Libyan violence driving sharp increase in Mediterranean migrants
Newsletter: A closer look at the day's most notable stories
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- Rising violence in Libya is contributing to a spike in the number of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe
- Police confirm deaths of billionaires Barry and Honey Sherman now a double-homicide investigation
- Six top BBC male hosts have agreed to a pay cut following controversy over how female colleagues are compensated
Fleeing Libya's chaos
An increase in violence in Libya is being felt on Europe's shores, with a sharp rise in the number of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean this new year.
As of the beginning of this week, 4,485 people had made the dangerous sea crossing from North Africa in 2018.
A further 206 have died while trying.
Migration attempts dropped substantially in the last six months of 2017, largely because of deals the Italian government struck with various Libyan factions and the re-establishment of the country's Coast Guard.
Overall, 184,170 people reached Europe in 2017, compared to 387,895 in 2016.
The fighting in Libya has never really stopped since the 2011 NATO-backed campaign to oust Moammar Gadhafi, the late dictator. But in recent weeks, the chaos has reached renewed heights.
And this week in the eastern city of Benghazi, a pair of car bombs set off outside a mosque killed at least 34 people and wounded 90 more.
The United Nations' Libya Mission has condemned the "brutal" killings, but the alleged perpetrator, Mahmoud al-Werfalli, seems unlikely to be held to account.
The International Criminal Court has been seeking his arrest for similar war crimes since last summer. It's a demand that Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the LNA and leading candidate to become Libya's next president, has steadfastly ignored.
The clips, sent to the men's families, were supposed to extort a ransom. Instead, they resulted in a raid by the Special Deterrence Forces of the UN-backed unity government, in which the eight men were freed and four kidnappers arrested.
Human trafficking has becoming one of Libya's top industries, with upwards of 150,000 people departing its shores for Europe in each of the past three years.
This week the UN launched a new appeal, seeking $313 million US from its member nations to cover the "basic needs" of close to 1 million people in Libya in 2018, including food, water and fuel. A little over $30 million has been pledged thus far.
Last year, donors gave $97.5 million, well short of the $150 million campaign goal.
The Shermans were murdered
Toronto Police have confirmed that Barry and Honey Sherman were murdered.
"We have sufficient evidence to declare this as a double homicide investigation," Det.-Sgt. Susan Gomes told a packed press conference at Toronto Police headquarters this afternoon. "And that Honey and Barry Sherman were in fact targeted."
A real estate agent discovered the lifeless bodies of the childhood sweethearts in their north Toronto mansion on Dec. 15.
Barry, 75, and Honey, 70, were found on a pool deck, hanging by belts attached to a nearby railing. An autopsy later revealed the cause of death for both to be "ligature neck compression," meaning strangulation.
The original murder-suicide theory, reported by several media outlets in the following days, was hotly disputed by the couple's family and friends, who described them as loving and entirely devoted to each other.
The Shermans' four children hired a well-known Toronto lawyer, Brian Greenspan, to oversee a parallel private investigation into their parents' deaths. No expense was spared in assembling a team of experts, including a forensic pathologist, toxicologists and several former homicide detectives.
A source told CBC News that the private investigators uncovered evidence that the Shermans' wrists had been bound together, although no ropes or other materials were discovered at the scene.
The family's team concluded that the Shermans were killed on Dec. 13, two days before they were discovered, based on the clothes Honey was wearing. They also disclosed that she had cuts on her lip and nose, suggesting she might have struggled with her killers.
Much work remains to be done. Gomes referenced surveillance tapes from surrounding homes, outstanding warrants for such things as Barry Sherman's office computer, and the vast number of people that police still need to interview.
"We have an extensive list of people we are looking forward to speaking to," the homicide squad veteran said.
But his wealth had generated conflict, including a long history of litigation with Apotex's competitors, and legal action from family members who alleged they had been unfairly cut out of the company.
All indications are that it will be a lengthy, complex and thorough investigation.
"Facts guide our focus. Conjecture and speculation have no place," Det.-Sgt. Gomes said.
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Equal pay cuts for equal work
Six of the BBC's top male hosts have agreed to cut their salaries following a headline-making controversy over how their female colleagues are compensated.
Earlier this month, Carrie Gracieresigned as the broadcaster's China editor in public protest, after she learned that two men who were doing equivalent jobs were receiving almost double her salary.
She turned down the offer and went public, accusing the network of pay discrimination.
"I didn't want more money – do you understand – I wanted equality," she later explained to the BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour.
But when the figures were released for the first time this past July, it became clear that the network had other reasons to be concerned:
- Only one woman — Claudia Winkleman, the host of Strictly Come Dancing — cracked the top 10.
- Just five others made the list of top 20 earners.
- There were only 10 members of visible minorities among the network's 96 highest-paid staffers.
Today's announcement, which says presenters Huw Edwards, Nicky Campbell, John Humphrys, Jon Sopel, Nick Robinson and Jeremy Vine will all take undisclosed salary cuts, should help blunt some of the criticism.
The BBC has launched three investigations into pay equity since last summer's disclosures.
A report released in October pegged the BBC's gender pay gap at 9.3 per cent, about half of the U.K.'s 18.1 per cent average. But a formal audit, overseen by a judge, found that there was no evidence of "any systemic gender discrimination" at the network.
Canada's public broadcaster, the CBC, does not disclose the names or gender of its top earners, but does summarize the compensation for its on-air talent by job title and salary band.
Figures released last winter by Ottawa showed that women in Canada made 87 cents for every dollar earned by male workers in 2015.
The question for the BBC now is whether this cut will be enough to put out the gender pay fire.
"Back at work and feeling undervalued? Not being paid what you're worth? Why not start the year by asking for a pay rise? Here are some tips on how to negotiate one," it read.
The tweet, which included a link to a Woman's Hour feature on the subject, was quickly deleted.
Quote of the moment
"It's like getting gangrene on your toe and watching it eat your body. There's not much you can do to stop it. If a piece of plastic happens to entangle on a coral it has a pretty bad chance of survival."
- Joleah Lamb, a marine ecologist at Cornell University, on her new study documenting how plastic is killing the world's reefs. Divers found 11.1 billion pieces of plastic during visits to 159 reefs in the Pacific.
What The National is reading
- RCMP handed $550,000 penalty for failing to protect Moncton officers (CBC)
- Trump booed at Davos after attacking 'nasty, mean, fake' press (Independent)
- Senior UN figures under investigation for sexual harassment (Guardian)
- U.S. Embassy worker claims 'diplomatic immunity' in dispute with Ottawa landlord (CBC)
- Leaving EU will cost U.K. ￡40 billion in growth: Mark Carney (The Times)
- Hundreds of world chefs attend Paul Bocuse's funeral, all dressed in kitchen whites (International Business Times)
- Nutella 'riots' spread across French supermarkets (BBC)
Today in history
Jan. 26, 1972: Inuit craft parkas for Canada's winter Olympians
Canadian Olympians have never been better dressed than the 96 who shipped out to Sapporo, Japan, in the winter of 1972. Each was provided with a unique cherry red parka, trimmed with white wolf fur and decorated with bright blue appliqués, all hand-stitched by Frobisher Bay (now Iqaluit) artisans. Figure skater Karen Magnussen wore hers to practice, and won Canada's only medal of the Games — a silver.
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