Propane leak in Grand Forks, B.C., causes temporary highway closure, evacuation of nearby buildings

Grand Forks RCMP say a propane leak at a gas station on Wednesday morning forced the temporary closure of Highway 3, along with the evacuation of nearby buildings.

The evacuation included Grand Forks Secondary School and Dr. D.A. Perley Elementary School.

The propane leak took place at the Canco gas station along Highway 3.

Police said the Grand Forks fire department was successful in stopping the leak and for one hour the area remained secure for the propane to dissipate.

The highway was reopened at 1:40 p.m., and people were allowed to return to the buildings and area.

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Kelowna woman pointing finger at contractor, hardware store for expensive patio

Cassandra Jamieson recently had her aging patio rebuilt by a contractor hired through Home Hardware in Kelowna.

The job is done now, but she says it took too long and went way over budget. The alleged problems with the project reads like a grocery list.

“Number one is the floor,” said Jamieson.

Jamieson says that, at her request, the contractor put down tile.

“And it cracked,” said Jamieson.

It cracked because Jamieson says the contractor didn’t put down the right material on the subfloor.

Another issue is the roof over the patio; it leaks.

And Jamieson says there are problems with the beams supporting the patio.

“It’s not centered,” she said. “That was one of the reasons bylaw did not pass it and he came and corrected it with a two-by-four.”

Jamieson says the railing wasn’t installed properly, that the contractor would only show up when it was convenient for him or not show up at all. She says the costs of the project spiraled out of control.

“The initial patio was $19,000 for the build,” said Jamieson. “We are now up, cost including, $45-50,000.”

Most of the problems she’s complaining about was from extra work she arranged privately for the contractor. But she lays part of the blame on Home Hardware.

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“And that’s where I’m having the issue now,” said Jamieson, “because they recommended him to me.”

Global News contacted Home Hardware, which says it has fulfilled its contract with Jamieson, and the fact that she has hired the same contractor to do extra work on her home is her responsibility.

Global News also contacted the contractor, Bryan Martin of Bsmart Construction, who says that there were some bumps along the road, but, ultimately, all the work was done, that it’s warrantied, inspected and up to code.

Martin suspects that Jamieson’s real motive is money.

During the interview with Global News, Jamieson failed to mention that she launched a GoFundMe account seeking $2,000, saying she’s broke and she needs help to pay for her renovations.

But so far, there haven’t been any takers. Not a single donation since she launched the page four months ago.

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Roommate accused in theft of $10M winning scratch ticket in California

A 35-year-old California man was supposed to be picking up a $10-million cheque on Monday. Instead, he was picked up by police.

The man was arrested because the lottery ticket he was trying to claim had allegedly been stolen from his roommate, investigators in Vacaville, Calif., say.

The Vacaville Police Department said in a post on Facebook Tuesday that the $30 scratch-off lottery ticket was bought on Dec. 20.  Initially, the winner thought it was worth $10,000.

He told his two roommates about the win and tried to claim his prize the next morning. He was told by lottery officials, however, that the ticket wasn’t a winner and had been altered.

“He suspected one of his roommates must have stolen his winning ticket while he was sleeping and immediately reported the theft to the police department,” the police force said.

The next day, the real ticket was allegedly presented by the winner’s roommate at a lottery office — where he was told the ticket was really worth $10 million, not $10,000.

Lottery officials then conducted a routine investigation into the winnings, and after learning the ticket may have been stolen, worked with police to determine what had happened.

The suspect, Adul Saosongyang, was invited to collect his prize on Monday, but police were waiting for him at the district lottery office. He was arrested on a warrant for grand theft.

A California Lottery official told KCRA that whoever is determined to be the true owner of the ticket will be able to collect the prize money.

Adul Saosongyang, 35, was arrested on warrant for grand theft in California on Monday.

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‘Hopefully they’re together:’ WWII survivor accused in wife’s death dies

A senior with dementia who was found unfit to stand trial for killing his wife has died with a murder charge still attached to his name, but loved ones say they hope that won’t be what he’s remembered for.

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Close friends say Fred van Zuiden, 88, died Sunday at a care home in Camrose, Alta., about a three-hour drive from Calgary, the city he called home for decades.

Police charged van Zuiden with second-degree murder in October 2016 after they found his 80-year-old wife Audrey dead in their home. Friends said the two, who were married for almost 60 years, were soulmates and van Zuiden would never have intentionally hurt his spouse.

Valerie Walker, who became friends with Audrey van Zuiden when they were children in the United Kingdom, said the grief was just beginning to fully hit.

“Somehow with Fred alive, Audrey was still alive,” Walker said in an interview. “But now I know she has gone and he has gone. Hopefully they’re together.”

A Jewish funeral was to be held Wednesday.

Vince Walker, Valerie’s son and van Zuiden’s godson, said friends had hoped to have the murder charge withdrawn, but a determination would have been needed that van Zuiden posed no risk to society.

“We just never got to that step,” he said.

“It was a personal struggle for me. I really wanted to make sure that he passed with a clear name.”

In his best-selling memoir “Call Me Mom: A Dutch Boy’s WWII Survival Story,” van Zuiden described being shuttled between dozens of hiding places in Nazi-occupied Holland. Sometimes that meant going hungry, living in a chicken coop or sleeping in a hole in the ground.

He emigrated to Canada in 1952 and met and married his wife in Calgary six years later, Walker said. They ran a successful sailboat business and had no children.

“They were joined at the hip really,” said Valerie Walker. “They were almost one.”

She remembers her friend saying at her husband’s 70th birthday that he was the love of her life and “that the love just grew the more they were together.”

Those close to the couple said van Zuiden had long been suffering from dementia when his wife died and that she had been caring for him by herself in their home.

A judge found him unfit to stand trial in early 2017 as he did not understand the charge against him, could not recognize his lawyer and believed he was in court over a skiing accident. There was no hope he’d ever be well enough to face trial.

FILE: Fred van Zuiden promoting his book, Call Me Mom.

Van Zuiden never showed any recollection of what happened to his wife or that he had even been married, loved ones said.

Until last August, he stayed at the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Centre _ meant for short-term court-ordered psychiatric assessments or for people found not criminally responsible of a crime. He was transferred to the Camrose facility and a care home in Calgary said it was willing to take him once it could be assured he would not be violent.

Vince Walker said he hopes the case fosters a better understanding of dementia and stressed that a diagnosis does not automatically mean violence. He said it’s possible something startled van Zuiden the night of his wife’s death and he thought he was protecting her.

He said he hopes the murder charge is not his godfather’s legacy.

“He was kind and he was the poster child of a gentleman,” he said.

“I’d just like people to remember him as that.”

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Fiat Chrysler to pay more than $700 million over U.S. diesel emissions claims: sources

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCHA.MI) will pay more than $700 million to resolve lawsuits from the U.S. Justice Department and diesel owners over claims it used illegal software to allow 104,000 diesel vehicles to emit excess emissions, three people briefed on the matter said on Wednesday.

Fiat Chrysler will pay $311 million in penalties to the Justice Department, at least $75 million to states investigating the excess emissions and additional funds to offset excess emissions. It will also pay $280 million to settle a lawsuit by owners, the sources said.

Fiat Chrysler has denied any wrongdoing and previously said there was never an attempt to create software to cheat emissions rules. In October, the company set aside 713 million euros ($815 million) to cover potential costs related to the case.

Separately, Robert Bosch GmbH [ROBG.UL], a German auto supplier that made some components for the Fiat Chrysler diesel engines, is expected to announce it will settle suits from U.S. owners for $30 million, one source said.

The settlements are set to be announced on Thursday at the Justice Department. Fiat Chrysler, Bosch and the Justice Department declined to comment.

The Environmental Protection Agency issued a media advisory Wednesday that said it would make an “announcement of a significant civil action to address cheating on federal auto-emissions tests.”

The Justice Department sued Fiat Chrysler in May 2017, accusing the company of illegally using software that led to excess emissions in 104,000 U.S. diesel vehicles from the 2014-2016 model years.

Fiat Chrysler won approval from U.S. regulators in July 2017 to sell diesel vehicles with updated software. The company has repeatedly said it hoped to use that software to address agencies’ concerns over the 2014-2016 vehicles.

Owners of those vehicles are expected to get up to around $3,000 each for completing the software updates, the sources said.

The Justice Department in 2017 said Fiat Chrysler used auxiliary emissions controls in diesel vehicles that led to “substantially” higher than allowable levels of nitrogen oxide, or NOx pollution, which is linked to smog formation and respiratory problems.

U.S. and California regulators stepped up scrutiny of diesel vehicles after Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE) admitted in 2015 to illegally installing software in U.S. vehicles for years to evade emissions standards.

VW has agreed to pay more than $25 billion in the United States for claims from owners, environmental regulators, states and dealers. U.S. regulators have also been probing diesel emissions in Daimler AG’s (DAIGn.DE) U.S. Mercedes Benz vehicles.

Fiat Chrysler still faces an ongoing criminal investigation by the Justice Department.

Fiat Chrysler sells two U.S. diesel models and plans to add two new Jeep SUV diesel models by 2020.

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Woman and 2 Children Die in Nepal Menstruation Hut

KATHMANDU, Nepal — When Amba Bohara’s period came this week, she followed a familiar routine in western Nepal. Considered impure in her village because she was menstruating, Ms. Bohara barricaded herself in a tiny hut, built a fire and braced for an icy winter night with her two young children.

By Wednesday morning, all three were dead.

“It seems they died from suffocation,” said Uddhab Singh Bhat, the deputy superintendent of police in the area. “The hut was so small. It was very difficult to breathe.”

Ms. Bohara and her children were the latest victims of a centuries-old tradition of banishing menstruating women and girls from their family homes. Though Nepal criminalized the practice last year, many villages in the country continue to follow the taboo, known as chhaupadi in Nepali.

During their periods, women living in places where chhaupadi is followed are unable to visit temples, use other villagers’ kitchen utensils or wash in communal water sources. Some religious Hindus consider it bad luck to touch menstruating women and girls.

Instead, they leave their homes and sequester themselves in closet-size huts made of mud or rock, sometimes sleeping next to goats.

Each year, at least one or two women die in the huts — typically from exposure, animal bites or smoke inhalation after building fires to stay warm during the Himalayan winters. Reports of sexual assault from men who prey on women while they stay alone are also common.

Many women who follow chhaupadi say they do so out of social pressure or guilt.

A Nepali government survey from 2010, which was cited in a State Department human rights report, found that 19 percent of women age 15 to 49 in the country followed chhaupadi. In Nepal’s midwestern and far western regions, the proportion climbed to 50 percent.

Nepal’s Supreme Court banned the practice in 2005, and last August the government went a step further by criminalizing it. Anyone who forces menstruating women into the huts now faces up to three months in jail.

But women’s rights activists say the law has made little impact, particularly in western Nepal, one of the poorest pockets of Asia, where it is still politically unpopular for local representatives to oppose the taboo. So far, not one has been charged for following chhaupadi.

“The situation is miserable,” said Mohna Ansari, a member of the National Human Rights Commission of Nepal. “It seems nothing is changing.”

In a telephone interview, Khadak Bahadur Bohara sobbed as he related what happened this week to Ms. Bohara, his 35-year-old sister-in-law.

On Tuesday evening, the second day of her period, she fed her family’s cattle in the village of Budhinanda and collected wood to build a fire in the hut.

200 MILES

CHINA

Budhinanda

NEPAL

Kathmandu

INDIA

By The New York Times

With her husband working as a manual laborer in India, Ms. Bohara also scooped up her two children, Suresh, 9, and Ramit, 7, and shut them inside the hut with her.

Ms. Bohara placed a large stone in front of the door to block others from entering.

The next morning, when her mother-in-law brought cups of tea to the hut, she saw smoke seeping out from cracks in the walls. Relatives struggled to break the door. Once inside, they found a gruesome scene: Ms. Bohara’s legs were charred. Foam bubbled out from the children’s mouths.

“This has broken my heart,” Mr. Bohara said of the three deaths.

In interviews, senior police officials said they were investigating and would decide whether any charges would be applied after autopsies were performed and the woman’s husband was contacted.

Rewati Raman Bhandari, a former lawmaker who drafted the measure that criminalized chhaupadi, said the push to eradicate the practice — from villagers, the police and local politicians — was still far too muted.

“Tradition is stronger than the law,” he said.

Bhadra Sharma reported from Kathmandu, Nepal, and Kai Schultz from New Delhi.

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In Beijing talks, U.S. seeks details on Chinese goods purchases, trade promises

BEIJING/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. officials used three days of trade talks in Beijing to demand more details on China’s pledge to make big purchases of American goods, as well as to push for ways to hold China to any commitments on changes to industrial policies.

The meetings in China were the first face-to-face negotiations since U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in Buenos Aires in December and agreed a 90-day truce in a trade war that has disrupted the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars of goods.

Washington has presented Beijing with a long list of demands that would rewrite the terms of trade between the world’s two largest economies. They include changes to China’s policies on intellectual property protection, technology transfers, industrial subsidies and other non-tariff barriers to trade.

Some 40 days into the 90-day truce, there were few concrete details on progress made so far. The meetings in Beijing were not at a ministerial level, so were not expected to produce a deal to end the trade war.

U.S. and Chinese officials discussed “ways to achieve fairness, reciprocity and balance in trade relations,” the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said in a statement.

“The talks also focused on China’s pledge to purchase a substantial amount of agricultural, energy, manufactured, and other products and services from the United States,” the USTR said.

China made that pledge after the Xi-Trump meeting in Buenos Aires, when U.S. officials said China would start buying immediately. But aside from some soybean purchases, there has been little sign of big-ticket acquisitions.

In December, top Trump administration officials had said the trade commitments amounted to $1.2 trillion, but did not specify the composition or time period.

Those purchases would help meet another key demand from Trump: that China take action to reduce the massive U.S. trade deficit with its biggest economic rival.

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Big spending on commodities and goods would send a positive signal on China’s intent to work with the United States, but would do nothing to resolve the U.S. demands that require difficult structural change from China.

It is unclear how much progress on those issues negotiators can make in 90 days, nor how much progress Trump would want to see to stop him from further escalating the trade war. The issues at play have soured the wider U.S.-China relationship for years.

At stake are scheduled U.S. tariff increase on $200 billion in Chinese imports. Trump has said he would increase those duties to 25 percent from 10 percent currently if no deal is reached by March 2, and has threatened to tax all imports from China if Beijing fails to cede to U.S. demands.

Beijing has said it will not give up ground on issues it conceives as core. China will not make any “unreasonable concessions” and any agreement must involve compromise on both sides, the China Daily, a state newspaper, said on Wednesday.

The paper said in an editorial that the dispute harms both countries and disrupts the international trade order and supply chains.

NOTHING IN THE DIARY

No schedule for further face-to-face negotiations was released after the talks, and USTR said the American delegation was returning to Washington to report on the meetings and “to receive guidance on the next steps,” USTR said.

One of the biggest challenges to any deal would be to ensure that China enforces whatever is agreed to stop technology transfers, intellectual property theft and hacking of U.S. computer networks.

The USTR said officials broached those topics and discussed the need for any agreement to include “complete implementation subject to ongoing verification and effective enforcement.”

U.S. officials have long complained that China has failed to live up to trade promises, often citing Beijing’s pledges to resume imports of American beef that took more than a decade to implement.

Derek Scissors, a China scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank, said there was still time for a deal to be struck, but it will largely be based on American acceptance of Chinese promises for changes to its economic model, with little evidence of action.

“What really matters here is what enforcements will the U.S. have when the Chinese don’t follow through,” Scissors said, adding that this would need to entail a threat to reimpose tariffs by a certain date.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told Fox Business Network the administration expects the ongoing negotiations to prove fruitful and that the administration’s complaints about Chinese theft of U.S. intellectual property were “top of mind” in the negotiations with Beijing.

Stocks rallied globally on the positive tone of the talks and optimism that Washington and Beijing can avert an all-out trade war. [MKTS/GLOB]

Companies in both the United States and China are feeling the pain from the effects of the U.S.-China trade dispute. Apple Inc (AAPL.O) rattled global markets last week when it cut its sales outlook, blaming weak demand in China.

China’s Commerce Ministry, the lead agency on its side of the table, was silent after the conclusion of the talks, but was expected to address outcomes at its regular weekly news briefing on Thursday.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, speaking to reporters before the talks ended, confirmed that talks were extended for an unscheduled third day, saying this “shows that the two sides were indeed very serious in conducting the consultations.”

Speaking after the conclusion of the talks, Ted McKinney, the U.S. under secretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs, told reporters in Beijing that he thought they “went just fine.” He added: “It’s been a good one for us.”

TARIFF REMOVAL

The U.S. China Business Council, a group representing American companies doing business in China, applauded the “substantive discussions” over the past three days, but urged the two governments to make tangible progress on achieving equal treatment of foreign companies in China and changes to policies aimed at technology transfer.

The group also urged the removal of U.S. tariffs when China delivers on its promises.

“Removal of these tariffs must be a priority, to address the damage that has been done to American companies that depend on trade with China, and to the U.S. economy as a whole,” the group said.

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Leonie Gardens seeks to go en bloc again at $800m

Leonie Gardens joins a growing list of die-hard sellers trying their luck to go en bloc in the new year.

The prime District 9 condominium in Leonie Hill, whose collective sales agreement expires in May, relaunched its tender for a second time at the same reserve price of $800 million last month. The tender closes on Jan 22 at 3pm.

The 138-unit condo first launched for sale in May last year, and that tender closed without a bid on June 21.

“We held off relaunching until December because of a lack of interest after the July 6 cooling measures. But since then, developers have had time to see how the new launches fared and how prices are holding up,” said Mr Vijay Chopra, chairman of the Leonie Gardens collective sale committee.

Asked why the condo was relaunched at the same price, he said: “The owners are willing to accept a lower price but we don’t know what that price should be. We don’t want to go through the process of lowering the reserve price without knowing first what the developers are willing to offer.”

At the guide price of $800 million, each owner stands to get between $4.3 million and $10.2 million.

The reserve price translates to $2,104 per square foot based on existing gross floor area, or $2,021 per sq ft per plot ratio if a 10 per cent balcony space is included, subject to approval.

Leonie Gardens has 70-plus years remaining on its 99-year lease, according to marketing agent Huttons Asia. The project sits on a total strata area of 324,972.90 sq ft and has a gross floor area of 410,431.80 sq ft.

ENOUGH TIME FOR PRIVATE TREATY

Even if we don’t get bids this time round, we still have time to do a private treaty.

MR VIJAY CHOPRA, chairman of the Leonie Gardens collective sale committee.

As the site is located within the Central Area, it is not subject to an average unit size of 85 sq m, which will allow the developer to build smaller units and keep the quantum palatable for potential buyers.

Huttons says it can be developed into 544 condominium units of about 70 sq m each, or 380 condominium units of about 100 sq m each.

The site is zoned residential, with a plot ratio of 2.8. Subject to approval, it is possible to have a 10 per cent balcony space added, increasing the area to 449,031.63 sq ft.

No development charge is payable as its existing baseline is above the current plot ratio of 2.8. But a development charge of about $44 million will be levied if the additional 10 per cent balcony space is utilised.

Other developments in the same district that have been put up for collective sale include the 211-unit, 99-year leasehold Horizon Towers in Leonie Hill Road, which relaunched its collective sale tender at a $1.1 billion reserve price, unchanged from its attempt last July.

That round closed in September without any bids. Its new tender closes on Jan 28 at 3pm.

Other sites in District 9 that were put up for collective sale last year, and for which there were no takers, include The Regalia in River Valley and Elizabeth Tower in Mount Elizabeth.

“Even if we don’t get bids this time round, we still have time to do a private treaty,” said Mr Vijay, who owns more than one unit at Leonie Gardens, including a penthouse.

“We are located at the highest point in the Orchard area, and near the upcoming Great World MRT and Orchard Boulevard MRT (stations). We are ideal for any developer who wants exposure to the prime district,” he added.

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Manchester City smash nine goals past Burton Albion in record-breaking cup match

The Premier League champions beat League One Burton 9-0 at the Etihad Stadium – the largest ever margin of victory in the semi-finals of an English cup competition.

Gabriel Jesus struck four goals, while Kevin De Bruyne, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Phil Foden, Kyle Walker and Riyad Mahrez were the others to score.

Despite the 9-0 scoreline, City’s fans were keen for more goals as chants of “we want 10” rang around the ground before the final whistle.

The result was the heaviest League Cup defeat by any side since Liverpool beat Fulham 10-0 back in September 1986.

It was also the first time City had scored at least eight goals in a single match since November 1987, when they beat Huddersfield Town 10-1 in a league game.

It was a night to forget for Burton fans, many of whom had endured an arduous journey to get to the game after hundreds were caught up in traffic following a police incident on the M6 in Staffordshire.

After the game, Burton boss Nigel Clough said he planned to have a glass of wine with City manager Pep Guardiola.

“I hope he’s got more than a glass!” Clough joked.

Asked for his thoughts on the second leg, Clough replied: “Oh I can’t wait!”

The return leg, which is already a sell-out, takes place at Burton’s Pirelli Stadium on Wednesday 23 January.

The Carabao Cup final takes place at Wembley Stadium on 25 February.

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Los Angeles Teachers’ Union Postpones Strike Over Legal Questions

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles teachers’ union on Wednesday postponed a districtwide strike until Monday, after questions about whether a court could delay the strike arose on the day before some 30,000 teachers were expected to walk off the job.

While the postponement could reopen negotiations, the union also suggested that it and the Los Angeles Unified School District are far from an agreement and that a strike in the nation’s second largest school system remains all but inevitable.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge was expected to rule Wednesday on whether the union, United Teachers Los Angeles, had given the school district the proper legal notice that its members would no longer work under the terms of its most recent contract, which expired more than a year ago.

Teachers say they can no longer work in what they call untenable conditions. They are demanding higher pay, smaller class sizes and more support staff like counselors and librarians. But district officials say that meeting those demands would bankrupt the school system, which is already paying for rising pension and health care costs, and that the strike will hurt the most vulnerable schools and students.

The union announced on Dec. 19 that it would go on strike on Jan. 10, and union leaders believed they had given ample notice. But district officials said that they had not received a formal notice in time.

A strike would affect 900 schools serving more than 500,000 students, many of whom were expecting to stay home or have limited instruction on Thursday.

Alex Caputo-Pearl, the president of United Teachers Los Angeles, criticized the schools superintendent, Austin Beutner, in announcing the postponement.

“Unlike Beutner and his administration, we do not want to bring confusion and chaos into an already fluid situation,” Mr. Caputo-Pearl said in a statement. “Although we believe we would ultimately prevail in court, for our members, our students, parents, and the community, absent an agreement we will plan to strike on Monday.”

While district and union officials have been at a stalemate for months, negotiations resumed this week and continued Wednesday in a final attempt to avert a strike.

Mr. Beutner and Mónica García, the president of the Los Angeles school board, traveled to Sacramento to lobby for more money for the district. Many education experts have urged the state to spend more money on public schools.

“We are working hard to avert a strike,” Mr. Beutner said in a statement. “We are building support at the state level to find more resources to help our students and better support all who work in our schools.”

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