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Train service to resume and the Leaning Tower of Dallas; In The News for Feb. 25

An Ontario Provincial Police officer talks on a radio after arrests were made at a rail blockade in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, near Belleville, Ont., on Monday Feb. 24, 2020, during a protest in solidarity with Wet'suwet'en Nation hereditary chiefs attempting to halt construction of a natural gas pipeline on their traditional territories. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Feb. 25 …

What we are watching in Canada …

TYENDINAGA MOHAWK TERRITORY, Ont. — A police operation that saw officers descend on a rail blockade on Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in central Ontario and arrest several protesters has cleared the way for train service to resume.

Ontario Provincial Police say officers moved in Monday morning after efforts to negotiate a peaceful resolution were exhausted and a midnight deadline to clear the blockade, which has brought freight and passenger rail traffic in much of Eastern Canada to a virtual standstill, was ignored.

Politicians hailed the police raid but the use of force angered Indigenous leaders, community members and advocacy groups who had hoped for a peaceful resolution.

The protesters had set up the blockade in support of the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en Nation, who oppose the development of a natural gas pipeline project that crosses their traditional territory in northwestern British Columbia.

CN issued a brief statement Monday saying the company was please the “illegal blockade” had come to an end, but offered no indication when service would resume.

Via Rail announced its route between Montreal and Halifax will resume service Friday.

Also this …

EDMONTON — Alberta politicians are returning to the legislature with a promise of new legislation targeting protesters who set up blockades.

Premier Jason Kenney says he plans to table a bill today that would create stiffer penalties for “anyone who riots on or who seeks to impair critical economic infrastructure, including railways.”

The United Conservative leader has been critical of protesters who have set up blockades on rail lines in support of the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, who oppose a natural gas pipeline project on their land in British Columbia.

Supporters of the Wet’suwet’en set up a blockade on a CN rail line on the edge of Edmonton last week.

Kenney says the blockades have cost jobs and hurt the economy, and are also in part to blame for Teck Resources Ltd. shelving its massive mine project in the province.

Lt.-Gov. Lois Mitchell is to deliver the traditional speech from the throne in the afternoon.

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What we are watching in the U.S. …

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Once, everyone seemed to think he was going to win. Now, Joe Biden can’t afford to lose.

In truth, he’s not alone — with Bernie Sanders on the march, neither Amy Klobuchar nor Elizabeth Warren can afford to leave South Carolina without a strong showing in Saturday’s Democratic primary, the last before 1,357 delegates go up for grabs a week from today on Super Tuesday.

But in a state with a history of messing with convention, it’s shaping up as a make-or-break week for Biden, the former vice-president who a year ago was conventional wisdom’s top pick among a crowded field as the one with the best chance to defeat Republican President Donald Trump.

“All conventional wisdom seems to come to rest here, in one sense or another,” said Charles Bierbauer, a former CNN reporter and dean emeritus of the College of Information and Communications at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, S.C.

It’s a state where 60 per cent of Democratic voters are black, a constituency that has long favoured Biden. But it’s also a state that likes to back a winner, which the ex-VP most decidedly was not after dismal showings in Iowa and New Hampshire before clawing his way back to a respectable second-place finish in Nevada.

“There is a considerable measure of pride in saying that South Carolina selects presidents,” Bierbauer said. “South Carolinians do like to think that they are making these kinds of significant choices, that they are not just a blip in the process.”

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

SEOUL — China and South Korea have reported today more cases of a new viral illness that has been concentrated in North Asia.

But concerns are growing about increasing clusters of the disease in the Middle East and Europe.

China reported 508 new cases and another 71 deaths, 68 of them in the central city of Wuhan, where the epidemic began in December.

The updates bring mainland China’s totals to 77,658 cases and 2,663 deaths.

South Korea now has the second-most cases with 893.

Health workers continue to find batches in the southeastern city of Daegu and nearby areas, where panic has brought towns to an eerie standstill.

ICYMI (In case you missed it) …

The release of a report that found non-profit founder Jean Vanier sexually abused at least six women has left many Canadian institutions facing difficult decisions on how to disassociate from a man once considered a hero.

L’Arche International says in a report that Vanier — a prominent Canadian Catholic figure who died last year at the age of 90 — had “manipulative sexual relationships” with at least six women between 1975 and 1990 in which he “used his power over them” to take advantage of them.

The news has both devastated and worried members of L’Arche Daybreak in Richmond Hill, Ont., part of an international network of communities that support people with intellectual disabilities.

“So many of us are feeling so shocked, saddened, and the word that keeps coming back is betrayed,” Trish Glennon, a community leader at L’Arche Daybreak, said Monday.

Vanier, son of former governor general Georges Vanier, worked as a Canadian navy officer and professor before turning to Catholic-inspired charity work.

He founded L’Arche in 1964 as an alternative living environment where those with developmental disabilities could be full-fledged participants in the community instead of patients.

Glennon worries the revelations about the group’s founder will taint public perception of the non-profit. 

Weird and wild …

DALLAS — The “Leaning Tower of Dallas,” a social media sensation born when a part of a building survived implosion, endured hundreds of blows from a wrecking ball Monday.

Dozens of people gathered northeast of the Texas city’s downtown to watch as a crane was used to batter the former Affiliated Computer Services building, but the developer now says the demolition may take days.

The 11-story building found a second life online after surviving a first demolition attempt. It inspired jokes and comparisons to Italy’s Leaning Tower of Pisa when a Feb. 16 implosion failed to bring down its core.

The company that engineered the blast said some explosives did not go off. In the following week, people flocked to the site to post photos of themselves pretending to prop up the lopsided tower.

As demolition work took place, an online petition to “save this landmark from destruction” continued to draw signatures.

And as the effort to topple the structure stretched into the late afternoon, people began to take another genre of photo — pretending to push the tower over rather than prop it up.

Know your news …

The United Nations’ top disarmament official says governments need to pay more attention to the “dark side” of artificial intelligence, including the implications of so-called killer robots that could take military decisions out of human hands. What was the name of the villainous robot at the centre of Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film “2001: A Space Odyssey”?

(Keep scrolling for the answer)

On this day in 1924 …

Douglas Jung — the first Chinese-Canadian elected to Parliament — was born in Victoria. Jung represented Vancouver Centre for the Conservatives from 1957-62. He was also the first Chinese-Canadian lawyer accepted to the British Columbia bar, the first to appear before the B.C. Court of Appeal, and the first to represent Canada at the United Nations.

Entertainment news …

The verdict in Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault trial is in, but Canadian experts say it remains to be seen how the landmark #MeToo case will be judged by history.

After five days of deliberation, a jury convicted Weinstein of raping an aspiring actress in a New York City hotel room in 2013 and sexually assaulting production assistant Mimi Haleyi at his apartment in 2006, but  Weinstein was found not guilty of the most serious charges, two counts of predatory sexual assault.

Halifax legal scholar Wayne MacKay says the “mixed verdict” may come as a disappointment to some #MeToo supporters, because it doesn’t account for the full breadth of Weinstein’s alleged pattern of predatory behaviour.

“I think the predatory sexual assault (charges) best captured that kind of problem,” MacKay says, noting there is no Canadian equivalent for the New York criminal charge, which requires prosecutors show the defendant committed a prior rape or other sex crime.

“The fact that they did not find beyond a reasonable doubt that he engaged in that is what’s disappointing.”

Sociologist Judith Taylor says the fact that Weinstein was found guilty on two counts likely comes as a “relief” to sexual-assault survivors who long ago lost faith in the criminal system as a mechanism for justice.

“I don’t think that there’s a bitter sweetness to the actual finding,” says Taylor, an associate professor at University of Toronto. “I think that he was found guilty in any way is quite shocking for most women.”

The games we play …

LONDON — Children up to the age of 12 will be banned from heading a soccer ball in practice sessions in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland as authorities look to address the potential long-term effect on health of head injuries.

The governing bodies of the three regions announced the new heading guidelines on Monday, months after a Scottish study found former professional players there were less likely to die of common causes such as heart disease and cancer compared with the general population but more likely to die with dementia.

The guidelines say there will be a “graduated approach” to heading in practice for kids from 12-15, while the heading will be restricted to one practice session per week for kids 16 and 17.

There will be no change in terms of heading in matches, taking into consideration the extremely limited number of headers which actually occur in youth matches.

Know your news answer …

HAL 9000. Represented by a camera lens with a red light and a soothing voice, HAL stood for heuristically programmed algorithmic computer.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2020.

The Canadian Press