Tag Archives: removal

House Democrats expected to introduce resolution to press for Trump’s removal

Congressional Democrats begin their drive to force U.S. President Donald Trump from office early this week, with a House vote on articles of impeachment expected as early as Wednesday that could make him the only president in the country’s history to be impeached twice.

“It is important that we act, and it is important that we act in a very serious and deliberative manner,” Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, chairman of the House’s rules committee, told CNN on Monday. “We expect this up on the floor on Wednesday. And I expect that it will pass.”

Thousands of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol last week, scattering lawmakers who were certifying Democratic president-elect Joe Biden’s election victory, in a harrowing assault on the centre of American democracy that left five dead.

The violence came after Trump urged supporters to march on the Capitol at a rally where he repeated false claims that his resounding election defeat was illegitimate. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, many of her fellow Democrats and a handful of Republicans say Trump should not be trusted to serve out his term, which ends on Jan. 20.

“In protecting our constitution and our democracy, we will act with urgency, because this president represents an imminent threat to both,” Pelosi wrote to fellow House Democrats on Sunday.

Dozens of people who attacked police officers, stole computers and smashed windows at the Capitol have been arrested for their role in the violence, and officials have opened 25 domestic terrorism investigations.

Trump acknowledged that a new administration would take office on Jan. 20 in a video statement after the attack but has not appeared in public. Twitter and Facebook have suspended his accounts, citing the risk of him inciting violence.

WATCH l Assessing the pros and cons of a 2nd impeachment:

Cross Country Checkup25:39Ask Me Anything: David Frum on U.S. Capitol Hill riot

The Atlantic’s David Frum takes calls about Wednesday’s siege on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. 25:39

On Monday, Trump was denied an avenue for his false claims of pivotal election fraud from the highest court in the land. The U.S. Supreme Court steered clear of more cases involving bids by Trump and some Republican allies to overturn his election loss and turned away a Democratic effort to expand mail-in voting in Texas.

The justices, as expected, declined to expedite consideration of eight Trump-related cases including three filed by his campaign challenging the election results in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, two of the states he lost to Biden. It already was clear that the court had no intention to intervene because it had not acted before Congress last week certified Biden’s victory in the Nov. 3 election.

Impeachment charge could involve insurrection

When the House convenes at 11 a.m. ET, lawmakers will bring up a resolution asking Vice-President Mike Pence to invoke a never-used section of the 25th Amendment of the U.S. constitution, which allows the vice-president and the cabinet to remove a president deemed unfit to do the job. A recorded vote is expected on Tuesday.

McGovern said he expected Republican lawmakers to object to the request to invoke the constitution’s 25th Amendment to remove Trump. In that case, he said, his committee will provide a rule to bring that legislation to the House for a vote and, 24 hours later, the committee will then bring another resolution to deal with impeachment.

“What this president did is unconscionable, and he needs to be held to account,” McGovern said.


Members of the National Guard are shown outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Monday. They had not been called as a preventive measure ahead of last week’s protest, which devolved into chaos. (Erin Scott/Reuters)

Pence was in the Capitol along with his family when Trump’s supporters attacked, and he and Trump are currently not on speaking terms. But Republicans have shown little interest in invoking the 25th Amendment.

If Pence does not act, Pelosi said the House could vote to impeach Trump on a single charge of insurrection. Aides to House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, who voted against recognizing Biden’s victory, did not respond to a request for comment.

House Democrats impeached Trump in December 2019 for abuse of power and obstructing Congress for pressuring Ukraine to investigate Biden, but the Republican-controlled Senate voted not to convict him. No president has ever been impeached twice.

LISTEN l Canadian-born U.S. commentator David Frum on last week’s riot:

Democrats’ latest effort to force Trump out also faces long odds of success without bipartisan support. Only four Republican lawmakers have so far said publicly that Trump should not serve out the remaining nine days in his term.

The lawmakers who drafted the impeachment charge say they have locked in the support of at least 200 of the chamber’s 222 Democrats, indicating strong odds of passage. Biden has so far not weighed in on impeachment, saying it is a matter for Congress.

Unclear when, or if, Senate would take up impeachment

Even if the House impeaches Trump for a second time, the Senate would not take up the charges until Jan. 19 at the earliest, Trump’s last full day in office.

An impeachment trial would tie up the Senate during Biden’s first weeks in office, preventing the new president from installing cabinet secretaries and acting on priorities like coronavirus relief.

READ l The impeachment resolution, which now has over 200 co-sponsors:


Representative Jim Clyburn, the No. 3 House Democrat, suggested his chamber could avoid that problem by waiting several months to send the impeachment charge over to the Senate.

Trump would be long gone by then, but a conviction could lead to him being barred from running for president again in 2024.

The votes also would force Trump’s Republicans to again defend his behaviour.

Several prominent U.S. corporations, including Marriott International Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., have said they will suspend donations to the nearly 150 Republicans who voted against certifying Biden’s victory, and more are considering that step.

Washington remains on high alert ahead of Biden’s inauguration. The event traditionally draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city, but has been scaled back dramatically because of the raging COVID-19 pandemic.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, who will become majority leader after Biden and vice-president-elect Kamala Harris are inaugurated and the two new Democratic senators from Georgia are seated, said on Sunday that the threat from violent extremist groups remained high.

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CBC | World News

Lawmakers, world leaders condemn chaos at the U.S. Capitol while some call for Trump’s removal

The chaotic breach of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump on Wednesday was met with swift condemnation by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, with some observers blaming the president for inciting the riot, and others suggesting he be impeached.

Long after rioters had overwhelmed Capitol Police and stormed the building where lawmakers were to vote to certify Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election, Trump tweeted a video message in which he repeated the same falsehoods about the election being stolen from him that he’s been feeding his supporters for more than two months.

“I know your pain. I know your hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side. But you have to go home now. We have to have peace,” he told his supporters.

“This was a fraudulent election but we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace, so go home. We love you. You’re very special.”


Trump is seen making remarks on a television monitor in the White House briefing room after his supporters interrupted the joint session of Congress to certify the presidential election results. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

President-elect Joe Biden took a different tone, tweeting: “What we are seeing is a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness. This is not dissent, it’s disorder. It borders on sedition, and it must end. Now.”


U.S. president-elect Joe Biden addresses the protests taking place in and around the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Trump had urged his supporters to come to Washington to protest Congress’s formal approval of Biden’s win in the general election. Several Republican lawmakers have backed his calls and said they plan to object to the certification of the electoral college vote despite there being no evidence of widespread fraud or wrongdoing in the election.

Following a rally Trump hosted before the joint session of Congress, his supporters marched to the Capitol and eventually forced their way into the building, sending the lawmakers and their staff into hiding and the building into lockdown. 

Washington police said at least one woman was shot inside the Capitol and died later at an area hospital. It was not immediately clear how she was shot.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer released a joint statement that called on Trump “to demand that all protesters leave the U.S. Capitol and Capitol Grounds immediately.”

Vice-President Mike Pence also condemned the actions of the rioters in the building.

“The violence and destruction taking place at the U.S. Capitol Must Stop and it Must Stop Now. Anyone involved must respect Law Enforcement officers and immediately leave the building,” he tweeted.


Law enforcement officers scuffle with Trump supporters attempting to enter the U.S. Capitol. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

Other lawmakers, strategists and commentators directed some of their outrage at the president.

Scott Jennings, a Republican strategist and former adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said Trump’s video statement was “an absolute failure in leadership.”

Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher, a Trump supporter from Wisconsin, implored the president during an interview on CNN to “Call it off! Call it off!” He also posted a video in which he said, “This is banana republic crap that we’re watching right now.”

Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican senator from Nebraska and a vocal critic of Trump, said in a statement that the U.S. Capitol was “ransacked” while “the leader of the free world cowered behind his keyboard.”

“Lies have consequences. This violence was the inevitable and ugly outcome of the president’s addiction to constantly stoking division,” he said.


Trump supporters set off a fire extinguisher after breaching security defences at the Capitol. (Mike Theiler/Reuters)

Rep. Jennifer Wexton, a Democrat from Virginia, said the president had been encouraging these “domestic terrorists” since before the election.

“He could have stopped them at any moment, but instead he whipped them into a frenzy and sicced them on the Capitol,” she tweeted. “The cabinet must remove him today or the House must impeach.”

WATCH | A look at how the day’s events unfolded:

CBC News’ David Common breaks down what happened on Capitol Hill on Wednesday and how U.S. President Donald Trump stoked discontent among his supporters before he lost the election. 3:44

Conservative commentator David Frum, a critic of the president, said action to impeach the president should be taken tonight.

“Remove this treasonous president. Invite his own party to join the effort to remove him now, or to share now and forever Trump’s guilt,” Frum wrote in the Atlantic.

In a statement, Jay Timmons, the CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, which represents 14,000 companies in the U.S., blamed Trump for inciting the violence and said Pence should “seriously consider” invoking the constitution’s 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.

‘Disgraceful scenes’

World leaders also offered their reactions to the chaos.

“Obviously, we’re concerned and we’re following the situation minute by minute as it unfolds,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a radio interview with News 1130 in Vancouver.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson referred to the “disgraceful scenes” at Capitol Hill, and said it’s “vital that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power.”

European Parliament President David Sassoli called the rioting “deeply concerning,” but said he’s “certain the U.S. will ensure that the rules of democracy are protected.”

WATCH | When Trump goes, what happens to Trumpism?

U.S. President Donald Trump’s term is almost over, but many expect his brash style of politics, which has come to be known as Trumpism, to be present in the Republican party long after he’s gone. 7:25

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CBC | World News

Canada’s largest mental health hospital calls for removal of police from front lines for people in crisis

Canada’s largest psychiatric facility is throwing its support behind mounting calls to remove officers from the front lines for people in mental health emergencies.

“It’s clear we need a new way forward,” the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto said Tuesday.

The move follows a string of deaths involving people in crisis, including Ejaz Choudry — a 62-year-old father of four with schizophrenia killed by police in Mississauga, Ont., after his family called a non-emergency line.

Choudry was the third Canadian in crisis to be killed by police over the past month. On June 4, Chantel Moore, a 26-year-old Indigenous woman, was shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Eight days later, Rodney Levi, 48, was fatally shot by the RCMP in New Brunswick. The chief of his First Nation community later described him as troubled but not violent.

D’Andre Campbell, 26, was fatally shot in April in Brampton, Ont., after his family says he called 911 for help.

“For too long, the health-care system has relied on police to respond to mental health crises in the community,” CAMH said in its statement.

“Mental Health is health. This means that people experiencing a mental health crisis need health care.

“Police should not be first responders. Police are not trained in crisis care and should not be expected to lead this important work.”

Racism compounds crisis interactions, giving rise to the “tragic outcomes” Canada has seen recently, CAMH added.

In Toronto, mobile mental health teams consist of a registered nurse and police officer, but are mandated only to provide secondary responses. Police officers alone remain the first responders, particularly for calls involving a weapon.

WATCH | Ontario shooting death raises questions about sending armed officers to mental health calls:

Serious questions are being raised about sending armed police officers to respond to mental health crises after a Mississauga, Ont., man was shot to death over the weekend. The man’s family is now demanding a public inquiry, and the officer’s firing. 1:48

That was the case in the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year old Black woman who fell to her death in Toronto after police were called to her home for reports of an assault involving a knife.

In the days afterward, police chief Mark Saunders said: “There’s no way I would send a nurse into a knife fight.”

Nearby Peel Region has a similar model: the Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team, launched in January, deploys from 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. every day. But whether the teams serve as first responders or take a secondary role depends on the nature of the call, the force told CBC News. 

John Sewell, former Toronto mayor and now the co-ordinator of the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition, says his organization has called on the Toronto Police Services Board to have a mental health nurse paired with a plainclothes officer respond to calls for people in crisis.

At every turn, he says, he’s been met with resistance.

‘The result is that people get killed’

“The board has consistently refused and said we’ve got to send the armed, uniformed officers first,” he told CBC News. “Well, the result is that people get killed.”

As for the argument that armed officers are needed because a situation might be violent, Sewell says trained mental health professionals handle such situations regularly and are trained in de-escalation — something that police aren’t primarily trained to do.


John Sewell, a former Toronto mayor and now the co-ordinator of the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition, has been at the forefront of a push to restructure the system responding to people in crisis. (CBC)

“When someone has had experiences with people in uniform that involved in some way being restrained or tackled… there might be a certain amount of scar tissue so to speak when they’re put into a similar situation,” said David Gratzer, staff psychiatrist at CAMH, emphasizing the vast majority of people with mental health issues are not violent.

“Mental health professionals deal with agitated patients frequently and they understand that certain techniques can be highly successful.”

Alok Mukherjee, the former chair of Toronto’s police board from 2005 to 2015, says he was encouraged to see more mobile crisis units added during his time there, but says the program falls short because they don’t operate around the clock and aren’t designated as first responders.

“That’s where we hit a road block,” he said.  

Board ‘willing to explore’ other models

Of the nearly one million phone calls Toronto police receive every year, about 30,000 are mental health related, the force has said. Across Canada, from 2000 to 2017, a CBC News investigation previously found, 70 per cent of the people who died in police encounters struggled with mental health issues, substance abuse or both.

In an email to CBC News, Toronto Police Services Board Chair Jim Hart said the board remains “very supportive” of the existing mobile crisis team program, but that it is “committed to working to explore enhancements of and alternatives to this concept.

“The board is also willing to explore and consider other models that would provide better service to those in our community experiencing mental health or addiction issues; these models may include these services delivered by mental health experts without police,” Hart said. 


Regis Korchinski-Paquet and Chantel Moore both died after police were called to do wellness checks on them. (Facebook)

All of the above cases are being investigated by the relevant police oversight agencies.

In a statement, the Peel Regional Police Board said while it couldn’t comment on individual cases, “these deaths are a tragic reminder that there is much work to be done,” adding that the incidents will inform the board’s work on key issues including community engagement, strategic planning and the upcoming budget.

As Ontario’s police watchdog has itself pointed out, however, officers at the centre of cases involving serious injury or death of civilians cannot be compelled to turn over their notes or participate in interviews with the Special Investigations Unit.

Some say that means the SIU itself lacks the teeth to fully investigate allegations of police wrongdoing.

Asked Tuesday if the province would consider amending the legislation, Jenessa Crognali, spokesperson for Ontario’s attorney general said the rules stem from “principles against self-incrimination.”

She said those rules will remain even after the current Police Services Act is replaced with the Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act, passed earlier this year.

As for whether police services being funded through taxpayer money means officers should be compelled to answer to an oversight body, Crognali did not answer. 

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CBC | Health News

Strict rules needed in Canada to curb laser hair removal injuries, dermatologist says

A dermatologist who treats at least two clients a week with injuries from laser hair removal says it’s “frustrating” to see clients suffering due to a lack of regulation in the Canadian beauty industry.

Toronto dermatologist Dr. Lisa Kellett says she sees “tons” of patients with the type of burns and scars recently experienced by a B.C. woman who underwent laser hair removal. 

This week, B.C. health minister Adrian Dix said the government is in no hurry to regulate laser hair removal.

But Kellett, a member of the Canadian Dermatology Association, says laser treatments are dangerous when performed by anyone who lacks the proper training and experience, and she believes the government needs to take this more seriously. 

“I’m hoping that the government will step in and say this can no longer happen,” Kellett said.

“They have an opportunity to prevent people from getting hurt and they should they should take advantage of that and do something about it.”

Furthermore, the risk of permanent injury means anyone considering laser hair removal should only have it done by a trained physician, dermatologist or plastic surgeon who can do a proper assessment and discuss the risks and side effects, she said. 

‘We saw a phenomenal increase in the risks’

Until 2003, anyone practising beauty services like hair styling, esthetics or nail art in B.C. had to pass an exam to be certified under the Cosmetologists Act, ensuring service providers had a minimum level of training.

That act was repealed in 2003, leaving the industry unregulated.

Last week, Dix said there were “clearly concerns” about the industry, but the B.C. government was not considering new regulations.

“It would obviously be a significant thing to choose to re-regulate the industry now,” said the health minister.

“It’s something that we can look at in the future but not something that we have [before us] right now.”

Across Canada, procedures like laser hair removal are largely unregulated, and can be performed by almost anyone with as little as one hour of training, Kellett said.

Laser hair removal has existed for 20 years but has exploded in popularity over the last decade, she said. Initially, it was primarily done in physician’s offices by dermatologists and plastic surgeons, Kellett added. 

The technology has improved over the years with better systems to cool the surface of the skin during the procedure, but there is still no minimum standard of training required to use the laser on clients.

“Health Canada has allowed these devices to be basically anywhere,” Kellett said.

“They could be in someone’s basement, they could be in a hair salon, they could be in a spa, so once that happened, and we saw a phenomenal increase in the risks and also the burns, pigment change, scarring, infections.”


Toronto dermatologist Dr. Lisa Kellett says she sees “tons” of patients with the type of burns and scars like these, recently experienced by a B.C. woman who underwent laser hair removal.  (Submitted by Danielle Nadeau)

The problems due to a lack of mandatory training will continue until governments impose more regulation, according to industry professionals in British Columbia.

Dariush Honardoust, an instructor with the B.C. Academy of Medical Aesthetics and Skincare, ​​​​​has been calling on the government for years to set and maintain minimum standards. The academy offers multi-day training courses in laser hair removal.

“This is how it’s supposed to be [for] any other areas of practice,” said Honardoust, citing regulations around chiropractors, acupuncturists and dental hygienists.

“I don’t see that laser technicians and medical estheticians are exceptions because they are dealing with tissue, sometimes biological fluids of the patients and skin … and that’s something that needs to be regulated.”

9 claims of injury reported to Health Canada since 2015

Health Canada has received nine claims of injury related to laser hair removal between 2015 and 2019. Of those, six claims involved burns, two involved burns and blisters, and one involved scarring.

However, it is often not possible to determine whether an adverse reaction is a result of “using a specific health product,” a Health Canada spokesman said in an email.

The prevalence of injuries caused by laser hair removal in B.C. is difficult to determine.

Vancouver Coastal Health and Consumer Protection B.C. say they do not have data on injuries like burns that are specifically related to laser hair removal. 

Because the industry in unregulated, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. also does not have data on the prevalence of injuries suffered.

If Kellett’s practice is any indication, injuries from laser hair removal are “very, very” underreported, she said. 

The government needs to intervene in the unregulated industry before it becomes more of a public health risk, she said.

The first step should be to make it mandatory that lasers be used only in a medical centre under the direct supervision of a physician, Kellett said. 

“We need to protect the patient,” she said. “We are trying very, very hard to try to get this better regulated.”

“I don’t know what it’s going to take.”

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CBC | Health News

Vancouver woman suing after ‘painful’ laser hair removal leaves her scarred

A Vancouver woman who was left scarred from laser hair removal is urging others to do their research before committing to the procedure, which is unregulated in B.C.

Danielle Nadeau spent $ 7,000 to have all of the hair on her legs and groin area removed at Ideal Image, a medical spa in the South Granville neighbourhood that offers services like fillers and laser hair removal.

During her eighth session on June 19, Nadeau said the pain was much more intense than what she had experienced previously. 

“It was to the point where I was biting my fist,” said Nadeau, 28.

Nadeau said she mentioned the pain to the technician doing the procedure, in which a machine emits a pulse of intense light waves onto the skin to destroy the hair follicle.

The technician completed the procedure and told her to come back later if the pain persisted, Nadeau said. 

“By the time I got home it literally felt like I was standing in boiling oil. It was so painful,” she said. 

“It was red and almost puffy, like you would expect from a burn.”

Five months later, Nadeau still has hypopigmentation scars from the knees down and all across her groin. A dermatologist said the nickel-sized white marks might never disappear, she said.


Nadeau said the eighth session of laser hair removal was more painful than she was used to. (Submitted by Danielle Nadeau)

Nadeau is suing Ideal Image Group of Canada and the unnamed technician for damages, alleging her injuries were caused because they breached a standard of care.

Among other things, the statement of claim alleges the technician failed to assess Nadeau’s skin type to determine the appropriate intensity and duration of energy that can be administered during hair removal, and failed to respond to Nadeau’s complaints about pain.

A spokesperson for Ideal Image said the company was not aware that a statement of claim had been filed.

In an emailed statement, Dr. James Kung, a medical director at the Granville Ideal Image medical spa, said the company’s “medically-trained professionals” perform “millions” of successful hair removal treatments and that the health and safety of clients is a top priority.

Adverse reactions can be caused by exposure to sun, allergic reactions, or certain lotions and medications, but most of them resolve over time, he said. 

“We are looking into what happened in this specific case, will respond through the court process and are committed to resolving this matter,” Kung said. 

Nadeau, an exotic dancer, says the marks left on her body have been difficult to conceal and have resulted in a decrease in wages.

‘It’s just the Wild West’

Laser hair removal has become more popular in recent years as an alternative to waxing or shaving, said Kirsten Engel, a board member of the Beauty Council of Western Canada who has 17 years of experience in the beauty industry.

The organization seeks to heighten the quality of B.C.’s unregulated beauty industry —  which includes a wide range of professions, from nail artists to technicians performing semi-medical procedures like laser hair removal — by offering exams and certifications in safety, sanitation and competency.

The provincial government considers laser hair removal a “relatively safe” and non-invasive procedure, which is one of the reasons why there are no specific qualifications needed to operate laser hair removal machines in B.C., Engel said. 

“As a service provider you can lease [a machine] for as little as a couple hundred dollars a month and start operating the next day,” Engel said. 

“It’s just the Wild West.”

‘We shouldn’t have to rely on Google reviews’

Injuries from laser hair removal are rare, Engel said, but it can happen. 

The machine’s laser targets dark pigments, she said, and works best on people with fair skin and dark hair — the machine can better tell the difference between the hair and the skin.

But people with darker skin and hair can be burned if the machine can’t distinguish the difference, she said. 

That’s why Engel believes there needs to be stronger provincial regulation on training for procedures like this.

“There should be some requirement to prove you know how to do this,” Engel said.

She suggests anyone considering laser hair removal should ask questions about what type of machine is being used, how many years a technician has been performing the procedure, and ask to see any diplomas or certifications that show proof of training or experience. 

“We shouldn’t have to rely on Google reviews to determine the possible safety of a service provider,” Engel said.

Nadeau heard about Ideal Image from a friend and from radio advertisements. As she waits to find out whether her scars will fade over time, she wishes she had done more research.

“It’s embarrassing,” she said.

“I honestly don’t wish this on anyone.”

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CBC | Health News

Thousands of Iraqis descend on capital, demanding removal of political elite

Tens of thousands of Iraqis thronged central Baghdad on Friday, demanding the root-and-branch downfall of the political elite in the biggest day of mass anti-government demonstrations since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

One woman died after she was struck in the head by a tear gas canister, Iraq’s human rights commission said, and at least 155 people were wounded on Friday as security forces used tear gas and rubber bullets on protesters camped out in the capital’s Tahrir Square.

Five people died on Thursday night from similar injuries.

Protests — in which 250 people have been killed over the past month — have accelerated dramatically in recent days, drawing huge crowds from across Iraq’s sectarian and ethnic divides to reject the political parties that have been in power since 2003.

Thousands have been camped out in the square, with many thousands more joining them by day. Friday, the Muslim main day of prayer, drew the biggest crowds yet, with many taking to the streets after worship.

Demonstrators are condemning elites they see as deeply corrupt, beholden to foreign powers and responsible for daily privations.

The protests have been comparatively peaceful by day, becoming more violent after dark.

Clashes have focused on the ramparts to the Republic Bridge, leading across the Tigris River to the heavily fortified Green Zone of government buildings, where the protesters say out-of-touch leaders are holed up in a walled-off bastion of privilege.


An Iraqi demonstrator caries bottles of soda used to neutralize tear gas during protests in Baghdad on Friday. Five people died overnight as a result of injuries sustained in clashes, officials say. (Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters)

“Every time we smell death from your smoke, we yearn more to cross your republic’s bridge,” someone wrote on a nearby wall.

Amnesty International said Thursday that security forces were using “previously unseen” tear gas canisters modelled on military grenades that are 10 times heavier than standard ones.

“We are peaceful, yet they fire on us. What are we, Islamic State militants? I saw a man die. I took a tear gas canister to the face,” said one 21-year-old, named Barah, whose face was wrapped in bandages.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday urged all sides to reject violence, adding that Iraq’s official inquiry into the early October violence “lacked sufficient credibility.”

“The Iraqi people deserve genuine accountability and justice,” Pompeo said in a statement. “The Government of Iraq should listen to the legitimate demands made by the Iraqi people.”

‘A mini state’

In Baghdad, protesters had set up checkpoints in the streets leading into and surrounding Tahrir Square, redirecting traffic. Young people swept the streets, many sang about the sit-in, and helmets and gas masks were a common sight.

A woman pushed her baby in a stroller draped with an Iraqi flag while representatives from several Iraqi tribes waved banners pledging support for the protesters.

Mohammed Najm, an engineering graduate currently without a job, said the square had become a model for the country he and his comrades hope to build.

“We are cleaning streets; others bring us water, they bring us electricity, they wired it up. A mini state. Health for free, tuk-tuks transporting for free,” he said. “The state has been around for 16 years and what it failed to do we did in seven days in Tahrir.”

Despite Iraq’s oil wealth, many live in poverty with limited access to clean water, electricity, health care or education. The government of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, in office for a year, has found no response to the protests.


An Iraqi demonstrator receives medical help after being affected by tear gas during the protests in Baghdad. (Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters)

Iraq as a proxy?

In his weekly sermon, top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani warned of “civil conflict, chaos and destruction” if the security forces or paramilitary groups crack down on the protests. He gave an apparent nod to protesters who say the government is being manipulated from abroad, above all by Iran.

“No one person or group or side with an agenda, or any regional or international party, can infringe upon the will of Iraqis or force an opinion upon them,” al-Sistani’s representative said during a sermon in the holy city of Karbala.

Reuters reported this week that a powerful Iran-backed faction had considered abandoning Abdul Mahdi, but decided to keep him in office after a secret meeting attended by a general from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. An Iranian security official confirmed the general, Qassem Soleimani, had attended Wednesday’s meeting, to “give advice.”

Many see the political class as subservient to one or another of Baghdad’s main allies, the United States and Iran, who use Iraq as a proxy in a struggle for regional influence.

“Iraqis have suffered at the hands of this evil bunch who came atop American tanks, and from Iran,” said protester Qassam al-Sikeeni. “Qassem Soleimani’s people are now firing on the Iraqi people in cold blood.”

Iraqi President Barham Salih said on Thursday that Abdul Mahdi would resign if parliament’s main blocs agreed on a replacement.

Protesters say that wouldn’t be enough; they want to undo the entire post-Saddam political system which distributes power among sectarian parties.

“So what if [Abdul Mahdi] resigns? What will happen? They will get someone worse,” said 26-year-old barber, Amir.

There were also protests in other provinces, with the unrest having spread across much of the southern Shia heartland.

In the southern city of Diwaniya, roughly 3,000 people, including many families with small children, were out.

Earlier, protesters in oil-rich Basra tried to block the road leading to the Majnoon oilfield and pitched a tent but operations were not interrupted, oil sources said.

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Ukraine’s ex-ambassador believes ‘concerted campaign’ within U.S. government led to her removal

The former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who Donald Trump has called “bad news” testified in the impeachment inquiry into the president that there had been “a concerted campaign” to remove her from her post.

Marie (Masha) Yovanovitch, who was recalled from Kyiv in May, arrived on Capitol Hill in Washington on Friday to give a deposition to House investigators probing Trump, in a scandal that has cast a pall over his presidency.

She did not respond to questions by reporters, but the Washington Post obtained a copy of her prepared statement to the three House committees.

Yovanovitch expressed her “deep disappointment and dismay” with the way events have unfolded in United States-Ukraine relations.

“Our efforts were intended … in thwarting corrupt interests in Ukraine who fought back by selling baseless conspiracy theories to anyone who would listen,” said Yovanovitch. “Sadly, someone was listening, and our nation is the worse off for that.”

According to media reports, Trump took the action to remove her after complaints by his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and others that Yovanovitch had obstructed Giuliani’s efforts to persuade Ukraine to investigate former U.S. vice-president Joe Biden.

Yovanovitch said she was “incredulous” at her removal, and it occurred “as best as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.”

She said she was told by a high-ranking State Department official that there had been a concerted campaign against her, and the situation was not like others he’d seen where ambassadors had been recalled for cause.

It was not clear from her statement who was supposedly involved in the alleged campaign.

Democrats have characterized her recall as politically motivated.

Puzzled by Giuliani statements

The Ukraine inquiry was launched after a whistleblower complaint from a person within the U.S. intelligence community about a July 25 phone call, in which Trump pressed President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate domestic political rival Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.

Joe Biden is a leading Democratic contender for the right to face Trump in the November 2020 presidential election.

There has been no evidence either Biden was engaged in illegal activities.

Yovanovitch said in her statement that she’s dealt with Joe Biden “several times” over her career but has never met Hunter Biden nor had any conversations with him.

She said Joe Biden never raised the issue of his son’s position on the board of Ukraine energy board Burisma.


Then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, left, poses with Rudy Giuliani during their meeting in Kyiv on Nov. 22, 2017. Giuliani’s interactions with Ukraine officials, despite not being part of the U.S. State Department or national security team, have raised suspicions among Democrats. (Mikhail Palinchak/Ukrainian Presidential Press Service Pool via AP)

Democrats have accused Trump of pressuring a vulnerable foreign ally in need of foreign aid money to dig up dirt on a domestic opponent for his own political benefit. Trump has described the call as “perfect,” denying wrongdoing.

Yovanovitch became the target in March of allegations — vehemently denied by the State Department — that she gave a Ukrainian prosecutor a list of people not to prosecute.

Trump allies called for her removal, accusing her of criticizing the president to foreign officials, something current and former colleagues found inconceivable.

Giuliani alleged she blocked efforts to persuade Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.

Yovanovitch said she recalls only three “minimal contacts” with Giuliani, “none related to the events at issue.”

“I do not know Mr. Giuliani’s motives for attacking me,” she wrote.

She called suggestions she advised Ukraine officials to refrain from prosecuting certain individuals as “completely false.”

White House tried to prevent appearance

On the phone call with Zelenksy, Trump referred to Yovanovitch as “bad news.”

“She’s going to go through some things,” Trump added.


Yovanovitch previously served as U.S. ambassador to Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. According to a cached biography on the State Department, earlier in her career she worked at the U.S. embassies in Ottawa, London, Moscow and Mogadishu.

She was born in Montreal to Russian parents, her family moving to the U.S. a few years later. She has dual U.S.-U.K. citizenship.

The testimony from Yovanovitch is the first of several depositions of key figures planned by the Democrat-led House committees spearheading the probe; the White House has said it will not co-operate.

The chairs of the intelligence, foreign relations and oversight committees said in a statement that the White House directed Yovanovitch not to appear Friday, but she complied with a subpoena.

“The illegitimate order from the Trump Administration not to co-operate has no force,” the statement from the chairs of the House committees said.


This composite image provided by the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office in Virginia shows booking photos of Lev Parnas, left, and Igor Fruman. The associates of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani were arrested on a four-count indictment that includes charges of conspiracy, making false statements to the Federal Election Commission and falsification of records. (Alexandria Sheriff’s Office/Associated Press)

On Thursday, two foreign-born Florida businessmen who had helped Giuliani investigate Biden were arrested in what prosecutors said was a scheme to illegally funnel money to a pro-Trump election committee and other U.S. political candidates.

The pair, Ukraine-born Lev Parnas and Belarus-born Igor Fruman, were arrested at an airport outside Washington carrying one-way tickets to Vienna. Prosecutors said they conspired to contribute foreign money, including at least $ 1 million from an unidentified Russian businessman, to candidates for federal and state offices to buy influence.

Parnas is alleged to have sought the help of a U.S. congressman — identified by a person familiar with the matter as Republican Pete Sessions — to get Trump to remove Yovanovitch, according to the indictment.

“Individuals who have been named in the press as contacts of Mr. Giuliani may well have believed that their personal financial abmitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine,” Yovanovitch wrote.

Concerned over State Department direction

The investigation of Trump could lead to the approval of articles of impeachment — or formal charges — against the president in the House. A trial on whether to remove him from office could then result in the U.S. Senate.

Michael McKinley, a career diplomat who has served as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s policy adviser since May 2018, has resigned, the Washington Post reported. His departure comes with Pompeo deeply enmeshed in the Ukraine controversy.

Yovanovitch said the State Department has been “attacked and hollowed out from within,” and she urged Congress to defend career diplomats pursuing U.S. interests.


California Democrat Adam Schiff arrives on Capitol Hill on Friday. Schiff is chair of the House’s intelligence committee, which is spearheading the probe. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/The Associated Press)

Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, will comply with a subpoena and testify Oct. 18 before the committees, his lawyers said Friday.

But Sondland is not authorized to release the documents the House committees have sought, his lawyers said. Sondland’s planned appearance this week was blocked by the Trump administration.

Sondland, a Trump political donor who contributed $ 1 million US to the Republican president’s inauguration committee, exchanged text messages about Washington’s relationship with Ukraine with other top diplomats. 

In a text with another U.S. official, Bill Taylor, Sondland denied there was a quid pro quo in the White House’s dealings with Ukraine.

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Gallbladder removal not always ‘a quick fix’

Many patients with gallstones and abdominal pain don’t feel better after a procedure to remove their gallbladder, and a recent study suggests this surgery may not always be necessary.

Treatment guidelines in many countries recommend that doctors perform a minimally invasive operation known as a laparoscopic cholecystectomy to remove the gallbladder when patients have abdominal pain associated with gallstones. But in non-emergency cases, there’s no consensus on how doctors should choose which patients might be better off with nonsurgical treatments and lifestyle changes.

For the current study, researchers tested whether patients with gallbladder conditions being treated at outpatient clinics might have better outcomes and less post-operative pain if surgeons adopted a strict set of criteria for operating instead of the “usual care” practice of operating at surgeons’ discretion.

Researchers randomly assigned 537 patients with gallstones and abdominal pain to receive usual care, and 530 patients to get surgery only if they met five criteria:

  • Severe pain attacks.
  • Pain lasting at least 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Pain radiating to the back.
  • Pain in the upper abdomen or the right upper quadrant of the abdomen.
  • Pain that responds to pain relief medication.

Pain relief was no better or worse with the restrictive criteria than it was with usual care. With both approaches, at least 40 per cent of patients still had abdominal pain 12 months later.

But fewer people had operations with the restrictive criteria: 68 per cent compared with 75 per cent in the usual care group. This suggests that surgeons need to rethink whether gallstone surgery is necessary in every case and reconsider their criteria for recommending operations, researchers write in The Lancet.

Patients should “be aware that there is a high chance that your gallbladder operation will not resolve all your abdominal pain,” said study co-author Dr. Philip de Reuver, a gastrointestinal surgeon at Radboud University Hospital Nijmegen in the Netherlands.

“A good way to minimize unnecessary surgery is shared decision making,” de Reuver said by email. “Patients should make a list of their symptoms and doctors need to tell which symptoms are most likely to be resolved after surgery and which are less likely or unlikely to be resolved.”

The main goal of the study was to prove “non-inferiority” of restrictive surgical selection criteria as compared with leaving the choice up to the surgeon. To prove this, researchers estimated that there would need to be at least 5 percentage points separating the proportion of patients who were pain-free one year after surgery.

Patients should ‘be aware that there is a high chance that your gallbladder operation will not resolve all your abdominal pain.’–  Dr. Philip de Reuver

With restrictive criteria, 56 per cent of patients were pain-free after 12 months, as were 60 per cent of patients with usual care. This difference was too small for the restrictive criteria to be considered “non-inferior” to usual care.

There was no meaningful difference in gallstone complications related to participating in the trial; 8 per cent of patients in the usual care group and 7 per cent in the restrictive criteria group experienced complications like acute gallbladder pain or pancreatitis.

Symptom relief

Surgical complication rates were also similar between the groups, affecting 21 per cent of patients in the usual care group and 22 per cent in the restrictive criteria group.

At the end of the day, the study suggests that more work is needed to determine the best criteria for selecting patients for surgery, said the co-author of an accompanying editorial, Dr. Kjetil, Soreide of the University of Bergen in Norway.

“Jumping to a cholecystectomy may not always yield good outcomes, although many patients do still benefit from having a cholecystectomy,” Soreide said by email.

“One needs to be aware that this is not necessarily a ‘quick fix’ to avoid disappointment after surgery,” Soreide added. “Hopefully further studies will give better insight to what might cause symptoms and when a gallbladder surgery is likely to relieve symptoms.”

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Nintendo Forces Removal of Commodore 64 Super Mario Port 7 Years in the Making

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A modder who spent seven years building a version of Super Mario Bros. that could run on a Commodore 64 faced a sad but predictable reaction from Nintendo this week: Not on our watch. The company has already filed takedown notices against the modder, ZeroPaige, though his creation can be found online if you know where to look.

Getting Super Mario Bros. to run on a Commodore 64 was no small feat in the first place. The NES uses a Ricoh 2A03, an 8-bit chip based on the MOS Technology 6502 clocked at 1.79MHz. The Commodore 64 also uses a derivative of the 6502 — the 6510, in this case, but clocked at 0.985MHz (PAL) to 1.023MHz (NTSC). That puts the clock speed in the C64 at ~57 percent of the Nintendo NES,SEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce best-case.

One of the specific features of Super Mario Bros. is full-screen side scrolling, which apparently isn’t easy to implement. Nevertheless, the C64 version of the game is an incredibly faithful port, as can be seen below:

Of course, this means Nintendo was also watching. Almost as soon as the mod started to become popular, it was immediately taken down. The Commodore Computer Club tweeted about the issue:

This sort of situation is expected on the one hand — Nintendo is typically aggressive about enforcing its IP rights, and SMB is unquestionably Nintendo’s IP — and unfortunate on the other. Realistically, the company is not losing sales of SMB because someone ported it to the Commodore 64. The C64 homebrew and enthusiast scene is, at this point, quite small in absolute terms. No one is going to avoid buying a SwitchSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce or a 3DS because they can download a 34-year-old game for a nearly 40-year-old platform. But since SMB is still a commercial product Nintendo sells on its various platforms, the Commodore 64 port is a threat — however unlikely.

Of course, the flip side to this is that you can still play SMB online in any number of ways, provided you can Google the phrase “play Super Mario Bros. online.” Striking down the C64 version is more about sending a message than actually preventing people from playing the game.

If you’re curious for more information on how old-school game programming worked in a very different era, check the YouTube video above. The techniques and skills programmers used to create early games were quite different — but no less interesting — than what we see today.

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Canadian cities re-think removal of fluoride from tap water

It shouldn't be up to cities to decide to add fluoride to drinking water, but provincial officials, a Canadian mayor says.

Windsor, Ont., is bucking a national trend and looking at lifting its ban on adding fluoride to drinking water after seeing an increase in cavities among children.

Community water fluoridation is recommended by public health, medical and dental groups, including the Canadian and American Dental Associations, Canada's Chief Dental Officer and the World Health Organization. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called its contribution to the decline in cavities one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.  

Fluoride is a mineral that binds to the enamel of teeth, strengthening them to prevent bacterial decay.

But ever since Canadian communities first introduced fluoridation in 1945, some cities have gritted their teeth at the contentious addition, and the debate continues. Some Windsor city council members initially argued that fluoride could be obtained cheaply from toothpaste and other critics have presented general fears over adding chemicals to water supplies. 

A 2018 review by the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health evaluated dozens of studies on the health effects associated with fluoridation. "The evidence in this review supports the protective role of community water fluoridation in reducing dental caries [cavities] in children and adults," the authors concluded.

Decisions left to people with 'no science background' 

Last month, the city council in Windsor, Ont., voted to put fluoride back into its water supply after voting to remove it in 2013.

While Windsor's mayor Drew Dilkens is opposed to fluoridation, he doesn't think it should be up to municipalities to decide.

"If there is truly a health benefit of fluoride in the water system that is legitimate and real, it should be decided and mandated for all water systems across the province of Ontario and across Canada. That is not the case. They leave the decision up to people like me with no science background," said Dilkens.

"You have got to make the decision you think is right for your community and I think that mass medicating the entire water supply for the benefit of very few is not the right thing to do. But council voted otherwise. I respect that decision. We will add fluoride back to the water if another municipality agrees with council's decision." 

Studies show fluoridation is effective for the broad population, said Dr. Alexandria Meriano, a pediatric dentist in Windsor.

Like Windsor residents, almost two-thirds of Canadians no longer have fluoride added to their municipal water. In British Columbia, Yukon, Quebec, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador for instance, less than three per cent of the population has fluoride added to their municipal water. In comparison, it's 74 per cent in the U.S. and the CDC aims to increase that to 80 per cent by 2020.

Yemmi Calito's children are patients of Dr. Meriano. The two oldest kids were raised on fluoridated water in Windsor and both have healthy teeth. Her two youngest weren't, and they've had to be treated for serious tooth decay. Calito said their oral hygiene habits are the same.

"The younger two I feel they have more cavities," Calito said. "My little one, my three-year-old, actually had to go have general anesthesia … [about] four weeks ago to get his teeth fixed. They were in pretty bad shape."

Meriano said she's noticed a difference in her patients before and after fluoridation. "What I am seeing is more cavities at a younger age and more severe cavities at a younger age."

Some pediatric dentists in Windsor are seeing worsening cavities after the city stopped adding fluoride to its tap water. (Dr. Anne Young)

The advantage of community water fluoridation is it reaches everyone, not just those seeking dental care, Meriano said.

Like Windsor, Calgary is also seeing a spike in kids' cavities after removing fluoride. One city councillor in Calgary is convinced of its health benefits and thinks the city should vote on putting it back.

The opposition to fluoride is driven in part by "a fear of 'chemicals,' which unfortunately have been synonymous with toxin or poison," said chemistry Prof. Joe Schwarcz. "I think a lot of it comes back to just a lack of scientific knowledge, scientific literacy and fear mongering."

In affluent areas where there's access to dental care, and people receive advice from dentists on how to counsel their kids to use fluoride toothpaste without swallowing it, then there might be an argument against fluoridation, he said.

Dr. Alexandria Meriano supports re-introducing fluoride in Windsor's tap water. (Turgut Yeter/CBC)

"But in communities which are poorer, where there is no access to dental care and where children are not regularly examined in terms of their dental health, the overwhelming evidence is that you can reduce cavities by putting fluoride into the water," said Schwarcz, who heads the McGill Office for Science and Society.

Schwarcz said the debate over fluoridation will never end.

"There will always be people who are convinced that some sort of intervention is going to do them harm. We've seen this over the years not only with fluoride. We've seen them with pasteurization, we've seen it with microwave ovens, with cellphones. Any new technology is initially opposed and then eventually of course when its merit is proven the opposition slowly abates," he said. "But it never completely goes away."

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