Pupils to return to west Dublin primary schools closed over concerns around structural safety

Pupils will return tomorrow to two west Dublin primary schools that have been closed over concerns around structural safety.

In the case of Tyrrelstown Educate Together, all pupils will be back in class, but some will be bussed to nearby Hansfield Educate Together, which is offering alternative accommodation.

First to sixth class pupils will move to Hansfield on a temporary basis, while junior pupils and children who need its special needs ASD unit will return to the Tyrrelstown building.

The neighbouring St Luke’s National School has confirmed that third to sixth classes will return tomorrow and will be accommodated in the nearby Le Chéile secondary school.

But St Luke’s is still awaiting the outcome of a further safety check on its own building to decide when a limited number of classes – from junior infants to second class – can return there.

Both schools need precautionary internal and external measures, which, even when they do open, will limit them to use their ground floor only, pending further investigations.

While precautionary measures were installed over the weekend, school management and parents had concerns and further work has since been carried out.

Today, parents from both schools met with representatives from the Department of Education, Punch Engineering, which installed the protective measures, the Gardai and an independent health and safety consultant to view the works and ask questions.

In a notice posted on the St Luke’s website, principal Vivienne Bourke said “parents raised a number of concerns and asked many questions about the safety of the school building from perspectives such as: structural safety, fire safety and the additional needs of children with special educational needs etc.”

She said the school patron and the board of management were satisfied that the ground floor was structurally sound, but taking into account the safety concerns raised by the parents, a second check was being conducted.

Ms Bourke said the patron and board of management would not be in a position to open the school on the ground floor, or the hall, until that safety check has been completed and the works recommended therein have been implemented fully.

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Trump says he will keep Mike Pence as his running mate in 2020

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) – President Donald Trump said on Wednesday (Nov 7) he will keep Vice-President Mike Pence as his running mate in his bid for re-election in 2020.

“Mike, will you be my running mate?” Trump said during a press conference at the White House in response to a question of whether their ticket would remain intact.

Pence, who was in the audience, stood up and appeared to accept.

Talk of potential Republican challenges to Trump’s control of the party has swirled throughout the first two years of his presidency, though his grip on the party and its leadership has continued to grow since his election.

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Stalled farm bill could move fast after House win: senior Democratic lawmaker

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Congress may swiftly resolve a drawn-out impasse on the U.S. Farm Bill now that Democrats are poised to retake control of the legislative body, the top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee said on Wednesday.

Collin Peterson, ranking member and presumptive new chair of committee, said passing the crucial agricultural legislation was going to be his top priority, with a deal possible as soon as next week during the lame-duck session.

“That’s going to be the number one goal,” he told reporters on a conference call. “My sense is this is going to get worked out (in the lame-duck session).”

The Farm Bill provides funding for an array of programs important to farmers – a crucial constituency for Republican President Donald Trump – including crop subsidies and rural development. But the latest bill, passed in 2014, expired on Sept.30 after talks over its replacement broke down.

At issue has been a provision in the new draft of the bill that would impose stricter work requirements for recipients of food stamps. The Republican-led House of Representatives passed the $867 billion bill in June with the tougher requirements, over the objections of Democrats.

The Senate, meanwhile, passed its own bipartisan version that excluded the requirements.

Now that the Democrats have gained control of the House in Tuesday’s elections, the deadlock could be resolved, Peterson said. “Most of the ideas are out there and drafted. It is a matter of putting them together. If that could get resolved this week, then we’d have a bill ready by next week,” he said.

He added that he has held talks about the issue with other Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi, seen as a front runner to become House Speaker.

“There’s no indication or idea on the Democrat side in the House that we would like to delay this thing,” he said.

Food stamps are used by more than 40 million Americans, or about 12 percent of the total U.S. population, and the program’s inclusion in the Farm Bill has long been used as a way to get support from Democrats who represent urban districts.

Trump in mid-September accused Democratic lawmakers who opposed the restrictions on the program of stalling the bill.

On the conference call, Peterson also promised more oversight in agriculture, but did not elaborate.

“I don’t think we’ve done enough oversight, in the department and other areas on agriculture controls. I’d expect us to do that,” he said.

Using their control of House committees, Democrats are expected to probe the Trump administration on a range of issues, ranging from Trump’s long-hidden tax returns to conflicts of interest from his business empire and allegations of collusion between his campaign and Russia in the 2016 election.

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Another Winnipegger hits lotto million

Winnipeg has another million-dollar Lotto Max winner.

Lorne Ronald bought his winning ticket at Mississippi Jack’s Car Wash on Beaverhill Boulevard for the Oct. 19 draw, and was shocked to discover that he was one of two Winnipeg winners.

“I hoped I had one of the winning tickets,” he said. “I always hope that I’ll win something, but this is crazy! I never expected it!

“I called my daughter to tell her I won and she didn’t believe it either.”

Ronald said now that the shock is wearing off, he needs to decide what to do with his new winnings.

“I’m going to start with just getting organized,” he said. “I think the majority of the money will go into savings and be used at another time.”

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Infrastructure, healthcare, judges on U.S. Senate agenda

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday infrastructure, healthcare and judicial appointments would be on the agenda in 2019, after Republicans widened their majority in the Senate but lost control of the House of Representatives in Tuesday’s elections.

McConnell told reporters that senators likely would tackle fixes to the 2010 Obamacare healthcare law and prescription drug prices but that changes to the Medicare healthcare and Social Security retirement programs were unlikely. Additionally, any new tax legislation would need bipartisan support, he said.

Confirming Trump’s conservative judicial appointments — a job the Senate undertakes without any House role — is another top priority, McConnell said.

Republicans and Democrats have battled each other fiercely in the near-decade since Democratic healthcare legislation that became known as Obamacare began moving through Congress.

Once it became law in 2010 without Republican support, Republicans launched a long drive to repeal the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. Their effort came to a halt in 2017 with Senate defeat of a repeal bill.

Last month, in an interview with Reuters, McConnell said he would be willing to try another Obamacare repeal if he had the votes. But one day after Democrats regained control of the House in Tuesday’s elections, McConnell spoke in softer tones.

“I think it’s pretty obvious the Democratic House is not going to be interested in that,” McConnell said at a news conference. While there are “serious problems” with Obamacare, he said, “We’re going to have to obviously now address those on a bipartisan basis.”

On another controversial topic, funding President Donald Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall proposal, McConnell said he is “going to try to help the president achieve what he’d like.” But again, he said there would have to be “some kind of bipartisan discussion.”

Last month, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who is likely to become House speaker next year, said she was not interested in negotiating any deal that would include building the border wall, which Democrats and some Republicans have described as a waste of money.

One of McConnell’s biggest achievements in the first two years of the Trump administration has been the record-breaking pace in confirming the president’s judicial nominees, especially those for the influential appeals courts. The Senate has confirmed 84 judges, including 29 to the appeals courts, as well as Trump’s two Supreme Court nominees.

“The president, I think, has done an excellent job in picking young men and women who believe the job of the judge is to follow the law,” McConnell said. “And we intend to keep confirming as many as we possibly can for as long as we’re in a position to do it.”

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That’s a Lot of Lamps: 300,000 Lit in India for Diwali, Breaking Record

Hundreds of thousands of oil lamps illuminated the northern Indian city of Ayodhya as part of the festival of Diwali, casting a glowing light over the city on Tuesday.

But the lamps did not just set the scene for the annual five-day celebration, also known as the festival of light, celebrated by millions in India and around the world. They also set a world record, according to officials.

The 300,150 oil lamps broke a Guinness world record when they burned simultaneously for more than five minutes and provided a stunning spectacle for thousands of city residents and visitors who took part in the lighting. The flickering lamps cast a glow on the Sarayu River, considered sacred in the Hindu religion.

It took thousands of volunteers to light the lamps, called diyas, which were placed alongside the river, on steps and in city squares.

The government of the state of Uttar Pradesh affirmed that the lamps set a record, as did the state’s tourism office, which was instrumental in organizing the spectacle. Representatives from the Guinness World Records handed local officials a plaque after determining the number of lamps by flying a drone over the city.

The city also attempted to break the record for the number of lamps displayed last year, but strong winds extinguished many of the lights.

Diwali is observed by members of the Hindu, Sikh and Jain faiths and coincides with the Hindu New Year. The festival is a celebration of new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil. The date changes each year and is typically held between October and November, depending on when it falls on the Hindu calendar.

The city of Ayodhya is considered holy by Hindus as they believe the god Ram was born there and returned to the city after 14 years in exile.

Tuesday’s Diwali celebrations also included an appearance by Kim Jung-sook, the wife of President Moon Jae-in of South Korea. Ms. Kim attended the festival in Ayodhya after meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a four-day visit to India.

Her presence was symbolic as Koreans have a special connection to the city. Legend tells of a princess from Ayodhya who traveled to Korea 2,000 years ago, eventually marrying a local king and becoming queen.

But while Diwali is seen as a celebration of light and rebirth, it has also been a cause for concern in recent years, as air pollution from lamps and fireworks lit as part of the celebrations exacerbates already poor air quality in some of the country’s major cities.

The city of Delhi on Wednesday reported air quality ranging from “poor” to “very poor,” according to the country’s Central Pollution Control Board.

Images of a thick smog hanging low over the city were in stark contrast to the scenes of lights glimmering in Ayodhya, about 400 miles southeast of Delhi.

The direction of winds and the burning of brush in the vicinity of Delhi contributed to the problem, according to the Times of India, and fireworks and lamps could make the situation worse.

Megan Specia is a story editor on the International Desk, specializing in digital storytelling and breaking news. @meganspecia

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Beleaguered US law chief Sessions quits

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigns after months of criticism from President Trump

This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly. Please refresh the page for the fullest version.

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Police seek Lindsay, Ont., man accused of threatening to harm people

Police in Lindsay, Ont., have issued an arrest warrant for a man accused of threatening residents in the town’s west end and avoiding police.

City of Kawartha Lakes Police Service says Justin Raymond Rentrop, 32, is wanted for incidents involving residents of a home on Fair Avenue.

It’s alleged that on Oct. 26, Rentrop attended a residence and threatened to harm occupants of a home. A vehicle belonging to one of the residents was also damaged.

In an incident on Nov. 2, one of the residents was threatened at a downtown bar.

Police were unable to locate the man until Monday when he was observed driving a vehicle on Sussex Street South in Lindsay.

“Officers attempted to stop Rentrop, however he refused to stop for police,” stated Sgt. Dave Murtha in a release Wednesday.

An arrest warrant was obtained on Tuesday. Rentrop is wanted for four counts of uttering threats to cause bodily harm, mischief under $5,000, six counts of failing to comply with conditions of a probation order and one count of failing to comply with the conditions of a recognizance.

Rentrop is described as thin, standing 6-foot-1, weighing 165 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 705-324-5252 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or http://www.khcs.ca.

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Canada falling behind in sports-related abuse and harassment reporting: study

Sheldon Kennedy‘s sexual abuse case against hockey coach Graham James rocked Canadian sport in the late 1990s, and Canada stepped up, writing one of the strongest sexual harassment and abuse policies in the world, experts say.

But 20 years later, most believe Canada has fallen asleep on the job. When it comes to protecting its athletes, the country now lags behind the U.S., Australia and the United Kingdom, according to a recent report. The ongoing trial of gymnastics coach Dave Brubaker plus high-profile cases in Alpine Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee are proof.

What’s going on when the lights of Canada’s arenas and gymnasiums are dimmed? And why have people remained mum about it?

“What we had was really progressive in the mid-90s to early 2000s, and it’s just become stale,” said Peter Donnelly, a kinesiology and physical education professor from the University of Toronto.

“Now we know a lot more about the way abuse occurs in sport, we have a much better sense of how tracked the athletes are once they’re in the system, when their parents have committed so much money and time to it, when very often the abuser has groomed their parents, kids and young adults feel trapped, they’re getting closer to their dream, and this is happening to them.”

Brubaker is the former coach of the national women’s gymnastics team. He’s pleaded not guilty to sexual assault and invitation to sexual touching at a trial that will resume next month in Sarnia, Ont.

In June, Canada’s Sport Minister Kirsty Duncan announced that national sport organizations (NSOs) would lose their funding if they didn’t immediately disclose to her office any allegations of abuse or harassment. She also said having an independent third party investigate all allegations of abuse will be a requirement of government funding.

In their recent paper, however, Donnelly and fellow U of T professor Gretchen Kerr say those policies have been in place since 1996, as part of the Sport Canada Accountability Framework. They’re just not being adequately applied.

In “Revising Canada’s Policies on Harassment and Abuse in Sport,” Donnelly and Kerr found that of the 42 NSOs and their provincial counterparts (PSOs) they interviewed, only 13.9 per cent of NSOs, and 10 per cent of PSOs (provincial sport organizations) identified a harassment officer. None of them identified the officer as third-party or “arms length.”

Kerr and Donnelly say sport has to get away from self-regulation.

“That’s what we’ve had since 1996, and between our research and the high-profile cases that have emerged, it’s clear evidence that self-regulation is not working,” Kerr said, noting the other major sectors of society — the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts, for example — that have moved away from self-regulation.

Kerr, who’s volunteered with Gymnastics Canada as an athlete welfare officer for 30 years, said the problem is multifaceted. It’s difficult to find volunteers to perform a highly-specialized job. Some cases are incredibly time-consuming. And often, the job falls to an NSO staff member, “often times their own CEO,” she said.

“Which is just crazy, it’s a huge conflict of interest,” Kerr said.

She recounted a case in her early days with Gymnastics Canada where a coach was making sexually inappropriate comments to athletes.

“When I brought it forward to the sport organization, they said ‘Well, we’re not going to do anything about this coach, the Olympics are six months away, and he’s got half the Olympic team,’” Kerr said. “You can’t have people within the organization dealing with these cases. When you think about it, the CEO of any sport organization, their funding is dependent on Sport Canada’s funding, and what is Sport Canada’s funding based on? Performance of the athletes and the team.

“It’s a crazy system where the CEO’s job security is based on how well the athletes perform. It’s no wonder that cases like what we saw in USA Gymnastics happen.”

USA Gymnastics head Steve Penny was arrested last month on charges of evidence tampering in the case of Larry Nassar. Nassar is serving 40 to 175 years in Michigan for sexually abusing women and girls under the guise of medical treatment.

Canada has had its own high-profile cases. Marcel Aubut resigned as COC president in 2015 after an investigation over numerous sexual harassment complaints. In June, several former members of Canada’s ski team spoke publicly about the abuse suffered at the hands of former coach Bertrand Charest in the 1990s. Charest was convicted last year of 37 offences of sexual assault and exploitation. The athletes said they were instructed by Alpine Canada to keep quiet for fear of losing corporate sponsorships.

Former Olympic sprinter Desai Williams was recently banned for life by Athletics Canada for violating the organization’s sexual harassment policy. The alleged conduct took place in 2010.

In a study conducted over 20 years ago by Canadian professor Sandy Kirby, 21.8 per cent of elite athletes reported having had sex with an authority figure in sports; 8.6 per cent reported they had raped by someone within their sport.

Paul Melia, the president and CEO of the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, compares today’s sex abuse crisis to the doping climate in Canadian track and field in the late 1980s. Everyone knew it was going on. Few spoke up.

“We can look at Marcel Aubut and say: look at the reign of terror under his rule there, and the things that he did and said to women. People saw it. People saw it and turned a blind eye,” Melia said. “Why? Probably at the most basic level, because he was bringing a lot of money into the COC.”

“These kinds of conflicts of interest . . . make it impossible for sports to self-regulate around that issue, just like Dubin (Charles Dubin led Canada’s doping inquiry in the Ben Johnson fallout) found with respect to doping that those same sort of conflicts of interest were operating. So, we all knew Ben was doping, government officials, coaches, doctors, administrators, other athletes, but no one said anything. He was the fastest man in the world, it was fantastic. And, the belief was that everyone else was doing it anyways, so really we were just levelling the playing field. And so no one said anything.”

Melia would like the CCES, which runs Canada’s anti-doping program, to be Canada’s sex abuse watchdog. The CCES has put a proposal into Sport Canada to convene a committee of experts both within and outside sport such as police, child services, even the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts, to build one national safe-sport program.

“So, like the anti-doping program, one universal code with a set of rules, everyone in sport has to adopt and abide by, one set of definitions of what constitutes violations, and . . . most importantly, the victim has a place to come, an independent agency that they know will deal confidentially with their information, we’ll investigate it, we’ll assert a violation if the evidence is there, and we’ll defend their rights,” he said.

The CCES operates an anonymous tip-line to report doping suspicions in Canada, and Melia said it’s very effective. A similar tip line to report sexual harassment or abuse would be a huge step in the right direction.

The USOC operates one through its SafeSport program, but as Donnelly pointed out: “What they’ve done again is very in-house.”

Donnelly, Kerr and Melia all hope the #MeToo movement and the high-profile sex abuse cases lead to a watershed moment in Canadian sport.

“It’s of course my best hope,” Kerr said. “I must say I am holding my breath because we were in this same situation in the mid 1990s when the Sheldon Kennedy case broke, and the Paul Hickson case in the UK (the British swim coach was sentenced in 1995 to 17 years in prison for sexual assaults on teenagers).

“There had been these high profile cases come out in the media from a number of countries, everyone got into crisis mode, and Sport Canada responded with the mandate that is currently in effect. And of course it hasn’t worked. So, I’m hoping that people recognize the historical background on this and take a different approach than the one that was taken in 1996.”

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Stabbed man fighting for life after five die in London street attacks in a week

Police were called just after midday to reports of a stabbing on Willow Vale in Hammersmith and Fulham, west London.

A male, believed to be in his teens, was found with a stab injury and was taken to hospital in a life-threatening condition.

It comes after a 16-year-old was killed in front of his parents in Tulse Hill, south London, on Monday evening.

The boy, named locally as John, was “bubbly” and polite, according to a friend.

Witness Paulina Wedderburn saw the victim’s mother and father were at the scene before emergency crews arrived.

“The boy was laying down. He looked like an angel, like he was sleeping,” Mrs Wedderburn said on Tuesday.

“I just feel sorry for the mum. The mum’s screams, I can’t get out of my head.

“It’s awful. Imagine being a mother seeing that.”

Police were called to reports of a shooting in Greenleaf Close at 10.53pm on Monday. Paramedics tried to save the teenager, but he was pronounced dead at 11.41pm.

Officers believe the boy had suffered stab wounds and said there is no evidence that a gun was fired.

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, told Sky News that research suggests the crime surge is “a jump for a generation”.

He said: “Why do they say that? Because there are deep societal problems that lead to young people getting involved in crime.

“I’m not excusing criminality but it means tackling the causes of violent crime. That means looking at adverse childhood experiences, looking at their families, are the children experiencing domestic abuse, [or] children who may have mental health challenges.”

Children may be most at risk of being stabbed on their way home from school, research has also found.

The study by the journal BMJ Open found that youngsters were more vulnerable between 4pm and 6pm and that stabbings involving young victims are more likely to occur close to home and school.

Young adults, meanwhile, were more likely to be stabbed after midnight.

Monday’s killing comes after four others in a week.

Rocky Djelal, 38, was found by emergency services staff in Rotherhithe, southeast London, suffering from stab injuries on 31 October.

He died in what police believe was a targeted attack.

On 1 November, Jay Hughes, 15, described by neighbours as a “sweet boy”, was stabbed in Bellingham, southeast London.

Malcolm Mide-Madariola, 17, was stabbed outside Clapham South tube station in south London on 2 November. He died in hospital at 5.23pm.

A teenager is due to appear in court over the fatal stabbing on Wednesday.

The 17-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was arrested on Monday and will appear at Bromley Magistrates’ Court Wednesday.

Two 18-year-old men have also been arrested on suspicion of murder in connection.

On Sunday, Ayodeji Habeeb Azeez, 22, was fatally stabbed on Samos Road, Penge, southeast London.

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