of plans to negotiate.
“Provocative of Israel to announce new settlements in East Jerusalem now. Clearly contrary to Middle East Peace Quartet demand,” he wrote in a Tweet message.
LONDON – Television writer David Croft, who helped create much-loved British sitcoms such as “Dad’s Army” and “Are You Being Served?,” died Tuesday. He was 89.
Croft’s agent Tim Hancock, said the writer died at his holiday home in Portugal. Croft’s family said in a statement that he “died peacefully in his sleep,” but did not give a cause.
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The son of actors, Croft served with the Royal Artillery during World War II before starting a showbiz career, eventually moving into TV as a producer, director and writer.
Several of his comedies had military settings, including “It Ain’t Half Hot Mum” – set in wartime India and Burma – and “Dad’s Army,” about a hapless World War II Home Guard unit.
Co-created with Jimmy Perry, “Dad’s Army” is considered a comedy classic, and is still frequently rerun more than 40 years after its debut.
Croft and Perry had another long-running hit with “Hi-de-Hi!” set in a 1950s holiday camp.
With Jeremy Lloyd, Croft wrote several series in the 1970s and 80s, including “‘Allo ‘Allo!” – set in the unlikely comic environment of Nazi-occupied France – and the perennially popular department-store sitcom “Are You Being Served?”
The shows drew viewers in the millions with their mix of memorable characters, nostalgic settings, catch phrases and double entendres.
In a statement, Croft’s family said he would have “been proud that you had all been watching.”
Former BBC head of comedy Jon Plowman said Croft was “quite simply a genius who invented a whole genre of comedy that was all his own – mostly from his own experience.”
“He wrote so much of the great comedy from the last 30 or 40 years, always impeccably cast with an ensemble of great character actors,” Plowman said.
In 1978, Croft was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II, for services to television.
He is survived by his wife and children. Funeral details were not immediately available.
Fatherhood may be a kick in the old testosterone, but it may also help keep a man alive. New research suggests that dads are a little less likely to die of heart-related problems than childless men are.
The study – by the AARP, the U.S. government and several universities – is the largest ever on male fertility and mortality, involving nearly 138,000 men. Although a study like this can’t prove that fatherhood and mortality are related, there are plenty of reasons to think they might be, several heart disease experts said.
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Marriage, having lots of friends and even having a dog can lower the chance of heart problems and cardiac-related deaths, previous research suggests. Similarly, kids might help take care of you or give you a reason to take better care of yourself.
Also, it takes reasonably good genes to father a child. An inability to do so might mean a genetic weakness that can spell heart trouble down the road.
“There is emerging evidence that male infertility is a window into a man’s later health,” said Dr. Michael Eisenberg, a Stanford University urologist and fertility specialist who led the study. “Maybe it’s telling us that something else is involved in their inability to have kids.”
The study was published online Monday by the journal Human Reproduction.
Last week, a study by other researchers of 600 men in the Philippines found that testosterone, the main male hormone, drops after a man becomes a dad. Men who started out with higher levels of it were more likely to become fathers, suggesting that low levels might reflect an underlying health issue that prevents reproduction, Eisenberg said.
In general, higher levels of testosterone are better, but too much or too little can cause HDL, or “good cholesterol,” to fall – a key heart disease risk factor, said Dr. Robert Eckel, past president of the American Heart Association and professor of medicine at the University of Colorado, Denver.
“This is a hot topic,” Eckel said. “I like this study because I have five children,” he joked, but he said many factors such as job stress affect heart risks and the decision to have children.
Researchers admit they couldn’t measure factors like stress, but they said they did their best to account for the ones they could. They started with more than 500,000 AARP members age 50 and over who filled out periodic surveys starting in the 1990s for a long-running research project sponsored by the National Cancer Institute.
For this study, researchers excluded men who had never been married so they could focus on those most likely to have the intent and opportunity to father a child. Men with cancer or heart disease also were excluded to compare just men who were healthy when the study began.
Of the remaining 137,903 men, 92 per cent were fathers and half had three or more children. After an average of 10 years of follow-up, about 10 per cent had died. Researchers calculated death rates according to the number of children, and adjusted for differences in smoking, weight, age, household income and other factors.
They saw no difference in death rates between childless men and fathers. However, dads were 17 per cent less likely to have died of cardiovascular causes than childless men were.
Now for all the caveats.
Researchers don’t know how many men were childless by choice and not because of a fertility problem.
They don’t know what fertility problems the men’s partners may have had that could have left them childless.
They didn’t have cholesterol or blood pressure information on the men – key heart risk factors.
Less than five per cent of participants were blacks or other minorities, so the results may not apply to them.
All those questions aside, however, some prominent heart experts were reassured by the study’s large size and the steps researchers took to adjust for heart disease risk factors.
“I think there’s something there,” and social science supports the idea that children can lower heart risks, said Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist and genetics expert at Scripps Health in La Jolla, Calif. “Whether it’s with a pet, a spouse or social interaction … all those things are associated with better outcomes.”
Dr. Daniel Rader, director of preventive cardiology at the University of Pennsylvania, said: “It’s biologically plausible that there’s a connection,” but the reduced risk attributed to having children “is pretty modest.”
Men often ask him what they can do to keep from dying of a heart attack, he said.
“I’m not really prepared to, on the basis of this, tell them to start having a few kids,” Rader said.
TORONTO – A tip from a wary subway rider in Montreal ended a nearly three-year hunt for a missing British girl and led to an emotional reunion with her father, authorities said Tuesday.
Police and officials with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection said seven-year-old Pearl Gavaghan Da Massa has returned to her home in Manchester, along with the father who relocated to Canada to find her.
Police allege the girl was abducted in 2008 by her mother, Helen Gavaghan, and spirited through three different countries in an attempt to stay hidden.
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The girl was discovered when Gavaghan’s suspicious behaviour sounded an alarm for a Montreal subway passenger, who then contacted police, said Christy Dzikowicz, director of the centre’s MissingKids.ca program.
The man did not recognize Pearl from any of the numerous photos of her distributed throughout the country, but contacted police two weeks ago after becoming worried about the way she was interacting with her mother.
“He thought that the mom was really clinging to the daughter and looking around very concerned and suspiciously,” Dzikowicz said from Winnipeg.
“I don’t think he really knew, he just had a sense that there was something wrong.”
Police investigated the call and immediately notified Pearl’s father, Henry Da Massa, that his child had been located. Da Massa was reunited with his daughter on Sept. 21.
“It was only when we got on the plane that I really knew we were coming home,” Da Massa said in an interview with the Manchester Evening News.
“It was the end of the mayhem and we could finally get back to normality.”
A Facebook page established to assist in the search has since erupted in public expressions of delight that Pearl has been found.
“Pearl is going to know that when her Daddy says he will do anything for her, that it won’t be an empty sentiment,” one reader wrote.
“Thank God you found her,” another said. “Worth shouting from the rooftops,” wrote a third.
The news marks the end of a difficult three-year saga for Da Massa, who had relocated to Toronto in 2010 in order to be more actively involved in the search for his daughter. He could not immediately be reached for comment.
The hunt for Pearl began in December 2008, when Gavaghan allegedly picked her daughter up from a daycare centre in Manchester and never returned.
A friend claimed mother and daughter were headed to India for a month’s vacation, but the pair were tracked to Cancun, Mexico. Three weeks later they crossed on foot into Laredo, Tex.
Little is known about the pair’s whereabouts through 2009, but friend and local pastor Doug Johnson Hatlem said they moved into a Toronto Catholic community early that year and remained for more than a year.
Johnson Hatlem said he came to know the family well under their assumed names of Dana and Belle Flaherty.
He called Gavaghan an excellent mother who provided exemplary care for both her child and others in the community, and who believed she was acting in the best interests of her daughter, he said.
“She was just wonderfully capable as a mother,” Johnson Hatlem said. Pearl, meanwhile, was on the receiving end of a “determined love and care and tenderness,” he added.
Dzikowicz said the girl was found in good health, but will likely face a difficult period as she adjusts back to normal life.
“Parental abduction is an extreme, extreme measure,” she said. “We were concerned about the level to which she’s been isolated, the fact that she hasn’t been enrolled in school and the things that we really expect for our children.”
In his interview, Da Massa said his daughter was told she no longer had a father and is working on reconnecting with parts of her past.
“We’ve had to go back to where we were three years ago and get used to each other again.”
Johnson Hatlem said the girl interacted frequently with local children and excelled in the home schooling she received.
“She was advanced in ways that she was able to keep up academically with my daughter, who was a couple of years older than her.”
Gavaghan, who is the subject of arrest and extradition warrants in the United Kingdom, is currently in custody in Montreal.
The Missing Children’s Society of Canada had posted a $10,000 reward for Da Massa’s safe return, but the offer expired, unclaimed, earlier this year.
MIAMI – Ozzie Guillen tweeted Tuesday that he was in town “ready to go” with the Florida Marlins, and the clubhouse buzz was all about the new manager.
One minor holdup: The Marlins had yet to confirm a deal, saving some suspense for the final day of the regular season Wednesday. But Guillen’s website eliminated much of the drama by leaking the news he has agreed to become the Marlins’ manager.
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A post Monday night quoted Guillen announcing he was Florida bound. The blog was taken down a short time later and replaced by a post that discussed Guillen’s departure from the Chicago White Sox, while making no mention of the Marlins.
On Tuesday afternoon Guillen tweeted: “Weird to be in miami in this time but very happy ready to go”.
That sounded fine to Marlins players.
“This should be a good thing,” catcher John Buck said. “It’s a step forward. It’s a commitment by the team showing we want to win. Part of that is getting a manager who has proven that.”
Guillen’s briefly posted blog item said he had hoped to spend his entire managerial career with the White Sox, where he won a World Series title in 2005.
“But there comes a point when you need to move on, and that point has come,” he was quoted as saying. “The Florida Marlins believe I am the right man for the job to bring another World Series to South Florida. …
“I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to be a part of the Marlins organization. I have an unbelievable amount of respect for the Marlins, owner Jeffrey Loria, president Larry Beinfest, and general manager Michael Hill. I can’t thank them enough for this opportunity and look forward to the future. I can’t wait to get started!”
Florida manager Jack McKeon said Monday he planned to retire at the end of the season. Guillen announced his departure with the White Sox hours later, but said nothing about taking another job. Florida officials declined to comment.
The Marlins, who move into a new ballpark next spring, plan a big ceremony in conjunction with the final game at their current stadium Wednesday. There’s speculation they want to cap the occasion by introducing Guillen as manager, or they may do it at the new ballpark Thursday.
“All the pieces are coming together,” slugger Mike Stanton said. “We got the stadium, and we got the manager.”
Guillen had a year left on his contract, and White Sox general manager Ken Williams confirmed Tuesday that the club had an agreement with another team for compensation for the manager. But he did not identify the players involved and declined to say the Marlins were the other team.
“It isn’t a secret,” he said. “Out of respect for the desires for that particular organization, they did not want to be named so I am simply honouring that request.”
He also offered a diplomatic approach when asked if the Marlins were guilty of tampering in their courtship of Guillen.
“Listen, some things in this game you have to live in the grey area on,” Williams said, “and that will just have to be one of them.”
The buzz began more than a year ago that Guillen might be reunited with Loria in Miami, where he was McKeon’s third base coach with the 2003 World Series champions.
Guillen became the White Sox manager that November, and in eight season he had a record of 678-617. It was a sometimes stormy tenure, and when his recent quest for a contract extension was denied, he received permission to be released from his current deal.
The Marlins are staggering to a last-place finish in the NL East. With the team moving to a new home and making a push to become a contender, Loria has said he wants an experienced manager.
The outspoken, sometimes outrageous Guillen would be the Marlins’ fourth manager since early 2010, and his relationship with management could create some off-the-field excitement. Strong-willed Joe Girardi lasted only one season with Florida in 2006, clashed with Loria and others in the organization, and was fired shortly before being chosen NL manager of the year.
Several Marlins players said the tell-it-like-it-is skipper would be a good fit for the team.
“That’s probably something we need around here,” Stanton said. “Let us know, and don’t beat around the bush. It’s better than doing it behind your back. He’s going to come right to you.”
Left-fielder and Twitter sensation Logan Morrison was impressed to hear Guillen blogs along with tweeting, and does so in two languages.
“Now I need a blog, probably two,” Morrison said. “And I’ve got to learn a foreign language in the off-season. I’ll have to follow him. If I don’t, I might get fined.”
AP Sports Writer Rick Gano in Chicago contributed to this report.
CAIRO – A Saudi woman has been sentenced to be lashed 10 times with a whip for defying the kingdom’s prohibition on female drivers, the first time a legal punishment has been handed down for a violation of the longtime ban in the ultraconservative Muslim nation.
Normally, police just stop female drivers, question them and let them go after they sign a pledge not to drive again. But dozens of women have continued to take to the roads since June in a campaign to break the taboo.
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Making Tuesday’s sentence all the more upsetting to activists is that it came just two days after King Abdullah promised to protect women’s rights and decreed that women would be allowed to participate in municipal elections in 2015. Abdullah also promised to appoint women to a currently all-male advisory body known as the Shura Council.
The mixed signals highlight the challenge for Abdullah, known as a reformer, in pushing gently for change without antagonizing the powerful clergy and a conservative segment of the population.
Abdullah said he had the backing of the official clerical council. But activists saw Tuesday’s sentencing as a retaliation of sorts from the hard-line Saudi religious establishment that controls the courts and oversees the intrusive religious police.
“Our king doesn’t deserve that,” said Sohila Zein el-Abydeen, a prominent female member of the governmental National Society for Human Rights. She burst into tears in a phone interview and said, “The verdict is shocking to me, but we were expecting this kind of reaction.”
The driver, Shaima Jastaina, in her 30s, was found guilty of driving without permission, activist Samar Badawi said. The punishment is usually carried out within a month. It was not possible to reach Jastaina, but Badawi, in touch with Jastaina’s family, said she appealed the verdict.
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that bans women – both Saudi and foreign – from driving. The prohibition forces families to hire live-in drivers, and those who cannot afford the $300 to $400 a month for a driver must rely on male relatives to drive them to work, school, shopping or the doctor.
There are no written laws that restrict women from driving. Rather, the ban is rooted in conservative traditions and religious views that hold giving freedom of movement to women would make them vulnerable to sins.
Activists say the religious justification is irrelevant.
“How come women get flogged for driving while the maximum penalty for a traffic violation is a fine, not lashes?” Zein el-Abydeen said. “Even the Prophet (Muhammad’s) wives were riding camels and horses because these were the only means of transportation.”
Since June, dozens of women have led a campaign to try to break the taboo and impose a new status quo. The campaign’s founder, Manal al-Sherif, who posted a video of herself driving on Facebook, was detained for more than 10 days. She was released after signing a pledge not to drive or speak to media.
Since then, women have been appearing in the streets driving their cars once or twice a week.
Until Tuesday, none had been sentenced by the courts. But recently, several women have been summoned for questioning by the prosecutor general and referred to trial.
One of them, housewife Najalaa al-Harriri, drove only two times, not out of defiance, but out of need, she says.
“I don’t have a driver. I needed to drop my son off at school and pick up my daughter from work,” she said over the phone from the western port city of Jiddah.
“The day the king gave his speech, I was sitting at the prosecutor’s office and was asked why I needed to drive, how many times I drove and where,” she said. She is to stand trial in a month.
After the king’s announcement about voting rights for women, Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Abdel Aziz Al Sheik blessed the move and said, “It’s for women’s good.”
Al-Harriri, who is one of the founders of a women’s rights campaign called “My Right My Dignity,” said, “It is strange that I was questioned at a time the mufti himself blessed the king’s move.”
Asked if the sentencing will stop women from driving, Maha al-Qahtani, another female activist, said, “This is our right, whether they like it or not.”
LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The Italian actress who romanced George Clooney has done her last dance on “Dancing With the Stars.”
Elisabetta Canalis was dismissed from the TV dance competition Tuesday, despite her third-place finish on Monday’s episode.
She and professional partner Val Chmerkovskiy earned 21 points out of 30 for their quickstep routine – a six point improvement over their debut dance. But fans failed to keep the couple in the competition.
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“For me, it was a gift every day staying here. It was a great adventure,” Canalis said after learning her fate. “I want to thank everybody because they made me come here. Thanks to the public and to everybody who voted for us. Now I am really nervous, but thank you anyway. It was a great experience.”
Canalis earned mixed reviews for her routine Monday. Head judge Len Goodman said the dance was “not great but it was better than last week,” while fellow judge Carrie Ann Inaba told the couple, “You nailed it.”
Judges’ scores are combined with viewer votes to determine which celebrity is ousted each week. Basketball star Ron Artest, now known as Metta World Peace, was bounced from the ballroom last week.
Perhaps the most relieved to be returning was Chaz Bono, who came into Tuesday’s episode with the lowest score. He said Tuesday that he was “completely nervous” about the results and hoped he had performed well enough to continue in the competition.
“I did the best I could,” he said.
He collected 17 points Monday for a quickstep routine that judges said was just too slow.
“The bottom line is it’s a quickstep and I’ve moved faster through the car wash,” Goodman said.
Also back in the ballroom next week will be reality stars Rob Kardashian and Kristin Cavallari; TV personalities Ricki Lake, Carson Kressley and Nancy Grace; actors David Arquette and J.R. Martinez; singer Chynna Phillips and soccer star Hope Solo.
Tuesday’s episode also included musical performances by Demi Lovato and rock band The Script.
AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen can be reached at 杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活twitter杭州夜网/APSandy.