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Senator calls for probe into report Saudi helped citizen flee US | News

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A senior US senator has called on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to clarify if Saudi Arabia helped a citizen of that country flee the US before his manslaughter trial.

In a letter on Friday, Senator Ron Wyden expressed strong concern over a local media report that said the Saudi government may have issued a new passport to its citizen, Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah, in order to help him leave the US and escape justice over a hit-and-run killing in the state of Oregon

The Saudi student was accused of killing 15-year-old Fallon Smart, and was facing a 10-year jail term if found guilty of manslaughter charges. 

In a report last week, the Oregonian newspaper said US investigators believe Noorah, who was released on bail, fled the country in June last year on a private jet using a Saudi-issued passport under a different name.

Wyden said the claims were “shocking”.

The allegations, in the wake of the murder of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi inside the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate in October, “suggest a brazen pattern of disregard for the law and abuse of diplomatic privileges”, said Wyden. 

“These claims must be thoroughly investigated. If they are accurate they would require significant restrictions on Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic privileges and call into question the future of America’s bilateral relationship with the Saudis,” he added.

The Oregonian newspaper said it was Saudi authorities who had provided Noorah the $100,000 he needed to post bail.

When the 21-year-old Portland Community College student was released, his passport was confiscated and he was required to wear an electronic bracelet on his ankle, the daily said.

But in June last year, just two weeks before his trial, Noorah cut the tracking device and disappeared. 

He arrived in Saudi Arabia seven days later. 

But the Saudi government only informed the US of Noorah’s return to the country more than a year later, in July, the Oregonian said. 

The two countries do not have an extradition treaty, which means that the chances of Noorah facing justice in the US is low.

Saudi Arabia has come under increased scrutiny from the US Senate following Khashoggi’s killing by Saudi officials inside the kingdom’s consulate.

Earlier this month, the Senate passed a resolution accusing Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of ordering the murder, and called for an end to US military support for a Riyad-led war in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia denounced the resolution as “blatant interference”.

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When Ontario declared a COVID-19 health emergency last spring, the first instinct of Ottawa entrepreneur Peter O’Blenis was to preserve cash.

“We basically stopped our discretionary spending,” said O’Blenis, the co-founder and CEO of Evidence Partners, which makes software for accelerating the review of scientific and medical literature, using artificial intelligence. “We cut investments in things meant to help us grow.”

It was a defensive posture born of experience. O’Blenis had 12 years earlier nearly been crushed by the global financial crisis. Another looked to be on the way.

In 2008, O’Blenis and his colleagues, Jonathan Barker and Ian Stefanison, hit a brick wall with their first venture, TrialStat, which helped hospitals manage patients’ electronic data. While TrialStat had secured $5.5 million in venture financing just a couple of years earlier, the founders had burned through most of it during a rapid expansion. When the financial world collapsed, so did their firm.

The trio played things far more conservatively with Evidence Partners, which has relied almost exclusively on customer revenues to finance expansion.

The caution proved unnecessary. Like so many other businesses, O’Blenis underestimated the government’s willingness to keep the economy afloat with easy money. Nor did he anticipate that COVID-19 would prove a significant catalyst for the firm’s revenues so soon.

Evidence Partners is hardly the only local firm with technology particularly suited for the war against COVID-19. Spartan Bioscience and DNA Genotek adapted existing products to create technology for identifying the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Ottawa-based units of Abbott Laboratories and Siemens Healthineers make portable blood analyzers that diagnose patients afflicted by the virus.

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Shepherds of Good Hope wants to expand ByWard Market operation with eight-storey housing complex

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The Shepherds of Good Hope plans to build an eight-storey building near its current shelter for the homeless in the ByWard Market that would include supportive housing for up to 48 people, a soup kitchen and a drop-in centre.

The organization says it wants to be part of the solution to the housing crisis that has fuelled a rise in homelessness in Ottawa.

People would be moved out of the emergency shelters and into their own tiny apartments in the complex, which would include a communal dining hall and staff available to help with mental health, addiction and medical problems, said Caroline Cox, senior manager of communications for the Shepherds.

Some residents in the neighbourhood are opposed, saying services for the homeless and vulnerable should not be concentrated in one area of the city.

“I was flabbergasted,” said homeowner Brian Nolan, who lives one block from the development proposed for 216 Murray St., where currently a one-story building houses offices for the Shepherds of Good Hope.

Nolan said that, in the 15 years he’s lived in the area, it has become increasingly unsafe, with home and car thefts, drug dealing, loitering, aggressive and erratic behaviour, urinating, defecating and vomiting on sidewalks and yards and sexual acts conducted in public on his dead-end street. Before he lets his son play basketball in the yard, he checks the ground for needles and his home security camera to see who is nearby.

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Carleton University Hosts the Forum Lecture: Towards a Feminist Post-COVID City

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evehe Carleton University Forum Lecture: Towards a Feminist Post-COVID City given by Leslie Kern launches Ottawa Architecture Week. Urban geographer, author and academic, Kern will discuss how the pandemic has highlighted long-standing inequalities in the design, use and inclusivity of urban spaces. The talk will share some of the core principles behind a feminist urban vision to inform a wider vision of justice, equity and sustainability.

When
: Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021 at 6:30 p.m.
Registration: https://alumni.carleton.ca/event-registration-architecture-forum-series-with-leslie-kern-2/.

About the Speaker

Kern holds a PhD in Women’s Studies from York University. She is currently an associate professor of Geography and Environment and director of Women’s and Gender Studies at Mount Allison University.

Kern is the author of two books on gender and cities, including Feminist City: Claiming Space in a Man-Made World (Verso). The book discusses how our cities have failed in terms of fear, motherhood, friendship, activism, the joy and perils of being alone, and also imagines what they could become.

Kern argues, “The pandemic has shown us that society can be radically reorganized if necessary. Let’s carry that lesson into creating the non-sexist city.”

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