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    AUSTIN, TEXAS—Police in Austin have released surveillance video showing a car plunging seven stories from a downtown parking garage and striking another vehicle as it lands in an alley.

    The video released Thursday shows the car landing atop an SUV then rolling upside down onto the ground. Moments later, people run to help the driver escape.

    Police say the July accident happened when the woman drove through retention wires on the seventh floor, hit a building across the street and plunged to the alley below.

    The SUV’s driver wasn’t hurt. Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services officials said at the time that the woman was treated at a hospital.

    Last September, a sport utility vehicle plunged from the ninth floor of the same parking garage.


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    DENVER—Taylor Swift’s former bodyguard testified Friday that he saw a DJ reach under her skirt a moment before a photographer snapped their picture during a meet-and-greet where the singer says the radio host groped her.

    Security guard Greg Dent, who no longer works for Swift, said he was standing a few steps away but did not intervene because he generally took his cues from the pop star, and she gave him no signals during the 2013 pre-concert encounter at a Denver arena.

    Seated at her legal team’s table in a federal courtroom, Swift chuckled when Dent testified that, after the photo was taken, he suspected that KYGO-FM host David Mueller would be at the bar of the arena — and another guard found him there.

    Dent’s account came on the fourth day of testimony in a civil trial over dueling lawsuits between Swift and Mueller, who denies groping her and is seeking up to $3 million (U.S.) from the singer-songwriter, her mother and their radio liaison to compensate him for his ruined career.

    Swift is countersuing for just $1 and what she calls a chance to stand up for other women.

    A day earlier, Swift spent an hour on the witness stand herself defiantly recounting what she called a “despicable and horrifying and shocking” encounter.

    “He stayed attached to my bare ass-cheek as I lurched away from him,” Swift testified.

    “It was a definite grab. A very long grab,” she added in her testimony.

    Read more:

    Taylor Swift takes stand at groping trial: ‘It was a definite grab. A very long grab’

    DJ in groping case says Taylor Swift photo is ‘weird and awkward’

    Taylor Swift ‘absolutely certain’ she was sexually assaulted, court hears

    Swift’s testy exchange with Mueller’s attorney occasionally elicited chuckles — even from the six-woman, two-man jury. She got a laugh when she said Dent saw Mueller “lift my skirt” but someone would have had to have been underneath her to see the actual groping — “and we didn’t have anyone positioned there.”

    Swift testified that after the photo was taken at the meet-and-greet session, she tried to get as far away Mueller as she could. She said she told him and his girlfriend, who was also in the photo, “thank you for coming” in a monotone voice before they left.

    She also said she was stunned and did not say anything to Mueller or halt the event after he left because she did not want to disappoint several dozen people waiting in line for photos with her.

    In the image, shown to jurors during opening statements but not publicly released, Mueller’s hand is behind Swift, just below her waist. Both are smiling.

    Swift’s photographer, Stephanie Simbeck, testified Thursday that she knew something was wrong as she shot the photo. She testified that Swift later told her what happened, looked at a photo and pointed out Mueller as the person responsible.

    The trial is scheduled to last through next Thursday but appeared Friday to be moving quickly toward closing arguments.

    Dent’s testimony left Mueller’s former girlfriend, Shannon Melcher, as the only remaining potential witness who was in the room at the time.


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    EDMONTON—Canada’s foreign minister says North Korea’s nuclear program poses a “grave threat” to the security of the world.

    Chrystia Freeland says Canada stands by allies like the United States when they are threatened but she says we need to find ways to de-escalate the situation, which has been marked by heated rhetoric from North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump.

    She says North Korea must recognize that the path it is on can have no positive ending.

    Freeland expressed relief at the release of Canadian pastor Hyeong Soo Lim, who was serving a life sentence in North Korea for anti-state activities.

    She says Canada had been clear from the outset that Lim had to be released and returned home.

    Freeland says the international community is united when it comes to condemning the actions of North Korea and Canada is very much engaged in finding a solution.

    Read more:

    Trump warns North Korea that U.S. is ‘locked and loaded’

    Freeing of Hyeon Soo Lim is a bright spot in Korean crisis: Editorial

    China warns North Korea: You’re on your own if you go after the U.S.


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    Liars. Sots. Creeps.

    Swinging dicks who took free drinks and free food — comped to the badge.

    Palsy-walsy with strip club bouncers and barkeeps.

    Puking in the bathroom, on the street, in a hotel lobby.

    A disgrace to the uniform they weren’t wearing.

    Oh, but not rapists. Acquitted of sexual assault, the lot of them, because guilt was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

    They. Must. Go.

    Leslie Nyznik, Sameer Kara, Joshua Cabero: Police officers who can never again possibly be trusted to do a job that demands integrity and reputability and basic decency.

    How can they possibly work alongside female colleagues after the brass-balls hokum they pulled on a waitress at the Brass Rail, pretending to be with a porno film crew from Miami? How can they possibly respond to potential vice crimes when their own off-duty behaviour was so execrable? How can they possibly investigate a sex assault complaint?

    Hey, now that we’re done with this broad — the parking officer colleague who testified she hadn’t consented to sex with them in a hotel room in the early morning hours of Jan. 17, 2015 — should we call a hooker?

    No, they’re not rapists. Criminal trials demand a high standard of proof. But they are reprehensible human beings who shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a vulnerable, traumatized victim — regardless of the offence committed — or exercise their deeply flawed judgment at a crime scene.

    I wouldn’t trust them as far I could throw them. Which is what Police Chief Mark Saunders should do — throw them off the force. Or go down trying, amidst a group of defence lawyers who make a specialized well-heeled career out of springing bad cops.

    It is unclear what Saunders will do with these pathetic little men, only one of whom — Nyznik — took the stand at trial, point-cop just as he was on Rookie Buy Night. And isn’t that a fine tradition, introducing the newbie to perks of the law enforcement trade, like bar managers who will offer up a drink even though the joint isn’t open and entree to the special-special vodka fridge elite level of service.

    The three 51 Division officers have been suspended with pay since across-the-board sex assault charge were laid in February, 2015. There would likely be legal hurdles to overcome but Saunders can still have them all charged with discreditable conduct under the Police Act. If so, it would be interesting to see if the police union would pay for their lawyers, which they didn’t do at the criminal trial because the alleged offence occurred off-duty.

    If Saunders wants to be viewed as a police chief of substance — and thus far he hasn’t scored high marks — he absolutely must take disciplinary comeuppance to its farthest reaches. It is vital he sends a message to the men and women under his command, and the city they police, that, no, no, no, these individuals don’t deserve to wear the uniform. Employment as a police officer is both duty and privilege. None of these men deserve to exercise the authority granted them against you or me or anybody else. Not for the charges they were acquitted of, but for what they did throughout that dissolute night and how they (and their lawyers) spun it afterwards.

    Let me quote Molloy, in her verdict rendered Wednesday, on the subject of Nyznik’s stilted testimony, which she characterized as “less than forthright” in places, specifically his contention that the complainant (AB a pseudonym) initiated each and every sex act that took place.

    “Some of this simply did not ring true. Further, his description of how the group sex was carried out, particularly with the complainant purportedly servicing all three of them at once with Mr. Nyznik as much as touching her to provide assistance, seems improbable. As the Crown pointed out, AB would have to be some kind of contortionist to accomplish all of that at once.”

    Even on the small stuff, Molloy was dubious. For example, when the prosecutor was trying to make the point that AB was a parking enforcement officer but aspired to become a full police officer, “Mr. Nyznik refused to agree that there was any hierarchy between police officers and parking enforcement officers. However, later in his evidence, he said that he knew of some police officers who ‘dropped down’ to parking enforcement, clearly a reference to his belief that police officers are higher on the chain. Similarly, he refused to acknowledge the possibility that there would ever be any career repercussions or ‘blacklisting’ if a woman within the force reported she had been sexually assaulted by police officers. I find it hard to be accept this as an honestly held belief.”

    Crucially, Molloy said she did not “necessarily believe” Nyznik’s evidence but “making a determination that someone has lied under oath is not an easy task.” In the end she was left with a he-said she-said scenario, so typical of sex assault trials, and a complainant whose testimony was riddled with inconsistencies, contradictions, memory lapses and a narrative often in conflict with the limited objective evidence, such as surveillance video.

    “On the sole contentious issue of consent, her evidence stands alone,” Molloy wrote. “In order to convict, I would need to be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that her evidence was both credible and reliable with respect to the issue of consent. Given the frailties in her evidence, I simply cannot be sure of that important fact to the degree of certainty necessary to make a finding of criminal responsibility.”

    But this isn’t about AB anymore, wherever she is now and however she’s managing to pick up the shreds of her life and career.

    It’s about an ugly peek inside the lives of these three cops and the blow they’ve dealt to the force’s reputation.

    Their continuing presence is intolerable.

    Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.


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    BEIJING—China won’t come to North Korea’s help if it launches missiles threatening U.S. soil and there is retaliation, a state-owned newspaper warned on Friday, but it would intervene if Washington strikes first.

    The Global Times newspaper is not an official mouthpiece of the Communist Party, but in this case its editorial probably does reflect government policy and can be considered “semi-official,” experts said.

    China has already warned both Washington and Pyongyang not to do anything that raises tensions or causes instability on the Korean Peninsula.

    In an editorial, The Global Times said China should make it clear to both sides: “when their actions jeopardize China’s interests, China will respond with a firm hand.”

    “China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten U.S. soil first and the U.S. retaliates, China will stay neutral,” it added. “If the U.S. and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.”

    Read more:

    Sleep easy as Donald Trump tweets from the bunker? Not me: Burman

    Canada needs to find ways to de-escalate North Korea’s nuclear threat, foreign affairs minister says

    Trump must drop the bluster and get serious about North Korea: Editorial

    The Global Times warning comes at the end of a week of threat and counter-threat between Washington and Pyongyang, and as the United States weighs up its options to deal with the threat of North Korea’s nuclear and missile program.

    The Global Times said both sides were engaging in a “reckless game” that runs the risk of descending into a real war.

    On Tuesday, President Donald Trump threatened to respond to further threats from North Korea by unleashing “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” Pyongyang in turn threatened to strike the U.S. territory of Guam in the Western Pacific with ballistic missiles.

    The Global Times also cited reports that the Pentagon has prepared plans for B-1B strategic bombers to make pre-emptive strikes on North Korea’s missile sites, and a strongly worded ultimatum from Secretary of Defense James Mattis that North Korea should not consider “actions that would lead to the end of its regime and destruction of its people.”

    The paper’s comments also reflect the 1961 Sino-North Korean Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance, which obliges China to intervene if North Korea is subject to unprovoked aggression- but not necessarily if Pyongyang starts a war.

    “The key point is in the first half of the sentence; China opposes North Korea testing missiles in the waters around Guam,” said Cheng Xiaohe, a North Korea expert at Renmin University of China in Beijing.

    With the situation on the Korean Peninsula sliding dangerously towards the point of no return, Chinese media are starting to declare their positions on any potential war, he said. “Secondly, in a half-official way, China is starting to review and clarify the 1961 treaty.”

    China has become deeply frustrated with the regime in Pyongyang, and genuinely wants to see a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. But it has always refused to do anything that might destabilize or topple a regime which has long been both ally and buffer state.

    That’s because Beijing does not want to see a unified Korean state allied to the United States right up against its border: indeed, hundreds of thousands of Chinese soldiers died during the 1950-53 Korean War to prevent that happening.

    So for now, the current uneasy status quo for China still seems better than the alternatives.

    That is doubly true ahead of an important Communist Party Congress in the fall, at which President Xi Jinping wants to project an aura of stability and control as he aims to consolidate his power at the start of a second five-year term.

    Nevertheless, experts said debate is underway behind the scenes in China about its support for the North Korean regime.

    In an article on the Financial Times China website in May, for example, Tong Zhiwei, a law professor at the East China University of Political Science and Law in Shanghai, argued that China should make terminating the 1961 treaty a near-term diplomatic goal, because North Korea, also known as the DPRK, had used it as cover to develop its nuclear program and avoid punishment.

    That, he wrote, was not in China’s interests.

    “In the past 57 years, the treaty has strongly protected the security of the DPRK and peace on the Korean Peninsula, but it has also been used by the North Korean authorities to protect their international wrongful acts from punishment,” he wrote.

    Meanwhile, China has reacted strongly to the United States sending a warship close to an island it controls in the South China Sea.

    The U.S. navy destroyer, USS John S. McCain, travelled close to Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands on Thursday, in the third “freedom of navigation” exercise in the area conducted under the Trump administration, Reuters reported.

    China’s Defense Ministry said two Chinese warships “jumped into action” and warned the U.S. ship to leave, labelling the move a “provocation” that seriously harms mutual trust.

    China’s Foreign Ministry said the operation had violated international and Chinese law and seriously harmed Beijing’s sovereignty and security.

    “The Chinese side is strongly dissatisfied with this and will lodge solemn representations to the U.S. side,” the ministry said in a statement.


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    OTTAWA—The federal government plans to release this fall a long-awaited strategy to tackle veterans’ homelessness, which in one of its most recent versions has placed a heavy focus on providing veterans in crisis with help in paying the rent or mortgage.

    The revised plan obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act includes additions that outline the need for an emergency housing fund that could provide rent vouchers for veterans to prevent them from becoming homeless.

    The October version of the strategy says a rental assistance program would help veterans quickly find permanent housing wherever they live, but Veterans Affairs Canada isn’t currently able to provide that kind of financial help.

    “Given restrictions in current statutory authorities, as eligibility for most VAC services and benefits requires the veteran to have service-related condition(s), there are limits in the supports that the department can provide,” the plan says.

    There is also an emphasis on peer-to-peer support mechanisms and outreach activities so veterans are used to help their comrades in crisis.

    Officials wouldn’t release specific pages with the objectives for the plan, citing them as ministerial recommendations too sensitive to release publicly, but the details are in a publicly available presentation that the author of the strategy delivered at a homelessness conference last November.

    The presentation says that the government planned to co-ordinate various outreach efforts like local “boots on the ground” walks to find and identify homeless veterans. Internally, officials wanted to ensure Veterans Affairs staff could dole out emergency financial help “at a sufficient level to homeless veterans and veterans in crisis.”

    A spokesperson for Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr said the government is working toward releasing the full strategy this fall, adding that some aspects of the plan are already being implemented.

    An emergency fund to help veterans was announced in the 2017 budget at a cost of $4 million over four years to complement an existing fund established through donations to cover emergency needs like food, shelter, clothing and other items.

    Changes have also been made to employment training and support services available to homeless vets. The military is also planning to change the transition process to civilian life for exiting soldiers, including ensuring pension payments and benefits are in place before they leave the military.

    Many of the measures deemed to be “ready to go”, such as the emergency fund, will be rolled out starting in April, with the remaining recommendations implemented over the coming years.

    “All together these programs, and others being introduced by the government, are part of our strategy to reduce homelessness among veterans,” Sarah McMaster said.

    “The remaining recommendations from the homelessness strategy, which have been continuously updated as new departmental and government wide initiatives are launched, will be implemented over the next five years.”

    Jim Lowther, president and CEO of VETS Canada, which helps homeless veterans, questioned the government’s urgency on the issue, given the long timelines attached to the strategy’s creation and implementation. He pointed to aggressive American efforts which reduced the number of homeless U.S. veterans by half over the last five years.

    In June and July, his organization helped house about 150 veterans each month.

    “We still have people that will say I can’t believe there are homeless veterans in Canada,” Lowther said.

    “They just don’t know about the problem and they don’t know that veterans are suffering so much and I think if they did know I think that they would want something done about it.”

    Getting a handle on the actual number of homeless veterans in Canada is difficult. Most measures require veterans to self-identify, or to be referred by family or friends to Veterans Affairs. Otherwise, they may largely go unnoticed among the general homeless population.

    The federal government has tried in recent years to count the homeless veterans population through shelter data. A government study estimated that in 2014, there were 2,950 veterans who used shelters, about 2.2 per cent of all users.

    As of the end of June, Veterans Affairs Canada had 750 veterans identified as homeless in its client database.

    The reasons that a veteran can become homeless include loss of job, as well as mental and physical health issues. The October strategy adds a reference to family breakdown or violence and addiction issues that weren’t in an earlier discussion draft.

    “Many of these factors can also be the result of homelessness, which can make it difficult for individuals to regain self-sufficiency the longer they have been homeless,” the October draft says.


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    A police officer involved in a car chase in 2016 that resulted in a stolen vehicle colliding with an UberX vehicle and sent eight people to hospital did not drive in a dangerous manner, according to the Special Investigations Unit.

    In a news release on Aug. 2, the SIU, which investigates incidents where police officers may have been involved in a serious injury, death or sexual assault, declared that their investigation into the car chase lead them to believe the officer involved acted lawfully in the pursuit.

    The following details of the chase and subsequent collision were explained in an SIU report on the incident:

    It was around 3 a.m. on Mar. 20, 2016, when a police officer, identified by the SIU as a witness to the incident, not an officer under investigation, began following a black vehicle that the officer suspected was stolen. When a check of the license plate proved to corroborate this, the officer signaled for backup and attempted to stop the stolen vehicle by cutting off its path.

    The stolen vehicle drove into the side of the police cruiser and sped away.

    There were no injuries as a result of that collision.

    Other officers that responded to the call took up the chase, headed by the officer the SIU would end up investigating.

    That cruiser followed the stolen vehicle up the wrong way on an exit ramp and also the wrong way down a three-lane one-way road.

    The stolen vehicle turned north onto Bay St. from the one-way road, ran through a red light at Wellington St. W., and collided with an UberX taxi going west.

    There were five occupants in the stolen vehicle: two 16-year-old boys, one of whom was the driver, two 17-year-old girls and one 15-year-old boy.

    The UberX carried a 39-year-old driver, a 38-year-old man, a 32-year-old woman and a 27-year old woman. The two female passengers and the driver of the Uber sustained serious injuries, as did two passengers in the stolen vehicle.

    In total, eight people were transported to the hospital, some with fractured bones.

    A witness to the chase, estimated that the stolen car sped by at about 100 kilometres per hour, and compared the sound of it colliding with the UberX to “an oil tanker exploding.”

    The SIU declared that the pursuit was lawful as the officers involved were aware that the vehicle was stolen and that the occupants had resisted arrest by pushing past and striking one cruiser already. Although the police officer under investigation drove the wrong way on several roads in the pursuit, she was said to have proceeded with caution and obeyed the speed limit.

    The officer was far enough behind the stolen vehicle, the SIU said, that her driving did not spur the suspects on to more dangerous driving, and didn’t contribute to the eventual collision with the UberX vehicle.

    With files from Verity Stevenson


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    MONTREAL—Canadian Denis Shapovalov advanced to the Rogers Cup semifinals with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Adrian Mannarino on Friday night.

    The 18-year-old from Toronto was coming off a second-round win over 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro and a thrilling three-set upset of top-seeded tennis legend Rafael Nadal in the round of 16.

    Shapovalov will meet fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev, who knocked off Kevin Anderson 7-5, 6-4 in the late match.

    The 29-year-old Mannarino knocked out Canada’s top player, Milos Raonic, in the second round, although the big-server from Thornhill played with a swollen wrist.

    Shapovalov started out looking low on energy despite the encouragement of the packed centre-court crowd.

    He double-faulted on break point in the opening game en route to a quick first-set loss.

    The two left-handers were on serve in the second when play was halted 20 minutes for a light rain but the crowd sprang to life, chanting “Let’s go Denis” on the changeovers as he broke serve and then served out the set.

    As it was against Nadal, Shapovalov spent much of the match alternating between errors and impressive winners, consistently fighting off break points on his serve. He had nine aces and seven double faults.

    He broke service for a 2-1 lead in the third, only to hand it back in the next game, but a roar went up when Mannarino wasted a chance to put away a game point and Shapovalov jumped on the chance to break for a 5-4 lead. He leapt in the air as he closed out the match.

    Earlier, second-seeded Roger Federer continued his mastery over 12th-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut with a 6-4, 6-4 victory. The 36-year-old Swiss will face unseeded Robin Haase, a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 winner over Diego Schwartzman.

    Federer has won all seven career matches and taken all 16 sets against the 29-year-old Bautista Agut. He is 1-0 against Haase — a straight-sets win in Davis Cup play in 2012.

    Federer said he knows Haase well from serving with him on the ATP player council and from practising together.

    “I’m looking forward to a tough match because he can serve very well and he mixes up his tactics a lot,” said Federer. “Sometimes he tends to just roll the ball in and use the big serve, or he uses a slice a lot and comes in.

    “So I don’t quite know with Robin what I’m going to get. But, as I have practised with him quite a bit, maybe I am better prepared than if I would have never hit with him before.”

    Read more:

    All eyes on Denis Shapovalov as the new Canadian tennis star to watch: Cox

    Five things to know about Canada’s rising tennis star Denis Shapovalov

    Tennis Canada CEO Michael Downey sees great things in nation’s young stars: Feschuk


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    The young man alleging a Toronto officer punched him then drew his gun during a 2011 police stop in Lawrence Heights said he looked to other cops for help during and after the fateful encounter, but no one stepped up.

    On the second day of testimony from the main complainant at the ongoing disciplinary hearing of two Toronto police officers, the young man — 15 at the time of the incident, and whose name is protected by a publication ban — was cross-examined on his account of the ordeal.

    Const. Adam Lourenco and Const. Scharnil Pais each stand accused under Ontario's Police Services Act of unlawfully arresting the main complainant, his twin brother, and two of their friends, boys all 16 or under at the time. The arrests happened immediately after they left their homes inside a Toronto Community Housing Corp. complex on Neptune Dr. and walked toward an after-school program called Pathways to Education.

    Lourenco faces two other charges of disorderly conduct for allegedly using unreasonable force, one for punching the main complainant and another for pointing his gun at three of the boys.

    The officers have pleaded not guilty to all charges, and none of the allegations have been proven at the tribunal.

    The four teens were criminally charged after the encounter but all charges were later withdrawn. The Star is not identifying any of the teens, now 20 and 21, because of an ongoing publication ban under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

    The tribunal heard earlier this week that the officers told the group they matched the descriptions of suspects in a recent robbery. When the main complainant asked if he was under arrest and free to go — putting to use knowledge he’d recently gained at a seminar on his rights in police encounters — he alleges Lourenco became violent, punching him, knocking him to the ground, then drawing his weapon.

    Under cross-examination by Lourenco’s lawyer, Lawrence Gridin, Friday, the young man went into greater detail about the events that night, and his encounters with other officers.

    The witness testified that after Lourenco knocked him to the ground, the officer deliberately cut his own thumb on something sharp on his police belt, showed the young man and said: “Look, you just assaulted a police officer.”

    The young man then said he and his friends looked to Pais, who was standing nearby and who he said was deliberately averting his eyes.

    “I could tell by looking at him that that he knew this was wrong. That’s why he wasn’t looking . . . he didn’t do anything,” the witness said.

    The young man then testified that moments later, after Lourenco handcuffed him and violently placed him into the car of another unit called for backup, he tried to explain what happened to the Black officer driving the cruiser.

    “He was Black and I was trying to appeal to him . . . (I was saying) ‘I swear to God, I saw him cut his thumb,’” the witness said.

    The officer was respectful, the witness said, but told him to “forget about the rights stuff,” in reference to defending his constitutional right to walk away from police under certain circumstances and asking questions such as “Am I under arrest?”

    “He said . . . basically don’t use it. It’s not going to work in real life,” the witness said.

    Gridin, Lourenco’s lawyer, took the witness through each of his allegations in a highly detailed manner, noting that the young man was alleging a significant amount of mistreatment by his client, Pais and “a lot of different officers.” Gridin later said there were a number of claims made by the young man that “I intend to impeach him on.”

    The hearing continues next week.

    Wendy Gillis can be reached at wgillis@thestar.ca


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    Chanting "blood and soil," "white lives matter" and "you will not replace us," scores of white nationalists holding torches marched across the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville on Friday night.

    Scuffles broke out between them and a small group of counter-protesters calling themselves "anti-fascists" who were surrounded as they demonstrated in advance of Saturday's "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, which is expected to be one of the largest far-right gatherings in the U.S. in at least a decade.

    Police soon cleared away the demonstrators, according to reporters at the scene.

    "The fear we instill in them today only fuels our victory tomorrow," one rally supporter wrote on Twitter, in a message retweeted by Richard Spencer, one of the nation's most prominent white nationalists, who is attending the weekend's events in Virginia.

    Spencer also tweeted a selfie, showing him smiling with the marchers' tiki torches in the background.

    "I am safe. I am not fine," one of the counter-protesters, Emily Gorcenski, tweeted, saying that white nationalists had attacked her group. "What I just witnessed was the end of America."

    Pictures and video of the nighttime march spread rapidly across social media, where many black and left-leaning Americans expressed disgust at the imagery, which to them recalled torch-lit Ku Klux Klan rallies of yesteryear.

    "This is a disgrace," tweeted Martese Johnson, a black University of Virginia alumnus who gained notoriety in 2015 when he was bloodied by police as a student. "I do not believe this is happening on my university's campus." (The university is currently between its summer and fall semesters, when more students would be on campus.)

    Charlottesville's mayor expressed outrage at the gathering of white nationalists, who at one point stopped to pay tribute to a statue of Thomas Jefferson, a founding father who owned slaves.

    "When I think of candlelight, I want to think of prayer vigils," wrote Mayor Mike Signer in a Facebook post.

    "Today, in 2017," he continued, "we are instead seeing a cowardly parade of hatred, bigotry, racism, and intolerance march" in the hometown "of the architect of our Bill of Rights."

    Noting that everyone has a First Amendment right of assembly and free speech, he said, "Here's mine: Not only as the Mayor of Charlottesville, but as a UVA faculty member and alumnus, I am beyond disgusted by this unsanctioned and despicable display of visual intimidation on a college campus."

    For weeks, white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other far-right figures have been preparing for Saturday's rally, occasionally running into obstacles as the home-rental company Airbnb banned far-right users for violating the company's anti-racism policies.

    The city had also objected to the demonstrators' hoped-for gathering spot —the formerly named Lee Park, where the city has ordered the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The city sought to block the rally at the park now called Emancipation Park.

    The American Civil Liberties Union and the Rutherford Institute, a civil liberties and human rights group based in Charlottesville, filed a lawsuit Thursday against the city on behalf of the rally organizers. The suit said that the city was unconstitutionally infringing on the demonstrators' First Amendment rights by directing them to go to a different park.

    The city contended that its request wasn't prompted by the white nationalists' political beliefs, but because the one-acre Emancipation Park would be too small for the number of demonstrators expected to arrive in the city on Saturday.

    But Friday night, a judge sided with the white nationalists and ordered the city to allow them to gather in Emancipation Park, where local leaders promise to have hundreds of law enforcement officials monitoring events.


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    On the afternoon of July 5, Isaak Komisarchik, 82, was seen in a Denver nursing home, wearing pyjama pants and a grey and white striped shirt. He walked to his mailbox and stopped by the office to pick up a few things, his daughter said.

    Then, his daughter told a local television station, “he just disappeared.”

    Days went by with no one seeing or hearing from the elderly man, who had begun showing signs of dementia and would become “disoriented at times,” his daughter told KUSA.

    His disappearance perplexed authorities and relatives, who said Komisarchik was physically incapable of walking very far from home.

    Posters and flyers were distributed throughout the southeast Denver area — pictures of the grey-haired, brown-eyed man’s face could be seen plastered on light posts and on news sites. Firefighters scoured the quiet neighbourhood, searching through five nearby ponds for the beloved father and grandfather.

    “We are really worried and really, really anxious to get him back,” his daughter, Yelena told KUSA after he had been missing for three days. “He should be safe, so where is he?” his granddaughter, Elina said.

    Weeks went by, and authorities couldn’t find him. Then, several residents of a nearby apartment building — less than a mile from the nursing facility where Komisarchik was last seen — began complaining to management about a stench coming from the building’s parking garage.

    On Aug. 2, nearly a month after he went missing, maintenance workers reported to fire authorities a discovery: a decomposed body in an elevator car in the parking garage. The body was soon identified as Komisarchik’s.

    And this week, authorities began to unravel what may have happened in Komisarchik’s final moments.

    At some point on or before July 6, Komisarchik stepped inside the parking garage elevator. For reasons that remain unclear, he struggled to get out.

    So in an attempt to seek help, Komisarchik pushed the elevator’s emergency button — twice over the course of eight minutes, a Denver Fire Department spokesperson told the Denver Post. But no one responded.

    Electronic records show that the elevator’s emergency alarm was pressed at 9:09 p.m. and 9:17 p.m. on July 6, the day after Komisarchik was last spotted, according to KUSA. Pushing this emergency button should trigger an alert to an elevator monitoring group or the fire department. But during the time Komisarchik was in the elevator, the fire department received no emergency calls from that car, the Denver Post reported.

    “Something is not right,” Capt. Greg Pixley, a Denver Fire Department spokesman told the Denver Post.

    Denver Police told a local ABC affiliate that the elevator management company received an alert from the elevator and notified the apartment building management. Apartment workers checked two of the elevators, the ABC affiliate reported, but not a third elevator, where Komisarchik’s body was eventually found.

    That specific elevator was not in use in recent weeks because it was in an area of the parking garage that was under renovation, according to a statement from Greystar Management Services, which manages the apartment complex, Woodstream Village.

    “We are saddened by the tragic loss of life and extend our deepest condolences to Mr. Komisarchik’s family and friends,” said the statement released to local news outlets by spokesperson Lindsay Andrews.

    Now police and fire officials are working to figure out exactly what happened in the elevator car, and why Komisarchik’s calls for help went seemingly unanswered.

    Although some tenants told local media the elevator was not working, a spokesperson for Denver police said it was indeed operable. It was last inspected in December and deemed to be in working condition, fire officials also said.

    “How he got in there and when he got in there is obviously what we’re trying to figure out,” police spokesperson John White told the Denver Post.

    City codes require that all elevator cars have an emergency alert system including an alarm switch and a phone or intercom. Emergency calls from an elevator car must be able to connect either with on-site security, with an elevator monitoring company or directly with the Denver Fire Department, the Denver Post reported. Code also mandates that elevator operators must monitor emergency alerts at all times.

    The discovery of Komisarchik’s body and the revelations about his calls for help have left his relatives with intense grief and many still unanswered questions.

    A number of family members declined to give interviews. One relative, Komisarchik’s cousin’s wife, Svetlana Komisarchik, said in a written message, “it’s hard for me to talk about him.”

    “He had a great sense of humour,” she told The Washington Post, adding that she was very close with him. He liked to tell jokes and write poems, she said, and he loved his family deeply, “especially his grandchildren,” she said.

    Other relatives, speaking to KUSA while Isaak Komisarchik was still missing, also spoke fondly of his witty personality and his poems, brilliantly written in Russian.

    “There was no event or celebration without him scribbling any lines,” his daughter, identified only as Yelena, told KUSA.

    Family pictures showed him playing chess and pool with his family, and enjoying time outside.

    “He was always the one sharing slightly inappropriate jokes with us, a little bit of bathroom humour,” his granddaughter, Elina, told KUSA.

    “We are still trying to come to terms with his horrible death,” Svetlana Komisarchik said.


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    On Saturday, Hyeon Soo Lim will be reunited with his family in Toronto.

    And on Sunday, Lim will return to his church family — the congregation of the Light Presbyterian Church in Mississauga, which has wept, prayed and organized vigils for their beloved senior pastor during the 2 ½ years he was detained in North Korea.

    The reception for Lim is expected to pack the 2,000-seat facility where Lim used to preach weekly.

    Lim’s family is requesting privacy but their reaction to his freedom was “relieved, grateful, excited and anxious to see him home,” according to church spokesperson Richard Ha.

    Lim has been able to phone church colleagues, who say he is doing well.

    “He is in good spirits,” said Jason Noh, an associate pastor at the Light Presbyterian Church.

    In video footage taken Thursday by a Japanese television crew, Lim is on the tarmac of a U.S. military base in Fussa, Japan. His hair is shorn, he looks thinner but appears to be smiling and walking unaided with the Canadian delegation, led by Justin Trudeau’s national security adviser, Daniel Jean.

    The delegation reportedly flew to Japan from Pyongyang after North Korea’s Central Court on Wednesday granted Lim “sick bail” on humanitarian grounds.

    The delegation did not head straight home. The group jetted to Guam for a layover, according to sources. The return flight path is not known but Lim was expected to be in Toronto by Saturday.

    In January 2015, Lim was detained by North Korean authorities while on a charitable mission to the country’s northern region. Later that year, the pastor was convicted of attempting to subvert the authoritarian regime of Kim Jong Un and was sentenced to life in a labour camp.

    Trudeau confirmed Lim’s freedom in a statement sent out by email at 1:13 a.m. Thursday. It read, in part: “The Government of Canada was actively engaged on Mr. Lim’s case at all levels. In particular, I want to thank Sweden, our protecting power in North Korea, for assisting us.”

    The Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang serves as Canada’s protecting power in North Korea because Ottawa does not have an embassy there. Swedish ambassador Torkel Stiernlöf was able to meet with Lim a few times and, with North Korean approval, delivered family letters and prescription medication to him. Lim has high blood pressure that requires medicine.

    On July 14, the North Korean state news agency reported that authorities had arranged a meeting between an unnamed Swedish embassy official and Lim“on the basis of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and in the humanitarian spirit.”

    It has been reported that Lim was in poor health and had lost a lot of weight.

    According to English-language reports citing the Korean Central News Agency article, Lim asked the Swedish diplomat in that July 14 meeting “to convey his request to the Canadian government for making active efforts to settle his issue.”

    On Thursday, Global Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland wrote to thank her Swedish counterpart, Margot Wallstrom, on her Twitter account: “Thank you for your tremendous support, @MargotWallstrom. Canadians are so grateful for #Sweden’s long-standing, heartfelt friendship.”

    Freeland also said she spoke briefly with her North Korean counterpart about Lim in Manila, Philippines on Sunday, Reuters reported. The two were gathered there for an Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting of foreign ministers.

    “We were clear with North Korea that Pastor Lim needed to be released, and we are very, very glad that happened,” Freeland said Friday, according to Reuters.

    In Toronto, it’s expected Lim’s wife, Geum, their son James, his wife and 10-month-old daughter will be waiting for him. James, 34, and his family live in the United States. Geum Lim has spent a good deal of time in Seoul during her husband’s detention and imprisonment.

    All three Lims are natives of South Korea. The family immigrated to Canada, settling in Toronto, in 1986 when Lim had the opportunity to study at the University of Toronto’s Knox College.


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    A teenager who wore the shirt and tie that a Toronto cop bought for him after he allegedly attempted to steal them for a job interview has been hired.

    Const. Niran Jeyanesan thought he was responding to a routine shoplifting call on Aug. 6 at a Walmart in the city’s north end. The 18-year-old who had allegedly attempted to make off with some clothes had picked out a long-sleeved shirt, a tie and a pair of socks. He told the officers they were meant for a job interview.

    Jeyanesan said the teen told him he didn’t have the clothes he thought would land the “service industry position” he had applied for. He said his father had fallen ill and he wanted to help provide.

    “He was very remorseful, very ashamed,” Jeyanesan said of the teen at the time. “I could see that this is truly a mistake and this person wanted a chance at life.”

    Jeyanesan decided to purchase the shirt and tie for the teenager, who left the police station without charges following questioning. He also referred the teenager’s father to a job.

    Police spokesperson Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook said the teenager called Jeyanesan, who gave the teen his number, and let him know that the outfit worked — he landed the position and starts work on Monday.

    “There was already a sense of pride and admiration that I had toward the officer’s actions to begin with,” Douglas-Cook said. “(It) just added to it that much more when I heard the end result of how his actions have paid off thus far.”

    With files from The Canadian Press


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    Students at the University of Waterloo know Chase Graham took his own life.

    They may never have met him. They may not know he was a brilliant student or that he had a sharp sense of humour under a shy, quiet exterior.

    But they know he died by suicide at school on March 20.

    “We hear about the ones like Chase, who die on campus,” Graham’s mother, Andrea Graham, said.

    “But he very well could have waited a month and done it when he was in his apartment in Toronto while on his co-op placement and then people wouldn’t have associated it with a student death.”

    The attention Chase Graham’s death received is rare, though his story is not. Countless successful, promising young students struggle to adapt to the major change of starting post-secondary school.

    But nobody — not the Chief Coroner, nor the Ontario government nor university officials — can say how many university and college student die by suicide each year.

    The Office of the Chief Coroner should be responsible for tracking student suicides, Andrea Graham said.

    “We need to start doing some things to stop these (suicides) happening, and part of it is having an accurate view of what’s actually going on.”

    Public health authorities in Canada and around the world have called for comprehensive tracking of suicide deaths, arguing that better, more available statistics make it easier for professionals to prevent suicides.

    But Ontario has an inconsistent patchwork of tracking systems which does not come close to being comprehensive.

    The Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario tracks suicides by age group, but does not keep track of whether people who die by suicide are students or what their profession was.

    Steps are being taken to make suicide data more accurate and available, Deputy Chief Coroner Dr. Reuven Jhirad said.

    The Chief Coroners office will work to standardize the information collected by each regional coroner during investigations, and to create a database where details about a death, such as whether or not someone was a student, can be easily searched, Jhirad added. There is no specific date for when these measures will be in place.

    In a survey of Ontario’s 20 universities, the Star found that only about half keep any kind of formal statistics on the number of student suicides. Of those universities, several track only suicides that occur on their campus, meaning that any deaths that occur at a student’s off-campus residence or their family home does not get included in their tally.

    “As can be appreciated, we are only aware of the nature of a student death as indicated to us by the family or police,” said Brenda Whiteside, Associate VP of Student Affairs at Guelph, one of the schools that tracks on and off-campus suicides. “The numbers represent the best information we have.”

    In February, Whiteside confirmed that four Guelph students had died by suicide in the 2016-17 academic year, after a student petition and social media backlash demanded more attention be paid to mental health.

    At the times the deaths occurred, the university did what many schools do — they released a statement saying the student had died, in some cases mentioning the student’s name, but never mentioning the cause of death.

    “It is generally agreed upon by experts that suicide data are under-reported due to misclassification issues (including) the stigma associated with suicide, and provincial and territorial differences in the type of information collected by coroners or medical examiners reports,” said Rebecca Purdy, a spokesperson for the Public Health Agency of Canada.

    Suicide has long been a taboo topic that, until a couple of decades ago was hardly spoken about at all, even in private, said Robert Whitley, a psychiatry professor at McGill University, who has researched the coverage of suicide in media.

    Not even newspapers covered suicides, largely out of fear that the news could inspire copy-cat deaths. But those attitudes are changing.

    Recent research has shown that increasing public attention paid to suicide is a positive, if it is handled sensitively. It helps raise awareness and start discussions, Whitley said.

    “(Now) suicide is something which we can talk about. It’s the tragedy which everyone’s trying to avoid but ... it’s something people can have empathy and compassion for and respond to,” Whitley added. “That’s much better than a society where people think it’s a crime and a sin that you shouldn't even talk about or think about.”

    The start of university or college can be a particularly difficult time for young people’s mental health.

    Beginning post-secondary school often means moving away from home for the first time, and being far from family and friends. The majority of mental health issues begin to surface during a person’s teens or 20s. But age restrictions on youth programs force many young people to abandon the mental health services they have accessed for years around the age of 18 — leaving them on their own to find new sources of help in the adult health care system.

    In 2016, researchers from the Public Health Agency of Canada consulted with over 350 community organizations, government officials and indigenous groups, to identify priorities for suicide prevention in Canada.

    One of the key findings from the consultation was that Canadian suicide statistics, “including suicide ... data and research results, is fragmented, complex” and often difficult to access.

    “Data and research results provide the basis of evidence needed to define the scope of the problem in Canada... track changes in suicide rates, better understand risk and protective factors, inform policies and programs, and evaluate prevention efforts,” the Public Health Agency wrote.

    Similarly, in a 2014 report, the World Health Organization, called for improved availability and quality of data on suicides and suicide attempts globally, saying they were “required for effective suicide prevention.”

    In the days after Graham’s death, the second on-campus suicide at the University of Waterloo since January, the school’s President Feridun Hamdullahpur announced the creation of an advisory committee on mental health, citing “the recent suicide of a first-year student” as a catalyst.

    It was the first time the university had ever publicly acknowledged a specific student suicide, said Walter Mittelstaedt, the university’s director of Campus Wellness.

    “What we said this time was in response to a growing concern and misinformation,” Mittelstaedt said.

    “(Social media users) were repeatedly saying the University of Waterloo has the worst suicide rate of all campuses, which I mean, we have no way of knowing that.”

    The Waterloo president’s statement on Chase Graham’s suicide “makes me feel hopeful that the university will be taking a different approach in terms of communication and public relations on issues like these,” Waterloo student and mental health advocate Dia Rahman said.

    It was disappointing, however, that the statement only came after a student petition and social media discussion called attention to the suicide, she added.

    “For the betterment of the community, as well as helping universities... maintain wellbeing, I think student suicides should be better tracked,” Rahman said.

    “How else would you figure out whether there’s a dire need for something to be changed in the community?”

    Asked whether Waterloo will publicly disclose all student suicides in future, Mittelstaedt said it was “something for us to think about” as the school’s mental health advisory progresses.

    “Each university has to decide how much of a problem mental health and suicide is for them and will have a unique response to it,” he added. “I don’t think (the right approach) is necessarily an overall public response.”

    Mental health-related data is “severely lacking” across the board, not just for suicide and not just for university students, said Eric Windeler, whose son Jack died by suicide in 2010 during his first year at Queen’s University.

    “Writ large, the system is not tracking that stuff and you can’t function in a system properly without data, that’s for absolute certain,” said Windeler, who sits on the provincial government’s Mental Health and Addictions Leadership Advisory Council and co-founded with Jack’s mother the youth mental health organization Jack.org.

    Focusing on suicide data alone, though, misses the bigger picture of mental health challenges on campus, Windeler added.

    “You have to look at the whole mental health piece not just suicide to understand the amount of struggle that’s going on there,” he said.

    “Suicide is kind of the tip of the iceberg. A school can go a whole year with zero suicides... but that doesn’t mean that 20 per cent of the population at that school isn’t struggling at a level that is affecting their day-to-day life.”

    Andrea Graham wants to see universities’ approach to mental health change. She has called for more convenient and proactive access to mental health services for students who may feel isolated at school. She has expressed great frustration with what she said was Waterloo’s lack of communication with her family. She wants schools to do a better job of responding after a student has died by suicide, to ensure that other students are coping.

    But tracking of student suicides is needed if we want to understand the scope of the problem, Andrea Graham said.

    “I just hope some things change,” she added. “I just dread the day that I hear of something else happening.”


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    After six years of trying to have a baby, Daren Herbert and his wife were stunned to discover he was the reason they were having difficulty.

    He and Joanne were in their late 30s and both had suspected the issue was with her. But it turned out that his “catastrophically low levels of sperm” were the problem.

    “(I was) afraid, shocked, surprised and feeling guilty because all that time we had assumed it was something to do with her,” recalls the Toronto actor. “I remember thinking, ‘Is it something I did through the course of my life that made my numbers drop so drastically? Or have they always been low?’ ”

    A growing number of men are asking such questions as they grapple with fertility issues.

    For Herbert, 41, and Joanne, 40, the journey to parenthood culminated happily in May with the birth of daughter Ori, after they underwent two cycles of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). But across Canada about 16 per cent of couples struggle with infertility — a figure that has doubled since the 1980s.

    Men are solely responsible for infertility in about 30 per cent of those cases, and contribute to half the cases overall, according to . Factors affecting male fertility include genetics, a history of sexually transmitted infections, and environmental and lifestyle influences, such as exposure to pesticides, chemicals and smoking, excessive alcohol and stress.

    It’s an issue that doesn’t get as much attention as female infertility — in part because women see doctors more regularly than men and are conscious of their biological clock. But a man’s age also affects sperm quality and count. Some do become fathers later in life — former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, artist Pablo Picasso, rocker Mick Jagger — but they’re the exception.

    Acomprehensive study published this summer shows sperm counts of Western men dropped by more than 50 per cent in less than four decades. Sperm count is the best measure of male fertility. Researchers from Hebrew University of Jerusalem looked at data from 185 studies of almost 43,000 men done between 1973 and 2011. They found a 52. 4 per cent decline in sperm concentration and a 59.3 per cent decline in total sperm count in men from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. There was no significant decline in counts in men from South America, Asia and Africa, where fewer studies have been done.

    “(Infertility) can be a very painful thing for a lot of people — and it was for us,” Herbert says. “But our pain was short-lived …. We were very lucky.”

    That’s because couples can go through numerous IVF cycles and never have a baby.

    The meta-analysis didn’t examine the cause for the decline, but the authors say the fact that it’s occurring in the West suggests chemicals used in commercial products play a role. They warn the decline has implications beyond fertility and reproduction, saying it may be a “canary in the coal mine” for male health across the lifespan.

    “In the industrialized world we’re seeing a very definite and clear decline in sperm counts, in quality, even among fertile men, and as the world becomes more toxic, the effect will be greater,” says Dr. Art Leader of The Ottawa Fertility Centre and a board member of Conceivable Dreams, an Ontario-based infertility patient advocacy group.

    “I think as well as The Handmaid’s Tale we’re going to have a sequel to it called The Manservant’s Tale.”

    Although men can’t change the burden of global pollution there are things they can do to optimize fertility, says the professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine at the University of Ottawa.

    He suggests minimizing alcohol, smoking and exposure to smoke, increasing exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, eating organic foods, taking an adequate dose of Vitamin D and not using anabolic steroids. And be mindful of endocrine disruptors, which are chemicals found in everyday products that interfere with the body’s naturally occurring hormones. Examples include bisphenol A (BPA), dioxins, phthalates and fire retardants.

    Even medications used by men to stop hair loss — finasteride and minoxidil — have been shown to lower sperm counts. But once men stop taking these drugs, sperm counts bounce back.

    Men should also be wary of reproductive hazards on the job, says Leader. For instance, bakers and chefs who work in hot places; mechanics and industrial workers who handle the metal degreaser Trichloroethylene (TCE), and farmers who work with herbicides and pesticides may be at risk.

    If someone is really concerned, they can freeze their sperm before age 40, says Leader, noting: “Men have a best-before date of 40.”

    For Herbert, learning in 2014 that he had a low sperm count was a difficult blow. The normal range is 15 million to 200 million sperm per millilitre of semen — he had about one million.

    But infertility wasn’t something he felt comfortable talking about with his buddies.

    “There is a taboo attached,” he says. “What’s the stigma? That you’re shooting blanks. It just doesn’t feel manly. This is the one thing that should be easy for us to do.

    “We go through so much of our life trying not to get somebody pregnant ... And then you get to this stage and it’s like, ‘What? I need help? It’s not working? I don’t have enough?’ ”

    In hindsight, Herbert says, it would have been “a lot more helpful for me to talk about it.” But he didn’t, except with his wife, who happens to be a psychotherapist.

    Jan Silverman, a fertility counsellor who also works at Create Fertility Centre in Toronto, says men don’t easily open up about infertility. But when given the chance they will.

    “We get all kinds of guys coming out with sperm issues,” says Silverman, who runs an infertility support group. “Wives will say ‘Oh, he’ll never talk.’ And you get them in the room, with a couple of other guys there, and before you know it they are talking.”

    Often what surfaces are feelings of shame, embarrassment and sexual inadequacy. And there’s guilt because even though they’re infertile, it’s their female partners who undergo the invasive and uncomfortable fertility treatments.“I’ll never forget having this huge police officer — a six-foot-five, big, burly guy — who found he had a sperm count of zero. He sat in my office weeping, asking ‘Me?’

    “That was so poignant and telling because you never know. That’s the interesting thing about sperm. Just because you ejaculate you don’t know what’s in there. So for men, there is such a sense of shock.”

    Even popular culture is tackling the topic. Recently on the HBO hit Ballers, the main character Spencer Strasmore, a retired football player portrayed by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, is worried he may not have swimmers and seeks a referral to a fertility specialist. It’s still unclear how that storyline will unfold because moments before he goes into a collection room to ejaculate, he gets called away for work.

    Dr. Keith Jarvi, director of the Murray Koffler Urologic Wellness Centre and Head of Urology at the Mount Sinai Hospital, says a sperm test should be the first thing a couple undergoes as part of fertility testing.

    “It’s not any statement about your manhood,” says Jarvi, who heads the biggest centre in Canada for male infertility. “The frequency with having a lower sperm count is not uncommon.”

    The test checks to see if there is sperm, how much of it there is, how it moves and if it appears healthy and normal. The test is covered by OHIP, relatively easy to do and may spare the female partner from undergoing treatments.

    “Guys are often ignored,” says Jarvi. “But if you ignore the guy you might not find a fertility problem that could be fixed.”

    Sometimes the fix is simple. Avoiding regular exposure to heat, such as hot baths and saunas, wearing looser underwear and keeping the genital area cool have all been shown to help.

    “There’s a whole series of new techniques and new treatments that we can now offer men that we couldn’t offer them 15 years ago,” he says. “We’re now taking on more and more patients who we thought before had no hope.”

    For the Herberts, fertility doctors suggested a type of IVF called Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection, which is commonly used to treat severe male factor infertility. It’s a laboratory process involving eggs extracted from the female, and semen retrieved from the man. An embryologist takes a single healthy sperm and injects it into the egg to create an embryo that is then transferred to the uterus.

    Herbert and his wife also made lifestyle changes. He started taking vitamins, improved his diet, stopped doing hot yoga, started acupuncture and eliminated soaps, shampoos, deodorants, toothpaste and household products with potentially harmful chemicals.

    In total, they spent about $30,000 during that first IVF attempt.

    “Once we said, ‘We’re going for this,’ then we were all in,” says Herbert.

    But it wasn’t enough. In November 2015 they were devastated to learn that first cycle of IVF didn’t work. They tried again in 2016. By then the Ontario Fertility Program was up and running and they were eligible for provincial funding, which cut their costs by half. The procedure is covered, but not the drugs. Conceivable Dreams, where Herbert is a patient, is trying to persuade insurance companies to add the drug cost to their standard plans.

    About 8,200 patients have received government funded IVF treatments since it was introduced in December 2015, says the health ministry. There is a database tracking how many funded IVF cycles are the result of male infertility, but the figures are not yet available.

    Doctors warned that IVF was a crap shoot, but the Herberts hit the jackpot on their second attempt.

    “If it had been unsuccessful, I would’ve spent the rest of my life having to carry that: We spent our lives childless because of me. That’s pretty intense.”

    But then Ori came along. Herbert now looks forward to a life filled with discovering the joys of fatherhood: Playing with her, teaching her to walk, speaking with her.

    “She’s like a book that I’m anxious to read.”

    Protecting your Sperm

    • Clean your house: Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter, mop the floors and clean with a damp cloth to reduce fertility-impairing chemicals that may be in the dust, such as flame-retardants, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and phthalates. Particles may come from household products, construction materials in older homes and the outdoors.

    • Avoid plastic containers and metal cans: Plastic containers may have phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA), which can leach into food or water. Opt for glass kitchenware and glass jars. Metal canned foods are often lined with BPA, so cut back and opt for fresh ingredients.

    • Check labels on body care products: Many contain phthalates, a class of toxic chemicals that aren’t usually listed but can lurk under non-specific ingredient fragrance. Read the labels and avoid lead acetate, phthalates and any product with the generic word fragrance.

    • Shop organic: Studies have found elevated rates of infertility among farm workers and agricultural communities exposed to high amounts of pesticides. Buy organic food as much as possible.

    • Be aware of cellphone radiation: Some studies suggest cellphone radiation can affect sperm quality. Since levels decline with distance, keep your phone out of the front pocket and away from your genitals.

    Source: Environmental Working Group


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    Environment Canada is investigating reports of two tornadoes that may have touched down in southwestern Ontario during dramatic thunderstorms yesterday evening.

    Residents in the area of Leamington and Hawkesville took to social media last night just after two storms hit to post pictures and testimony of what they witnessed.

    One resident in Leamington caught a photo of their possible tornado that Kuhn called “clear-cut.”

    “In my opinion, that’s going to be a confirmed tornado,” said Rob Kuhn, a severe weather meteorologist with Environment Canada.

    “Public reports come in, and if there’s enough of them and if they look like they bear some weight … we try and send out an investigative team to check it out,” Kuhn said.

    A damage survey team is looking into a tornado that may have touched down in Hawkesville, near Waterloo, Kuhn said, adding that “there is damage in the area: downed power lines and debris in open fields.”

    There was also “structural damage” found in the area, of a “two by four constructed wall that was ripped up and tossed,” possibly a part of a barn, as well as aluminum siding and “some kind of silo.”

    “Something was destroyed,” Kuhn said.

    The damage in the Hawkesville area continued east towards Elmira and possibly stretched south towards the village of Maryhill as well, he said.

    Thunderstorms moved over Leamington at 5:40 p.m., and over Hawkesville at 7:30 p.m. If confirmed, these will be the seventh and eighth tornadoes in Ontario since March, following two tornadoes that touched down in Muskoka only last week.

    Another resident posted a video on Twitter of the funnel cloud in the distance.

    The Leamington tornado is currently called “probable” by the weather agency.

    “There are some reports of damage there to solar panels and a greenhouse,” Kohn confirmed, stating that the Hawkesville reported tornado is the current priority. “The one in Hawkesville may have more damage associated with it than Leamington.”

    Environment Canada put out a severe thunderstorm watch just after 1 p.m. on Friday for the Waterloo-Wellington area, which was upgraded to a warning at 6:51 p.m. The severe thunderstorm warning included a mention of a possible “isolated, brief tornado” touching down, forty minutes before that warning turned into an official tornado warning at 7:30 p.m.

    Waterloo Regional Police confirmed that they got a call at 7:36 p.m. for a possible tornado passing through, and said there were no injuries.

    “Any severe thunderstorm can produce a tornado without warning,” Kuhn said.

    Although they don’t know yet how powerful the potential tornadoes could have been, Kuhn said that the current damage assessment indicated that there were likely winds gusts within the thunderstorm of at least 90 km/h.

    The two tornadoes didn’t spring from the same thunderstorm, but from the same cold front, Kuhn said. The outer regions of the GTA also felt the pressure from this storm system, with several severe thunderstorm watches announced around 8 p.m. last night.

    Kuhn was driving home to Kitchener into the same thunderstorm that affected Hawkesville yesterday evening, and said it had “one heck of a lot of lightning.”

    The constant lightning lasted for around half an hour, he says, but storms continued in the area until “at least 11 p.m.”

    “When you were outside, you could see it to the north, and it was just non-stop rumbling. It just kept going, it’s really quite amazing.”

    At home, his dog did not appreciate the spectacle: “when there’s continuous thunder, (he) just sits there and barks at it.”


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    NAIROBI, KENYA—In an escalation of Kenya’s deadly election violence, police on Saturday fired live ammunition at rioters and used tear gas on vehicles carrying opposition officials trying to enter a Nairobi slum where they have strong support. A young girl was killed by a stray bullet, nine bodies with gunshot wounds were brought overnight to the capital’s main morgue, and a watchdog group said police gunfire has killed 24 people since Tuesday’s disputed vote.

    The chaos in the Nairobi slums of Mathare and Kibera, as well as in the opposition stronghold of Kisumu city, contrasted with widespread calm — and celebrations in some areas — in the country of 45 million after Kenya’s election commission said late Friday that President Uhuru Kenyatta won a second term. Protests, often violent, began soon after voting when Kenyatta’s main challenger, Raila Odinga, alleged vote-rigging.

    The government said life was returning to normal and that those challenging security forces were criminals intent on looting and destroying property. However, the police came under scrutiny for what the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, which monitors government institutions, described as the “unlawful and unacceptable” use of excessive force.

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    Seventeen of the two dozen people shot by police died in Nairobi, the commission said. It cited allegations of police breaking into homes, beating people, threatening them with rape and demanding money. The watchdog group also lamented “the destruction of private property by both civilians and allegedly by security personnel in the course of their duty.”

    Police shot and killed two people during riots by opposition supporters on the outskirts of Kisumu, a regional police commander, Leonard Katana, said Saturday. Another five people were injured by gunfire in Kisumu, Katana said.

    In Mathare, where Odinga has significant support, police opened fire to disperse protesters who blocked roads and set up burning barricades. Associated Press photographers saw police charging demonstrators and firing live rounds and tear gas.

    One Mathare resident, Wycliff Mokaya, told The Associated Press that his 9-year-old daughter was killed by a stray bullet while on the third-floor balcony of their home.

    “I was watching her play with her friends when she suddenly fell down,” Mokaya said. “She was my only hope.”

    Nine bodies with gunshot wounds were brought to the Nairobi morgue from Mathare, a mortuary official said Saturday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

    An Associated Press photographer said police used tear gas on a large opposition convoy trying to enter the Kibera slum. Police also fired shots in the air.

    Police harassed and assaulted at least four journalists covering the violence, witnesses said.

    The unrest followed a victory speech Friday in which Kenyatta, whose father was Kenya’s first president after independence from British colonial rule, said he was extending a “hand of friendship” to the opposition.

    Kenyatta won with a decisive 54 per cent of the vote to nearly 45 per cent for Odinga, but the bitter dispute over the integrity of the election process tempered what many Kenyans had hoped would be a celebration of democracy in a regional power known for its economic promise and long-term stability. The opposition said the election commission’s database had been hacked and results were manipulated against Odinga.

    The unrest also exposed divisions in a society where poverty and government corruption have angered large numbers of Kenyans, including those who have been protesting in the slums and see Odinga as a voice for their grievances.

    Adding to the rift is ethnic loyalty. Kenyatta is widely seen as the representative of the Kikuyu people, the country’s largest ethnic group, while Odinga is associated with the Luo group, which has never produced a head of state.

    But reconciliation efforts and the introduction of a progressive constitution in 2010 have helped to defuse fears of the kind of ethnic-fueled violence that followed the 2007 election in which more than 1,000 people were killed. Odinga ran unsuccessfully in that election; he also lost the 2013 vote to Kenyatta and took allegations of vote-tampering to Kenya’s highest court, which rejected his case.

    Recalling its failed legal challenge in 2013, the opposition has said it will not go to court again. It has not directly urged supporters to stage protests, instead telling them to stay safe.


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    SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA—Chinese President Xi Jinping made a plea for cool-headedness over escalating tensions between the U.S. and North Korea in a phone conversation with U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday, urging both sides to avoid words or actions that could worsen the situation.

    The call came after Trump unleashed a slew of fresh threats against North Korea on Friday, declaring the U.S. military “locked and loaded” and warning North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that he “will regret it fast” if he takes any action against U.S. territories or allies.

    Trump has pushed China to pressure North Korea to halt a nuclear weapons program that is nearing the capability of targeting the United States. China is the North’s biggest economic partner and source of aid, but says it alone can’t compel Pyongyang to end its nuclear and missile programs.

    Read the latest news on U.S. President Donald Trump

    The White House said in a statement that Trump and Xi “agreed North Korea must stop its provocative and escalatory behaviour.” It also said that the two “reiterated their mutual commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

    State-run China Central Television quoted Xi as telling Trump the “relevant parties must maintain restraint and avoid words and deeds that would exacerbate the tension on the Korean Peninsula.”

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    But restraint was not the word of the day on Friday as Trump sent out a cascade of unscripted statements, including what appeared to be another red line — the mere utterance of threats — that would trigger a U.S. attack against North Korea and “big, big trouble” for Kim.

    North Korea’s Minju Joson newspaper, meanwhile, lashed back at the U.S. in an editorial Saturday.

    “The powerful revolutionary Paektusan army of the DPRK, capable of fighting any war the U.S. wants, is now on the standby to launch fire into its mainland, waiting for an order of final attack,” it said. DPRK stands for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

    The tough talk capped a week in which long-standing tensions between the countries risked abruptly boiling over.

    New United Nations sanctions condemning the North’s rapidly developing nuclear program drew fresh ire and threats from Pyongyang. Trump, responding to a report that U.S. intelligence indicates Pyongyang can now put a nuclear warhead on its long-range missiles, vowed to rain down “fire and fury” if challenged.

    The North then came out with a threat to lob four intermediate-range “Hwasong-12” missiles near Guam, a tiny U.S. territory some 3,200 kilometres from Pyongyang.

    At the epicentre of the rhetoric, Trump’s New Jersey golf course, the president seemed to put Kim on notice, saying, “If he utters one threat in the form of an overt threat — which by the way he has been uttering for years and his family has been uttering for years — or he does anything with respect to Guam or anyplace else that’s an American territory or an American ally, he will truly regret it and he will regret it fast.”

    Asked if the U.S. was going to war, he said cryptically, “I think you know the answer to that.”

    But Trump’s comments did not appear to be backed by significant military mobilization on either side of the Pacific, and an important, quiet diplomatic channel remained open. As a precaution, Japan deployed missile defence batteries under the path a North Korean missile might take.

    Life on the streets of the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, also remained calm.

    There have been no air raid drills or cars in camouflage netting as has been the case during previous crises. State-run media ensures that the population gets the North Korean side of the story, but doesn’t convey any sense of international concern about the situation.

    U.S. officials say they will be going ahead with long-scheduled military exercises with South Korea. Pyongyang says it will be ready to send its missile launch plan to Kim for approval just before or as the drills begin.

    Called Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, the exercises are expected to run Aug. 21-31 and involve tens of thousands of American and South Korean troops on the ground and in the sea and air. North Korea claims the exercises are a rehearsal for war, but Washington and Seoul say they are necessary to deter North Korean aggression.

    Trump began his Friday barrage with an especially fiery tweet: “Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!”

    He later retweeted a posting from U.S. Pacific Command that showed B-1B Lancer bomber planes on Guam that “stand ready to fulfil USFK’s #FightTonight mission if called upon to do so.” “Fight tonight” has long been the motto of U.S. forces in South Korea to show they’re always ready for combat on the Korean Peninsula.

    Trump also brushed away calls for caution from other world leaders, including Germany’s Angela Merkel.

    “I don’t see a military solution and I don’t think it’s called for,” Merkel said Friday, calling on the UN Security Council to continue to address the crisis.

    “I think escalating the rhetoric is the wrong answer,” Merkel added.

    “Let her speak for Germany,” Trump said, when asked about the comment. “Perhaps she is referring to Germany. She’s certainly not referring to the United States, that I can tell you.”

    By evening, he seemed to have mellowed a bit.

    “Hopefully it’ll all work out,” Trump said. “Nobody loves a peaceful solution better than President Trump.”

    Speaking to Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo, he promised: “You are safe. We are with you a thousand per cent.”


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    The lawyer for a Canadian man accused in a massive hack of Yahoo emails says his client will bypass the extradition hearing and go directly to the United States to face the charges.

    The hearing for Karim Baratov, 22, was scheduled for next month.

    Baratov was arrested in Hamilton in March under the Extradition Act after U.S. authorities indicted him and three others — two of them allegedly officers of Russia’s Federal Security Service — for computer hacking, economic espionage and other crimes.

    After several months planning to fight the extradition, his lawyer Amedeo DiCarlo said in June that Baratov was considering bypassing his extradition hearing in an effort to speed up the legal process.

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    DiCarlo has previously said Baratov is getting bored behind bars — where he’s been since his arrest in March — and that he doesn’t want his client to spend more time than necessary in custody if it looks like he could be exonerated or spared incarceration in the U.S.

    He has stressed that waiving the extradition hearing does not mean admitting guilt.


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    Hyeon Soo Lim, a Toronto-area pastor who was detained in North Korea for over two years, is back in the city after catching a connecting flight in Ottawa.

    Lim arrived in Toronto in the late morning Saturday, and is “landed and resting,” according to a press release from his family.

    Lim was detained by North Korean authorities in January 2015 while in the country on a charitable mission. He was later convicted of attempting to subvert the authoritarian regime of Kim Jong Un and sentenced to life in a labour camp.

    North Korea’s Central Court on Wednesday granted Lim “sick bail” on humanitarian grounds.

    It has been reported that Lim was in poor health and had lost a lot of weight.

    Lim was seen in video footage taken Thursday at a U.S. military base in Fussa, Japan, appearing thinner but walking unaided.

    Lim is expected to attend a Sunday service at his church, the Light Presbyterian Church in Mississauga, which had fought and prayed for his release.

    With files from Mary Ormsby


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