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Sri Lanka begins trials connected to 2019 Easter bombings case

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A Sri Lankan court on Monday began the first of three trials connected to bombings that killed nearly 270 people on the island in 2019, amidst appeals for greater accountability from victim support groups.

In this trial, former national police chief Pujith Jayasundara is charged with failing to act on repeated intelligence warnings of a possible terror attack.

A total of 855 charges of murder and attempted murder were read out as Jayasundara stood in the dock at the back of the courtroom. A total of 1,215 witnesses have been listed to give evidence but not all may be called, his lawyer said.

“Our position is the former police chief is not guilty. He did not intentionally aid or abet the attacks and there was no omission on his part that caused the attacks,” attorney Roshan Dehiwala told Reuters.

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Ex-Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando, the top official in the defence ministry at the time, faces similar charges in a trial beginning later on Monday. Neither he nor his lawyer could be reached for comment.

Both men are out on bail.

The trial of 24 men accused of carrying out the attacks begins on Tuesday.

Police filed over 23,000 charges against those suspects, including conspiring to murder, aiding and abetting the attacks, and collecting arms and ammunition. The group also includes Mohammad Naufer, who officials say masterminded the attacks and is linked to Islamic State.

The string of attacks carried out on 21 April 2019, Easter Sunday, targeted three churches and three hotels, killing 267 people, including at least 45 foreign nationals. The attacks, the worst in Sri Lanka’s turbulent history, also injured about 500 people, mostly belonging to the island’s minority Christian community.

On Sunday, dozens of Catholic community members held protests and laid flowers at multiple events organized to remember those lost in the attacks.

Participants appealed to the government to support survivors and ensure the trials are allowed to proceed without political interference.

“We want genuine justice from this process. That is what we are appealing for the officials to deliver. We have been waiting a long time and we want the real people responsible held accountable for what happened,” said Eranga Gunasekera, a member of a victims support group, during a remembrance ceremony held in Colombo.

 

 

 

(Reporting by Uditha Jayasinghe in Colombo; Editing by Alasdair Pal and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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Majority of Canadians support private options for health care, poll shows – National | Globalnews.ca – Global News

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Majority of Canadians support private options for health care, poll shows – National | Globalnews.ca  Global News

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4.2-magnitude earthquake near Buffalo, N.Y., felt in southern Ontario

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An earthquake near Buffalo, N.Y., with a preliminary magnitude of 4.2, was “lightly felt” in parts of southern Ontario Monday morning, according to Earthquakes Canada.

“I woke up to it,” St. Catharines, Ont. resident Stephen Murdoch told CBC Hamilton.

Murdoch said his house shook around 6:15 a.m. ET.

“I felt what I guess you would consider a small jolt and continuous shaking …. about 15 to 20 seconds,” he said.

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The federal agency says it doesn’t expect any damage would come from the reported earthquake, but said as of roughly 8 a.m., there were more than 200 reports of people in southern Ontario feeling the rumble, including in Hamilton, the Greater Toronto Area and as far as Quinte West, Ont., near Belleville.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the U.S. says the earthquake occurred in West Seneca, N.Y. and labelled it a 3.8-magnitude quake some three kilometres beneath the surface.

Musician Rich Jones said he felt the rumble in Hamilton.

“My dog started barking and the bed was shaking for a few seconds. Never felt an earthquake here before. Wild,” Jones tweeted.

Earthquakes Canada last recorded an earthquake in Ontario in the Greater Sudbury area on Jan. 22, measuring 2.8 magnitude.

Earthquakes are generally caused by large segments of the earth’s crust, called tectonic plates, continuously shifting, according to Earthquakes Canada.

The Southern Great Lakes Seismic Zone has a low to moderate amount of seismicity when compared to the more active seismic zones to the east, along the Ottawa River and in Quebec.

“It’s an incredible event to live through … I can’t imagine the ones of greater magnitude,” Murdoch said.

“I think there’s going to be a lot of discussion at water coolers across Buffalo and southern Ontario in terms of what happened this morning.”

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Uber brings back ride share for Canada

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Uber has brought back its ride-sharing option in select Canadian cities — but under a new name. Officially launched this week, the company is calling UberX Share, its “most affordable option” for commuters who want to make “greener” and more “sustainable” choices.

Available across Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, the UberX Share will allow passengers to travel together and split their fares.

Previously known as UberPOOL, the service was paused in Toronto in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, Uber said it’s been “working tirelessly to revamp the experience.”

“We know affordability plays a role when people are making decisions on how to get from point A to B,” said Michael van Hemmen, general manager of Uber Canada mobility, in a statement Sunday.

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“This new shared rides option will provide a more affordable and sustainable experience for riders and the cities we serve.”

How is UberX different than UberPOOL?

In the past, UberPOOL was known to sometime deviate from a direct route and take more time than public transit, but the company now argues the new feature will only add an average of six minutes to a trip when matched.

Riders will also receive an upfront discount of up to 20 per cent if they choose UberX Share.

“UberX Share provides a greener way to get from A to B, by moving more people with fewer cars to help your city avoid extra emissions and car travel by sharing your ride,” Uber said.

Click to play video: 'UberEats indulges in high times, will make cannabis deliveries'

UberEats indulges in high times, will make cannabis deliveries

When it comes to the drivers, the company says UberX Share will give them more choices while earning the same recommended rates with UberX Share as they would with UberX but with more riders on a trip.

“A shared trip is likely to be longer and that means a higher fare. There will be a $1 pickup incentive for the driver when picking up a second rider,” Uber added.

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