24 Nov -

Berlin attack: German investigators seek Tunisian man in Christmas market attack

BERLIN – German police are looking for a Tunisian man after finding an identity document under the driver’s seat of the truck that plowed into a Berlin Christmas market, killing 12 people, on Monday evening, security sources said.

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The document was in the name of Anis A., born in the southern city of Tataouine in 1992, the sources said, using a convention whereby suspects are identified by their first name and initial. The man was also believed to use false names.

A spokesperson for Tunisia’s foreign ministry said it was trying to verify the information. Daily newspaper Bild reported the man was known to police as a possibly dangerous individual, and part of a large Islamist network.

The pre-Christmas carnage at a symbolic Berlin site – under the ruined spire of a church bombed in World War Two – has shocked Germans and prompted security reviews across Europe, already on high alert after attacks this year in Belgium and France.

READ MORE: Berlin police release suspect in deadly Christmas market truck attack

The possible – though unproven – involvement of a migrant or refugee has revived a bitter debate about security and immigration, with Chancellor Angela Merkel facing calls to clamp down after allowing more than a million newcomers into Germany in the past two years.

Merkel, who will run for a fourth term next year, has said it would be particularly repulsive if a refugee seeking protection in Germany was the perpetrator.

Police initially arrested a Pakistani asylum-seeker near the scene, but released him without charge on Tuesday. Authorities have warned that the attacker is on the run and may be armed. It is not clear if the perpetrator was acting alone or with others.

The 25-tonne truck, belonging to a Polish freight company, smashed into wooden huts selling Christmas gifts and serving mulled wine and sausages, injuring about 45 people.

VIDEO: Global News reporter recounts Berlin attack

The Polish driver of the hijacked truck was found shot dead in the cabin of the vehicle. Bild reported that he was alive until the attack took place.

It quoted an investigator as saying there must have been a struggle with the attacker, who may have been injured.

ISLAMIC STATE CLAIM

Islamic State has claimed responsibility, as it did for a similar attack in July when a Tunisian-born man rammed a truck through a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in the French city of Nice. Eighty-six people were killed, and the driver was shot dead by police.

The head of the Association of German Criminal Detectives, Andre Schulz, told German television late on Tuesday that police hoped to make another arrest soon.

VIDEO: Interview with Global reporter in Berlin the day after truck attack

“I am relatively confident that we will perhaps tomorrow or in the near future be able to present a new suspect,” he said.

Police arrested another suspect in the early hours of Wednesday morning but later released him, broadcaster rbb reported.

Wednesday’s Passauer Neue Presse quoted the head of the group of interior ministers from Germany’s 16 federal states, Klaus Bouillon, as saying tougher security measures were needed.

“We want to raise the police presence and strengthen the protection of Christmas markets. We will have more patrols. Officers will have machine guns. We want to make access to markets more difficult, with vehicles parked across them,” Bouillon told the paper.

The Interior Minister in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia said he would hold a news conference at 3.30 p.m. “on current events.”

READ MORE: Berlin attack: First victim was truck driver who was dedicated to his job

VIDEO SURVEILLANCE

Some politicians have blamed Merkel’s open-door migrant policy for making such attacks more likely. The anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has gained support in the last two years as the chancellor’s popularity has waned, said on Tuesday that Germany is no longer safe.

Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann told German radio there was a higher risk of Islamist attacks because of the influx of migrants in the past two years, many of whom have fled countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The task of tracking the suspects and the movements of the truck may be complicated by the relative scarcity of security cameras in public places in Germany, compared with similar countries like Britain.

WATCH: Berlin mourners sing ‘We Are the World’ at site of market attack

The German cabinet on Wednesday approved a draft law to broaden video surveillance in public and commercial areas, a move agreed by parties last month after a spate of violent attacks and sexual assaults on women.

State surveillance is a sensitive issue in Germany because of extensive snooping by the Stasi secret police in Communist East Germany and by the Gestapo in the Nazi era.

24 Nov -

6 hospitalized in addition to woman who died after overdosing at Toronto nightclub: councillor

Six young people were hospitalized after an “all ages” concert at a Toronto nightclub this weekend, a city councillor said Tuesday.

The illnesses are in addition to the death of a 19-year-old woman, who died after being rushed to the emergency room.

“This has been going on way too long,” said Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti.

One woman at the event described seeing someone being helped by staff.

“She went past and security was taking her out along with a couple of her friends, but they all had to like carry her,” said Jamie Lee.

“We thought that we were going to lose her,” said the father of a 16-year-old who was taken to hospital Frida night. She has since been released from hospital.

He didn’t want to be identified to protect his daughter, but he is calling for an end to “all ages” dance parties. Mammoliti is as well.

He said at “all ages” concerts there are overdoses no one knows about because of privacy issues, but he feels that information needs to be made public.

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“If we knew about all of the people who are OD-ing who are children – literally 13, 14-year-old children at these events – I think most people would change their position on this,” said Mammoliti.

But Toronto’s mayor said he doesn’t support a ban on all ages events.

“I’m not sure that is going to address the problem of the use of these drugs,” said John Tory.

The Drug Awareness Society of Toronto said in addition to taking a hard look at “all ages” parties, fatal party-drug overdoses should be reviewed more closely.

READ MORE: Woman dead, 16-year-old girl hospitalized after overdosing at popular Toronto nightclub

Those overdoses aren’t tracked by Toronto Police or the coroner’s office.

“The only way to really hone in on it and overcome it is if we work together and really focus on what is happening today,” said Bhawan Sandhu.

REBEL, which is owned by INK Entertainment, hasn’t answered any questions posed by Global News.

“REBEL has a zero tolerance drug policy, and also subjects every patron entering the venue to a full search. Anyone who is caught with an illegal substance is immediately denied entry,” said a spokesperson for INK Entertainment in a statement emailed to Global News Monday.

READ MORE: Drug overdose deaths continue to rise in B.C. in 2016

Meanwhile, Jamie Lee said any venue can only do so much. She also said it was a wild night and she has never seen anything quite like it.

“I don’t know. There’s a lot of people that had a bad batch of something,” said Lee.

What was just supposed to be a good time ended up costing one young woman her life.

24 Nov -

Christmas tree, pig bring cheer to stranded crew of ship anchored off Saturna Island

SATURNA ISLAND, B.C. – The stranded crew of an empty container ship tied up in an international bankruptcy issue received a shipment of donated holiday cheer Tuesday, including a Christmas tree, a 20-kilogram pig and 90 kilograms of barbecue coals.

Several maritime labour groups and members of Victoria’s Filipino community gathered up more than a tonne of Christmas provisions for the 16-member crew of the 255-metre Hanjin Scarlet, anchored off Saturna Island, about 70 kilometres northeast of Victoria.

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“It’s lonely,” said sailor Romeo Cabacang from the Philippines. “But all the crew, we are very happy for the early Christmas gift. We are very happy.”

Cabacang, 40, who is married with two children in Manila, said he’s been on board the ship for 10 months, but doesn’t know when that will change.

“Nobody knows when we are going home,” he said. “We don’t have that information.”

The South Korean and Filipino crew members have been technically homeless at sea since August, anchoring for months at a time outside Prince Rupert, Vancouver and the Southern Gulf Islands. They are being paid, but say they can’t afford to leave the ship and their jobs.

The ship’s captain, Jaewon Lee from South Korea, said his crew is in good shape and is patiently awaiting the bankruptcy issues to be resolved.

He said the crew is not going to shore because they need their rest and want to save money.

“Everybody well. Nothing problem,” Lee said in broken English. He added the ship has a solid Internet connection, which allows his crew to stay in touch with their families.

Lee said he expects the crew to roast the pig on Christmas Eve.

The sailors, dressed in bright orange coveralls and yellow work helmets, waved at the visitors and laughed loudly as they carried their cache of provisions to the top deck. The sailors cheered as the Christmas tree was packed up the steep, portable stairs that had been lowered from the ship’s deck.

The crew cheerfully helped unload the donated goods onto wood pallets which were then hoisted on deck with cargo nets and a crane.

Steve Hnatko, who represents a Vancouver area shipping service, said the longshore workers, ferry workers and other maritime labour groups gathered donations and delivered the goods from Vancouver and Victoria.

“When they came here they weren’t expecting obviously to be here for the winter, so they didn’t have a lot of warm clothes or anything else,” he said. “That was one of their first requests, anything warm.”

Hnatko said the workers went a bit overboard, adding gifts, drinks and special foods.

Jason Woods, a member of Vancouver’s International Longshore and Warehouse Union, said the donations are a message of hope to the stranded crew.

“The seventh largest shipping company in the world is bankrupt and these people here are the human cost,” he said.

Dozens of Hanjin container ships have been stranded in similar situations in waters around the world. Several ships were seized in California after unloading on behalf of creditors of the South Korean company.

In September, Hanjin’s lead creditor, Korea Development Bank, said it would offer a credit line worth millions to help the shipping company unload cargo that had been stranded offshore.

24 Nov -

Trudeau vows to ensure security agencies obey letter of law amid surveillance fears

OTTAWA – Justin Trudeau says his government will ensure security and spy agencies follow the “letter and spirit” of the law, amid mounting concerns they have trampled the privacy of journalists and other Canadians.

In a roundtable interview this week with , the prime minister stressed that national security agencies must protect Canadians but also safeguard the laws and values the public cherishes.

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Trudeau’s words come as the Liberal government wraps up a national consultation on federal security policy and they follow two recent episodes that heightened public concern about unwarranted surveillance.

It emerged last month that the Montreal and Quebec provincial police forces had been tracking the communications of several journalists. Only days later, a Federal Court judge found the Canadian Security Intelligence Service had broken the law by keeping and analyzing information about the communications of innocent people – potentially revealing data that was collected during investigations into actual suspects.

READ MORE: Canada contemplating allowing CSIS to use metadata from innocent people

There are also nagging questions about whether CSIS has used its considerable powers to monitor media members.

In the interview, Trudeau said the Liberals would “make sure that our security agencies and intelligence agencies obey the letter and the spirit of the laws that frame them.”

The freedom of the media to go unscrutinized in the course of their work “is something that I believe in fundamentally,” he added. “The only way democracy gets to work is if there is an informed population holding their political parties and leadership to account and that happens through a strong, independent free press.”

The words may provide a measure of comfort to wary civil libertarians who fear that security imperatives – not the rights of ordinary Canadians – are driving the federal review.

READ MORE: CSIS director says data not collected illegally, but welcomes court ruling

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told MPs at a House of Commons committee this month he was keeping an open mind as to whether CSIS should be allowed to retain and use the incidentally gathered data trails – such as phone numbers and email addresses – of non-targets.

Unlike the New Democrats, the Liberals backed omnibus security legislation, known as Bill C-51, ushered in by the previous Conservative government. However, in last year’s election campaign Trudeau promised to repeal “problematic elements” of the new law.

VIDEO: Government not sure how many Canadians had data collected by CSIS over last 10 years

The legislation gave CSIS explicit powers to disrupt terrorist threats, not just gather information about them.

It also created a new offence of promoting the commission of terrorist offences and broadened the government’s no-fly list powers. In addition, it expanded the sharing of federally held information about activity that “undermines the security of Canada.”

READ MORE: CSIS illegal data-keeping shows more oversight needed over spy agency, NDP says

The Liberal government has committed to ensure all CSIS warrants respect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to preserve legitimate protest and advocacy and to define terrorist propaganda more clearly.

It has also introduced legislation to create a committee of parliamentarians to keep an eye on the security and intelligence activities of CSIS and more than a dozen other federal agencies.

Trudeau said the committee of seven MPs and two senators – cleared to see secret information – will strive to ensure these agencies are “protecting Canadians from everything we need to be protected from and that they are obeying the laws and the values that we hold dear as Canadians.”

24 Nov -

Kuwait announces annual Washington party will be at Donald Trump’s new hotel

One of the Middle East’s richest nations said Tuesday it would host its annual Washington party at Donald Trump‘s new hotel, underscoring the president-elect’s unusual status as the owner of a major venue for events in the U.S. capital.

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Salem Al Sabah, Kuwait’s ambassador to the U.S., said the party would take place Feb. 25, adding that he hopes guests like the “new hotel in town.” He said no one pressed him to move the Kuwaiti National Day event from its regular venue at the Four Seasons. Although Kuwait did not have a contract with the Four Seasons for the party, the date had been set aside for it to possibly take place there.

“I do not know President-elect Trump,” the ambassador told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “I do not know any of his people. None of his people have contacted me.” He added: “I thought would be exciting for our guests to see a new venue. It looks great. It looks cool. So let’s do it.”

READ MORE: Donald Trump’s kids offer access as a perk for charity donations

Al Sabah noted that last year’s reception occurred at the Newseum, a museum promoting the media.

WATCH: Why new Trump hotels won’t use the Trump name

Nevertheless, the move to Trump’s $200-million renovation of the Old Post Office Pavilion could reinforce questions raised about the incoming president’s possible conflicts of interest. House Democrats already have warned that they’ll make the splashy hotel a headache for Trump if he doesn’t dump his ownership stake before taking office Jan. 20. Trump has a six-decade lease on the property.

READ MORE: LeBron James explains refusal to stay with teammates at Trump Hotel

The Trump Organization is moving to remove thorny overseas relationships, cancelling hotel licensing deals in Azerbaijan, neighbouring Georgia and Brazil.

Al Sabah ridiculed the notion that he would choose the D.C. hotel to curry favour with the next administration.

“We have very deep economic, military and cultural ties; we’ve had tens of thousands of American troops in our country,” he said, noting Kuwait’s basing of forces for U.S. operations in Afghanistan and to fight the Islamic State group. “You think a two-hour reception in a ballroom does that?”

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