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Canada’s Trudeau broke conflict of interest rules, says ethics watchdog

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Canada’s ethics watchdog slammed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday, concluding in the lead-up October elections that he broke rules by arm-twisting his attorney general to settle a criminal case against engineering giant SNC-Lavalin.

The scandal, revealed earlier this year, tarnished the prime minister’s golden boy image, cost two ministers and two senior officials their jobs and plunged his Liberals into a dead heat with the opposition Conservatives in the polls.

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Independent parliamentary ethics commissioner Mario Dion said Trudeau and his officials had wrongly sought to “exert influence over the attorney general in her decision whether to intervene in a matter relating to a criminal prosecution.”

Trudeau must pay a small fine of up to Can$500 (US$375) for contravening Canada‘s conflict of interest act, but with only two months before national elections the political costs could be much steeper.

Trudeau had steadfastly denied accusations that his inner circle sought to shield SNC-Lavalin from a corruption trial.

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The Montreal-based firm was charged in 2015 with allegedly paying bribes to secure contracts in Libya.

Attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould refused to ask prosecutors to settle the case, and the trial is set to proceed.

But after resigning, she testified to lawmakers that she had experienced “consistent and sustained” political pressure to interfere in the case, including “veiled threats.”

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Dion concluded: “The authority of the prime minister and his office was used to circumvent, undermine and ultimately attempt to discredit the decision of the director of public prosecutions as well as the authority of Ms. Wilson-Raybould as the Crown’s chief law officer.”

He also found that “partisan political interests were improperly put to the attorney general for consideration in the matter,” notably that a conviction at trial would result in SNC-Lavalin being deprived of lucrative government contracts resulting in job losses that could harm the Liberals’ re-election bid.

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Wisconsin GOP slammed for making people choose between their health and their vote

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After Republicans nationally and in Wisconsin successfully sued in both state and federal court to block voters from being given extra time and options to cast votes in the middle of a pandemic, commenters on social media reacted with fury.

What just happened re: Wisconsin can seem a bit confusing. The TL;DR: The Supreme Court decided that Republicans winning elections is more important than keeping voters healthy & alive.

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ESPN reports the NBA is looking to rapid COVID-19 tests to resume professional basketball

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The NBA and the union representing players are working together on a possible solution to re-open professional basketball in America, ESPN reported Monday.

"In recent weeks, officials within the NBA and NBPA have been collaborating in assessing the viability of multiple blood-testing devices for the novel coronavirus that could provide accurate results within a matter of minutes, a process that would hopefully enable the league to track the virus in what's considered a critical first step toward resuming play in the near future," ESPN senior writer Baxter Holmes reported.

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Watch how the BBC reports on ‘the reality’ in the United States during COVID-19 crisis

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The British Broadcasting Corporation is reporting on the "frantic and on-the-edge" situation in an intensive care unit in New York City.

The BBC had footage from CBS News, which was allowed in the ICU.

"Though the administration says there's no shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), the reality is otherwise," the BBC noted.

A front-line worker wearing a garbage bag "wished" she had the same PPE as the reporter.

"It's very, very difficult, it's like something out of 'The Twilight Zone,'" she said.

"And I don't think any of us going through it will ever be the same," she added.

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