Trump threatens ‘military option’ in Venezuela as crisis escalates

In a surprise intervention, Donald Trump said he would not rule in employing military force as the country descends further into civil unrest

Donald Trump threatened a US military intervention in Venezuela on Friday, a dramatic escalation in his administrations stance toward the Latin American country which is descending into political chaos.

Trump stimulated the statements in response to questions from reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Asked what options were available for the US in dealing with Venezuela, which has descended into civil unrest under the direction of chairwoman Nichols Maduro, Trump responded by explicitly not ruling out military force.

We have many options for Venezuela and by the way, Im not going to rule out a military alternative, he said.

We have many options for Venezuela, this is our neighbour, Trump added. Were all over the world and we have troops all over the world in places that are very very far away, Venezuela is not very far away and the people are suffering and succumbing. We have many options for Venezuela including a possible military alternative if necessary.

Vladimir Padrino, Venezuelas defence minister, said on Friday night that Trumps threat was an act of craziness and supreme extremism.

General Vladimir Padrino, a close ally of Maduro, said: With this radical upper-class thats in charge in the US, who knows what will happen to the world?

Jose Miguel Vivanco, the Americas director for Human Rights Watch, tweeted: Perhaps since[ Hugo] Chvez named him his successor , no one had helped Maduro as much as Trump and this nonsense he said today.

The White House released a statement saying it had repudiated a request from Maduro to speak by phone with Trump. The statement said: Trump will gladly speak with the leader of Venezuela as soon as republic is restored in that country.

The surprise intervention caps a week of increasingly bellicose rhetoric directed at North Korea.

Venezuela has appeared to slide toward a more volatile stage of unrest in recent days, with anti-government forces-out looting weapons from the military after the installation of an all-powerful new legislative body.

Donald
Donald Trump speaks to the press from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. Photograph: Jim Watson/ AFP/ Getty Images

When a reporter followed up to ask Trump if this military alternative would be US led, the president responded: We dont talking here it. A military operation, a military option is surely something that we could pursue.

The remarks come as Maduro has convened a constituent assembly, in an electoral widely denounced by international observers, to amend the countrys constitution to cement his grip on power. Maduro has also forced the countrys chief prosecutor from office, while the United Nation has condemned the governmental forces employ of excessive force against protestors.

Although Venezuela has the worlds largest proven oil reserves, its economy has collapsed in recent years as the country led first by the late Hugo Chvez and then by his successor, Maduro, has resorted to increasingly authoritarian measures to consolidate power.

Peru expelled Venezuelas ambassador on Friday as regional pressure built on Maduros government. Venezuela retaliated by ordering the head of Perus embassy in Caracas to leave and called Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski an enemy of Venezuela and of Latin American unity.

Trumps remarks come in the shadow of a 2002 coup try against Chvez that he blamed on the US. The coup was launched after a violent showdown between marchers in support of a general strike clashed with government forces.

Associated Press contributed to this report .

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‘Sonic attack’: Canadian diplomat in Cuba also suffered hearing damage

One or more Canadians affected after suspected employ of sound weapon against US personnel in Havana led to expulsion of Cuban envoys from Washington

At least one Canadian envoy in Cuba has been treated for hearing loss following disclosures that a group of American envoys in Havana suffered severe hearing loss that US officers believe was caused by an advanced sonic device.

Brianne Maxwell, Canadian government spokeswoman for global affairs, told officials are aware of unusual symptoms affecting Canadian and US diplomatic personnel and their families in Havana. The government is actively working including with US and Cuban authorities to ascertain the cause.

Maxwell added that officials did not have any reason to believe Canadian tourists and other guests could be affected.

Canada helped broker talks between Cuba and the United States that led to restored diplomatic relations.

In the autumn of 2016 a series of US envoys began suffering unexplained losses of hearing, according to officials with knowledge of the investigation into the case. Several of the envoys were recent arrivals at the embassy, which reopened in 2015 as part of President Barack Obamas re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba.

Some of the US diplomats symptoms were so severe they were forced to cancel their tours early and return to the United States, officials said. After months of investigation US officers concluded that the envoys had been attacked with an advanced sonic weapon that operated outside the range of audible audio and had been deployed either inside or outside their residences.

It was not immediately clear if the device was a weapon used in a deliberate assault, or had some other purpose.

The US officers werent authorised to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the US retaliated by expelling two Cuban diplomats from their embassy in Washington on 23 May. She did not say how many US diplomats were affected or confirm they had suffered hearing loss, saying only that they had a variety of physical symptoms.

The Cuban government said in a lengthy statement late on Wednesday that Cuba has never permitted , nor will permit, that Cuban territory be used for any action against accredited diplomatic officials or their families, with no exception.

The statement from the Cuban foreign ministry said it had been informed on 17 February of the incidents and launched an exhaustive, high-priority, urgent investigation at the behest of the highest level of the Cuban government.

It said the decision to expel two Cuban envoys was unjustified and baseless.

The ministry said it had created an expert committee to analyse the incidents and had reinforced security around the US embassy and US diplomatic residences.

Cuba is universally considered a safe destination for guests and foreign diplomats, including US citizens, the statement said.

US officials told the Associated Press that about five envoys, several with spouses, had been affected and that no infants had been involved. The FBI and Diplomatic Security Service are investigating.

Cuba utilizes a nation security apparatus that keeps many people under surveillance and US diplomats are among the most closely monitored people on the island. Like virtually all foreign diplomats in Cuba, the victims of the incidents lived in housing owned and maintained by the Cuban government.

However, officials familiar with the probe said investigators were looking into the possibilities that the incidents were carried out by third world countries such as Russia, possibly operating without the knowledge of Cubas formal chain of command.

Nauert said investigators does not already have a definitive explanation for the incidents but stressed they take them very seriously, as shown by the Cuban envoys expulsions.

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General Motors recalls 800,000 trucks worldwide over steering defect

Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 models could lose power steering, tells traffic safety authority

General Motors Co is remembering nearly 800,000 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 pickup truck worldwide that could lose power steer, according to documents made public on Friday.

The largest US automaker said the 2014 model year trucks could suffer a temporary loss of electric power steer, especially during low-speed turning manoeuvres, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The recall includes about 690,000 vehicles in the US, 80,000 in Canada and about 25,000 in other marketplaces. GM traders will overwrite the vehicles software to address the defect.

GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson did not have any details on whether crashes or traumata are connected to the recall.

The company told regulators that before the 2015 model year it made a series of changes to address potential sources of temporary low voltage conditions that disable the power steering.

GM has not said when dealers will begin repairing vehicles.

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Brazil’s president keeps job as congress votes against corruption charges

Lawmakers overwhelmingly oppose charges for Michel Temer despite broad popular support, as observers condemn insolvency of political system

The credibility of Brazils congress has been left in rags after its lower home overwhelmingly voted not to approve corruption charges against the president, Michel Temer even though 81% of his countrymen said in a recent poll that they should.

Temer was charged with corruption after a close aide was given $150,000 in cash part of $12 m in bribes attorneys allege he and the aide were due to receive after intervening in a business deal.

Two-thirds of the lower house had to approve the charges before the supreme court could confirm government decisions and suspend the president for up to 180 days for a corruption trial. But more than half of its deputies deputes voted for Temer, devoting him a clear victory, as had been widely expected, and saving his beleaguered presidency – at least for now.

I want to construct a better country for each Brazilian, pacified, simply, without detest or rancor. Our inexorable destiny is to be a great nation, Temer said in a victory address. I thank the Chamber of Deputies.

The decision arrived merely over a year after many of the same deputies voted to suspend Temers predecessor, Dilma Rousseff, for violating budget regulations charges that led to her eventual impeachment.

The allegations Temer faced were much more serious. He became the countrys first sitting head of state to be formally charged with international crimes after he and the aide were accused of accepting the promise of the undue advantage of millions in future payments.

And compounding the sense of travesty, according to research by Congress in Focus, a political site, at least 190 of the 513 deputies able to vote face criminal process at Brazils supreme court.

This shows the bankruptcy of the Brazilian political and electoral system, said Edson Sardinha, the sites editor.

The televised referendum late on Wednesday followed an intense explode of political manoeuvring. In June and July, the government agreed an extra$ 1bn-plus to deputies for projects in their home countries. On Tuesday, Temer met with lawmakers from a powerful agribusiness vestibule and his government announced a measure to reduce the pension contributions farmers make for workers.

This is what causes this sense of shame, told Paulo Baa, a political scientist at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. This is the politics of patrimonialism, of the exchange of favors, of private interests – and not of the public good.

As with last years vote against Rousseff, there was no shortfall of pantomime. Then, the conservative deputy Wladimir Costa fired off a confetti gun where reference is voted. During Wednesdays election, opposition deputies taunted the Temer tattoo Costa lately had placed on his shoulder, wearing Temer Out badges in the same place.

Temer is an ethical, transparent man, Costa said in a speech. According to Open Accounts, a Congress watchdog, Costas home state received $2.14 m in government funding in June and July.

Speaking before the vote, the opponent deputy Slvio Costa accused the government of constructing corruption official.

You need to think of your children, your grandchildren. You are dedicating a terrible instance to Brazil, he said.

An enormous grafting strategy at the state-run petroleum company Petrobras was first unveiled in 2014 and enveloped members of Rousseffs Workers party and its congressional allies.

But things have hardly improved since Temer took over. He lost six ministers to scandals last year, considered investigations into another eight agreed by a supreme court judge this year, and was then recorded during a secret meeting with a meat mogul fostering the blockage of investigations and recommending a close aide the executive heads could deal with.

That aide, Rodrigo Rocha Loures, was subsequently recorded intervening with an antitrust organ in a business dispute and filmed furtively exiting a So Paulo pizzeria with more than $150,000 in a suitcase. Brazils prosecutor-general alleged this, and a further $12 m, were attributed to Temer. Temers lawyer Antnio Mariz told lawmakers there was no evidence Temer ever received the money.

His government has vowed to carry on with an unpopular program of austerity measures it argues are essential to drag Brazil out of its recession and many lawmakers voting to preserve his presidency utilized this as an argument.

Yes to pension reform, yes to labour reform, yes to political reform, told Rubens Bueno, casting his vote before a microphone.

But at least one more charge for blockage of justice is expected. Meanwhile, a popular sense of disenchantment with Brazilian legislators is soaring. In a July poll for the Agora( now) political movement, 79% said they would like to see non-politicians stand in the 2018 presidential and congressional elections.

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Air Canada near miss: picture shows how close planes came to crashing

Pilots mistook the taxiway at San Francisco International Airport for the runway and flew their plane only 59 feet above waiting airliners

Newly released data and photos show how shockingly low an Air Canada jet was when it pulled up to avoid crashing into planes waiting on a San Francisco International Airport taxiway last month.

The Air Canada pilots misstep the taxiway for the runway next to it and flew their airplane to only 59 feet( 18 meters) above ground before pulling up to attempt another landing, according to National Transportation Safety Board information released Wednesday.

Thats scarcely taller than the four planes that were on the taxiway when the incident occurred late at night on 7 July.

Pilots in a United Airline plane alerted air traffic controllers about the off-course airplane, while the crew of a Philippine Airline airplane behind it switched on their airliners landing lights in an apparent last-ditch danger signal to Air Canada.

Images
Images released by the National Transportation Safety Board( NTSB) indicates Air Canada flight 759( ACA 759) attempting to land at the San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco. At top is a map of the runway. At centre is from a transmission to air traffic control from a United Airlines airplane on the taxiway. The bottom image was taken from San Francisco International Airport video. Photograph: AP

NTSB researchers said they have not decided probable cause for the incident that came within a few feet of becoming one of the worst disasters in aviation history.

It was close, much too close, said John Cox, a safety consultant and retired airline pilot.

The researchers used to say as the Air Canada airplane approached the taxiway just before midnight after a flight from Toronto, it was so far off course that it did not appear on a radar system used to prevent runway collisions.

Those systems were not designed to place aircrafts that are lined up to land on a taxiway a rare instance, especially for airline pilots. But the Federal Aviation Administration is working on modifications so they can, agency spokesman Ian Gregor said.

Both pilots of the Air Canada Airbus A320 airplane were very experienced. The captain, who was flying the plane, had more than 20,000 hours of flying period, and the co-pilot had about 10,000 hours.

The pilots told researchers that they did not recollect insuring aircraft on taxiway but that something did not look right to them, the NTSB said.

Investigators could not hear what the Air Canada captain and co-pilot said to each other during the aborted landing because their conversation was recorded over when the plane made other flights, starting with a San Francisco-to-Montreal trip the next morning. Recorders are required to capture merely the last two hours of a planes flying time.

Peter Fitzpatrick, a spokesman for Air Canada, declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

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Mexican laborer: we were told Texas ride that killed 10 would be air-conditioned

Adan Lalravega, who fainted during the course of its sweltering ride in a tractor-trailer, describes hearing children imploring for water: People were despairing

Adan Lara Vega said he was told the $5,500 he was being charged to be smuggled into the United States would include an air-conditioned truck ride.

Instead, the 27 -year-old Mexican laborer climbed with his friends into a pitch-black, metal tractor-trailer compartment that lacked ventilation a deadly oven that would claim 10 lives.

After an hour I heard screaming people crying and asking for water. I, too, was sweating and people were despairing, Lara Vega told the Associated Press in an exclusive interview Monday from his bed in a San Antonio hospital. Thats when I lost consciousness.

By the time he regained it Sunday, “hes in” the hospital.

He told the AP that it all started when he climbed aboard the tractor-trailer in the border city of Laredo, Texas, with six friends from the nation of Aguascalientes after the group waited virtually two weeks in a safe house.

The guy we were with in the house told us theyd be putting us in a refrigerator, he told, a refrigerator with air. But that didnt happen.

The trailer was already full of people when the door opened up on a Laredo street. Lara Vega said it was so dark he couldnt see how many there were. A few were children, he told, whose voices he heard imploring for water.

He said the smugglers didnt offer passengers water, and he and his friends hadnt brought any with them. The ride to San Antonio would only be 150 miles( 240 km ).

Lara Vega said he never watched the driver of the tractor-trailer. He said that when people are being smuggled, they are told not to look at the faces of their handlers and its a good notion to heed.

The packed tractor-trailer was observed early Sunday outside a Walmart store. As many as eight passengers were dead, and two more would soon succumb. The driver has been charged in the deaths.

When Lara Vega woke up, he was in a hospital tossing and turning. He said he tried to leave but I lost my balance and fell to the floor.

I still needed to drink a lot of water, he told, recounting his tale while feeing lunch in his hospital bed, cardiac monitors still affixed to his chest.

Lara Vega told all his friends survived as far as he knew, though some were hospitalized. Some have cousins and siblings in San Antonio.

Another passenger, described in the criminal complaint merely by his initials, told officials that he also was from Aguascalientes. He said the immigrants were given different colored tape to identify to the waiting smugglers which group they would be picking up.

When the truck reached its destination, the rear doorways were opened and people started swarming out. Six black SUVs were waiting and were filled within a matter of minutes before driving off. The human said he did not see who opened the trailer doorways nor did he assure the truck driver, according to the complaint.

Lara Vega said he didnt know his legal status. Mexican consular officials say they are providing legal representation for the survivors and that Lara Vega had been visited by one.

Lara Vega was hoping for a building chore. This was his second attempt to enter the United States. He said he was deported from the US three years ago but decided to take another chance because the economy is depressed where he lives with his wife, four-year-old daughter and three-year-old son.

A person induces decisions without believing through the consequences, he said, but, well, thanks to God, here we are.

This piece was revised on 24 July 2017 to reflect the correct spelling of Adan Lara Vegas name.

Not so fast: Despacito singers tell Nicols Maduro to stop using remixed song

Venezuelan chairpeople attempt to co-opt the global hit for political purposes backfires with Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee calling the use illegal

Venezuelan president Nicols Maduros attempt to use Latin reached Despacito – which means slowly to inject some cool into his controversial new congress has backfired quickly.

Maduros unpopular leftist government on Sunday promoted a remixed version of Despacito to encourage Venezuelans to vote for the Constituent Assembly, which will have powers to rewrite “the member states national” charter and supplant other institutions.

Our call to the Constituent Assembly only seeks to unite the country … Despacito! runs the Socialist Party-sanctioned remix of the catchy dance sung, which was played during Maduros weekly televised show.

What do you think, eh? Is this video approved? a grinning and clapping Maduro called out to the crowd, which roared back in approval.

But Puerto Rican singers Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee on Monday said they do not approve at all.

At no phase was I asked , nor did I permit, the use or the altered in lyrics of Despacito for political ambitions, and much less in the middle of a deplorable situation that Venezuela, a country I love so much, is living, Fonsi said in a message posted on Twitter.

Daddy Yankee, meanwhile, posted a picture of Maduro with a big red cross over it on Instagram.

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That you illegally appropriate a anthem( Despacito) does not compare with the crimes you commit and have committed in Venezuela. Your dictatorial regime is a gag , not only for my Venezuelan brother, but for the entire world, he said.

With this nefarious marketing plan, you merely highlight your fascist ideal.

Millions of Venezuelans have been staging months of protests against Maduro, a former bus driver and union leader narrowly elected to replace the late Hugo Chavez in 2013.

Some 100 people have died in the unrest, which has further hammered an imploding economy that is running short of food and medicine.

Critics tell Maduro is trying to cement a tyranny by pushing forward with the Constituent Assembly this Sunday. He tells it is the only way to bringing peace back to the convulsed nation.

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‘I will be back’: Violin-playing face of Venezuela’s protests injured in clashes

Wuilly Arteaga posts defiant video message from hospital bed as opposition announces fresh national strikes

Venezuelas opposition announced a two-day national strike against President Nicolas Maduro after a day of violent clashes in Caracas on Saturday where the injured included a violinist who has become the face of the protests.

Neither rubber bullets nor pellets will stop our fight for Venezuelas independence, told musician Wuilly Arteaga. The 23 -year-old has become famous in Venezuela for playing the national anthem and other tunes on his violin in front of security lines as battles rage around him. Tomorrow I will be back in the streets.

The opponent Democratic Coalition which organised a 24-hour shutdown this week that was heeded by millions and paralysed big swaths of the South American nation said the next strike would be on Wednesday and Thursday.

Mass processions have been planned for Monday and Friday in an attempt to force Maduro into aborting a controversial a vote on 30 July to elect a constituent assembly charged with rewriting the constitution.

WuillyMoissArteaga (@ WuillyArteaga)

( Video) Ni PERDIGONES NI METRAS nos detendrn de seguir luchando hasta lograr la INDEPENDENCIA DE VENEZUELA. Maana vuelvo a las CALLES … pic.twitter.com/ aZHnmv7Hgt

July 22, 2017

Opposition and human rights groups say the move is aimed at bypassing the National Assembly, which has been under opposition control since 2016, further consolidating the ruling Socialist partys grip on power. Maduro argues a new constitution would promote dialogue in a country deeply polarised and crippled by widespread shortages of food, medication and basic services, and unbridled violent crime.

On Saturday, several thousand protesters sought to march on the pro-Maduro supreme court in support of alternative magistrates appointed by the opponent on Friday. Security forces-out blocked them with armored autoes and riot shields. Clashes ensued for several hours as hundreds of masked youths hurled stones and Molotov cocktails at National Guard troops firing tear gas from motorcycles.

The injured included Arteaga, who was treated by paramedics in the street as blood poured down his face. He afterwards tweeted a video from hospital with a bandaged face, still clutching his violin.

More than 100 people have died and thousands more have been injured in anti-government unrest since demonstrations began in April.

Opposition lawmaker Simon Calzadilla told at a press conference flanked by other alliance officials: The Venezuelan people are not giving up, they are valiant, they will come out to defend republic and the constitution.

Foes accuse Maduro of turning Venezuela into a totalitarianism and wrecking what should be a prosperous economy. They want free elections and an end to two decades of socialist rule.

Maduro calls himself a flag bearer for the international left, up against right-wing terrorists attempting a coup with the connivance of the US and the international media.

The opposition is stepping up street tactics in what it dubs zero hour for Venezuela to try to block the new Constitutional Assembly Maduro wants to set up.

The opponent is boycotting the vote, calling it a sham and demanding conventional elections instead.

The Constituent Assembly, whose election rules appear designed to guarantee a majority for the government even though it has minority popular support, could rewrite the constitution and disband the existing opposition-led legislature.

Opposition
Opposition protesters clash with Venezuela security forces in Caracas on Saturday. Photo: Cristian Hernandez/ EPA

At rival pro-government rallies on Saturday, nominees for the Constituent Assembly said it was the only route to bring peace to Venezuela. We are not going to let them destroy our fatherland, said Delcy Rodriguez, who left her post as foreign minister to stand for the new congress.

All of us united are going to tell the right wing Weve had enough of terrorism, Maduros wife Cilia Flores, also running for an assembly post, told the same rally in Caracas.

Also on Saturday, the governments intelligence service apprehended Angel Zerpa, one of 13 swears in as supreme court magistrates by the opposition in defiance of the government, opposition leaders said.

Authorities have threatened to arrest all the opposition-named magistrates and try them in military courts.

International pressure has been growing on Maduro to abandon next weekends referendum, including security threats from US President Donald Trump to apply economic sanctions.

But the government is showing no sign of backing down, announcing that it will put 232,000 soldiers on the street to ensure the Constituent Assembly goes ahead.

On Saturday, National Guard forces could be seen firing tear gas canisters horizontally at demonstrators in contravention of international norms, witnesses said. The repression has been brutal and the world has to understand what we are living through in the streets of Venezuela, opposition leader Mara Corina Machado said. Its criminal.

Reuters contributed to this report

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Refugees who helped Edward Snowden now look to Canada as their only hope

Lawyers in Canada are frantically working to bring four refugees and their children over, amid concerns that they face tomb reprisals over their actions

For two weeks they sheltered the worlds most wanted human, ferrying Edward Snowden between tiny apartments in Hong Kongs poorest neighborhood.

Now the four refugees are at the centre of a court combat in Canada, as lawyers madly work to bringing them and their children to the country amid concerns that they face tomb reprisals over their actions.

It seems like the families connection to Snowden has attained them radioactive and put them in a uniquely vulnerable position, said Michael Simkin, one of the lawyers behind a motion filed the coming week in federal court and aimed at expediting asylum claims for the group in Canada.

The families lived in obscurity until last year, when Oliver Stones film on the whistleblower revealed that Snowden had been protected by asylum seekers in Hong Kong .

After journalists tracked them down, the refugees three from Sri Lanka and one from the Philippines came forward, explaining that they had been introduced by their reciprocal lawyer and that their actions had come before the US demand for Snowdens arrest was recognised in Hong Kong .

Since then, the asylum seekers claim theyve been routinely calling into question authorities to find out what they know about Snowden. Their lawyers have spoken out about relocating their clients several times over distrusts that members of Sri Lankan security force are attempting to find them.

In May, Hong Kong repudiated their asylum asserts, paving the route for deportation to their home countries, when the applicant say they could face imprisonment, torturing and even demise. Lawyers are now appealing the decisions; though they believe they have little hope of success.

Two weeks ago, the asylum claimants who include a former Sri Lankan soldier who alleges he was tortured by the army and a single mom from the Philippines who said she fled the country after being kidnapped and sexually assaulted were ordered to report to a detention centre in Hong Kong in early August. Their lawyers fear their children will end up in foster care as the mothers await deportation.

Every development in their cases is being carefully tracked in Montreal, where a squad of lawyers have launched For the Refugees, a non-profit organisation dedicated to bringing the families to Canada as privately sponsored refugees.

Using monies collected from donors to cover the expenses of settling the families, the paperwork to bringing the four adults and their three children to Canada was filed in January. We are encouraged by prime minister Trudeaus commitment in taking a clear result internationally in welcoming refugees, lawyer Marc-Andr Sguin said in April.

But months later, it appears that little progress has been attained in processing the Canadian asserts, said Simkin. Canada today is truly their last and only hope, added the lawyer. Once the families are arrested, it will severely compromise our ability to ever relocate them to Canada. Our clients lives are at stake, and this may be their last chance to escape a horrific fate.

In recognition of the urgency facing their cases, Simkin said that Canadas minister of immigration, Ahmed Hussen who came to Canada as a teenaged refugee from Somalia had committed in May to expedite the asylum claims. Two months later, consular officials said the files had not been fast-tracked, leaving the families at the whim of a process that could take years.

Simkin questioned why the Canadian government had seemingly changed its mind. We dont know if the US has put any kind of pressure on Canada, we dont know why Minister Hussen has reversed his decision What we do know is that the families and their three, stateless children who are under six years old are being penalized, and thats just not right, he said. We cannot use these households as a proxy for penalise Edward Snowden.

After attempts to seek answers from the ministry proved fruitless, the lawyers said they were left with no other alternative but to file a legal challenge and said he hoped that a federal court magistrate will force the Canadian government to fast-track the claims.

On Tuesday, the office of the minister of immigration said that the government is committed to ensuring every occurrence is evaluated in a fair way. The Minister has not made any commitment to expedite this application, told a spokesperson for the minister, declining to comment further due to privacy reasons.

The legal tale that has entangled the refugees has also attracted attention from Human Rights Watch, who noting that Hong Kong has accepted fewer than one percent of refugee asserts in recent years recommended Canada to open its doorways to the families.

The compassionate act of letting Edward Snowden into their homes should never have landed these families in peril, the organisations Dinah PoKempner said in a statement . No one should have to danger a return to torture or persecution because they opened their doorway to another who feared the same.

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Canada wildfires: almost 40,000 evacuated in British Columbia amid state of emergency

Australian firefighters called in to assistance as blazes burning across western province are expected to worsen

Canada is deploying military aircraft and Australia is sending 50 firefighters to battle rapidly spreading wildfires in British Columbia that have forced 39,000 people from their homes.

Federal public safety minister Ralph Goodale said the western Canadian province had built two requests to the federal government for military assistance to fight the fires, which he told were expected to worsen.

The military has sent two airplanes and five helicopters to help with evacuations and transportation for first responders, according to the Department of National Defence.

British Columbia chief flame information officer Kevin Skrepnek said in a conference call the Australians were due to arrive on Wednesday.

There were 159 fires across the province in an area between 150 km( 95 miles) to 350 km( 217 miles) northeast of Vancouver, including 17 new ones, although the total numbers were down somewhat from 162 on Sunday, Skrepnek said. No casualties have been reported.

In a few suits, it is because we had amalgamated some of these fires together, he told. But for the most proportion, that decrease in terms of the total flames burning is an indication of progress.

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