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Boko Haram burns kids alive in Nigeria, 86 dead: officials

Boko Haram burns kids alive in Nigeria, 86 dead: officials

DALORI, Nigeria — A survivor hidden in a tree says he watched Boko Haram extremists firebomb huts and heard the screams of children burning to death, among 86 people officials say died in the latest attack by Nigeria’s homegrown Islamic extremists. Scores of charred corpses and bodies with bullet wounds littered the streets from Saturday night’s attack on Dalori village and two nearby camps housing 25,000 refugees, according to survivors and soldiers at the scene just 5 kilometres (3 miles) from Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram and the biggest city in Nigeria’s northeast. The shooting, burning and explosions from three suicide bombers continued for nearly four hours in the unprotected area, survivor Alamin Bakura said, weeping on a telephone call to The Associated Press. He said several of his family members were killed or wounded. The violence continued as three female suicide bombers blew up among people who managed to flee to neighbouring Gamori village, killing many people, according to a soldier at the scene who insisted on anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to journalists. Troops arrived at Dalori around 8:40 p.m. Saturday but were unable to overcome the attackers, who were better armed, said soldiers who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press. The Boko Haram fighters only retreated after reinforcements arrived with heavier weapons, they said. Journalists visited the carnage Sunday and spoke to survivors who complained it had taken too long for help to arrive from nearby Maiduguri, the military headquarters of the fight to curb Boko Haram. They said they fear another attack. Eighty-six bodies were collected by Sunday afternoon, according to Mohammed Kanar, area co-ordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency. Another 62 people are being treated for burns, said Abba Musa of the State Specialist Hospital in Maiduguri. Boko Haram has been attacking soft targets, increasingly with suicide bombers, since the military last year drove them out of towns and villages in northeastern Nigeria. The 6-year Islamic uprising has killed about 20,000 people and driven 2.5 million from their homes. ___ Umar reported from Abuja, Nigeria. By Ismail Alfa...

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Jian Ghomeshi: Obscurity, fame and infamy

Jian Ghomeshi: Obscurity, fame and infamy

TORONTO — As a certified celebrity, Jian Ghomeshi soared to dizzying heights of national and even international admiration before his career crashed and burned amid allegations that he used his stardom as a shield to hide his sexual predilections that police allege crossed from the kinky to the criminal. On Monday, the courts will begin sorting out whether he engaged in consensual “rough sex,” as Ghomeshi claims, or whether, as three women claim, he sexually assaulted them. Whatever the verdict, expected several weeks down the road, it’s an open question whether the former host of the CBC radio program “Q” will ever be able to recover from the barrage of bad publicity the allegations unleashed. Those who know Ghomeshi best describe him as a complex character: thoughtful and considerate, a bit weird, possessed of an uncanny knack for connecting with people. “I knew him to be a charming, if temperamental, narcissist who desperately wanted to be adored,” Ghomeshi’s friend, Leah McLaren, wrote last year in an article for Toronto Life. Those who worked with him, according to an investigative report made public, described him as moody, often mean and disrespectful, and “creepy” toward female colleagues he worked with. For years, however, nothing seemed to block the ever-brightening light that was Ghomeshi. Born in England to Iranian parents before coming to the Toronto area at age 9, Ghomeshi, 48, would earn widespread accolades for a golden-voiced interview style that put his celebrity subjects at ease and elicited sensitive information. He had initially found himself in the public spotlight as a singer-drummer with Moxy Fruvous, a modestly successful satirical folk-pop group, in the late 1980s. But in 2002, the stars began aligning for him when he shifted to broadcasting, becoming host of an arts-oriented program with Canada’s public broadcaster. Several more music-related CBC gigs followed until he had earned the street cred that allowed him in 2007 to launch his own live radio show called “Q.” With its top-drawer guests succumbing to a hip Ghomeshi’s soothing but persistent prodding, the program became the centrepiece of CBC Radio’s lineup, with a devoted following that included many among younger Canadians. A chat...

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Longtime mobster Rocco Zito shot dead in his Toronto home

Longtime mobster Rocco Zito shot dead in his Toronto home

The son-in-law of longtime underworld figure Rocco Zito has turned himself in to police after Zito was shot dead in his home early Friday evening. Domenico Scopelliti, 51, of Toronto, reported to police late Friday to face first-degree murder charges, hours after Zito, 87, was killed in his home on Playfair Ave., near Caledonia Rd. Emergency responders had tried to save Zito’s life but he was pronounced dead on scene, paramedics said. Zito was considered a longtime senior member of the ‘Ndrangheta, or Calabrian mafia, with influence in New York, Montreal and Italy. His old associates included Nicolo Rizzuto, a murdered Montreal mobster, and Tomasso Buscetta, a former Sicilian Mafia leader who became a turncoat in the 1980s, according to police sources. A GTA police officer who specializes in organized crime said Zito was no longer considered an active player in the underworld. “He has been long retired,” the police officer said. Antonio Nicaso, a GTA author and authority on organized crime, disagrees with that assessment. “Retirement is not an option in the ‘Ndrangheta,” he said. Police were called to Zito’s brick ranch-style home shortly after 5 p.m. Friday. Efforts to save his life failed and he was pronounced dead on scene. Zito, a grandfather, didn’t look the part of a mob boss or a powerful man, and a police officer who knew him described him as polite and respectful. He stood just 5-foot-2 and drove a nondescript Chevrolet Malibu. His unassuming, compact look belied the fact he was considered by police to have been a leader of the local governing body of the ‘Ndrangheta, called La Camera di Controllo or the Crimini — and the belief he was once a strongarm for former Scarborough resident Alberto Agueci, who was tortured and murdered in 1961 after threatening to inform on the Magaddino crime family of Buffalo. Zito was targeted by police in the mid-1980s in a project codenamed Otiz, his name spelled backward. Otiz was an attempt to catch him offering safe passage for Sicilian Mafia members fleeing crackdowns there in the 1980s. Intelligence gathering proved a challenge for police, as Zito seldom spoke on the phone,...

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Mystery of Parliament Hill fire still unsolved

Mystery of Parliament Hill fire still unsolved

OTTAWA — It’s difficult to imagine the scale of the trauma, the wartime anxiety, the shock, the anger, that would have engulfed the nation 100 years ago when the seat of the federal government went down in flames. Seven people died that bitterly cold night on Feb. 3, 1916, when the old Centre Block burned down — the building that saw figures like Macdonald, Bowell, Tupper and Laurier pass through its halls and sit in the Dominion’s first House of Commons. “The grand old tower put up a magnificent fight for survival. Standing while the support seemed to have burned away, it sent a solid pillow of twisting, billowing gold up into the winter night,” Ottawa Citizen reporter Charles Bishop wrote. “Finally, it came down, crashing into the concourse in front and with it, carrying the huge, old clock which had stayed illuminated and kept on striking to the last.” On Wednesday, the House of Commons will mark the tragedy by displaying the wooden mace that was first used as a replacement after the fire. The House will also hear the names of the victims read out, including Nova Scotia MP Bowman Brown Law. “At one time Sir Wilfrid’s voice faltered and entirely broke,” reads an Ottawa Journal account of Laurier’s speech the day after the 1916 blaze, as the Commons sat at the Victoria Memorial Museum. “The veteran white-haired statesman whose eloquence re-echoed through the halls of the Commons in ruins was overcome with depth of feeling.” Laurier would die before the new buildings opened. The Parliament Hill fire is one of the enduring mysteries of Canadian history. It happened in the middle of the First World War, and there were many at the time who believed it had been deliberately set by German saboteurs. Just weeks before the fire, an unsavoury American businessman told a newspaper editor that Germans were planning an attack on Ottawa’s capital buildings — the U.S. was not yet at war. American justice officials had received the tip, but the message apparently never made it to Canadian authorities. Still, an official inquiry came up with no firm conclusion on...

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Snowmobilers back on mountain after 5 deaths

Snowmobilers back on mountain after 5 deaths

MCBRIDE, B.C. — The day after a colossal avalanche killed five snowmobilers in eastern British Columbia, Thea Pelletier climbed aboard her machine and returned to the backcountry wilderness. She unfastened a yellow plastic lily from her backpack and planted the flower in pristine snow to pay her respects. “I had a moment. It was intense. It was bigger than thou,” Pelletier said. “You feel the insignificance of what you are when you’re up against mountains like this. I can’t imagine someone calling my mom to say, ‘Your daughter is not coming home.'” The B.C. Coroners Service revealed over the weekend the identities of the five Alberta men who died during a recreational outing on Mount Renshaw, near the small community of McBride, B.C. They were identified as Vincent Loewen, 52, of Vegreville; Tony Greenwood, 41, of Grand Prairie County; Ricky Robinson, 55, of Spruce Grove; Todd Chisholm, 47, of St. Albert; and John Garley, 49, of Stony Plain. RCMP said they were in four separate groups that had converged just before the slide came roaring down. As the sun set Saturday evening, four trucks with Alberta licence plates and snowmobile trailers attached were left empty in the darkness at the foot of the Rocky Mountain range. Inside one was a pack of cigarettes and ring of faux Hawaiian flowers, hanging from the rear-view mirror. There were Tim Hortons coffee cups in another, and an Edmonton Oilers cap sat on the dash of the vehicle next to it. By early Sunday, groups of snowmobilers prepared to leave McBride — some calling it a stressful weekend, while others believed more painful emotions would set in later. Two men said they were heading back to the scene to retrieve the sled of their friend, who had died. “He was a very nice guy, a family man,” said Leo, who didn’t give his last name, of his friend John Garley. He said preventing future deaths required “education,” but he described the scene on Friday as “just a bad situation.” Neil Petryshen, from Saskatoon, said he and his friends hadn’t absorbed the loss yet, but suggested the tragedy wouldn’t stop them...

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Niki Stamac said her seemingly innocuous choice of where to sit and watch Netflix last night probably saved her life. Stamac was on her couch early Sunday morning when an SUV came crashing through her living room, narrowly missing her. Start the conversation, or Read more at GlobalNews. Source...

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Five things to watch for in Canadian business

Five things to watch for in Canadian business

TORONTO — Five things to watch this week in Canadian business: WestJet: The Calgary-based airline, which like other airlines had a banner year in 2015, reports its fourth-quarter and year-end earnings on Tuesday. WestJet recently announced it’s cutting or reducing flights between six B.C. cities and Alberta’s major airports by March 5 as the downturn in oil prices weights on travel demand. Auditor: Michael Ferguson, Canada’s auditor general, is set to release his fall report Tuesday on a number of federal departments. Among those audited was Shared Services Canada and its so-called transformation plan on IT security, launched under the previous government. TPP: International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland is in Auckland, New Zealand on Thursday to join 11 other trade ministers from the Trans-Pacific Partnership at a signing event. Valeant: Howard Schiller, interim CEO of Montreal-based Valeant Pharmaceuticals, testifies to a House of Representatives committee on Capitol Hill on Thursday. American legislators are looking into pricing practices by big drug companies. Oilpatch deal: The friendly takeover offer by Suncor Energy for Canadian Oil Sands expires on Friday, two days after Suncor releases fourth-quarter results. The company, Canada’s dominant oilsands player, is looking for at least 51 per cent of COS shares to be tendered to its revised offer, which now has the support of the COS board and major shareholder Seymour Schulich. By The Canadian Press Source...

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TORONTO — An 87-year-old man who reportedly was a longtime underworld figure was shot dead Friday and a suspect identified as his son-in-law faces a first degree murder charge. Police identified the man killed as Rocco Zito of Toronto. The suspect, Domenico Scopelliti, 51, turned himself in to police after he was named as a suspect. He appeared in court on Saturday but there was no immediate indication when he would next appear before a judge to face the allegations. Some local media outlets reported he was Zito’s son-in-law, but a police news release did not mention any family relationship. Police have said Zito was pronounced dead after suffering a gunshot wound in a house on Toronto’s west end. They said officers tried to save the man’s life. Antonio Nicaso, an expert on Canada’s Mafia landscape, said Zito was a powerful figure in the Calabrian Mafia, ‘ndrangheta. Zito immigrated to Canada in the mid-1950s, Nicaso said. He added Zito had ties to the New York, Montreal and Italy branches of ‘ndrangheta. Nicaso said Zito acted as an enforcer for Albert Agueci, who was involved in the “French Connection”, smuggling heroin from Canada to the U.S. Zito made his money from gambling, money-lending and counterfeiting, Nicaso said, though police were never able to prove it. Zito was convicted of manslaughter in 1980 and sentenced to four years in prison after beating a man to death over an unpaid debt, Nicaso said. Several years later, Zito was appointed the head of the Camera di Controllo, which is like a board of elders. “He was a bigshot,” Nicaso said. “He was a kingpin. He was a really big boss in the ’80s, in the ’70s, even in the ’90s.” Since then, Zito had taken a backseat, Nicaso said. In recent years, he acted as more of an advisor than an active participant. But Nicaso said, “Retirement is not an option in the Mafia.” —Follow @ColeyT on Twitter. By Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press Source...

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Five killed in B.C. avalanche from Alberta

Five killed in B.C. avalanche from Alberta

MCBRIDE, B.C. — All five snowmobilers killed in an immense avalanche in eastern British Columbia were from Alberta, authorities said Saturday as the local community reeled from the tragedy. The B.C. Coroners Service released the identities of the men, ranging in age from 41 to 55, shortly after RCMP held a news conference in McBride, B.C. Cpl. Jay Grierson offered his condolences to the families and said the small village on the Alberta-B.C. boundary was deeply affected by the deaths. “This community is very supportive and welcoming of snowmobilers. We rely on these people to enjoy our community,” he said. “People attend the area from all over the world. We develop relationships with them. We see the same people repeatedly because it’s a beautiful spot.” The men killed were: Vincent Eugene Loewen, 52, of Vegreville; Tony Christopher Greenwood, 41, of Grand Prairie County; Ricky Robinson, 55, of Spruce Grove; Todd William Chisholm, 47, of St. Albert; and John Harold Garley, 49, of Stony Plain. A statement on behalf of Chisolm’s family said he had a passion for sledding in the mountains. “He died too young doing what he enjoyed with his sledding buddies. Thanks to the four friends who were with Todd for their efforts,” it said. “Todd will be sadly missed by his wife of 18 years, children, mother and father, brothers and sister, extended family, friends and community.” Chisholm enjoyed fishing, hunting, camping and playing games with his children and wife, as well as music, the statement said. Grierson said four separate groups of snowmobilers from Alberta, totalling 17 people, were caught in the avalanche path or buried to some degree, but they have all been accounted for. At least one person suffered a non-life-threatening injury and 11 people were flown out at the time of the rescue efforts, he said. He said the B.C. Coroners Service has taken over the investigation and RCMP will continue to assist. The slide happened Friday afternoon in the Renshaw area near McBride, about 210 kilometres southeast of Prince George. The avalanche risk was “considerable” and warning signs were posted. Search and rescue manager Rod Whelpton...

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