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New life in Canada for family that helped Edward Snowden flee to Hong Kong

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MONTREAL — A family that helped shelter whistleblower Edward Snowden in Hong Kong in 2013 has landed in Canada and is looking forward to beginning an “extraordinarily normal life” in Montreal, says a refugee advocacy group.

Marc-André Séguin with For the Refugees said Supun Thilina Kellapatha, Nadeeka Dilrukshi Nonis and their children, Sethumdi and Dinath, are settling into their new apartment in the city after arriving Tuesday night from Toronto.

Séguin, who is also a lawyer, said the family is jet-lagged and exhausted but thrilled to have been granted asylum.

“After years and years of waiting, to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, to finally have the expectation of a better life, of safety and of having their stateless children recognized and acknowledged by a state was a tremendous moment for them,” Séguin said Wednesday in an interview.

The family’s arrival in Canada is the culmination of a long saga going back to 2013.

The family members are among the seven people dubbed “guardian angels” who offered help and shelter to Snowden when he fled to Hong Kong after leaking classified documents from the U.S. National Security Agency, which exposed the scope of massive government surveillance operations.

Séguin said the helpers were all asylum seekers from Sri Lanka and the Philippines. While their involvement was originally kept quiet, he said the 2016 film “Snowden,” directed by Oliver Stone, brought them notoriety and made the process of claiming official refugee status — which is already extremely difficult in Hong Kong — nearly impossible.

The aid group ultimately decided on Quebec as a destination, Séguin said, because it’s safe and because the province has a program that accepts privately sponsored refugees without requiring they get official designation from the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR.

Two of the other “Snowden refugees” — Vanessa Rodel and her daughter Keana — landed in Montreal in 2019, and the last remaining member of the group remains in Hong Kong awaiting approval to come to Canada.

Snowden said on Twitter Tuesday the family’s arrival is “the best news I’ve heard in a long, long time,” and he thanked those that helped the family.

“We need to bring one more home before we can say we’re done, but I cannot thank you enough for bringing us this far,” he wrote. Séguin would not confirm whether Snowden has direct contact with any of the families.

Séguin said the new arrivals are looking forward to an “extraordinarily normal life” that includes being able to work and go to school, and the children, aged five and almost 10, getting their first photo IDs.

“They’ll get to open bank accounts, they’ll get to work,” he said. “The children are acknowledged by a state for the first time in their life. They’ll have their first photo IDs.

“All these day-to-day mundane things we all take for granted but for them are really extraordinary right now.”

The lawyer said the good news of the family’s arrival is overshadowed by the fact the final member of the group, Ajith Pushpakumara, remains in Hong Kong in a situation he described as “fragile.”

Séguin said the group doesn’t understand why it has taken the Canadian government so long to approve the claims, which were filed in early 2017, nor why some members of the group have been approved more quickly than others.

“Canada did an extraordinary thing in admitting six of the seven Snowden refugees,” he said. “It’s time to do one more thing and let the seventh one in as soon as possible.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2021.

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press

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Arts

Longtime New Yorker writer, editor Roger Angell dies

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NEW YORK (AP) — Roger Angell, the celebrated baseball writer and reigning man of letters who during an unfaltering 70-plus years helped define The New Yorker’s urbane wit and style through his essays, humor pieces and editing, has died. He was 101.

Angell died Friday of heart failure, according to The New Yorker.

“No one lives forever, but you’d be forgiven for thinking that Roger had a good shot at it,” New Yorker Editor David Remnick wrote Friday. “Like the rest of us, he suffered pain and loss and doubt, but he usually kept the blues at bay, always looking forward; he kept writing, reading, memorizing new poems, forming new relationships.”

Heir to and upholder of The New Yorker’s earliest days, Angell was the son of founding fiction editor Katharine White and stepson of longtime staff writer E.B. White. He was first published in the magazine in his 20s, during World War II, and was still contributing in his 90s, an improbably trim and youthful man who enjoyed tennis and vodka martinis and regarded his life as “sheltered by privilege and engrossing work, and shot through with good luck.”

Angell well lived up to the standards of his famous family. He was a past winner of the BBWAA Career Excellence Award, formerly the J. G. Taylor Spink Award, for meritorious contributions to baseball writing, an honor previously given to Red Smith, Ring Lardner and Damon Runyon among others. He was the first winner of the prize who was not a member of the organization that votes for it, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

His editing alone was a lifetime achievement. Starting in the 1950s, when he inherited his mother’s job (and office), writers he worked with included John Updike, Ann Beattie, Donald Barthelme and Bobbie Ann Mason, some of whom endured numerous rejections before entering the special club of New Yorker authors. Angell himself acknowledged, unhappily, that even his work didn’t always make the cut.

“Unlike his colleagues, he is intensely competitive,” Brendan Gill wrote of Angell in “Here at the New Yorker,” a 1975 memoir. “Any challenge, mental or physical, exhilarates him.”

Angell’s New Yorker writings were compiled in several baseball books and in such publications as “The Stone Arbor and Other Stories” and “A Day in the Life of Roger Angell,” a collection of his humor pieces. He also edited “Nothing But You: Love Stories From The New Yorker” and for years wrote an annual Christmas poem for the magazine. At age 93, he completed one of his most highly praised essays, the deeply personal “This Old Man,” winner of a National Magazine Award.

“I’ve endured a few knocks but missed worse,” he wrote. “The pains and insults are bearable. My conversation may be full of holes and pauses, but I’ve learned to dispatch a private Apache scout ahead into the next sentence, the one coming up, to see if there are any vacant names or verbs in the landscape up there. If he sends back a warning, I’ll pause meaningfully, duh, until something else comes to mind.”

Angell was married three times, most recently to Margaret Moorman. He had three children.

Angell was born in New York in 1920 to Katharine and Ernest Angell, an attorney who became head of the American Civil Liberties Union. The New Yorker was founded five years later, with Katharine Angell as fiction editor and a young wit named Andy White (as E.B. White was known to his friends) contributing humor pieces.

His parents were gifted and strong, apparently too strong. “What a marriage that must have been,” Roger Angell wrote in “Let Me Finish,” a book of essays published in 2006, “stuffed with sex and brilliance and psychic murder, and imparting a lasting unease.” By 1929, his mother had married the gentler White and Angell would remember weekend visits to the apartment of his mother and her new husband, a place “full of laughing, chain-smoking young writers and artists from The New Yorker.”

In high school, he was so absorbed in literature and the literary life that for Christmas one year he asked for a book of A.E Housman’s poems, a top hat and a bottle of sherry. Stationed in Hawaii during World War II, Angell edited an Air Force magazine, and by 1944 had his first byline in The New Yorker. He was identified as Cpl. Roger Angell, author of the brief story “Three Ladies in the Morning,” and his first words to appear in the magazine were “The midtown hotel restaurant was almost empty at 11:30 in the morning,”

There were no signs, at least open ones, of family rivalry. White encouraged his stepson to write for the magazine and even recommended him to The New Yorker’s founder, Harold Ross, explaining that Angell “lacks practical experience but he has the goods.” Angell, meanwhile, wrote lovingly of his stepfather. In a 2005 New Yorker essay, he noted that they were close for almost 60 years and recalled that “the sense of home and informal attachment” he got from White’s writings was “even more powerful than it was for his other readers.”

Not everyone was charmed by Angell or by the White-Angell family connection at The New Yorker. Former staff writer Renata Adler alleged that Angell “established an overt, superficially jocular state of war with the rest of the magazine.” Grumbling about nepotism was not uncommon, and Tom Wolfe mocked his “cachet” at a magazine where his mother and stepfather were charter members. “It all locks, assured, into place,” Wolfe wrote.

Unlike White, known for the children’s classics “Charlotte’s Web” and “Stuart Little,” Angell never wrote a major novel. But he did enjoy a loyal following through his humor writing and his baseball essays, which placed him in the pantheon with both professional sports journalists and with Updike, James Thurber and other moonlighting literary writers. Like Updike, he didn’t alter his prose style for baseball, but demonstrated how well the game was suited for a life of the mind.

“Baseball is not life itself, although the resemblance keeps coming up,” Angell wrote in “La Vida,” a 1987 essay. “It’s probably a good idea to keep the two sorted out, but old fans, if they’re anything like me, can’t help noticing how cunningly our game replicates a larger schedule, with its beguiling April optimism; the cheerful roughhouse of June; the grinding, serious, unending (surely) business of midsummer; the September settling of accounts … and then the abrupt running-down of autumn, when we wish for — almost demand — a prolonged and glittering final adventure just before the curtain.”

Angell began covering baseball in the early 1960s, when The New Yorker was seeking to expand its readership. Over the following decades, he wrote definitive profiles of players ranging from Hall of Famer Bob Gibson to the fallen Pittsburgh Pirates star Steve Blass and had his say on everything from the verbosity of manager Casey Stengel (“a walking pantheon of evocations”) to the wonders of Derek Jeter (“imperturbably brilliant”). He was born the year before the New York Yankees won their first World Series and his baseball memories spanned from the prime of Babe Ruth to such 21st century stars as Jeter, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols.

Even as drugs and labor-management battles shared and even stole headlines, he thought the real story remained on the playing field. Angell never had official credentials as a sportswriter: He was just a fan, a grateful onlooker, a former high school pitcher who once aspired to the big leagues.

“At some point in my upper 30s or early 40s, I was seeing a psychiatrist and I came in with a dream,” Angell told The Associated Press in a 1988 interview. “I dreamed that there were some bushes and shrubbery, and there was a gravestone with my name and my birthday on it and the year I was in.

“I took this dream to my shrink with some trepidation and he asked how I felt and I said I felt sort of sad. He asked me what the gravestone reminded me of and I said it reminds me of those stones out in center field in Yankee Stadium.

“Then I realized it meant the end of my baseball dreams.”

___

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Hillel Italie, The Associated Press






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Justice

CP News Alert: Quebec Halloween attacker found guilty of first-degree murder

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QUEBEC — A man who used a sword to kill and maim victims in Quebec City’s historic district on Halloween night 2020 has been found guilty of murder

Carl Girouard, 26, was convicted on two counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder.

Girouard had admitted to the acts, but his defence lawyer argued his client was not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder and could not tell right from wrong.

The Crown countered that the killings were premeditated and that Girouard was aware of his actions that night.

An 11-member jury had to decide whether Girouard was not criminally responsible or was guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder or manslaughter.

It returned with its verdicts today after five days of deliberations.

More coming.

The Canadian Press

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