Greater Toronto Day 2017Simple Acts of Kindness

Written by admin on 16/11/2018 Categories: 长沙夜网

Thursday, May 25 is Greater Toronto Day!

Join in and help make the GTA even better by doing simple acts of kindness – take out your neighbour’s trash, buy the next person in line a coffee or donate to a food bank – any good deed that makes the GTA a better place to live!


Then, share your good deed on social media with the hashtag #GreaterTorontoDay for a chance to receive a $1,000 donation to a local GTA charity of your choice. Full details here.

On May 25, your good deed could be highlighted on Global News. Watch and follow Global News throughout the day for special Greater Toronto Day coverage.

Greater Toronto Day Pledges

Chief Meteorologist, Anthony Farnell

Anchor/Producer of Making a Difference, Susan Hay

Hosts of The Morning Show, Jeff McArthur and Carolyn MacKenzie

Weather Reporter on The Morning Show, Liem Vu

Weekend Anchor of Global News at 6, Angie Seth


Host of ET Canada, Cheryl Hickey

Host of ET Canada, Rick Campanelli

Host of ET Canada, Sangita Patel

Weather Specialist, Mike Arsenault

Anchors of Global News at 5:30 & 6pm, Farah Nasser and Alan Carter

Radio Host of AM640, Kelly Cutrara

Co-Host of Derringer in the Morning, Q107, Jennifer Valentyne

Hosts of Edge Mornings, 102.1 The Edge, Melani Mariani & Adam Ricard

Co-Host of Derringer in the Morning, Q107, Ryan Parker

Actors of Private Eyes, Cindy Sampson and Jason Priestley

Host of The John Oakley Show,  AM640, John Oakley

Hosts of The Morning Show, AM640, Matt Gurney & Supriya Dwivedi

ChangSha Night Net

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Ukrainian pilot Savchenko released by Russia: Official

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UPDATE (8 a.m. ET): According to a tweet from Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, the plane carrying Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko has landed.


KIEV, Ukraine – An official in the Ukrainian presidential administration says Russia has released jailed pilot Nadezhda Savchenko and she is being flown to Ukraine, as part of a swap for two Russian servicemen imprisoned in Ukraine.

The official spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.

READ MORE: Ukrainians rally to demand Russia release Savchenko, attack embassy

Kremlin-funded television station RT, citing unidentified sources, reported that two Russians also were released and are being flown to Moscow.

According to the official 桑拿会所 account for the Presidential Administration of Ukraine, President Petro Poroshenko will make a statement to the media Wednesday; however, it’s not yet clear if it’s related to the reported release of Savchenko.

Savchenko was captured in June 2014 while fighting with a Ukrainian volunteer battalion against Russia-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine. She was sentenced to 22 years in prison for calling in co-ordinates for shelling that killed two Russian journalists in eastern Ukraine. The United States, Western European countries and Ukraine all called for her release.

ChangSha Night Net

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Babies behind bars: Should moms do time with their newborns?

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BEDFORD HILLS, N.Y. – Jennifer Dumas sits on a sofa, her smiling 6-month-old girl on her lap. The room is full of bright toys and children’s books. A rainbow-colored activity mat is on the floor, and Winnie the Pooh is painted on the walls.

It looks like any other nursery, except that there are bars on the windows and barbed-wire fences outside the austere brick building.

ChangSha Night Net


  • Not enough being done to help hundreds of Canadians detained abroad: lawyers

    New York’s maximum-security Bedford Hills Correctional Facility is one of the very few prisons in the U.S. that allow inmates and their babies to live together, a century-old approach that not all corrections experts agree is the best way to deal with women locked up while pregnant.

    Mothers who get such a chance say it’s better than the alternative: In most prisons, babies born behind bars must be given up within a day to a relative or foster care.

    “Before I came here, I thought it was a terrible idea. A baby in prison? No, thank you,” the 24-year-old Dumas said as her daughter, Codylynn, gleefully rocked in a bouncy seat. “But it’s actually wonderful to be able to spend this much time with my little girl. … I’m blessed to be able to go through this.”

    Nobody thinks raising babies behind bars is ideal, and some worry that the children could be scarred by the experience. But some advocates say that the practice allows mother and child to develop a vital psychological attachment, and that the parenting classes and other practical instruction help the moms stay out of trouble when they get out.

    WATCH: Should convicted mothers be allowed to keep their babies in prison? 16×9 investigates

    About 112,000 women are in U.S. state and federal prisons, mostly for drug or property crimes. And an estimated 1 in 25 are pregnant when they enter, according to the non-profit Sentencing Project. But there are no national statistics on the number of babies born to inmates.

    Of the more than 100 women’s prisons in the U.S., there are eight nurseries. While nearly 100 countries, including South Sudan and France, have national laws that allow for incarcerated mothers to stay with their babies, the U.S. is not among them.

    Dumas was three weeks pregnant when she was arrested last year, along with her boyfriend, on charges they tried to steal a safe packed with $32,000 in cash and jewelry. Her baby was born just days after she took a plea bargain on attempted burglary charges that sent her to Bedford Hills, about an hour north of New York City, for up to two years.

    She is now among 15 carefully screened new mothers allowed to serve up to 18 months of their sentences in a nursery unit that includes a communal playroom stocked with toys and mother-and-child rooms equipped with a single bed and a crib. The walls are painted with rainbows, fluffy clouds and jungle and barnyard scenes. The nursery currently has 16 babies, including a set of twins.

    During workday hours, the babies are taken across the street to a day care centre, where they are watched by staff and other inmates while the moms go to school or vocational programs.

    READ MORE: Prison raids and selfies: Canadians reveal what it’s like to be locked up in Panama

    But there are constant reminders it is a prison. Armed officers patrol the unit. And the moms know their babies can be taken away for such infractions as fighting or even leaving a toy in a crib while the baby sleeps.

    “It’s still scary,” Dumas said. “At any given point if you do what you’re not supposed to your baby could get sent home.”

    Some women have been dropped from the program from time to time for breaking the rules, but corrections officials and advocates said they could not recall any instances in recent years in which a baby was harmed.

    Still, some argue that prison should be reserved for punishment and that women should instead consider putting their children up for adoption.

    “The focus should be on what’s best for the baby,” said James Dwyer, a law professor at the College of William & Mary who has written a paper on the topic. “There is skepticism about these women being adequate parents.”

    Columbia University researcher Mary Byrne, who spent years studying mothers and children who started life in Bedford Hills, said that the youngsters formed critical attachments to their mothers and that a second study after they were released found they were no different from children raised entirely on the outside.

    “Many people would assume any exposure to prison would cause problems … they’ll be exposed to violence and horrible people, it will scar them,” she said. “But that’s not what we found.”

    Sister Teresa Fitzgerald, the Roman Catholic nun who runs Hour Children, the non-profit organization that operates Bedford Hills’ nursery, put it more bluntly:

    “Babies belong with their mother. In a palace or a prison, they don’t know and don’t care as long as they feel loved and supported.”

    READ MORE: Controversial programs allow convicted mothers to keep their babies in prison

    The nursery is operated under an annual contract with the state of about $170,000, the correction department said. It would cost $480,000 a year to put 16 babies in foster care, according to state figures.

    Bedford Hills’ recidivism rate for women in the nursery program is fairly typical of such programs, at 13 per cent versus 26 per cent for all female inmates at the prison, according to a report by the Women’s Prison Association, an advocacy group.

    Bedford Hills has the oldest continuously operating prison nursery in the country, opened in 1901. There were many nurseries years ago, according to Elaine Lord, the former superintendent. But they fell out of favour amid a huge influx of prisoners in the 1980s and a shift in thinking that said the privilege of living with your baby was inconsistent with the concept of punishment.

    Most of the nation’s prison nurseries have cropped up in the past 20 years.

    The nursery at the Indiana Women’s Prison houses up to 10 mother-infant pairs for up to 18 months. In South Dakota, a child can stay only 30 days. In Washington state, it’s three years. The Decatur Correctional Center in Illinois opened a nursery in 2007, and 73 moms have participated.

    In Decatur, Kalee Ford, who is about 26 weeks pregnant and in prison on a drug-related conviction, already has been accepted into the program and is taking prenatal courses. She said she wasn’t the mother she could have been to her two other children because of methamphetamine. The program is giving her hope that she can clean up for good.

    “I believe that everybody deserves at least one chance to fix mistakes that they’ve made,” she said. “My children didn’t do this, and they deserve to have me back.”

    At Decatur, Bedford Hills and other programs, mothers-to-be are selected based on their crimes and whether there is any history of child abuse.

    Many advocates question why such women need to be incarcerated at all. Typically, women accepted into these programs are nonviolent offenders serving fairly short sentences — ideal candidates for less-expensive, halfway house-like programs for mother and child.

    After their sentences are up, almost all of the mothers at Bedford go to a live-in halfway house in New York City run by Fitzgerald’s organization that also helps with day care and jobs. Mothers say it’s a golden ticket.

    Dumas, who has a son on the outside, hopes to go there, too.

    “It’s a way to get on my feet, try being a parent again on the outside but with a safety net,” she said. “I don’t know anyone who gets that.”

    Associated Press video journalist Teresa Crawford contributed to this report from Decatur, Ill.

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Stephen Harper is leaving politics

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Former prime minister Stephen Harper will be stepping down from his job as an MP before the fall session of Parliament kicks off.

Global News has confirmed that Harper intends to leave politics sometime over the summer.

He remained in office following the Conservative loss in last year’s federal election, and has attended a majority of votes in the House since then. Harper was replaced on an interim basis by Rona Ambrose, and the party is expected to select a new leader in spring 2017.

ChangSha Night Net


    Stephen Harper makes rare appearance in House of Commons

    READ MORE: Is former PM Stephen Harper still working? How attendance is counted in the House of Commons

    Harper has not spoken in the House of Commons since he was prime minister, and has not granted any media interviews since the election. He typically enters and leaves Parliament Hill’s Centre Block through a back door.

    Harper’s future could include work on a number of boards or he may set up his own institute, according to a Globe and Mail report. His priorities will reportedly be in areas like geopolitics and global free trade. That comes as no surprise to Harper’s former cabinet colleague and former president of the Treasury Board, Tony Clement.

    “I always thought that Stephen Harper wouldn’t just be about corporate boards … he’s got an intellectual curiosity and depth that goes beyond those things,” Clement said, adding that Harper is very unlikely to meddle in domestic affairs.

    “You’re not going to see him interfering with Canadian politics,” he said. “No one likes to see former prime ministers become the cranky uncles you want to hide away in the attic.”

    ‘Entirely appropriate’

    Clement added that Harper’s decision to bow out within a year of the election is “entirely appropriate” and that he wishes his former leader well.

    “I think he’s at peace with himself,” he said. “I believe, and I believe he that he believes, that history will treat his prime minister-ship well … We all knew that he was making plans to move on with his life.”

    READ MORE: Trudeau took a day off in the name of ‘work-life balance’ – should we all follow suit?

    Former Tory strategist Tim Powers said Harper’s departure is as much about the Conservative brand as it is about his personal career path.

    “He knows that if Conservatives are going to turn the page, Canadians can’t be seeing his face day and night on television screens.”

    FROM THE ARCHIVES: Federal Election was referendum on Stephen Harper

    The role of “international agent provocateur” will likely appeal to the former PM, said Powers, and he may find himself modelling his future career on that of former British prime minister Tony Blair, pushing international policy and ideas.

    As for how history will remember Harper, Powers said it’s far too early to say.

    “I think you can’t define a prime minister’s legacy within a year of that prime minister leaving office,” he said. “History is viewed through windows of time.”

    With files from Mike Lecouteur.

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Riot breaks out at Donald Trump rally in New Mexico

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – In one of the presidential campaign year’s more grisly spectacles, protesters in New Mexico opposing Donald Trump’s candidacy threw burning T-shirts, plastic bottles and other items at police officers, injuring several, and toppled trash cans and barricades.

Police responded by firing pepper spray and smoke grenades into the crowd outside the Albuquerque Convention Center.

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During the rally, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee was interrupted repeatedly by protesters, who shouted, held up banners and resisted removal by security officers.

READ MORE: Trump, Clinton win Washington state’s presidential primaries

The banners included the messages “Trump is Fascist” and “We’ve heard enough.”

Trump lashed back at protesters, tweeting Wednesday: “The protesters in New Mexico were thugs who were flying the Mexican flag. The rally inside was big and beautiful, but outside, criminals!”

At one point, a female protester was physically dragged from the stands by security. Other protesters scuffled with security as they resisted removal from the convention centre, which was packed with thousands of loud and cheering Trump supporters.

Trump responded with his usual bluster, instructing security to remove the protesters and mocking their actions by telling them to “Go home to mommy.”

WATCH: Donald Trump easily won Washington state’s Republican presidential primary last night. Trump’s win comes as he campaigns in New Mexico where protesters clashed with police outside his rally in Albuquerque. Hena Daniels reports.

He responded to one demonstrator by asking, “How old is this kid?” Then he provided his own answer: “Still wearing diapers.”

Trump’s supporters responded with chants of “Build that wall!”

Trump later tweeted “Great rally in New Mexico, amazing crowd!”

The altercations left glass at the entrance of the convention centre smashed.

Albuquerque attorney Doug Antoon said rocks were flying through the convention centre windows as he was leaving Tuesday night. Glass was breaking and landing near his feet.

READ MORE: Donald Trump calls climate change a ‘hoax’, but is concerned it could ruin his golf course

“This was not a protest, this was a riot. These are hate groups,” he said of the demonstrators.

Albuquerque police said several officers were treated for injuries after getting hit by rocks thrown by protesters. At least one person was arrested from the riot, police said.

During the rally, protesters outside overran barricades and clashed with police in riot gear. They also burned T-shirts and other items labeled with Trump’s catchphrase, “Make America Great Again.”

Tuesday marked Trump’s first stop in New Mexico, the nation’s most Hispanic state. Gov. Susana Martinez, head of the Republican Governors Association and the nation’s only Latina governor, has harshly criticized his remarks on immigrants and has attacked his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The governor did not attend the rally and has yet to make an endorsement.

Trump read off a series of negative statistics about the state, including an increase in the number of people on food stamps.

“We have to get your governor to get going. She’s got to do a better job, OK?” he said, adding: “Hey, maybe I’ll run for governor of New Mexico. I’ll get this place going.”

READ MORE: Clinton says Trump could ‘bankrupt America’ like his companies

The governor’s office fired back, saying Martinez has fought for welfare reform.

“The potshots weren’t about policy, they were about politics,” said spokesman Michael Lonergan. “And the Governor will not be bullied into supporting a candidate until she is convinced that candidate will fight for New Mexicans, and she did not hear that today.”

Trump supporters at the rally said they appreciated his stance on boosting border security and stemming the flow of people crossing the border illegally, but some said they were frightened by the violent protests outside.

WATCH: Protesters clash with police outside Trump rally in California

Karla Molinar, a University of New Mexico student, said she participated in disrupting Trump’s speech because she felt he was attacking members of her family who are living in the country illegally. She said she believes Trump is using them as scapegoats for the nation’s problems.


Associated Press writer Susan Montoya Bryan contributed to this report from Albuquerque.

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Raptors look to steal road win in Cleveland after tying series at home

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CLEVELAND – The Toronto Raptors have found a way to beat Cleveland at home.

Now they head back into the inhospitable Quicken Loans Arena with the daunting task of stealing a game on the road.

The Raptors dropped the opening two games of the Eastern Conference final by a combined 50 points on the Cavaliers’ home court, before knotting the series at 2-2 with a pair of thrilling victories at home.

Same city, but coach Dwane Casey is predicting a much different game this time against the backdrop of Cavs’ wine and gold.

WATCH: Kyle Lowry and DeMar Derozan spoke to reporters Monday night about the Toronto Raptors being taken seriously as a team that could win the NBA finals.

ChangSha Night Net

“I will say this: It’s going to be a different animal back in Cleveland, as it is in every series,” Casey said Tuesday. “When you go into another team’s home territory, it’s a little bit tougher. But (the two wins) does give us more rhythm and more confidence going against them now that we have a little bit better feel of what we can and cannot do against this team.”

READ MORE: ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith apologizes to ‘Canadians everywhere’ after Raptors Game 4 win

The Raptors opened the conference finals two nights after dispatching Miami in seven games in the semis, and faced a Cavs team coming off nine days of rest.

Over four games, they’ve become more familiar with what the Cavs are trying to do, Casey said, and they’ve become confident in their ability to stop it.

“It gets into a little more of a chess match as the series goes on,” Casey said. “We’ve learned some things, and I’m sure they have too.”

The Raptors are 8-2 at home and 2-6 on the road in the post-season, winning Game 3 in both Indiana and Miami.

The Raptors are proving everyone wrong after virtually no-one gave them a chance of more than a token win in this series. Now Canada’s lone NBA franchise is two victories away from the NBA finals, prompting ESPN host Stephen A. Smith to apologize Tuesday night to “all Canadians everywhere” for doubting the Raptors.

“I can’t put into words how stunned I am, I can’t believe what I saw,” Smith said.

READ MORE: Raptors beat Cavs 105-99 to even series 2-2

“I gotta be a man of my word and just apologize to Canada, all Canadians everywhere because I certainly thought that this was going back to Cleveland, 3-1 … with the Cavs closing this series out on Wednesday night so I wouldn’t have to go back to Canada and go through customs and all that other nonsense.”

Smith called the Raptors winning two straight “inexplicable.”

“I can’t understand what’s happened to Cleveland right now,” Smith said. “They don’t resemble the team that has won 10 straight playoff games prior to losing the last two.”

VIDEO: ‘Nobody thought we were going to be here’: Dwane Casey on Raptors 2-2 series tied

The key to a win Wednesday, Casey said, is limiting the Cavaliers’ runs. Game 2 in Cleveland was tied late in the second quarter but the Cavs closed out the half with a brisk 16-2 run. It was a hole too deep for the Raptors to dig out of.

“The games that we lost there, there were probably three- or four-minute segments, portions of the game that really did us in in both games,” Casey said. “If we can sustain our defence against their runs and not let them blow it open in those three- or four-minute segments. . . and we’ve got to respond offensively.”

READ MORE: Coach Casey fined by NBA, Jones suspended for low blow on Biyombo

Toronto’s all-star backcourt was superb in Tuesday’s victory – Kyle Lowry had 35 points while DeMar DeRozan added 32.

Each has struggled at times these playoffs, but when they’re both firing on all cylinders, pity the opponent.

“They’re always dangerous with the guys they have who can get going at any time,” said Cleveland’s backup point guard Matthew Dellavedova. “Once they get it going, it’s hard to stop because they hit tough shots and make plays. It’s up to us to try to take them out of their rhythm and make it as hard as possible on them.”

Casey hopes to get Jonas Valanciunas into Game 5, but it depends on the Cavs’ lineup. Valanciunas, who sprained his ankle in Game 3 of the Miami series, rejoined the active roster ahead of Tuesday’s game, but didn’t play.

“I know he’s our starting centre, but it’s tough to put him out there if they’re playing Channing Frye big minutes at (centre),” Casey said. “We just have to make sure that he has a matchup and he’s not out there chasing three-point shooters all around the perimeter.

“He’s going to be valuable for us because he is an excellent passer and can make plays from the top of the key.”

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‘Small, insecure moneygrubber’: Sen. Elizabeth Warren blasts Donald Trump

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BOSTON — More shots have been fired in the war of words between Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Donald Trump.

The Massachusetts Democrat called the Republican presidential candidate a “small, insecure moneygrubber” who doesn’t care whom he hurts, as long as he can make money.

Warren pointed to comments Trump said in 2007 that he’s always made more money in bad markets than in good markets.

ChangSha Night Net

“Donald Trump was drooling over the idea of a housing meltdown because it meant he could buy up a bunch more property on the cheap,” Warren said. “What kind of a man does that? Root for people to get thrown out on the street?”

READ MORE: Riot breaks out at Donald Trump rally in New Mexico

“Pocahontas is at it again,” Trump said in an email to The Associated Press in response to questions about Warren’s remarks. “She scammed the people of Massachusetts and got into institutions because she said she is Native American. She’s one of the least successful Senators in the U.S. Senate.”

During her 2012 election campaign, when she ousted incumbent Republican Sen. Scott Brown, Warren was criticized after being listed in law school directories as having Native American ancestry.

Warren has dismissed similar criticism by Trump in the past as recycling what she described as “Brown’s hate-filled attacks on my family.”

The comments by Warren on Tuesday before the Center for Popular Democracy in Washington are the latest in an ongoing battle between Warren and Trump. Earlier this month Warren took to 桑拿会所 to bash Trump for his treatment of women and comments he had made about her.

READ MORE: Donald Trump calls climate change a ‘hoax’, but is concerned it could ruin his golf course

During Tuesday’s speech, Warren amplified that criticism.

Warren, a hero to the liberal wing of the party, also faulted Trump for criticizing the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act that sought to overhaul the U.S. financial sector following the recession.

“Donald Trump is worried about helping poor little Wall Street? Let me find the world’s smallest violin to play a sad, sad song,” Warren said. She accused Trump of “kissing the fannies of poor, misunderstood Wall Street bankers.”

READ MORE: Clinton says Trump could ‘bankrupt America’ like his companies

She also criticized Trump for saying he would not release his tax returns.

“Maybe he’s just a lousy businessman who doesn’t want you to find out that he’s worth a lot less money than he claims,” Warren said. “But we know one thing: the last time his taxes were made public, Donald Trump paid nothing — zero.”

Trump defended his private sector success.

“I borrowed $1 million dollars and turned it into a great $10 billion dollar company in a relatively short period of time,” he said. “If goofy Elizabeth Warren could do the same thing for the United States, which she can’t, this country would be proud again.”

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Scholar appointed successor after death of Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour

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KABUL – The Afghan Taliban confirmed on Wednesday that their leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour was killed in a U.S. drone strike last week and that they have appointed a successor – a scholar known for extremist views who is unlikely to back a peace process with Kabul.

The announcement came as a suicide bomber struck a minibus carrying court employees in the Afghan capital, killing at least 11 people, an official said. The Taliban promptly claimed responsibility for the attack.

ChangSha Night Net

In a statement sent to the media, the Taliban said their new leader is Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, one of Mansour’s two deputies. The insurgent group said he was chosen at a meeting of Taliban leaders, which is believed to have taken place in Pakistan, but offered no other details.

Mansour was killed in Pakistan on Saturday when his vehicle was struck by a U.S. drone plane, an attack believed to be the first time a Taliban leader was killed in such a way inside Pakistani territory.

READ MORE: Afghan leaders see Taliban leader’s death as hopeful sign

Pakistani authorities have been accused both by Kabul and the West of giving shelter and support to some Taliban leaders – an accusation that Islamabad denies. The insurgents have been fighting to overthrow the Kabul government since 2001, when their own Islamist regime was overthrown by the U.S. invasion.

The United States and the Afghan government have said that Mansour had been an obstacle to a peace process, which ground to a halt when he refused to participate in talks with the Afghan government earlier this year. Instead, he intensified the war in Afghanistan, now in its 15th year.

Mansour had officially led the Taliban since last summer, when the death of the movement’s founder, the one-eyed Mullah Mohammad Omar became public. But he is believed to have run the movement in Mullah Omar’s name for more than two years. The revelation of Mullah Omar’s death and Mansour’s deception led to widespread mistrust, with some senior Taliban leaders leaving the group to set up their own factions.

Some of these rivals fought Mansour’s men for land, mostly in the opium poppy-growing southern Taliban heartland.

READ MORE: 11 dead after bomb explodes on minibus carrying court employees in Kabul

Senior Taliban figures have said Mansour’s death could strengthen and unify the movement, as he was in some ways a divisive figure. The identity of his successor was expected to be an indication of the direction the insurgency would take, either toward peace or continued war.

Akhundzada is a religious scholar who served as the Taliban’s chief justice before his appointment as a deputy to Mansour. He is known for issuing public statements justifying the existence of the extremist Taliban, their war against the Afghan government and the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan. His views are regarded as hawkish, and he could be expected to continue in the aggressive footsteps of Mansour, at least in the early days of his leadership.

He was close to Mullah Omar, who consulted with him on religious matters. A convincing orator, Akhunzada was born in Kandahar – the capital during the Taliban’s 1996-2001 regime.

VIDEO: Kerry confirms drone strike on Taliban leader Mansour

A member of the Noorzai tribe, he is said to be aged around 50 years, and comes from a line of religious scholars. He leads a string of madrassas, or religious schools – figures in the Taliban say up to 10 – across Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province.

A former foreign minister under the Taliban, Mullah Mohammad Ghous, told The Associated Press that the choice of Akhundzada was “a very wise decision.” Akhundzada was well respected among Taliban of all ranks, and could be a unifying force for the fractured movement, Ghous said.

READ MORE: Taliban leader Mullah Mansour targeted in US airstrike

Wednesday’s statement said two new deputies had also been appointed – both of whom had earlier been thought to be the main contenders for the top job.

One of them is Sirajuddin Haqqani, who was also one of Mansour’s deputies and who leads the notorious Haqqani network – the faction behind some of the most ferocious attacks in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001. The other is the son of Mullah Omar, Mullah Yaqoub, who controls the Taliban military commissions for 15 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.

Akhundzada’s appointment came as a surprise to some, including Ghous, who said that despite not being a top contender but a “third candidate,” the new leader would rise above any personal animosity or conflict that might have arisen should either Haqqani or Yaqoub have been chosen.

The Taliban statement called on all Muslims to mourn Mansour for three days, starting from Wednesday. It also attempted to calm any qualms among the rank and file by calling for unity and obedience to the new leader.

READ MORE: US trolling for Taliban who can talk peace, reconciliation ahead of troop drawdown

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who took office in 2014, assiduously courted Pakistan in an effort to bring the Taliban into a dialogue that would lead to peace talks. Mansour, however, refused, choosing instead to intensify the war once the international combat mission drew down to a training and support role in 2015.

In an unusual move, exiled Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar who heads the militant Hezb-i-Islami group, offered condolences to Mansour’s family, according to Mullah Hameedullah, a member of the Taliban’s religious council.

“Hekmatyar said he will offer prayers for Mullah Akhtar Mansour’s soul,” Hameedullah said.

Hekmatyar – who is on U.S. and United Nations blacklists, as was Mansour – has agreed to a tentative peace deal with the Afghan government that could see him return to Kabul in the coming months. Officials and Hekmatyar’s representatives have said that the truce, which is yet to be signed by the two parties, could serve as a template for a future deal with the Taliban to end the war.


Associated Press writers Rahim Faiez in Kabul, Afghanistan, contributed to this story.

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How an 11-year-old boy, born deaf, became one of the top spellers in U.S.

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WASHINGTON – Making it to the Scripps National Spelling Bee is an amazing achievement for any kid, but for 11-year-old Neil Maes, being born deaf made his journey especially unlikely.

After receiving cochlear implants in both ears as a baby, he had to train his brain to understand spoken words. It took countless hours of speech therapy.

“We didn’t even know that he’d be able to talk. It wasn’t a guarantee,” his mother, Christy Maes, said Tuesday.

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Now the soft-spoken kid from Belton, South Carolina is officially one of the nation’s top young spellers. He earned the right to take the stage with 281 others in Wednesday’s preliminary rounds of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

WATCH: Canadian rapper Drake referenced at Scripps National Spelling Bee

The only assistance Neil requires is that the bee’s pronouncer will speak into a microphone that transmits an FM signal directly into his cochlear implants. Similar to the technology he uses in school, it allows him to filter out background noise and focus on each word.

Neil’s parents have given him another tip, coaching him to always ask the pronouncer for the definition of a word, so that he can be sure he heard it correctly. Most contestants do this anyway.

Peter and Christy Maes had no experience with deafness in their families. It turns out they’re both carriers for a genetic mutation that causes hearing loss. Neil got his first implant at 11 months old. One of his two younger sisters was also born deaf, and has implants as well.

WATCH: Canadian students compete in 2015 Scripps National Spelling Bee

“My goal was for him to meet his potential, no matter what it was,” his mother said. “It turned out to be pretty good!”

Cochlear implants bypass the non-functioning parts of the ear by sending an electrical signal directly to the hearing nerve. While speech, music and other noises don’t sound exactly like they do to a person with normal hearing, the brain can, over time, learn to process those sounds in a similar way, said Dr. Michael Hoa, a surgeon at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital who performs cochlear implantations.

READ MORE: Scripps National Spelling Bee crowns co-champions for 2nd straight year

But these implants are merely a tool, the doctor said: Neil’s intelligence and work ethic get credit for the rest.

“He’s able to handle very complex words. You tell him, ‘Spell this word,’ and he’s able to actually visualize what that sounds like in his head and spell the word. It’s actually quite impressive,” Hoa said. “There’s a lot that goes into training your brain to do that.”

Christy Maes gave up her nursing job to help Neil through speech therapy. Now she works as a preschool teacher.

She choked up several times when talking about her son’s journey in an interview Tuesday at the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, a group that advocates for early intervention to help hearing-impaired kids.

Neil’s parents didn’t know he was participating in a spelling bee with his third-grade class – until he came home and told them he had won. He made it all the way to his regional bee that year, finishing second. Now a fifth-grader, Neil is naturally shy and already worn out from the hectic bee-week schedule. He seemed happy to let his mom do most of the talking.

“Our main hope out of all of this was to encourage and inspire people that are going to be facing what we had to face,” Christy said.

But Neil said coming to the bee has motivated him to study even harder, so he can return next year.

“It’s just fun,” Neil said, “because I’ve never been here before, and I just want to do it again.”

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Canadian military members more likely to attempt suicide – and get help: study

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A new study from the University of Manitoba has found that although members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) are more likely to attempt suicide than the rest of the population, they are also more likely to seek mental health services.

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The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association journal Tuesday, found that between 2012 and 2013 Canadian military members were 32 per cent more likely to have suicidal thoughts and 64 per cent more likely to plan their suicide than the average person.

However, researchers found that members with suicidal thoughts were not only more likely to get help, they accessed more types of professionals for help than civilians suffering the same mental health issues.

READ MORE: Nearly half of Canadian military personnel exposed to child abuse before joining, researchers say

“This study supports the criticism that the Canadian public health-care system is not universal but has significant inequities, inefficiencies and varying levels of service,” said Dr. Jitender Sareen, co-author of the study.

“It also speaks to potential value of incremental investments in the public system, similar to those made in the CAF.”

The study also reported that suicidal thoughts decreased in women, but not men, over time. Researchers suggest this is because women were more likely to seek help from a mental health professional.

According to the study, the CAF has made greater investments in mental health services over the past decade when compared to the public sector.

Yet, for years, the military has faced backlash over its response to mental health issues among its members.

The results of the 2013 Canadian Armed Forces Mental Health Survey found that one in six members reported experiencing symptoms associated with at least one of  the following mental or alcohol disorders in the previous 12 months:

Major depressive episodePost-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)Generalized anxiety disorderPanic disorderAlcohol misuseAlcohol dependence

INVISIBLE WOUNDS: Crisis in Canada’s military

According to a Canadian forces study published in November 2015, members of the army were 3.4 times more likely to kill themselves than non-army members of the CAF and at least 50 per cent more likely to kill themselves than the average Canadian of the same gender and age.

Neither the 2015 study, nor the recent University of Manitoba study, looked at Canadian veterans, despite calls for better mental health services amid what they say is a crisis of under-treated PTSD, depression and anxiety.

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