World & Canada News - April 20, 2017 issue


Trump administration to review U.S. sanctions against Iran
By Matthew Lee/The Associated Press/April 18, 2017

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration has notified Congress that Iran is complying with the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal negotiated by former President Barack Obama, and says the U.S. has extended the sanctions relief given to the Islamic republic in exchange for curbs on its atomic program.

However, in a letter sent late Tuesday to House Speaker Paul Ryan, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the administration has undertaken a full review of the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
“Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terror, through many platforms and methods,” Tillerson wrote. He said the National Security Council-led interagency review of the agreement will evaluate whether it “is vital to the national security interests of the United States.”

The certification of Iran’s compliance, which must be sent to Congress every 90 days, is the first issued by the Trump administration. The deadline for this certification was midnight.

As a candidate in the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump was an outspoken critic of the deal but had offered conflicting opinions on whether he would try to scrap it, modify it or keep it in place with more strenuous enforcement. Tuesday’s determination suggested that while Trump agreed with findings by the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, that Iran is keeping to its end of the bargain, he is looking for another way to ratchet up pressure on Tehran.

Despite the sanctions relief, Iran remains on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism for its support of anti-Israel groups and is still subject to non-nuclear sanctions, including for human rights abuses and for its backing of Syrian President Bashar Assad‘s government.

The nuclear deal was sealed in Vienna in July 2015 after 18 months of negotiations led by former Secretary of State John Kerry and diplomats from the other four permanent members of the U.N. Security Council – Britain, China, France and Russia – and Germany. Under its terms, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program, long suspected of being aimed at developing atomic weapons, in return for billions of dollars in sanctions relief.

Opponents of the deal, including Israel, objected, saying it only delayed Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and did not allow for the kind of inspections of its atomic sites that would guarantee it was not cheating. Obama, Kerry and others who negotiated the deal strenuously defended its terms and said the agreement made Israel, the Middle East and the world a safer place. 

Australia may consider shark cull after teenager's death
BBC News/April 18, 2017

Laeticia Brouwer, 17, was fatally attacked by a shark on Monday while surfing in Western Australia (WA).
It was the third deadly attack in the state within 12 months.

Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said Australia would think about culling sharks or introducing other measures, such as drum line traps.

"In light of the recent shark attack the Commonwealth would welcome any proposal to put human life first," he said.
"This could include the newest drum line technology, shark exclusion nets, culling or other measures which WA sees fit."A drum line is a trap consisting of large baited hook attached to a floating object, which is anchored to the sea floor.

However, the state government said it would not deploy drum lines following Ms Brouwer's death.
"They don't actually make our beaches any safer," WA Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly said.

The fisheries department said it believed Ms Brouwer was attacked by a great white shark after examining photos of her damaged surfboard.

In 2014, the state trialled a shark cull on seven beaches using baited traps, but it proved controversial and was halted by an environmental regulator. More than 170 sharks were caught but none of them were great whites.
New shark nets have recently been installed at some beaches in the state.

'Passion' for ocean
Ms Brouwer's uncle Steve Evans said relatives were "terribly heartbroken" by her death in the town of Esperance.
"We take comfort in the fact that Laeticia died doing something that she loved," he said.

"The ocean was her and her family's passion. Surfing was something that she treasured doing with her dad and her sisters.

"Laeticia will be greatly missed by her family, friends and everyone who knew her."
The beach will remain closed until further notice.



Accused polygamists plead not guilty in trial testing the limit of religious freedoms in Canada
Outdated polygamy laws fuelled long legal battle between province and the 2 accused
By Yvette Brend/CBC News/April 18, 2017

Two leaders of a fundamentalist sect that condones plural marriage have pleaded not guilty to polygamy charges in a Cranbrook, B.C., courtroom where an epic battle to test the limits of religious freedom in Canada is playing out.

Well-known Canadian polygamist Winston Blackmore, 61, and his former brother-in-law, James Oler, 53, each face one count of polygamy under Canada's 127-year-old polygamy laws.

Their trial got underway today in B.C. Supreme Court, where Oler refused a lawyer and Blackmore refused to acknowledge the charge against him, forcing the court to record a not guilty plea for him.

The two former bishops of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) are descendants of the original founders of the 1,500-person rural B.C. enclave, called Bountiful, where plural marriage has been practised for 70 years by the splinter group of the Mormon Church.

Blackmore at one time was the leader of the sect. Oler was appointed to lead Bountiful following Blackmore's excommunication from the Mormon splinter group in 2002 by Warren Jeffs, who was then the American FLDS leader.

He and his brother-in-law had a falling out and no longer speak. The two men lost a bid to be tried separately.

Oler is on trial for allegedly marrying four women between 1993 and 2009.

Unlike Blackmore, he's kept quiet about his actions, refusing interviews.

Blackmore does not deny he's had 24 wives over a 25-year period, and produced 145 children.

In previous Federal Tax Court hearings he forgot to name one of his wives, and admitted he'd need to call home for help to be able to name all of his offspring.

The legal battle dates back to the 1990s when investigations of the isolated religious sect were prompted by allegations that Bountiful residents were involved in multiple-wife marriages, described as "celestial marriages."

The court is expected to hear the history of the breakaway Mormon sects in the next few days, when Texas Ranger Nick Hanna testifies.

Hanna was one of the officers who raided the FLDS Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado after Blackmore and his wife were accused of taking a 13-year-old across the U.S. border in 2004.

Thousands of pages of marriage records were seized during the investigation that led to the arrest of Jeffs, 61, who is now serving a life sentence for child sexual assault.

But the Canadian case against Blackmore and others became mired in legalities because of a lack of clarity around polygamy laws.

Several efforts to clarify legislation followed, taking the case to the B.C. Supreme Court level.

In 2007, then-attorney general Wally Oppal appointed special prosecutor Richard Peck to review RCMP files, but he agreed with previous opinions that the law may not be constitutional.

Eventually, after two more special prosecutors were appointed, charges were laid in 2009, then stayed.

Where is the line?
Then in 2011, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that laws banning polygamy were constitutional and did not violate the religious freedoms guaranteed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

That cleared the way for the Blackmore/Oler trial to go ahead.

This week in Cranbrook B.C. Supreme Court Justice Sheri Ann Donegan will hear arguments and eventually make a decision that could sketch out new limits for religious freedom in Canada.

Blackmore and Oler are expected to argue that having multiple wives is their religious right, and brings them closer to God.

The Crown argues polygamy is a clear violation of the Criminal Code, and leads to the subjugation of women and children.

None of the allegations have been proven in court and the case is being heard by judge alone.