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In The News for June 16 : Manitoba grieving after deadly highway crash kills 15

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of June 16 ... What we are watching in Canada ... Residents in Dauphin, Man.

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of June 16 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

Residents in Dauphin, Man., are anxiously waiting for word on the identities of 15 people killed in a fiery bus crash.

Mounties say the group of mostly seniors was heading to a casino when the bus they were on crashed with a semi-trailer near the town of Carberry, west of Winnipeg.

Ten people were also sent to various hospitals.

RCMP say they are working as fast as possible to identify the victims and get information to their families.

They say those on the bus were from Dauphin and the nearby area.

Dauphin Mayor David Bosiak says everyone in the city of about 8,600 knows someone who was on the bus, and there's a collective feeling of shock.

The drivers of the bus and truck are among the survivors.

RCMP Supt. Rob Lasson says it appears the bus was crossing the Trans-Canada Highway, heading south on Highway 5, when it was struck Thursday morning.

He declined to speculate on the cause or circumstances of the crash, but said the investigation continues and criminal charges are a possibility.


Also this ...

People in parts of Alberta and British Columbia are returning home after wildfire evacuation orders were lifted Thursday.

Thanks to recent rain and favourable winds, roughly 2,000 residents from Tumbler Ridge, B.C., were allowed to return home.

An evacuation order was also lifted for the town of Edson, Alta., and surrounding area, allowing more than 8,000 to return.

The ending of the order in Alberta comes six days after flames jumped fireguards outside the town 200 kilometres west of Edmonton and forced residents to get out.

A statement on Edson's website says residents should remain ready to leave with four hours’ notice, and an evacuation alert status will remain in place.

Federal Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair says many people in Alberta, B.C. and Quebec have been able to return home, but thousands remain displaced due to fires across the country.

Blair says rain and cooler weather have helped improve the fire situation significantly in the Maritimes and parts of Quebec, but that’s not the case everywhere.

“The hot, dry and windy conditions in parts of Western Canada and in Ontario are exacerbating an already dangerous set of circumstances, and we know the peak of the wildfire season may still be several weeks away,” he said Thursday.

As of Thursday afternoon, the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre was reporting 446 active fires, of which 217 are out of control. The centre was reporting 127 fires in Quebec, 83 in Alberta, 70 in British Columbia and 56 in Ontario.


And this too ... 

Canada's top court will deliver the final word Friday on whether the pact between Canada and the United States to control the flow of asylum seekers violates their fundamental rights.

The Safe Third Country Agreement, which came into effect in 2004, recognizes Canada and the U.S. as safe places for potential refugees to seek protection.

Under the agreement, refugees must seek asylum in the first of the two countries they land in, making it illegal to cross the border and seek asylum in the other country.

Opponents of the treaty asked the top court to declare that the legislation underpinning the pact violates the right to life, liberty and security of the person, saying the U.S. is not actually safe for many asylum seekers.

The Canadian government argued to Supreme Court justices that returnees have access to fair asylum and detention processes south of the border.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden agreed to expand the treaty in March so that it would apply along all 8,900 kilometres of the shared border, not just at official crossings. 

Before then, a loophole allowed asylum seekers who arrived between official points of entry along the land border to make claims in Canada despite having arrived in the U.S. first. 

Opponents of the pact have said it runs counter to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, because returning people to the U.S. exposes them to risks in the form of detention and other rights violations.

The Supreme Court's decision will finally put to rest the long-standing legal battle first launched by several refugee claimants in Federal Court in 2007.

The Canadian Council for Refugees, the Canadian Council of Churches and Amnesty International also participated in the proceedings as public interest parties.


What we are watching in the U.S. ...

MINNEAPOLIS _ The findings of a two-year investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department, prompted by the death of George Floyd, are expected to be announced Friday by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.

The Department of Justice on Thursday announced a news conference "on a civil rights matter'' was scheduled for Friday morning at the federal courthouse in Minneapolis. Justice Department and city officials declined to confirm about whether they will announce findings of that police department investigation.

A Justice Department advisory said Garland will be joined by Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, Police Chief Brian O'Hara and others. A link to a Justice Department public webinar scheduled for Friday afternoon has the heading: "DOJ Presentation for MPD Investigative Findings.''

The "pattern or practice'' investigation was launched in April 2021, a day after former officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, was convicted of murder and manslaughter in the May 25, 2020, killing of Floyd, who was Black.

Floyd repeatedly said he couldn't breathe before going limp as Chauvin knelt on his neck for 9 1/2 minutes.

The killing was recorded by a bystander and sparked months of mass protests as part of a broader national reckoning over racial injustice.

The federal investigation concerns whether the Minneapolis Police Department engaged in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing. Such investigations typically look at the use of force by officers, including force used during protests, and whether the department engages in discriminatory practices. The investigation also was expected to assess the way the department handled misconduct allegations and how it held officers accountable.

A similar investigation by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights led to a "court-enforceable settlement agreement'' to address the long list of problems identified in the report, with input from residents, officers, city staff and others. Frey and state Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero signed the agreement in March.

The state investigation, which concluded in April 2022, found "significant racial disparities with respect to officers' use of force, traffic stops, searches, citations, and arrests.'' And it criticized "an organizational culture where some officers and supervisors use racist, misogynistic, and disrespectful language with impunity.''


What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

ROME _ Pope Francis on Friday was discharged from the Rome hospital where he had abdominal surgery nine days earlier to repair a hernia and remove painful scarring, with his surgeon saying the pontiff is now "better than before'' the hospitalization.

Francis, 86, left through Gemelli Polyclinic's main exit in a wheelchair, smiling and waving and saying "thanks'' to a crowd of well-wishers, then stood up so he could get into the small Vatican car awaiting him. In the brief distance before he could reach the white Fiat 500, reporters thrust microphones practically at his face, and the pontiff seemed to bat them away, good-naturedly. 

"The pope is well. He's better than before,'' Dr. Sergio Alfieri, the surgeon who did the three-hour operation on June 7 told reporters as the pope was driven away.

Instead of going straight back to the Vatican, Francis stopped to pray for 10 minutes before an icon of the Virgin Mary at the famous St. Mary Major Basilica, where he often stops by after trips abroad to give thanks. Francis stayed in his wheelchair as he prayed. He also went there to pray after his discharge on April 2 from the same hospital following treatment for bronchitis.

Several people in the crowd outside wept as he left and headed for the Holy See hotel, where he lives on Vatican City grounds.

Hours after the surgery, Alfieri said that the scarring, which had resulted from previous abdominal surgeries, had been increasingly causing the pope pain. There was also risk of an intestinal blockage, if adhesions, or scar tissue, weren't removed, according to the doctors.

No complications occurred during the surgery or while the pope was convalescing in Gemelli's 10th-floor apartment reserved exclusively for hospitalization of pontiffs, according to the pope's medical staff.


On this day in 1894 ...

The "Edmonton Bulletin'' reported there could be oil in Alberta.


In entertainment ...

NEW YORK _ Gloria Estefan sang a medley of her hits, Post Malone sang one of his forgotten gems, Teddy Riley swayed to New Jack Swing and Jeff Lynne rocked out to "Mr. Blue Sky'' at the Songwriters Hall of Fame induction ceremony Thursday night.

The gala at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City celebrated a diverse group of songwriters, with Broadway represented by lyricist Tim Rice, pop from Glen Ballard and a Nashville twang from Liz Rose. Each inductee spoke about how important music was to them growing up and how it connected them to the past and future.

"To those fans that have found in my music what I found in the music of the life-changing songwriters that nourished my soul throughout my life, I thank you for that privilege,'' said Estefan, the first Hispanic woman to be inducted. "And I can assure you that it is just as magical from the other side of the song.''

Lynne, of the prog-rock Electric Light Orchestra, who worked with the Travelling Wilburys and Tom Petty, was the first to be honoured, with guitarist Joe Walsh introducing his friend as a "a one-man Renaissance artist'' and playing ELO's "Don't Bring Me Down.''

Rose recalled being a single, working mom with three children who turned to songwriting in her late 30s. She co-wrote many songs with Taylor Swift beginning when the singer-songwriter was 14, including "You Belong with Me,'' "Teardrops on My Guitar'' and "White Horse.'' Rose doesn't sing or play an instrument and thanked all the artists.

"The cool thing about songwriting is that you get to hang out with your friends and you get to have therapy and you get to cry and drink wine and eat Cheez-Its,'' Rose said. "I just love to dig in and just see that song come out at the end of the session. There's just nothing like it.''

Broadway star Heather Headley introduced Rice and sang "I Don't Know How to Love Him'' from "Jesus Christ Superstar,'' the musical he wrote with Andrew Lloyd Webber. Rice, who is already in the hall, was honoured with the Johnny Mercer Award, the highest honour bestowed by the event.

Miles Frost, another Broadway star from the Michael Jackson musical "MJ,'' helped introduce Ballard, who helped write and produce Alanis Morissette's monster 1995 album "Jagged Little Pill'' and was involved in the recording and writing of several Jackson albums, including "Thriller,'' "Bad'' and "Dangerous.''

Doug E. Fresh and Keith Sweat inducted Riley, the singer, songwriter and producer credited with creating New Jack Swing, which fuses hip-hop, R&B, dance and pop, and its top anthems such as Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative.'' The trio did a medley of hits that included "I Want Her,'' "No Diggity'' and "Rump Shaker.''

The Songwriters Hall of Fame was established in 1969 to honour those creating popular music. A songwriter with a notable catalogue of songs qualifies for induction 20 years after the first commercial release of a song.

Some already in the hall include Carole King, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora, Elton John and Bernie Taupin, Brian Wilson, James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Lionel Richie, Bill Withers, Neil Diamond and Phil Collins.


Did you see this?

A Canadian study suggests an association between household use of gas stoves and asthma in some kids, but that depends on multiple factors.

Like other recent studies on the issue, the results were inconsistent in the research published last week in the Canadian Journal of Public Health.

Study co-author and respirologist Doctor Padmaja Subbarao says 5.5 per cent of children living in Toronto homes with an electric stove were diagnosed with asthma by age five but that jumped to just over 10 per cent for kids whose families use a gas stove.

She says the numbers were likely higher in Toronto compared to Vancouver because of climate differences that allow people in the West Coast city to open windows, even in winter, providing natural ventilation from pollutants.

They include carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, which are emitted by gas stoves and can potentially irritate the lungs.

An analysis of studies published last year suggested 12.7 per cent of childhood asthma cases in the United States are associated with the appliance. 

But experts say genetics and the lack of a hood fan that ventilates toxins to the outside could be among the contributing factors.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 16, 2023.

The Canadian Press