Texas congressman wants to recognize magic as a ‘national treasure’

Things have been a little crazy in American politics lately, but Donald Trump isn’t the only Republican making headlines.

This week, Texas congressman Pete Sessions – along with six GOP co-sponsors – introduced a resolution to congress asking that magic be recognized as a “rare and valuable art form and national treasure.”

ChangSha Night Net

The text of the resolution reads in part, “magic is an art form with the unique power and potential to impact the lives of all people” and is used to “bring wonder and happiness to others.” It also points out that “magic fulfills some of the highest ideals and aspirations” of the United States by “encouraging people to question what they believe and see.”

It also describes magic as “timeless in appeal” because it requires “only the capacity to dream.”

The resolution – which asks that magic be made a national treasure and have the government support efforts to make sure that magic is preserved – also includes a lot of information about American magician David Copperfield:

  • Whereas David Copperfield, through his magic, inspires great positive change in the lives of Americans;
  • Whereas people consistently leave David Copperfield’s live magic show with a different perspective than when they entered;
  • Whereas Rebecca Brown of Portland, Oregon, left a David Copperfield magic show with a newfound inspiration to pursue her lifelong, unfulfilled passion for dance;
  • Whereas three months after Rebecca Brown attended the David Copperfield magic show, she performed her first choreographed recital in Portland, Oregon’s Pioneer Square;
  • Whereas programs such as Project Magic, created by David Copperfield, use magic as a form of therapy for children with physical, psychological, and social disabilities;

    It’s unclear if Sessions is a fan of Copperfield.

    However, as Quartz pointed out, this admiration for magic stands in stark contrast to how the Republican-dominated House of Representatives responds to scientific research.

    “The House Science Committee even subpoenaed scientists who published research debunking a popular climate change denier theory,” read the Quartz article, titled “Republican lawmakers may not trust science, but they do believe in magic.”

    “Among the co-sponsors of House Resolution 642, ‘Recognizing magic as a rare and valuable art form and national treasure’,” Idaho’s Mike Simpson claims that “there is widespread disagreement as to the magnitude of human influence on the climate and the degree to which any effort by humanity to reduce carbon output would slow or reverse the effects of climate change.’”

  • University of Alberta students call for action to reduce fentanyl deaths

    EDMONTON — A group of University of Alberta students is calling for action to reduce the growing number of people who are dying from fentanyl overdoses.

    Student Advocates for Public Health is encouraging support for Health Canada’s proposal to allow people to obtain the drug naloxone — which can reverse the effects of an overdose — without a prescription.

    ChangSha Night Net

    Related

    • Alleged Alberta fentanyl dealer linked to overdose death arrested, $36K seized

    • ‘It is a huge issue’: 145 fentanyl-related deaths in Alberta so far in 2015

    • Fentanyl 101: The facts and dangers

      “We see that more than 270 Albertans have died needlessly in fentanyl-related deaths,” said Rhoda Lee, who is working on her masters degree in nursing.

      “As students, we have an interest in public health and healthy public policy and we decided that the fentanyl crisis is an issue that needs to be dealt with.”

      Fentanyl is an opiod that is many times more powerful than heroin.

      READ MORE: Fentanyl 101 – what you need to know about the drug

      The Alberta figure of 270 fentanyl-related deaths is for 2015 — more than double the previous year.

      The Canadian Centre For Substance Abuse estimates that at least 655 people have died across Canada from overdoses where fentanyl was the cause or a contributing cause between 2009 and 2014. A more up-to-date number was not available.

      Naloxone kits that include a syringe and vials of the drug are already being distributed in some provinces.

      The students want the pharmaceutical industry and Ottawa to allow the drug to be sold in forms that are easier to use, such as a nasal spray and an auto-injector device similar to an EpiPen.

      “We believe that this would help people find an easier way, rather than fumbling with needles and ampules, to be able to administer this drug quickly,” Lee said.

      READ MORE: Teen’s fentanyl overdose highlights troubling trend in Alberta

      The group also supports a federal private member’s bill that calls for protecting people who phone 911 to report drug overdoses from facing charges.

      Liberal MP Ron McKinnon introduced Bill C-224 in the Commons last month and hopes it will come up for debate this spring.

      The legislation aims to encourage a person who sees someone having an overdose to call for help immediately.

      McKinnon said he is grateful for the student endorsement and hopes other groups across Canada will support the proposed Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act.

      “I love to hear this,” McKinnon said from his constituency office in Port Coquitlam, B.C.

      “We are looking at organizations like cities to come on board. The more people who see this and recognize the value of it and speak up the better.”

      READ MORE: 29 Alberta clinics now offer naloxone kits for fentanyl overdose treatment

      McKinnon said in the United States, 34 states and the District of Columbia have some form of Good Samaritan overdose immunity law.

      Health Canada’s website says the department is seeking public comment on a proposal to allow the non-prescription use of naloxone.

      The deadline for making a submission is March 19.

    10 years later, family of Canadian in Chinese prison still looking for answers

    It’s been 10 years since a Canadian citizen was arrested and eventually sentenced to life in prison in China on widely condemned terrorism charges, and his wife and four young boys are still searching for answers.

    During a trip to his wife’s native Uzbekistan in March 2006, Huseyin Celil – who fled to Canada as a political refugee from China in 2001 and became a Canadian citizen four years later – was arrested by Uzbek police and handed over to Chinese authorities.

    ChangSha Night Net

    Rights groups said he was not given access to Canadian consular officials, faced torture in custody, a forced confession and an unjust trial simply for being an outspoken critic of China’s treatment of the Uighur people – a Muslim minority group in the country’s violence-prone far western region of Xinjiang.

    A decade later, little has been done to secure Celil’s release, highlighting a gap in the federal government’s system for the protection of Canadians abroad.

    ‘They need him right now’

    Kamila Telendibaeva says the loss of her husband is still felt daily.

    “I am raising four boys and it’s – in 10 years it’s been a very, very difficult challenge,” she says from their Burlington, Ont. home.

    “We miss him a lot. I miss him a lot. And you know we are missing him every single day … I think they need him. They need him right now.”

    Kamila Telendibaeva is seen with three of her sons during a family vacation in 2015.

    Kamila Telendibaeva/Handout

    Celil has never met his youngest son, now almost 10 years old, born just months after his imprisonment.

    “My little one, most of time, he keeps [asking] and he says, ‘If he hasn’t done anything you know, why’s he in prison?’ I keep talking to him just to remind him he [has] done nothing wrong,” Telendibaeva says.

    “They need [their] father. I feel very sorry for them, ” she adds. “They’re not seeing their father’s love … and it is not fair – it is not fair for them.”

    Arrest and extradition to China

    Telendibaeva remembers the last time she saw Celil, the couple were visiting her family in Uzbekistan in March 2006 while she was pregnant with their fourth child.

    When Celil stepped out the door of their family home to run a quick errand, well-dressed in a black suit, Telendibaeva thought he would be back in a few hours – but she never saw him again.

    Celil was arrested by Uzbek police on March 26, 2006 and quietly handed over to Chinese authorities in June 2006 to face terrorism charges in a controversial extradition that was widely criticized by the Canadian government at the time.

    Huseyin Celil is seen in this still from a family video during his citizenship ceremony in 2005.

    Family/Handout

    With no other option, Telendibaeva returned to Canada not knowing if she would ever see her husband again and hoping the Canadian government would help secure his release.

    “When you are leaving some of your loved ones behind, and three kids, and I was pregnant at that time. It was really difficult,” she says.

    “It was a really bad day.”

    Efforts to secure his release

    It took months for the federal government to even find where Celil was being held and when questioned in the House of Commons on what they planned on doing for Celil the then Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Deepak Obhrai, promised continued action.

    “As I have stated time after time, the Prime Minister is engaged and the foreign affairs minister is engaged. Not only that, but the Minister of Natural Resources, who was in China in November, talked with senior Chinese officials and he brought up this issue there,” he said.

    “We are fully engaged with the Chinese to ensure that Mr. Celil’s rights as a Canadian citizen are protected and brought to their attention.”

    In November 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper raised Celil’s case at the highest level with Chinese President Hu Jintao while in Hanoi, Vietnam for an economic summit.

    Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, China’s President Hu Jintao (front row right to left), US President George W. Bush, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Thailand’s Prime Minister Durayud Chulanont (back row left to right) wave during the official photograph at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Hanoi Vietnam Sunday Nov. 19, 2006.

    /Tom Hanson

    But Secretary General for Amnesty International Canada Alex Neve says after the sentence was imposed in April, “there was almost a bit of giving up” on the part of the federal government.

    “I think the wind went out of Canada’s sails a number of years ago,” he says. “And there’s a sense of, ‘What more can we do?’”

    16×9 reached out to Global Affairs Canada to ask what more they plan on doing for Celil.

    They declined an interview and provided an email statement saying Celil’s “case remains important to the Government of Canada and continues to be raised at senior levels” and that they “continue to call upon the Chinese government to permit Canadian officials to conduct a consular visit to monitor Mr. Celil’s well-being.”

    “Our goal is to ensure that Mr. Celil is safe and treated fairly, in accordance with international norms,” the statement reads.

    China refuses to acknowledge Celil’s Canadian citizenship and reiterates that his case is an internal affair, despite his travelling on a Canadian passport at the time of his detainment in March 2006.

    “Huseyin Celil is a Chinese citizen who is serving his sentence in jail,” a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy told 16×9 in an emailed statement.

    “We will continue to handle relevant matter in accordance with the law.”

    Controversial trial and imprisonment

    Following his extradition to China, Celil’s trial was shrouded in secrecy and the then-38-year-old eventually sentenced to life in prison.

    After his sentencing in April 2007, Celil’s family and lawyer claimed the circumstances leading up to his conviction were in violation of his human rights.

    “They say there was a signed confession,” Celil’s lawyer in Canada Chris MacLeod tells 16×9. “But quite frankly I think it’s under clear examples of torture and abuse and maltreatment. I mean he’s been in solitary confinement for years.”

    Huseyin Celil is seen in this still from a family video during a citizenship ceremony in 2005.

    Family/Handout

    To this day, MacLeod says Celil has had no access to Canadian consular services and the family in China is only permitted to see him once every few months.

    MacLeod maintains his client’s innocence amid the harsh penalty he continues to face.

    “For a Canadian citizen to somehow be captured, detained, tortured, and have no access to the Canadian government, for that person to be facing those sorts of human rights abuses is a particular affront to Canadians and the government of Canada,” MacLeod says.

    “All he’s ever done is speak out in favour of his community, his language, his culture … things that we would consider very normal by any stretch in Canada.”

    Human rights activist or international terrorist?

    Celil is a native of China and a member of the Uighurs, a repressed Muslim minority struggling to promote its cultural and religious autonomy within the region.

    Those who speak out in favour of greater independence for the Uighur people are often classified as terrorists and face harsh consequences at the hands of the Chinese government, according to rights groups.

    For decades there have been violent clashes between Chinese authorities and Uighurs, with both sides blaming each other for the bloodshed.

    Chinese officials claim militant extremists are attempting to create an independent state, while Uighur rights groups accuse the government of using unfounded accusations of terrorism to target Uighurs and justify crackdowns on peaceful protests.

    A demonstrator holds an immigration document bearing the photograph Huseyin Celil of during a protest for his release in front of the Chinese Consulate in Toronto, Ont. on November 2006.

    /Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

    But MacLeod says the Chinese consider Celil much more than just an activist.

    “He came onto the radar of the Chinese government simply because he was quite outspoken about China’s mistreatment of the Uighur people,” he says.

    “Their worst crime that they say is that he sought a sovereign or separate state for the Uighur people.”

    Neve says Celil was a leader within the Uighur community, which may have led to China targeting him.

    “Individuals who seek to promote the rights of the Uighur people, who speak out about concerns about Chinese policies in that part of China, are regularly harassed and very frequently are tried on charges – usually trumped up charges,” he says.

    “There are thousands of Canadians detained in countries all over the world … but most of those involve valid criminal accusations … in Huseyin’s case, there are very serious human rights concerns here.”

    A sliver of hope for Celil’s future

    In a surprising move last month, China commuted the sentence of Celil and 10 other prisoners in the Xinjiang region down from life in prison to an additional 19.5 and 20-year sentences, according to Chinese news agencies.

    “It was amazing for us … we were surprised. We didn’t expect [it],” Telendibaeva says. “That’s why we don’t want to give hope and just keep pushing.”

    But the government could not confirm if the reports of Celil’s commutation are true and say they are still “seeking official confirmation.”

    READ MORE: China reduces sentences for 11 Uighurs, including Canadian

    “Celil’s case remains important to the Government of Canada and continues to be raised at senior levels,” Global Affairs Canada says in an emailed statement to 16×9.

    “We continue to call upon the Chinese government to permit Canadian officials to conduct a consular visit to monitor Mr. Celil’s well-being. Our goal is to ensure that Mr. Celil is safe and treated fairly, in accordance with international norms.”

    Telendibaeva says despite the reduction of his sentence, the family has concerns over his health – including digestive and vision issues she attributes to his extensive time in solitary confinement.

    Kamila Telendibaeva speaks in support of her husband’s release with journalist Mohamed Fahmy and Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada Alex Neve on Jan. 26, 2016.

    Global News

    “We don’t know anything. His family [in China], they are seeing him every six months. Which is – it’s very, very long. Not six days, not six weeks, six months,” she says.

    “I am saying as a Canadian, I am saying as a human, he is missing all his rights.”

    Celil has exhausted almost all of his legal options and at this point all indications show that he will not be released from prison until the age of 68, by which time his children could have families of their own.

    “At the end of the day it’s entirely up to Chinese officials to resolve this case,” says Neve.

    “But that doesn’t mean that in the face of Chinese intransigence to date that Canadian officials should give up.”

    16×9’s “The Last Moment I Saw Him” airs Saturday, March 19, 2016 at 7 p.m.

    With files from Claude Adams

    Terminally ill man set to ask Ontario Superior Court to die by single lethal injection

    TORONTO —; A terminally ill man who hopes to win court approval for an assisted death wants to die from a single lethal injection.

    If Ontario Superior Court grants the man his wish on Thursday, a hematologist has offered to help him die in accordance with Quebec’s detailed protocol, court filings show.

    The hematologist involved says he would be willing to prescribe two drugs – pentobarbital or secobarbital – in a dose that would be deadly if taken orally.

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    READ MORE: Judge rules physicians in Ontario’s 1st doctor-assisted death case won’t be named

    “However, based on inquiries I have made, I do not believe these drugs are currently available in Ontario in an oral dose of this amount,” the physician states. “Therefore, I am also willing to assist (the man) in dying by following…the ‘Quebec protocol.”‘

    The protocol calls for a three-step process that starts with sedation, followed by putting the patient into an artificial coma, then administering a powerful muscle relaxant that causes breathing and the heart to stop.

    “First the patient will be helped to relax, then he will be put in a deep sleep and will not feel anything when he stops breathing,” according to the protocol, which stresses the patient can change his or her mind at any time.

    “It is advisable to explain to those present, before starting the injections, that death might come relatively quickly, and that the heart may keep beating for a long time after breathing has stopped.”

    READ MORE: Manitoba resident granted right to die by doctor assisted death

    In an affidavit, the 80-year-old married grandfather says he understands the planned drug injection would result in “my certain death.”

    None of those involved in what is the first such case in Ontario can, by court order, be identified.

    Court documents show the man, who says he has lived a “wonderful and exciting life” and has seen “so much of the world,” was diagnosed in 2012 with lymphoma. He is currently bed-ridden and in unbearable pain. His family, physicians and a psychiatrist say he is lucid and support his request to die.

    READ MORE: Calgary woman with ALS first in Alberta to be granted physician-assisted death

    “It is crippling emotionally to see someone you love in so much pain, so much distress,” the man’s daughter says in court documents.

    “I am so lucky to have a beautiful family who remain close to me,” the man says in his affidavit. “Although the decision to end my suffering is one that I alone have made, it is important to me to know that I have their support.”

    Under the protocol, the dispensing pharmacist is required to prepare two identical sealed kits – in case there’s an issue with the first one – containing the deadly drugs along with the needed injection materials for use by the doctors.

    READ MORE: Vancouver MDs get assisted-dying guidelines

    The document suggests using the barbiturate phenobarbital – a drug Arkansas has used in executions – to induce coma, and then quickly injecting the muscle-paralyzing agent rocuronium bromide to induce death.

    The protocol also discusses the need for the utmost sensitivity and respect when proceeding with assisted death.

    “Medical aid in dying should be marked by a profound solemnity,” the protocol states. “Touching the dying person with emotion is more important than counting his breaths.”

    Last year, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down laws that bar doctors from helping someone die, but put the ruling on hold for one year. The court later granted the government a four-month extension, but said the terminally ill could ask the courts for an exemption to the ban during that period.

    Both the federal and Ontario governments have told they would not oppose the man’s wish for a doctor-assisted death.

    Concerns loom over massive summer road projects as city tries to minimize impacts

    The Regent Street and Prospect Street intersection sees approximately 47,000 vehicles each day, but this summer that number will take a dive when three road projects get underway.

    “We’re basically going to be renewing what’s there for infrastructure,” said Jon Lewis, the city’s traffic engineer. “We’re going to be digging the road up and putting in new water and sewer lines, new pavement, new curbing and then a new wider sidewalk.”

    ChangSha Night Net

    Estimated to run from June 1 to Aug. 31, the work will also see dual left turn lanes from Regent to Prospect Street along with the concrete being swapped for high-performance asphalt.

    Regent Street to Wayne Squibb Boulevard will also be repaved while the Regent Street underpass will be removed and replaced with one with a higher clearance.

    “The clearance is posted on the bridge and folks know what the limits are,” says Josh Fox, resident engineer with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure. “But it seems that once in a while someone will squeeze through and try to fit underneath it when they shouldn’t.”

    “We needed to replace what was out here but at the same time we might as well make it better as we have the opportunity to do so,” said City of Fredericton traffic engineer Jon Lewis.

    Stuck in the middle of the projects is the City Motel.

    Staff at the 55-room facility say it’s already difficult enough for clients to get in and out of their parking lot and that upgrading the intersection is coming at a bad time.

    The City Motel is located directly beside the Regent & Prospect Street intersection

    Jeremy Keefe

    “It’s our peak season June, July and August,” said Will Philips, who works in the Motel’s office. “It’s the peak revenue season for any motel so that’s our biggest concern.”

    Acting manager Sherry Forbes says she knows firsthand how the construction will affect travelers entering the city from the east as she makes the trip each morning from Oromocto.

    “We’re not going to have a lot of people travelling in here or who want to come through that construction zone to come into the motel,” she said.

    A pedestrian bridge will be installed to keep walking traffic flowing and the city hopes that with motorists planning ahead of time, traffic congestion will be kept to a minimum.

    “It’s time to start talking to your employers about is there an opportunity to take vacation time or flex time,” says Lewis. “Just thinking about how can you travel differently during those days.”

    For more information on the upgrades and tips to keep travel impacts to a minimum visit 长沙夜生活fredericton长沙夜网/regentconstruction

    More than 12 punished for deadly Afghan hospital attack by US

    WASHINGTON – More than a dozen U.S. military personnel have been disciplined – but face no criminal charges – for mistakes that led to the bombing of a Doctors Without Borders hospital that killed 42 people in Afghanistan last year, U.S. defence officials say.

    ChangSha Night Net

    The punishments, which have not been publicly announced, are largely administrative. But in some cases the actions, such as letters of reprimand, are tough enough to effectively end chances for further promotion. The military has previously said some personnel were suspended from their duties but has given no further details.

    READ MORE: People shot while fleeing Afghan hospital bombing: report

    The disciplined include both officers and enlisted personnel, but officials said none are generals.

    The officials, who were not authorized to discuss the outcomes publicly and so spoke on condition of anonymity, said the disciplinary process is nearly complete. It is derived from a military investigation of the Oct. 3, 2015, attack, the results of which are expected to be made public in a partially redacted form in coming days.

    02:52

    News

    Doctors Without Borders spokesperson demands answers into US bombing of hospital

    01:19

    World

    ‘Hospital was mistakenly struck’: Doctors Without Borders demands answers after U.S. strike in Afghanistan

    02:02

    World

    Airstrike that killed 22 at a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz was requested by Afghan forces according to the U.S.

    02:07

    World

    Aftermath of Doctors Without Borders clinic bombing in Afghanistan

    01:00

    World

    ‘A mistake is quite hard to understand’: MSF releases report on Afghan hospital bombing



    The hospital, run by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders in the northern city of Kunduz, was attacked by a U.S. Air Force special operations AC-130 gunship, one of the most lethal in the U.S. arsenal. Doctors Without Borders called the attack “relentless and brutal” and demanded an international investigation, but none has been undertaken.

    Army Gen. John Campbell, who was the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan at the time but has since relinquished command, has called it a “tragic but avoidable accident caused primarily by human error.”

    The attack was unleashed as U.S. military advisers were helping Afghan forces retake Kunduz, which had fallen to the Taliban on Sept. 28. It was the first major city to fall since the Taliban were expelled from Kabul in 2001.

    READ MORE: Doctors Without Borders leaves Afghan city after deadly airstrike

    Afghan officials claimed the hospital had been overrun by the Taliban, but no evidence of that has surfaced. The hospital was destroyed and Doctors Without Borders, also known by its French acronym, MSF, ceased operations in Kunduz.

    President Barack Obama apologized for the attack, which was one of the deadliest assaults on civilians in the 15-year war.

    The U.S. command in Kabul said in February that it has expressed condolences and offered payment to more than 140 families and individuals affected by the attack.

    In November the U.S. military provided an outline of what happened. It said the crew of the AC-130 gunship, which is armed with side-firing cannons and guns, had been dispatched to hit a Taliban command centre in a different building, 450 yards away from the hospital. However, hampered by problems with their targeting sensors, the crew relied on a physical description that led them to begin firing at the hospital even though they saw no hostile activity there.

    Many chances to avert the error were missed, officials said.

    At a November news conference, Brig. Gen. Wilson Shoffner, a spokesman for Campbell, said the actions taken by the U.S. aircrew were “not appropriate” to the threat they faced, suggesting that a number of them could be faulted.

    Campbell and Shoffner said that neither the U.S. Special Forces commander who called in the strike at the request of Afghan forces, nor the U.S. aircrew, was aware that a hospital was being hit until it was too late.

    The main U.S. military investigation was completed on Nov. 15 but has not yet been publicly released. U.S. Central Command, which is responsible for U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and across the greater Mideast, rejected in December an AP Freedom of Information Act request for the report, which it said was approximately 5,000 pages long.

    A separate U.S. report on the incident, obtained last fall by The Associated Press, said the AC-130 aircraft fired 211 shells at the hospital compound over 29 minutes before commanders realized the mistake and ordered a halt. Doctors Without Borders officials contacted coalition military personnel during the attack to say the hospital was “being ‘bombed’ from the air,” and the word finally was relayed to the AC-130 crew, the report said.

    Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report.