Dramatic exchange of gunfire between sheriff’s deputy and suspect caught on video

An intense shootout between a sheriff’s deputy and a suspect in Arkansas was caught on video.

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Corporal Brett Thompson attempted to stop the driver of a green Saturn for a traffic violation on Nov. 11 near Tontitown, Arkansas, but the driver refused to pull over, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

In dashcam footage released by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, the suspect, identified as 29-year-old Luis Cobos-Cenobio, is seen eventually pulling over, leaning out of his car and firing his gun directly at the officer’s vehicle parked behind him. The video then shows Cobos-Cenobio leaving his car and continuing to shoot while approaching the deputy’s vehicle.

PHOTO: A Washington County Sheriffs dash cam shows Luis Cobos-Cenobio shooting at police after he was pulled over, Nov 11, 2018, in Washington County, Ark. Washington County Sheriffs Office
A Washington County Sheriff’s dash cam shows Luis Cobos-Cenobio shooting at police after he was pulled over, Nov 11, 2018, in Washington County, Ark.

The sheriff’s office said Cobos-Cenobio and Thompson exchanged gunfire for 53 seconds before Cobos-Cenobio drove away, dropping off a female passenger a short distance away who was also in the vehicle. The sheriff’s office said the woman had wanted to leave the vehicle during the incident, and was not charged with any crimes.

An alert was issued for Cobos-Cenobio and his vehicle. He was spotted by officers with the Springdale Police Department, after which Cobos-Cenobio exchanged gunfire with them while officers tried to stop the vehicle, according to authorities.

The chase continued into Fayetteville, Arkansas, with officers from the Fayetteville Police Department and Arkansas State Police assisting. The suspect eventually returned to Springdale, where he stopped and surrendered, according to Springdale Police.

PHOTO: Luis Cobos-Cenobio in an undated photo. Washington County Sheriffs Office
Luis Cobos-Cenobio in an undated photo.

Cobos-Cenobio suffered a “wound to the left arm/shoulder,” according to the sheriff’s office. He was treated at Northwest Medical Center and released into police custody.

The sheriff’s office also released video of Thompson’s vehicle following the incident showing numerous bullet holes in the vehicle and the windshield as well as shattered windows.

Cobos-Cenobio was charged with four counts of attempted capital murder, committing a terroristic act, fleeing, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia, and was being held on $500,000 bond, Kelly Cantrell, a spokesperson for the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, told ABC News.

He is scheduled to be arraigned at the Washington County Detention Center on Dec. 10, according to the Washington County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney.

The sheriff’s office said no officers or deputies were injured, and that state police were investigating.

Police officer who shot armed black security guard is white: Authorities

Police in Midlothian, Illinois said the officer involved in the fatal shooting of armed security guard Jemel Roberson is a white man and described Roberson’s tragic death as “the equivalent of a ‘blue-on-blue,’ a friendly-fire incident.”

The officer who shot Roberson has been with the Midlothian Police Department for nearly four years and had three years of prior service with another agency, Chief Dan Delaney said in a statement Wednesday.

Roberson is a black man.

“The Midlothian Police Department is completely saddened by this tragic incident and we give our heartfelt condolences to Jemel, his mother, his entire family and his friends,” Delaney said in the statement. “There are no words that can be expressed as to the sorrow his family is dealing with.”

The officer, who is assigned to the patrol division and a team leader on the regional SWAT team, is currently on paid administrative leave, per standard policy, Delaney said, pending the outcome of an investigation by the the Illinois State Police Public Integrity Task Force.

He has not yet been publicly identified.

A little after 4 a.m. Sunday, police in Robbins called for assistance from additional area police departments as it responded to a call about a shooting at Manny’s Blue Room Bar, according to Midlothian police.

Midlothian police said two of its officers went to the bar to help Robbins police. When officers arrived, Midlothian police said, they learned there were several gunshot victims inside the bar.

PHOTO: Jemel Roberson in an undated family photo. Courtesy Roberson family
Jemel Roberson in an undated family photo.

A Midlothian police officer encountered Roberson, 26, of Chicago, a security guard at the bar, authorities said. He was in a parking lot outside the bar, trying to subdue a suspect in the shootings, witnesses told Illinois State Police investigators.

In a report on its preliminary investigation released Tuesday, Illinois State Police, which is handling the police shooting, said Roberson was dressed “in plain black clothing with no markings readily identifying him as a security guard.”

Roberson was shot by the Midlothian officer after being given “multiple verbal commands” to drop his gun and get on the ground, according to witnesses, Illinois State Police said Tuesday.

Roberson was later pronounced dead at a hospital, Delaney said in a statement released hours after the shooting.

“We have learned a lot about Jemel over the last two days and he was [a] great man that was doing his best to stop an active shooter that evening,” Delaney said Tuesday.

Greg Kulis, an attorney for the Roberson family, told ABC News Tuesday that witnesses had told him people saw the officer raising his weapon toward Roberson and had yelled “He’s security! Don’t shoot! He’s security!”

At a news conference in Midlothian Wednesday, an attorney for the Roberson estate called for the officer to be immediately fired.

“We believe that this officer’s behavior was so egregious that he should be immediately terminated,” lawyer Lee Merritt said.

PHOTO: A memorial for Jemel Roberson, Nov. 13, 2018, outside Mannys Blue Room Lounge in Robbins.Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/TNS/Getty Images
A memorial for Jemel Roberson, Nov. 13, 2018, outside Manny’s Blue Room Lounge in Robbins.

Merritt also called for the officer to be named and identified so that the public can learn whether that officer “has a history of brutality [or] a representation of brutality.”

Merritt, who represents Roberon’s heirs, including his 9-month old son, Tristan, and Tristan’s mother, Avontea Boose, also revealed that Boose is pregnant with Roberson’s second child.

Like Kulis, Merritt cited witnesses who contradicted Tuesday’s statement from Illinois State Police. Merritt said witnesses claimed that Roberson was wearing a jacket, hat and vest that said “security.”

“Jemel had every reason and every justification to use deadly force against the suspect he had apprehended. … He decided that he could apprehend him, he could subdue him without killing him and he made a decision to. That’s the least of which we can ask from the police department. From Midlothian or other police departments around the country,” Merritt said Wednesday.

Kulis has filed a wrongful-death civil lawsuit against the as yet unidentified officer and the village of Midlothian.

Merritt said he is filing a civil rights lawsuit in the case.

At least four other people were shot and wounded in the bar incident, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office said.

“He had somebody on the ground, with his knee in his back, with his gun on him, like ‘Don’t move,'” Adam Harris told a CBS affiliate. “Everybody was screaming out ‘Security!’ He was a security guard.”

Roberson was an organist at local churches, ABC News affiliate WLS-TV said.

PHOTO: Eric Russell speaks as protesters rally for Jemel Roberson, Nov. 13, 2018, outside the Midlothian Police Department.Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/TNS/Getty Images
Eric Russell speaks as protesters rally for Jemel Roberson, Nov. 13, 2018, outside the Midlothian Police Department.

The Illinois State Police Public Integrity Task Force continues to investigate the police shooting, which is the Midlothian Police Department’s policy, according to Delaney.

The Cook County Sheriff’s Police and Robbins Police Department are investigating the “criminal aspect,” Delaney said.

During a news conference Wednesday, pastors called for the police officer who shot Roberson to resign immediately and Kim Foxx, Cook County’s state attorney, to investigate the shooting.

“Too many times in the southern suburbs, homicides take place and they’re swept under the rug. We won’t allow this to be swept under the rug,” Pastor Anthony Williams said.

ABC News’ Will Gretzky, Andy Fies and Susan Schwartz contributed to the reporting in this story.

Patrick Brown pulls no punches against political foes in new tell-all book | CBC News

Former Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown comes out swinging in a new tell-all memoir, claiming the province’s current finance minister, Vic Fedeli, has also been the subject of a sexual misconduct allegation.

Brown’s new book also contains allegations that his former party spied on him as far back as 2015.

Entitled Takedown: The Attempted Political Assassination of Patrick Brown, the book follows Brown’s rise in politics, starting with his nine-year-old self writing a letter to then-prime minister Brian Mulroney and ending with reflections on his life after his abrupt resignation as Progressive-Conservative leader earlier this year, following allegations of sexual misconduct.

“I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy,” Brown told CBC News in sit-down interview, describing the night he was forced to resign.

“It’s like being run over by a truck. You can never be prepared for that.”

The book details Brown’s rise to becoming leader of the Ontario PCs, his time in power and the night that may have ended his career in provincial politics. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Brown, who recovered from the scandal and was elected mayor of the City of Brampton in October, takes aim in the book at a number of PC caucus members and former staffers, and claims he was stabbed in the back by those in his inner circle.

Brown is in the midst of an $8-million defamation lawsuit against CTV News for publishing the original story detailing the allegations against him, which he has always denied. CTV has filed a statement of defence. The case has not yet been heard in court.

Allegation against Fedeli

In the book, Brown directs a series of blows at current Finance Minister Vic Fedeli, accusing him of once being the subject himself of an allegation of sexual misconduct.

Brown writes that in December 2017 — not long before he was ousted as leader of the party — he received a handwritten letter on his desk from a female staffer accusing Fedeli of inappropriate behaviour. CBC News has not seen the letter.

The allegations aren’t detailed in the book and neither is the name of the staffer. But while he was still PC leader, Brown said he informed Fedeli that he would look into the matter. In the book, Brown claims that when Fedeli became the interim party leader, the woman was let go — for undisclosed reasons — but kept on the legislative payroll.

In the days following Brown’s resignation, Fedeli was a harsh critic of the former party leader.

“We watched in shock and horror and disappointment and sadness at these allegations,” Fedeli told CBC News at the time. “This is just plain and simply horrible.”

Vic Fedeli, centre, was named interim leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives after Brown’s resignation in early 2018. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

A month later, Fedeli wrote to the party president saying that Brown didn’t have the confidence to be a party candidate in his Barrie riding.

“I was surprised at Fedeli’s cavalier, holier-than-thou attitude, given that he knew full well that he may have dodged a bullet,” Brown writes in the book, referring to Fedeli’s remarks about him after he resigned.

“Queen’s Park smells of hypocrisy right now,” he says of the Ontario Legislature. 

CBC News has independently verified the allegation was made against Fedeli. The allegation has never been tested in court.

‘Categorically false,’ Fedeli says

Fedeli dismissed the accusations on Wednesday. 

“These accusations from Patrick Brown are categorically false and without any merit. Facts relating to Mr. Brown’s lack of credibility are well documented and on the public record, as are his motivations in using his book to pursue old grievances, Fedeli said.

He added he has “retained legal counsel” and is “prepared to take whatever action is necessary to hold any person making these false allegations accountable.”

NDP deputy leader Sara Singh called for Fedeli’s removal from cabinet.

“I assume that [Ontario Premier] Doug Ford will be immediately ordering a fully independent investigation, and be removing Mr. Fedeli from cabinet while that investigation takes place,” Singh said in a statement.

But Ford is standing by Fedeli, calling him “one of the most honourable, ethical, and decent individuals I have ever had the privilege of knowing and working with.”

“I stand behind him completely from this disgusting smear campaign. He has my full support,” Ford said on Twitter. 

Brown claims this photo, which appears in his memoir, was a surveillance image of his car taken in 2015. (Supplied)

Brown claims in the book that in the weeks following his resignation, he hired a private investigator to look into who may have been behind his “setup.”

In the process of that investigation, Brown said he learned he himself had been surveilled in 2015 and 2017. Brown claims the person who hired investigators was a lawyer with ties to the PC party, and that this individual paid the firm $118,000 for the surveillance work.

Brown believes it was for nefarious purposes, but told CBC he still isn’t clear what the motive may have been.

“I never thought that politics in Canada could be reminiscent of House of Cards or a movie, but some of the stuff that I’ve gone through is frankly out of a movie.” Brown said.

‘Less and less relevant’

In the years prior to Brown’s resignation, there were questions within the PCs about his ability to lead them to an election victory in 2018.

In the book, Brown frequently describes himself as a “red conservative.” He writes that he felt disliked by the party for his more progressive stance on issues such as gay marriage, climate change and the carbon tax. 

At one point in the book, Brown offers advice to the new premier.

“I would say to Ford that the social conservatives are dinosaurs who are becoming less and less relevant every single day,” Brown writes.

Brown said he hopes his book will expand people’s ideas about what conservatism means in this day and age. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Asked what he hopes will be the key takeaway from his book, Brown said he wants to expand people’s views on the current form of conservatism.

“I believe you can be a proud, progressive conservative who cares about gay rights and cares about the environment and have a social conscience,” said Brown.

“I believe there is a place within conservatism for that Bill Davis style of politics. I hope that we’ll see some champions for that in the future.”

Additional reporting by Nicole Brewster and John Lancaster

As emergency court hearing looms, White House defends revoking CNN reporters pass

During an emergency court hearing, the Trump administration defended revoking CNN chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta’ press pass arguing that it’s the president’s “authority” on whether to exclude journalists from White House grounds.

“If the president wants to exclude all reporters from White House grounds he clearly has the authority to do that,” James Burnham argued before the judge on behalf of the president. The West Wing is a tight, small space, he argued, which is why journalists want to be there.

“We’re talking about the physical White House, I mean the one building in which the president’s authority over how people act, where they go, should be at its apex,” Burnham said.

CNN and Acosta filed suit against President Donald Trump and top aides on Tuesday for stripping Acosta, without warning, of his access to the White House, where he works daily. The indefinite revocation of Acosta’s press credentials, known as a “hard pass,” came on the heels of a heated exchange between Trump and Acosta on Nov. 7.

CNN and Acosta filed an emergency motion to have Acosta’s press pass immediately reinstated as the court case continues and asked for a ruling from Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly in federal court in Washington Wednesday afternoon.

PHOTO: A White House staff member reaches for the microphone held by CNNs Jim Acosta as he questions President Donald Trump during a news conference following Tuesdays midterm elections at the White House in Washington, Nov. 7, 2018.Jonathan Ernst/Reuters, FILE
A White House staff member reaches for the microphone held by CNN’s Jim Acosta as he questions President Donald Trump during a news conference following Tuesday’s midterm elections at the White House in Washington, Nov. 7, 2018.

On Wednesday, the judge pushed CNN’s lawyers on how they can prove that Acosta’s press pass was revoked specifically because of the content of Acosta’s reporting rather than based on his behavior.

“Until this point, they took no action,” U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly said in a question to CNN’s lawyer, Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr. “What triggered a content-based response here as opposed to all those other months?”

Kelly said he wasn’t sure how to weigh the statements CNN’s lawyers wrote in their court filings because those could’ve referred to different coverage from a number of different reporters. He asked Buttrous why, if this was specifically about Acosta’s reporting and not about his behavior on that specific day, after months of insults against CNN, the president waited until that day to bar him.

“This was a bad day for the president,” Boutrous said. “It was the day after the midterms.”

Boutrous called Trump “the most aggressive, dare I say rude person in the room, and I’m not being critical,” and said Trump “establishes the tenor and tone of these press conferences.”

“Trump wants it to be a free-for-all, that’s his prerogative,” Boutrous said.

The judge also asked whether the White House could act differently to reprimand Acosta without taking away his pass in full — something like not allowing Acosta in briefings with the president but letting him on White House grounds.

The lawyer said that suggestion would still be a violation of First Amendment rights.

PHOTO: CNNs Jim Acosta walks into federal court in Washington D.C., Nov. 14, 2018, to attend a hearing on legal challenge against President Donald Trumps administration. Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
CNN’s Jim Acosta walks into federal court in Washington D.C., Nov. 14, 2018, to attend a hearing on legal challenge against President Donald Trump’s administration.

The administration maintains that Acosta’s credentials were taken away because he “disrupted the fair and orderly administration of a press conference during an exchange with the president,” Department of Justice lawyers wrote earlier in a brief arguing on behalf of the president.

The DOJ attorneys also denied that the president revoked Acosta’s credentials because of reporting from Acosta and CNN that the White House didn’t like, despite the president’s open criticism of CNN as “fake news” and an “enemy of the people,” as well as calling Acosta a “disgrace.”

“Mr. Acosta’s decision to engage in conduct that disrupts press events and impedes other reporters from asking questions provides a more-than-sufficient reason for revoking his hard pass,” the president’s attorneys wrote.

“Acosta continued his refusal to permit another journalist to ask a question, ignoring both the stated wishes of the President and the efforts of a staffer tasked with helping to manage an event,” they wrote.

The brief focused largely on Acosta’s “disrupt[tions]” during the press conference rather than a previous explanation by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, which CNN promptly denied, that Acosta had placed his hands on an intern who tried to take away his microphone.

Trump’s attorneys have also argued that the decision to revoke Acosta’s access does not violate the First Amendment, which protects the freedom of the press and prohibits the government from retaliating against individuals who speak out, because the First Amendment doesn’t “restrict the president’s ability to determine the terms on which he does, or does not, engage with particular journalists.”

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks as CNNs Jim Acosta, standing at right, listens, during a news conference in the East Room of the White House, Nov. 7, 2018, in Washington.Evan Vucci/AP
President Donald Trump speaks as CNN’s Jim Acosta, standing at right, listens, during a news conference in the East Room of the White House, Nov. 7, 2018, in Washington.

The White House has made a similar argument in days past: “No journalist has a First Amendment right to enter the White House,” the White House said.

Trump’s attorneys argued it would be “extraordinary” for the court to decide to “directly police access to the secure White House complex where the president lives and works, as well as to dictate who the President must invite to press events.”

Many individual journalists who attended a press conference on the matter shared personal accounts and spoke out in his defense after Acosta’s credentials were revoked.

Major news outlets also joined together to issue a statement in support of Acosta and CNN Tuesday and said they would be filing briefs in the court case.

“Whether the news of the day concerns national security, the economy, or the environment, reporters covering the White House must remain free to ask questions. It is imperative that independent journalists have access to the President and his activities, and that journalists are not barred for arbitrary reasons,” read a statement issued by The Associated Press, NBC News, FOX News, POLITICO, The New York Times, The Washington Post and more.

“Our news organizations support the fundamental constitutional right to question this President, or any President. We will be filing friend-of-the-court briefs to support CNN’s and Jim Acosta’s lawsuit based on these principles,” the statement continued.

The statement echoed one from the White House Correspondents’ Association, which criticized the Trump White House decision and supported CNN.

Vice President Mike Pence, who is on a tour of Asia, was asked about Acosta and press freedom after he criticized Myanmar’s lack of freedom during the trip.

“This administration has stood strong for a free and independent press and defended the freedom of the press on a world stage,” Pence told reporters in Singapore. “There’s no comparison whatsoever between disagreements over decorum at the White House and the imprisonment of the two reporters in Myanmar.”

Rape victim worries man using sexsomnia defence will be found not criminally responsible | CBC News

Seven years after she was raped by a stranger, an Ottawa-area woman is still seeking closure and waiting in trepidation for what justice could mete out.

Her attacker, Ryan Hartman, 38, was found guilty of sexual assault in 2012 and sentenced to 14 months in jail. He appealed and lost.

He appealed again. This time he admitted to the crime, but presented evidence that he was suffering from sexsomnia and argued that he was sleeping when he raped the woman.

The Ontario Court of Appeal granted him a new trial, which began in April 2017.

On Monday, a Brockville judge will decide if the original conviction should stand or if Hartman is not criminally responsible because of a sleep disorder.

Since being raped in 2011, the 30-year-old woman, whose identity is protected by a court order, has gone through two trials and two appeals. She says the delay has plunged her into depression and anxiety, and she’s battled alcohol and drug abuse, endured toxic relationships and wrestled with suicidal thoughts.

She says she is afraid of breaking down if Hartman is found not criminally responsible.

“How will I move on? How will I get past it?” she said. “If he was found NCR, I don’t know how I will continue with my life.”

House party

Before she was sexually assaulted in 2011, the woman was two months away from graduating from a community justice program at Algonquin College.

On a February evening during reading week, she and her boyfriend were invited to a house party in Spencerville, Ont.

After drinking too much, the couple decided to sleep off the booze before they drove home and crashed on an air mattress. The victim set her cellphone alarm for 6:30 a.m., wrapped her arms around her boyfriend and dozed off.

Just a few minutes before her alarm beeped, she says that she felt a strong pain in her buttocks. Her jeans were pulled down and her belt was loose and someone was penetrating her anally. Her boyfriend remained asleep.

The victim says she was in shock.

“The next thing I knew, I woke up in pain and I put my hand behind me to feel where the pain was coming from, and that’s when I realized that I was being assaulted.”

An Ottawa-area woman who was sexually assaulted in 2011 fears her attacker will be found not criminally responsible for his actions because of a sleep disorder. 1:21

Prior to the attack, she had only had one interaction with Hartman at the party when she had asked him for a cigarette.

She says Hartman said nothing as he got off the mattress and walked out of the house. As the couple drove away from the home, she saw Hartman sitting at a picnic table in the garage looking “wide awake.”

“He does not have sexsomnia … and he sexually assaulted me. He is criminally responsible.”

Sexsomnia ‘not easily faked’

Deep sleep as a criminal defence has only been used 13 times in Canada in sexual assault cases, said Blair Crew, a University of Ottawa professor who teaches sexual assault law.

Crew said a 2003 Toronto case set the precedent for the sexsomnia defence. In that case, Jan Luedecke was accused of sexually assaulting a woman at a party. He was found not criminally responsible.

Crew said that since the Luedecke decision, sexsomnia has resulted in an NCR ruling five times.

Crew worries sexsomnia cases may embolden potential offenders to think they can assault someone and claim the mental disorder to cast off responsibility. But in reality, he said, proving sexsomnia is difficult, because it requires a lot of medical evidence.

“Most people who rely on this defence can demonstrate a history of sleepwalking before. Often there is a family history. And the Supreme Court has been very clear that expert testimony will be required,” Crew said. 

“These are situations that are not easily faked.”

If Hartman is found not criminally responsible, he will be treated as a mentally ill patient, and if his mental health improves, he could be discharged completely.

University of Ottawa law professor Blair Crew worries sexsomnia cases may embolden potential offenders to think they can assault someone and claim the mental disorder to cast off responsibility. (Jean Delisle/ CBC)

‘Watching the clock’

Monday’s ruling will be the fourth time the victim has come face to face with Hartman. She plans to arrive in the courtroom early as she gets anxious when things run late. The stress makes her flash back to her rape.

“If I had set my alarm an hour earlier or even 15 minutes earlier, the assault may never have happened. So I live my life counting minutes, watching the clock.”

She currently works as an office administrator, but before the assault, she hoped to become a parole officer. She once dreamed of rehabilitating offenders, but now she doubts if she can listen to their stories with sympathy.

She says she’s acutely aware that she’s not the woman she was meant to be.

Her voice cracks, then steadies as she breathes in and pulls up her sleeve to reveal a tattoo on her wrist: Survivor.

“I’m not a victim, I’m a survivor.”

The woman got this tattoo, which reads ‘survivor,’ prior to her attacker’s second trial. (Jean Delisle/ CBC)

Where to get help:

Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566 (phone), 45645 (text), crisisservicescanada.ca (chat).

In Quebec (French): Association québécoise de prévention du suicide: 1-866-APPELLE (1-866-277-3553).

Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 (phone), live chat counselling at www.kidshelpphone.ca.

Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: Find a 24-hour crisis centre.


If you’re worried someone you know may be at risk of suicide, you should talk to them about it, says the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. Here are some warning signs:

  • Suicidal thoughts.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Purposelessness.
  • Anxiety.
  • Feeling trapped.
  • Hopelessness and helplessness.
  • Withdrawal.
  • Anger.
  • Recklessness.
  • Mood changes.

Canadas new approach to foreign aid cuts out the middle man and gives cash directly to the poor | CBC News

Canada is experimenting with a new method for spending millions of dollars in foreign aid: handing cash directly to people in poverty-stricken or war-torn countries, two senior officials with Global Affairs Canada said.

Global Affairs, the government department responsible for Canada’s $5.6 billion annual aid budget, couldn’t provide a breakdown of how much money Canada is spending on direct cash transfers.

But interviews with experts, including charities that receive money from Global Affairs for unconditional cash transfer programs, as well as a review of funding commitments to the UN and aid groups show the government has been spending tens of millions of dollars annually on these programs.

“Direct cash transfers have become a key element of humanitarian response and development in the last two to three years,” said one of two senior aid officials with Global Affairs who spoke with CBC News by phone on condition they not be quoted by name.

“It is much more efficient to deliver assistance this way. There is no middleman to decide what the needs are. In humanitarian projects, it is being considered the default approach now.”

Efficiency questions

The officials said the money is being spent in around three dozen countries, although they could not provide a full breakdown, as direct cash transfers are usually intertwined with other aid programs.

Refugees in Jordan and Ethiopia are some of the people receiving cash aid from Canadians, officials said.

Supporters of giving cash directly to poor people overseas said the transfers help reduce overhead expenses by cutting out high-priced foreign aid consultants, shipping costs and some of the bureaucracy.

A Syrian refugee, right, signs documents after she received a new debit bank card through which all aid agencies transfer their aid at a distribution centre, in Bar Elias town, Lebanon in 2016. (Karin Laub/Associated Press)

Supporters of this type of aid said that recipients, especially women, know what they need more than outside experts. And giving people — particularly refugees — cash to buy their own food, clothing and other essentials helps stimulate local economies in host countries. It also has the potential to reduce local animus toward the new arrivals.   

‘Kickstart’

Critics said there isn’t enough data on this strategy to properly gauge its long-term effectiveness in reducing poverty and helping poor countries to develop.

“This type of a thing is good as a kickstart, almost like a jump, but not as a ladder to fundamentally lift people out of poverty,” said Aniket Bhushan, a Carleton University professor who leads the Canadian International Development Platform, a research group focused on aid policy.

“The real question is sustainability: What happens after the fact?”

As for reduced bureaucracy and overhead, he said, governments and large aid agencies still need to send their experts to set up, administer and evaluate the programs.

Cash transfers don’t “offer enough of a short-circuit to drive up efficiency,” said Bhushan.

Others question whether more Canadian tax dollars should be given away overseas. According to an Angus-Reid poll released in March, 72 per cent of Canadians believe the country is spending either too much or the right amount on foreign aid. Only 28 per cent support an increase.

Still, aid groups said the new tactic has been well received.

“I haven’t come across any political blowback over cash disbursements,” said Gregory Queyranne, manager of Oxfam Canada’s humanitarian unit.

“If you are dispersing cash, you save on the overhead … the reality is if you want impact, you need to include cash in your approaches.”

Refugee investments

Nyatlak Nyiet, 30, a South Sudanese refugee living in a camp in western Ethiopia, is one of the people receiving direct cash transfers under a program run by Oxfam and partially financed by the Canadian government.  

Nyiet ran a tea shop in South Sudan before she was forced to flee last year amid civil conflict.

When she arrived in the camp, Nyiet, a widow, gave birth to her sixth child, who was severely malnourished.

“It was not possible for me to breastfeed. I had only [a] small [amount of] milk, so the baby kept crying,” she told Oxfam researchers in June, in an interview shared with CBC.

Young women learn skills, such as food preparation, at Centre D’Apprentissage Feminin in Bamako, Mali, in June 2018. The school is funded by the Canadian NGO Éducation internationale. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Nyiet’s only source of income for food in the camp was collecting firewood to sell at a market.

“We used to go in groups, but we still did not feel safe,” Nyiet said. “We fear getting bitten by a snake or raped.”

She was approved for the unconditional cash transfer program, which normally amounts to roughly $30 per month, Oxfam Canada’s spokesperson said.

Along with using the cash to buy food, cooking oil and clothes, Nyiet invested some of it in four chickens (including a rooster), corn and okra seeds.

“Sometimes, we eat the eggs that the hens lay, but I am planning to let the eggs hatch so that I could sell roosters for emergencies,” she said.

One size doesn’t fit all

Government officials acknowledge there are plenty of cases where direct cash transfers don’t work. After a major earthquake, for example, there often isn’t food or medicine available for purchase amid the rubble, even if victims have money.

“Giving people money to procure health services in the absence of health services doesn’t help too much,” a Global Affairs official said.

The same is true for conflict zones. In northern Mali, where Canadian troops are working on a UN peacekeeping mission, “markets often don’t exist,” the official said, so cash transfers wouldn’t be effective. There, the government is delivering traditional aid.

A refugee woman shows her debit card at a Turkish government social aid center in Ankara in 2017. A European Union official said at the time that more than 850,000 people are benefiting from a EU-funded project that provides cash assistance to the most vulnerable refugee families in Turkey. (Burhan Ozbilici/Associated Press)

To combat corruption and double-dipping, the UN’s World Food Program, in an initiative partially funded by Canada, uses iris scans and digital cards to transfer cash to some Syrian refugees living in Jordan.

One of the officials who spoke to CBC said the “digital revolution happening across the developing world” has made cash transfers a more efficient tactic for giving out aid in the last three years, although the strategy “hasn’t reached the level of maturity yet.”

That is in part why Carleton’s Bhushan remains skeptical. For the few cases where long-term data exists, the impact of the transfers on poverty reduction is “sanguine,” he said, citing a study from Uganda that compared two groups over nine years.

Members of one cohort initially received $400 in unconditional cash transfers, and the others didn’t.

At first, savings and consumption rose markedly for the beneficiaries. But within a decade, the two groups had mostly levelled out in terms of employment income and overall economic well-being.

Back at the refugee camp, Nyiet and other women told researchers that they’re thankful for the cold, hard cash, regardless of the broader economic theory behind the program.

“Now, we cook and eat three times a day,” Nyiet said.

Residents reach for sacks of rice during food distribution by the World Food Program after Hurricane Matthew in Jeremie, Haiti, in 2016. Officials from Global Affairs Canada said cash transfers won’t work in disasters where food is not readily available. (Dieu Nalio Chery/Associated Press)

Noreaster delivering first snowfall of season to eastern US

A record-breaking winter blast has penetrated all the way to the Gulf Coast.

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Houston International Airport saw its earliest snow ever recorded. Louisville, Kentucky, has seen its earlier ice storm since 1989. And in Jackson, Mississippi, the high temperature was 36 degrees on Wednesday, the coldest high temperature ever recorded this early in the season.

An ice storm warning is in place for Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio on Thursday, where some areas already had a glaze of ice accumulating on power lines and trees; thousands of people are without power Thursday morning.

PHOTO: Alerts are in place on Thursday as a noreaster moves into the Midwest and Northeast.ABC News
Alerts are in place on Thursday as a nor’easter moves into the Midwest and Northeast.

There are 23 states from Arkansas to Maine under a winter storm warning, winter weather advisory or ice storm warning on Thursday morning.

The coastal storm is strengthening over the Southeast coast and will continue to spread heavy rain into the Carolinas, with an icy mix from the mid-Atlantic back to the Ohio Valley.

PHOTO: Heavy rain was falling in the Carolinas early Thursday while ice and snow hit the Midwest and mid-Atlantic.ABC News
Heavy rain was falling in the Carolinas early Thursday while ice and snow hit the Midwest and mid-Atlantic.

By Thursday afternoon, as the storm moves along the coast, a heavy burst of snow is expected along the I-95 corridor from New Jersey into New York City and Boston.

Snow will change to freezing rain, sleet and rain by 5 p.m. from New York City and parts south, while inland areas in Pennsylvania and upstate New York will continue to see snow.

PHOTO: Snow will move into the Northeast on Thursday afternoon.ABC News
Snow will move into the Northeast on Thursday afternoon.

Everyone along I-95, from Washington, D.C., to Boston will change to just rain by Thursday evening, but inland areas from Virginia to Pennsylvania and into New England, will continue seeing snow, sleet and freezing rain.

The snowfall totals will be heaviest in central Pennsylvania and western New York into northern New England, where some areas could see up to 8 inches of snow.

A widespread swath of 3 to 6 inches of snow is expected just west of the I-95 corridor, though New York City and Boston will not see much — maybe up to 1 inch or so. The last time New York City saw more than 1 inch of snow in November was in 2012.

PHOTO: The heaviest snow will fall in central Pennsylvania, western New York and northern New England.ABC News
The heaviest snow will fall in central Pennsylvania, western New York and northern New England.

Abandoned Canadian silver mine could soon boom again as battery demand prompts gold rush in cobalt | CBC News

The flooded bottom of an abandoned silver mine is an unlikely source of hope. But down there in the flickering light, a once worthless metal known as cobalt has sat idle for decades. Now it’s one of the most sought after metals in the world and that has many in this town in northern Ontario dreaming of boom times once again.

A century ago, prospectors came to Cobalt, Ont., in search of silver. They found it, and the town boomed. Amid all the silver, miners also found cobalt. So much that they named the town after it. Back then though, it was a mere indicator, a sign that something of actual value was nearby.

Now, all that ignored and discarded cobalt is the town’s best hope.

“The potential here is huge,” says Frank Basa, chief executive officer of Canada Cobalt Works.

Cobalt the metal has had a spectacular run over the past few years. And now Cobalt the town is poised to cash in.

Frank Basa, chief executive of Canada Cobalt Works, poses outside the 100-year-old Castle Mine. He says cobalt was left behind here when miners hauled out tons of silver in the 1920s and 1930s. (Carly Thomas/CBC)

The metal has become a key component in the electric batteries that power our phones and our cars. Almost all of it is currently mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo in central Africa. Mining there has been plagued with concerns over human rights abuses, child labour and environmental issues.

Basa is convinced there’s enough cobalt in the ground under the small town in Northern Ontario to warrant hundreds of millions of dollars in investment.

(Neil Joyes/CBC)

“Everything in here runs cobalt,” he says, pointing to the ghostly pink hue that runs through every tunnel wall in the the abandoned Castle Mine. “What they did was they just took the high grade silver and left all the cobalt behind. Nobody wanted cobalt you see.”

Basa believes mining the mineral can return this region to its former glory.

An archival photo of an old mine during the silver rush in Cobalt. (©Cobalt Mining Museum)

Back in the 1920s and ’30s, this small town on the shores of Lake Timiskaming saw a silver mining rush. It became the economic hub of Ontario.

“They actually had an opera here,” says Basa. “They had a ballet, they had streetcars. The hockey team [the Cobalt Silver Kings] started here. The provincial police started here.”

Veterans of the silver rush remember those good times. They remember seeing lots of cobalt down in the silver mines, too.

Bill Montgomery made 58 cents an hour when he started working in the mines in the 1940s.

“Everybody was working. Everybody had a dollar in their pocket,” he says of the town back then. “Now we have nothing.”

There hasn’t been an operating mine here since the 1980s. Montgomery has heard a lifetime of promises from promoters and prospectors. After a career of tough work down in the mines, it would take a lot more than talk to get him excited. He just shrugs when asked if there’s enough cobalt here to warrant a mine. “It’s hard to say, really.”

It’s not the retired miners job to say, anyway. That task falls to people like Trent Mell. He’s CEO of First Cobalt, another company scouring these old mines and the hills outside town.

People in Cobalt pose behind a ton of pure silver drawn from a local mine. (© Cobalt Mining Museum)

Mell has a map of the region on the wall of his office. Little red dots indicate drill sites where they’ve poked through the Canadian Shield looking for cobalt. He says there’s no question it’s out there. They named the town Cobalt, after all. The question is whether they can prove there’s enough and that it’s concentrated in a way that makes it profitable to dig it up and get it to market.

He says the drill results are encouraging.

“A lot of smoke, as they say. Now we have to find fire.”

Mell knows the clock is ticking. The smartphone you have in your pocket likely has a few grams of cobalt in its battery. But pounds of the stuff are needed for an electric car. And with electric car sales soaring, demand for cobalt has spiked as well.

Trent Mell, chief executive of First Cobalt, holds a sample of the metal in a northern Ontario shed. (Carly Thomas/CBC)

“As an industry, and as a cobalt explorer, we’re playing catch-up,” Mell says. “You and I can decide tomorrow to go out and buy an electric vehicle. But as miners we can’t respond quickly enough.”

That potential shortage has driven up the price of cobalt. It was the best performing commodity in 2017. That means more money for exploration, and more companies competing to see if they can strike it rich.

So, First Cobalt is drilling 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They’ve searched through the old mines and have plotted a grid on Mell’s map where they hope to find something where the first generation of miners didn’t bother to look.

Drillers extract a core sample while searching for traces of cobalt. (Carly Thomas/CBC)

The drill rig is hauled into a muddy opening. The crew performs like clockwork, feeding the drill bit into a hole, drilling down and pulling up core samples for testing. These core samples are pored over on site, sent back to town where they’re cut up, and pieces are sent off to the lab. A new one is hauled out every 20 minutes or so.

First Cobalt’s vice-president, Frank Santaguida, pulls one dark piece of rock out of the tray. He reads the chunks of minerals like a coded language, looking for a sign. This one comes up empty, but each sample fills out the picture. Each piece tells him something about the search.

And while miners are a skeptical lot, prospectors live on hope. 

“It may be in the next drill hole,” he says.

A core sample is pulled out of the hills for testing near Cobalt. (Carly Thomas/CBC)

Everyone in this region knows there’s cobalt here, but its mere presence isn’t enough. Opening a mine would cost hundreds of millions of dollars. So, there has to be just the right amount, in just the right concentration that would allow someone to come in and carve out a profit.

If the retired miners are skeptical by nature, the prospectors are the optimists, the enthusiastic believers that Cobalt can rise again. But for now, even as they dig through these hills, even as they see thick veins of cobalt running through old mines, they can only say “maybe” when asked if it will be enough.

Theresa Mays remaining Brexit weapon is the threat of chaos | CBC News

For more than two years, Prime Minister Theresa May has had to navigate the disunion that plagues not just the U.K. over Brexit, but also her party — even her own cabinet.

On Thursday, May took the full force of it.

By the time she was speaking in Parliament to defend the draft deal she agreed, with Brussels negotiators, on the terms for Britain’s exit from the European Union, five more of her cabinet ministers had resigned, including Dominic Raab, the minister responsible for Brexit.

Selling any deal to such a fractious crowd was always going to be a challenge for May. But it’s hard to imagine how she can recover from the biggest blow so far: losing her second Brexit minister since the position was created.

“I cannot reconcile the terms of the proposed deal with the promises we made to the country in our manifesto at the last election,” Raab wrote in a letter Thursday.

Like any divorce settlement, the Brexit deal was bound to be a grudging, imperfect compromise.

Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab announced his resignation on Thursday. (Matt Dunham/Associated Press)

But in the unusual breakup between Great Britain and the European Union, there was the added challenge of trying to please multiple sides. Now that a draft compromise is on the table, most of those sides in Britain are up in arms.

“We’re in the Brexs*it,” screamed the Sun newspaper. “May’s soft Brexit deal blasted by all sides.”

Raab, along with Northern Ireland Minister Shailesh Vara, Work and Pensions Minister Esther McVey, Junior Brexit Minister Suella Braverman and Junior Education Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan, all resigned from May’s government Thursday.

“The government is falling apart before our eyes as for a second time, the Brexit secretary has refused to back the prime minister’s Brexit plan,” said Jon Trickett, a member of opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s senior team.

“Theresa May has no authority left and is clearly incapable of delivering a Brexit deal that commands even the support of her cabinet — let alone Parliament and the people of our country.”

Fraught road ahead for May

At this late stage in a negotiation process that’s lasted more than two years, May had hoped an ultimatum would save her and the draft she painstakingly reached with the EU: it’s either this deal, or chaos.

Beyond walking away, it was the only tactic she had left.

Both Wednesday and Thursday, May outlined the choices available: a deal “which brings back control of our money, laws and borders, ends free movement, protects jobs, security and our union; or leave with no deal, or no Brexit at all.”

Watch May’s full statement:

U.K. prime minister tells reporters she has won the support of her cabinet for the agreement. She now faces the greater challenge of getting it approved by Parliament. 2:25

Surviving the grilling in Parliament on Thursday is just one part of a still fraught road to getting her way. But even that doesn’t guarantee success.

In her opening statement, May paid tribute to Raab and other ministers for the work they had done on the deal. “Delivering Brexit involves difficult choices for all of us,” she said.

“I do not pretend that this has been a comfortable process — or that either we or the EU are entirely happy with all of the arrangements that have been included within it.”

The deal as it stands sets out the terms of the divorce, which is set to happen on March 29: the $67-billion bill, and the protection of the rights of each other’s citizens once the breakup happens. It would end free movement that is possible under the current relationship.

The most controversial are provisions that would temporarily keep the United Kingdom aligned with EU rules as long as necessary to avoid border checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The deal also allows for the extension of the transition period as the two sides work out a new trading arrangement. The transition period is currently set for 21 months.

In the Commons on Thursday, she again warned of the consequences of voting against the deal.

“Voting against a deal would take us all back to Square 1,” she said. “It would mean more uncertainty, more division, and a failure to deliver on the decision of the British people that we should leave the EU.”

Full-blown criticism came from all sides of a packed house. Some of the most devastating came from her own side. In a question, Brexiteer Jacob Rees Mogg threatened to pen a letter adding his voice to the call for a no-confidence vote.

There is no indication yet that such a vote is imminent.

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn said his party “will not accept a false choice between this bad deal and no deal.”

In an ominous sign for May, Nigel Dodds, an MP from the Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist party (DUP), which is propping up May’s government, called on MPs to vote against the deal that amounts to a “vassal state.”

Some suggested it was time to plan in earnest for a no-deal scenario.

Such arguments were heard on all sides of the House, strongly indicating Britain could be heading toward yet another political correction, one that the prime minister and her government may not survive.

With both the Labour Party and the DUP unhappy with the deal, an eventual vote in the Commons — if it even comes to that — could bring the entire thing down, taking May’s premiership with it.

Earlier, a former May chief of staff outlined his concerns in the Daily Telegraph.

“British compromises were inevitable,” Nick Timothy wrote. “But the proposal presented to cabinet is a capitulation … not only to Brussels, but to the fears of the British negotiators themselves.”

Government in jeopardy?

With just weeks left before the Brexit date, May still managed to get the 585-page compromise past her divided cabinet on Wednesday, clearing just one of several hurdles before it can be approved.

Even so, the threat remained that more of her cabinet members will walk in protest, jeopardizing her government. Then the resignations started, first with Vara, who argued the deal puts the U.K. in a “halfway house with no time limit on when we will finally be a sovereign nation.”

In between the two came the blow about Raab. In his letter to May, he said he was unhappy with provisions that singled out Northern Ireland, because they present a “very real threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom.” He also wrote that leaving the U.K. in line with EU rules, even temporarily, allows the EU to hold “a veto over our ability to exit.”

The most immediate threat to May and her plan remains in her own Conservative Party, where the foaming discontent quickly turned Wednesday into open rebellion.

Even before the angry airing in the Commons on Thursday, unhappy Tory MPs took to the airwaves and social media with expressions of disappointment and rancour — accusing May of failing to deliver the Brexit voters had envisioned.

Anti-Brexit demonstrators protest outside Parliament on Wednesday. May has been adamant there won’t another referendum on leaving the European Union. (Matt Dunham/Associated Press)

Brexiteers challenged her Wednesday in the Commons, in letters and in the mounting likelihood of a no-confidence vote.

“I do feel that we are getting … at the point where there’s going to be a confidence vote on the prime minister given the controversy around the Brexit proposals,” said Tory MP Andrew Bridgen.

Downing Street appears to be hoping that the looming uncertainty from a leadership contest or a general election this far down the Brexit road might persuade just enough MPs on all sides to accept the deal and move on.

With opposition among both remainers and Brexiteers, the math suggests otherwise.

Meanwhile, a date has been set for an EU summit to consider the deal: Nov. 25. The U.K. House of Commons would then have to ratify it.

As the great unravelling continues, this is a union far more disunited over Brexit than the one it seeks to leave.

Saudi prosecutor seeks death penalty in Khashoggi killing | CBC News

Saudi Arabia’s top prosecutor announced Thursday he’s recommended the death penalty for five people charged with ordering and carrying out the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

The announcement by the kingdom’s top prosecutor, Saud al-Mojeb, appears aimed at distancing the killers and their operation from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whose decision-making powers have been the focus of global outcry over the killing. The announcement was published in a statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

The brutal death of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who had been critical of the crown prince, has shocked the world and led many analysts and officials to believe it could not have been carried out without the prince’s knowledge. 

Turkey says an assassination squad was sent from Riyadh for the writer and insists orders for the killing came from the highest levels of the Saudi government, but not King Salman.

After issuing the statement, a spokesperson for al-Mojeb’s office, Shalan al-Shalan, told a rare news conference Thursday in Riyadh that Khashoggi’s killers had set in motion plans for the killing on Sept. 29 — three days before his slaying in Istanbul.

He said the killers drugged and killed the writer inside the consulate before dismembering the body and handing it over for disposal by an unidentified local collaborator.

Killers distanced from Crown prince

Prosecutors said the highest-level official incriminated in connection with the killing is former deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri, who was fired as pressure from Turkey and the world mounted on Saudi Arabia.

Al-Assiri, a close confidant of Prince Mohammed, is facing charges that include ordering Khashoggi’s forced return to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi prosecutors said al-Assiri deemed Khashoggi a threat because of his work as a writer and he was allegedly backed by groups and countries that are hostile to Saudi Arabia.

Thursday’s announcement by Saudi Arabia’s top prosecutor, Saud al-Mojeb, centre, appears aimed at distancing the killers and their operation from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (The Associated Press)

However, it appears al-Mojeb has stopped short of accusing al-Assiri of ordering the killing itself — further distancing the killers from the crown prince’s inner circle.

Khashoggi had been living in self-imposed exile abroad for nearly a year before he was killed by Saudi agents at the consulate on Oct. 2.

In his writing, he was especially critical of the crown prince, who had been leading a wide-reaching crackdown on activists and critics inside the kingdom since last year.

The kingdom also confirmed Turkish claims that a 15-man hit squad was sent to Turkey, and that these agents killed Khashoggi.

Demands for Turkish trial

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, however, said Thursday’s announcement fell short of his country’s expectations and reiterated earlier demands that the men should be tried in Turkey.

“I want to say that we did not find some of his explanations to be satisfactory,” said Cavusoglu, adding that “those who gave the order, the real perpetrators need to be revealed. This process cannot be closed down in this way.”

The writer’s body has not been found. Khashoggi had gone to the consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents for his upcoming marriage. His Turkish fiancée waited outside and first raised the alarm about his disappearance.

The prosecutor said 21 people are now in custody, with 11 indicted and referred to trial.