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Egypt informs Ethiopia of its categorical refusal of second GERD filling

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Egypt’s irrigation minister said on Monday that he had received official notice from Ethiopia that it had begun filling the reservoir behind its giant hydropower dam, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), for a second year.

Egypt has informed Ethiopia of its categorical rejection of the measure, which it regards as a threat to regional stability, Iirrigation Minister Mohamed Abdel Aty said in a statement.

(Reporting by Momen Saeed Atallah, Writing by Aidan Lewis; editing by Diane Craft)

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Explosive devices found in a vehicle connected to B.C. bank robbers killed

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SAANICH, B.C. — Multiple explosive devices were found in a vehicle related to the two suspects who were gunned down outside a bank in Saanich, B.C.

Saanich Chief Const. Dean Duthie said Wednesday an RCMP explosive disposal unit was able to transfer the devices from the vehicle to a local landfill and destroy them.

Police had evacuated the area shortly after the shooting on Tuesday as the RCMP’s explosives disposal unit was called in.

Six officers were shot and two suspects were killed in the shootout with police on Tuesday.

Duthie said three of the officers remain in hospital, including one who is in intensive care, while another officer will require more surgeries.

He said he spoke with one of the officers in hospital and said the police department will be there to support him.

“We’re here for his family … to let him know that the policing community is behind him 100 per cent.”

The chief said police are still investigating the possibility of a third suspect, although they don’t believe there’s a risk to the public.

He said police were acting on vague information.

“Our goal was to keep the public safe,” he said of police ordering residents near the bank to stay inside on Tuesday.

Police said in a statement that they aren’t able to confirm identities, background or motive of the suspects.

Duthie said work is underway to try to confirm the suspects’ names.

Duthie has looked at much of the video footage of the incident and said it’s a miracle that no one else died.

“It’s astonishing that there was no other citizen or member of the public injured,” he said, crediting the quick actions of officers who responded.

“Both patrol officers and Greater Victoria emergency response officers (put) themselves in harm’s way to bring it to a successful and safe conclusion as quickly as possible.”

A woman trapped inside the bank during the robbery told CFAX radio she was in a meeting with the manager when she heard a loud explosion and then silence.

Shelli Fryer, 59, of Langford said she looked from the doorway and a few feet from her was “a man in full assault gear, holding an assault rifle.”

Fryer said the masked man was wearing all black, had an armoured vest over his jacket and was holding a black rifle that was shorter and stockier than what she was used to seeing in the media.

“The energy from them was completely calm,” she said.

She heard one gunman quietly say to the manager, “vault,” and the manager handed him the keys and they both walked out of the office, she said.

Fryer said the other suspect was pacing the floor, just walking back and forth past the office, “like he was going for a walk in the park, just pacing as if he was waiting for something.”

The robbers put all 22 people who were in the bank against a wall in a back hallway and they waited for what felt like an eternity, she said. “We heard nothing at all of what was transpiring outside, we couldn’t hear sirens.”

She heard in a loud voice, “Police!” and then a hail of gunfire, and everybody ran to hide.

Fryer said every one of the police officers involved in the “absolutely insane incident” handled themselves professionally, and then later treated those who were in the bank with kindness and concern.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2022.

 

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

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Montreal police announce second arrest in drive-by shooting that killed 15-year-old

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Montreal police announced Wednesday they have arrested a second person in the drive-by shooting death of a 15-year-old girl last year.

Cmdr. Paul Verreault, head of the Montreal police service’s major crimes division, said a 27-year-old man was arrested Wednesday morning in connection with the February 2021 killing of Meriem Boundaoui.

Police believe the suspect arrested Wednesday and Salim Touaibi, who was arrested Monday, were “directly involved” in the shooting, Verreault told reporters Wednesday.

“These two people were in the vehicle at the time of the event,” he said, but he declined to comment further on what role each of them is alleged to have played in the crime.

“We’re still very early in the investigation,” he said. “This is an investigation that is still ongoing.”

Touaibi, 26, faces one charge of first-degree murder and four charges of attempted murder.

Verreault said he couldn’t say when the man arrested Wednesday, whose name was not released, would appear in court. He said police arrested four other people Wednesday morning who are allegedly part of a criminal group linked to the two men.

He said the shooting came after the escalation of a conflict between that group and another criminal group, but he did not provide more details. The four other people arrested will face charges of drug trafficking, uttering threats and assault, he said.

Boundaoui was sitting in a car with another person when a second car drove up and someone opened fire. Boundaoui and a 21-year-old man who was on the sidewalk were hit by bullets. Boundaoui had no link to the conflict, Verreault said.

Montreal’s interim police chief, Sophie Roy, said she hopes the arrests will give Boundaoui’s family some comfort.

“Like the rest of the public, we were shocked by the murder of young Meriem and other young people,” she told reporters. “We may be police officers, but we’re also humans with families and children.”

Boundaoui was the first of several young people to die violently in the past year and a half in Montreal, prompting widespread concern and calls to do more to reduce gun violence in the city.

Montreal has had one of the lowest homicide rates of major cities in Canada. In 2020, the most recent year for which data was available, the homicide rate in Montreal was less than half the Canadian average, according to Statistics Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2022.

 

Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press

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Canadian governments OK settlement with Purdue Pharma over opioid addictions

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VANCOUVER — A proposed $150-million settlement with Purdue Pharma Canada covering all provinces and territories has been reached for the recovery of health-care costs related to the sale and marketing of opioid-based pain medication.

British Columbia Attorney General David Eby said Wednesday that it’s the largest settlement of a governmental health-care cost claim in Canadian history.

The province launched a proposed class-action lawsuit in 2018 against more than 40 drug companies on behalf of all federal, provincial and territorial governments with the aim of recovering health-care costs for the “wrongful conduct of opioid manufacturers, distributors and their consultants.”

Eby said the proposed settlement was accepted by governments across Canada and a plan is being worked on to determine how the money will be divided, based on the impact on each province.

“The money will be going to supporting provincial programs to fight the opioid epidemic that we believe Purdue’s actions contributed to through their deceptive marketing,” he said.

Over 27,000 people died across the country from toxic street drugs between 2016 and September 2021.

“We took this action to recover health-care costs and to hold opioid companies to account for their part in allegedly engaging in deceptive marketing tactics to increase sales, which led to increased rates of addiction and overdose,” Eby told a news conference.

He said the B.C. government is “committed to aggressively pursuing litigation against the other manufacturers and distributors that put profits before people.”

The cost of the opioid epidemic on provincial health-care systems is “likely in the billions of dollars,” Eby said.

“In the United States, the claims amount to trillions of dollars, and have resulted in the bankruptcy of Purdue’s arm in the United States.”

He said Canada faced the possibility of being grouped into a number of unsecured creditor claims within the U.S. bankruptcy proceeding, where the amount available to the entire group is just $15 million.

The B.C. sanctions allowed Canadian jurisdictions to prevent Purdue from liquidating their Canadian operations to pay American claims, which would have left Canada with nothing after U.S. bankruptcy proceedings, he said.

“So in that respect, this is a remarkable accomplishment for British Columbia and all the provinces in Canada to ensure that Canadians see some proceeds from Purdue’s actions in deceptively marketing.”

In the United States, more than 3,000 lawsuits have been filed by governments, unions, hospitals and other entities in an effort to make drug companies, pharmacies and distributors accountable for their role in the opioid crisis.

American businesses, mostly those that sold or made the drugs, have already faced settlements, judgments and civil and criminal penalties totalling more than $47 billion.

British Columbia’s Mental Health and Addictions Minister, Sheila Malcolmson, called the settlement “an important step forward” in the effort to end the province’s toxic drug emergency.

“We know the settlement will not make up for the lives lost, the terrible loss of loved ones in our communities, so our government remains steadfast in its commitment to end the public health emergency,” she said.

Eby said there are many manufacturers, distributors and their consultants that remain named in the litigation.

“And they are on notice by this settlement that we will be pursuing them aggressively.”

Health Canada said the federalgovernment is exploring “all appropriate options to hold companies accountable for (their) role in the overdose crisis if they acted inappropriately in the marketing and distribution of opioids.”

To limit the marketing of opioids directed at health professionals, all opioid advertising material must be vetted by an advertising preclearance agency before it can be used.

“As of June 2019, all promotional materials are required to follow exactly what is in the product monograph. Health Canada is also identifying non-compliant marketing practices and rigorously enforcing the laws as they exist today,” Health Canada said in a written statement.

British Columbia’s application for certification of its class-action lawsuit has been scheduled to be heard in B.C. Supreme Court in the fall 2023.

The province said certification could open the door to further settlements to recover health-care costs.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2022.

 

Brieanna Charlebois, The Canadian Press

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