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- 08/17/17--14:19: Help on way for ailing miners exposed to 'miracle' dust
- 08/17/17--16:35: Wrigley changed, but Blue Jays’ challenge remains the same: Griffin
- 08/17/17--13:26: P.E.I. police arrest 9 men tied to Woodbridge Hells Angels chapter
- 08/17/17--16:06: To stand, or not to stand. That is the question
- 08/18/17--14:15: How best to spend $50 at the CNE
- 08/18/17--11:12: CNE beefs up security in wake of Barcelona attack
- 08/18/17--06:30: Donald Trump marches to war — in his own country: Burman
- 08/18/17--09:54: Steve Bannon fired as White House chief strategist
GORAKHPUR, INDIA—It was around 6 a.m. last Friday, said Mohamed Jahid — the father of a very sick little girl being treated at a government hospital — when the oxygen stopped. The situation was desperate, but the parents of children in the intensive care unit did not panic, because they had no idea what was going on.
Most were villagers like Mr. Jahid, who said they all thought it was normal procedure when the nurses unhooked the ventilators that had been helping keep their children alive, handed out small plastic hand-operated resuscitators and quickly showed the parents how to use them.
With his daughter gasping for air, Mr. Jahid got right to work.
“I pumped and pumped,” he said. He looked around the ward. All the parents were pumping and pumping. Unbeknown to them, the hospital’s supplies of oxygen had been steadily dwindling, after the supplier cut off shipments of liquid oxygen for lack of payment. On Friday, despite repeated warnings from the supplier and hospital technicians, the oxygen ran out.
By the time the flow was stabilized, more than 60 children had died. Many were sick with Japanese encephalitis and other tropical diseases and may have died from other causes, but doctors admitted that the oxygen interruption is likely to have claimed at least several lives.
The children’s deaths have become a national outrage, headlining front pages of all the major newspapers and marring celebrations this week of India’s 70th anniversary of independence.
The government hospital, part of the larger Baba Raghav Das Medical College in Gorakhpur, was considered the area’s best, a beacon to millions of people. It is now a symbol of India’s swamped, mismanaged and often corrupt public health care system. As this episode underscored, the system is so enormous and has so many people moving through it that mistakes are often not corrected until many lives are lost.
The medical college is a monument to that sense of scale. It is a hulking, sprawling network of buildings with nearly 1,000 beds and 3-metre-wide corridors a city block long. With such a deluge of patients, some coming from hundreds of miles away, doctors sometimes work 36-hour double shifts with just a six-hour break, and children are crammed two or three to a bed. Families are camped out everywhere, their bedrolls, blankets, water jugs and round steel food tins clogging the hallways.
The case has cast a glare on the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in no small part because Gorakhpur is the home turf of one of Mr. Modi’s most contentious allies, Yogi Adityanath. A divisive politician and Hindu ascetic, Adityanath recently became chief minister of India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, which, at 200 million, has more people than all but a handful of the world’s nations.
The state government’s initial response to the oxygen fiasco was to imply that it was perfectly normal for 10 children to die every day at the Gorakhpur hospital, especially at this time of year, the rainy season, when swarms of mosquitoes spread deadly Japanese encephalitis, a virus that causes brain swelling and seizures.
That explanation was widely criticized as the height of insensitivity. “Who have we become?” asked Pratap Bhanu Mehta, a leading commentator, in a recent column. “In our republic, poor children are fated to die.”
The government response continues to be confused. Adityanath’s administration is adamant that the oxygen problem was not responsible for any deaths, even though no autopsies were performed. At the same time, it has suspended the head of the medical college and called for a full investigation.
Lying just south of the India-Nepal border, Gorakhpur is very lush, especially now, during the monsoon. Some parts of it are beautiful, with dripping banyan trees, brightly painted houses and new shops. There’s even a Domino’s pizza place. But in other areas, stagnant water covers the roads and garbage is stuffed into every nook and cranny — between houses, along riverbanks, heaped up in vacant lots. Entire neighbourhoods seem to be sinking under piles of their own waste.
The town is surrounded by wet green rice fields that during the rainy season are infested with mosquitoes.
Brahamdev Yadav, a rice farmer, had never heard of Japanese encephalitis. But by putting his hand to the foreheads of his newborn twins, he could tell they were sick.
He checked them into the hospital on Aug. 3, around the same time that the hospital’s oxygen supplier was issuing increasingly urgent pleas for payment. In a string of letters to the medical college, the Indian news media reported, the supplier insisted it had its own bills to cover and could not keep delivering liquid oxygen for the hospital’s central oxygen system unless a $100,000 bill was settled.
In India, public officials often squeeze their vendors for “commissions.” It is widely acknowledged that even after public contracts are awarded, vendors have to grovel for payment, and that the best way to lubricate the bureaucracy is to give the officials in charge a 2 to 5 per cent cut. When asked whom they blamed for the tragedy, several parents of children who died in the oxygen shortage said simply, “corruption.”
The head of the medical college, R.K. Mishra, who has resigned, was already under suspicion for misusing public money, Indian news outlets reported. In this same part of India, millions of dollars have vanished in other public health corruption scandals.
The medical college clearly needs all the funds it can get. While a new Japanese encephalitis wing is state of the art, with its plate glass windows and beeping machines, other parts of the hospital are in chaotic disrepair. Giant holes have been punched in the walls, the wide corridors reek of urine, many lights have burned out and water drips from the ceiling, pooling on the floor.
The hospital is “overburdened 10 times,” said Dr. K. P. Kushwaha, the former head of the medical college.
Doctors said that many Indian hospitals are like this, often with deadly consequences. In 2011, 16 new mothers died at one crowded hospital in Jodhpur before it was discovered that many intravenous fluid bags were contaminated with bacteria. That same year, 22 babies died at another hospital over a four-day period, though the cause remains unclear.
On Thursday night, Mr. Jahid arrived at the medical college with his 5-year-old daughter burning with fever and struggling to breathe. This was just hours after the Gorakhpur Newsline, a website featuring local news, published an article warning that the hospital’s oxygen supply was about to run out.
Mr. Jahid, a jewelry salesman, had not seen that report. Like most others with children at the hospital, he had passed through several smaller facilities before getting there.
“They told me, ‘Take her to the medical college, where there are good doctors and machines, and she’ll be O.K.,’” he recalled. He said the oxygen cut out five times on Friday.
Around this time, Mr. Yadav’s newborn twins died. Both of them had been on ventilators. They were 10 days old, and did not even have names. “I thought about killing myself,” Mr. Yadav said.
As news of the children’s deaths spread, the hospital scrambled to make a partial payment. Liquid oxygen was delivered on Saturday morning and hospital officials insist there was only a two-hour gap between 11:30 p.m. Thursday and 1:30 a.m. Friday without a central oxygen supply.
They say they brought in cylinders of compressed oxygen during the shortage and kept the oxygen flowing to crucial areas, like the intensive care unit. But several parents disputed that, saying the oxygen flow had not been restored until Friday evening, when journalists with video cameras showed up.
Several pediatricians interviewed at the hospital said it would be difficult to pinpoint a cause for each of the more than 60 child deaths last week, but that the oxygen cutoff by itself claimed at least two or three lives.
Mr. Jahid is haunted by thoughts about what he could have done differently. Sitting at home, holding a picture of his daughter, Khushi, he said he had squeezed the manual resuscitator as best he could.
“She was so affectionate,” said her grandfather, Ilahi. “She would bring me tea, she would bring me food, she would bring me water.”
He gazed into the alleyway in front of the family home, seeming to see her out there again, walking toward him, and said softly, “She was like my hand.”
SAN FRANCISCO—When white supremacists plan rallies like the one a few days ago in Charlottesville, Va., they often organize their events on Facebook, pay for supplies with PayPal, book their lodging with Airbnb and ride with Uber. Technology companies, for their part, have been taking pains to distance themselves from these customers.
But sometimes it takes more than automated systems or complaints from other users to identify and block those who promote hate speech or violence, so companies are finding novel ways to spot and shut down content they deem inappropriate or dangerous. People don’t tend to share their views on their Airbnb accounts, for example. But after matching user names to posts on social-media profiles, the company canceled dozens of reservations made by self-identified Nazis who were using its app to find rooms in Charlottesville, where they were heading to protest the removal of a Confederate statue.
At Facebook, which relies on community feedback to flag hateful content for removal, the social network’s private groups meant for like-minded people can be havens for extremists, falling through gaps in the content-moderation system. The company is working quickly to improve its machine-learning capabilities to be able to automatically identify posts that should be reviewed by human moderators.
These more aggressive actions mark a shift in how companies view their responsibilities. Virtually all these services have long maintained rules on how users should behave, but in the past they’d mostly enforce these policies in response to bad behaviour. After the violence in Charlottesville, which resulted in the death of a counter-protester, their approach has become more proactive, in anticipation of future events. While social-media companies have been grappling for years with how to rid their sites of hateful speech and images, the events of the last several days served as a stark reminder of just how real, present and local the threat posed by white supremacists can be.
Uber told drivers they don’t have to pick up racists; PayPal said it has the ability to cancel relationships with sites that promote racial intolerance. Even Discover Financial Services, the credit card company, said this week that it was ending its agreements with hate groups. U.S. civil rights advocacy organization Color of Change said Wednesday that Apple Inc. had also moved to block hate sites from using Apple Pay. Facebook shut down eight group pages that it said violated hate-speech policies, including Right Wing Death Squad and White Nationalists United.
“It’s one thing to say, we do not allow hate groups — it’s another thing to actually go and hunt down the groups, make those decisions, and kick those people off,” said Gerald Kane, a professor of information systems at the Boston College Carroll School of Management. “It’s something most of these companies have avoided intentionally and fervently over the past 10 years.”
Companies historically have steered clear of trying to determine what is good and what is evil, Kane said. But given the increasingly heated public debate in the U.S., they may feel they need to act, he said.
There’s some precedent. Globally, tech firms have been criticized by governments for their role in the spread of Daesh (also known as ISIS or ISIL) ideology, particularly on Facebook and Twitter Inc. Both of the social-media companies have stepped up their efforts to remove extremist content, deleting hundreds of thousands of accounts, as well as group pages on Facebook.
“People have wondered, why are they so focused on Islamic extremism, and not white nationalism or white supremacy in their own backyard?” said Emma Llanso, director of the Center for Democracy & Technology’s Free Expression Project. “Now extremists in the United States are getting swept up in the same policies.”
Tech companies have no legal obligation in the U.S. to respond to calls to censor racist content online. Under the Communications Decency Act of 1996, intermediaries are immunized from most litigation that claims material on their pages is unlawful.
That doesn’t mean these companies aren’t feeling the pressure from advertisers and users who fear that pages belonging to self-proclaimed alt-right publications such as the Daily Stormer could incite violence, said Daphne Keller, director of Intermediary Liability at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society. The Daily Stormer’s web domain support was revoked this week by GoDaddy and then Google, and Twitter suspended several associated accounts. Technology companies are likely to be evaluating their options in consultation with organizations including the Anti-Defamation League before shaping their policy, Keller said.
“What’s pushing them is probably a mix of people being revolted by the content, plus the public and advertising pressure,” said Keller, who is also former associate general counsel at Google. “Everything they’re doing is because they want to, or because of public pressure. But not because of the law.”
In March, Google conceded to giving marketers more control over their online ads after a flurry of brands halted spending in the U.K. amid concerns about offensive content. The company also agreed to expand its definition of hate speech under its advertising policy to include vulnerable racial and socioeconomic groups. The policies marked a sharp turn for Alphabet Inc.’s Google, which had hewed to its position as a neutral content host.
Google along with Twitter and Facebook continue to face increased pressure to amend their user terms to bring them into compliance with European Union law pertaining to illegal content on their websites.
Facebook hired thousands more human moderators this year to try to help it tackle violent content, hate speech and extremism on its platform. Meanwhile, chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg has in the past touted Facebook’s product for groups as a key to improving empathy around the world. But when groups are used to silence others or threaten violence, Facebook will remove them, he said Wednesday.
“With the potential for more rallies, we’re watching the situation closely and will take down threats of physical harm,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page. “We won’t always be perfect, but you have my commitment that we’ll keep working to make Facebook a place where everyone can feel safe.”
Because all the decisions are subjective, it’s going to be important for technology companies to make it clear what standards they’re applying when they’re reacting to public outrage, Llanso said.
“When does extra scrutiny kick in, if there are other standards, or if it’s a special case?” she said. “They have a lot of leeway, but they still have a responsibility to their user base to explain, what are the terms, when is the company going to weigh in with a values-based judgment?”
Cloudflare Inc., a web-security company that has protected the networks of several neo-Nazi sites, including the Daily Stormer, faced criticism in May from ProPublica for doing so, and has been one of the “worst offenders when it comes to protecting white-supremacist propaganda,” said Heidi Beirich, who monitors hate groups for the Southern Poverty Law Center. The company has defended itself by saying service providers shouldn’t be censoring content on the internet. But on Wednesday, Cloudflare decided to end its business with the Daily Stormer, saying it could no longer remain neutral because the neo-Nazi website was claiming the company secretly supported its ideology.
“Maybe even they are waking up to this problem,” Beirich said. “Maybe this is a moment of reckoning and change — and it sure seems serious right now.”
Still, Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince warned that even as he chose to sever ties with the Daily Stormer, the move could set a dangerous precedent.
“After today, make no mistake, it will be a little bit harder for us to argue against a government somewhere pressuring us into taking down a site they don’t like,” Prince wrote.
MANILA, PHILIPPINES—Philippine police killed at least 26 more drug and crime suspects in overnight gun battles in the capital, bringing to 58 the death toll in a renewed bloody crackdown in the last three days that received praises from the president.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte expressed his satisfaction with the new spike in drug killings and reassured law enforcers Thursday they will not rot in jail if they get entangled in lawsuits.
“If the police and the military get into trouble in connection with the performance of duty, you can expect, I really won’t agree for you to be jailed,” Duterte said to applause from police officers.
While he acknowledged it may be tough for him to bring the drug menace under control during the rest of his six-year term, Duterte said the deadly crackdown would continue without let up. He announced rewards of two million pesos ($49,000) for each drug-linked police officer who would be killed.
“You policemen who are into drugs ... the bounty I’m offering for your head is two million. No questions asked. I will not ask who killed you,” Duterte told police officers in southern Ozamiz city. “I want you ... dead.”
Twenty-six drug and crime suspects were killed and more than 100 others arrested across the congested city in overnight police assaults, said Manila police Chief Superintendent Joel Napoleon Coronel. Officials played down suspicions the slain suspects were victims of extrajudicial killings.
The deaths followed the killings of 32 suspects in separate police anti-drug raids Tuesday in Bulacan province north of Manila. The police operations took place under Duterte’s notoriously bloody campaign that has horrified rights groups and sparked a complaint of mass murder against Duterte before the International Criminal Court. The complaint is pending.
Police records show that since the nationwide crackdown started, more than 3,200 alleged drug offenders have been killed in gun battles with law enforcers. More than 2,000 others died in drug-related killings, including attacks by motorcycle-riding masked gunmen and other assaults.
Human rights groups report a higher toll and demand an independent investigation into Duterte’s possible role in the violence.
On Thursday, Duterte travelled under heavy security to congratulate officers in Ozamiz, where police fatally shot 15 people, including the city mayor, Reynaldo Parojinog Sr., who was among the politicians Duterte publicly linked to illegal drugs last year.
Parojinog’s wife and followers were killed in the July 30 fight that police said erupted when the mayor’s men opened fire as they approached to search their houses. The mayor’s daughter, who is the vice mayor, and several others were arrested. The Parojinogs have long denied allegations of their involvement in illegal drugs and firearms trade and keeping armed followers.
The involvement of politicians, even judges and police, in illegal drugs underscores how the problem has spiralled out of control, Duterte said. “Are we or are we not a narcotic country? Yes we are,” he said.
Duterte also expressed disgust over an unfolding scandal when a huge amount of illegal drugs shipped from China slipped past the country’s ports. Senators are investigating officials of the Bureau of Customs, who Duterte has described as “corrupt to the core.”
“So how can I finish it?” Duterte asked, referring to the drug problem and adding that even the U.S. couldn’t eradicate illegal drugs. “If America can’t do it, much more the Philippines now.”
The province’s worker compensation board has rescinded a decades-old policy that prevented Ontario miners from claiming for neurological diseases they believe were caused by years of exposure to toxic aluminum dust.
The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board will also commission an independent study to assess the development of neurological conditions resulting from exposure to the aluminum-based McIntyre powder, which was used extensively in the province’s northern mines between 1943 and 1980.
As previously reported by the Star, miners were routinely forced to inhale the powder, which was sold as a miracle antidote to lung disease. Historical documents suggest it was created by industry-sponsored Canadian scientists bent on slashing compensation costs in gold and uranium mines across the north.
“When a loved one becomes sick or gets hurt, it’s natural to ask why. We ask that question too, and we won’t leave any stone unturned until we are satisfied we have an answer based on evidence,” said Scott Bujeya, vice-president (health services) for the WSIB, which made the announcement Thursday.
About 10,000 workers were forced to inhale dust, which was blasted into a sealed room before miners were sent underground. Some have since claimed they were treated as “guinea pigs” in a human experiment aimed at cutting company costs. Until now, potential victims were unable to make successful claims at the WSIB because of a policy formed in 1993 that said insufficient evidence existed linking aluminum exposure to neurological disease.
“I’m glad some things are happening and moving forward,” said Janice Martell, who began advocating for workers two years ago after her own father, a former miner exposed to the dust, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. He died from the disease in May.
“The time that it’s taken for this is frustrating because so many of the workers are dying. My dad is the most recent one that I’m aware of.”
In 2016, the WSIB commissioned an independent health consultancy to research existing science on aluminum powder. The review, published Thursday, did not find a link between aluminum exposure and the development of “adverse health conditions in general,” the board said.
But as a result of the research compiled by Martell, the board has now engaged experts from the Toronto-based Occupational Cancer Research Centre (OCRC) to conduct a new study to investigate any connection between exposure to McIntyre powder and neurological disease.
Minister of Labour Kevin Flynn said he was encouraged by the WSIB’s announcement.
“Exposure to hazardous substances is a major cause of occupational illness. That’s why it is important to me, and everyone at the Ministry of Labour, that occupational diseases be treated with the same seriousness as traumatic injuries,” he said.
Of the 397 former miners who contacted Martell, around one-third suffered from a neurological disorder — and she says 14 have developed amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a degenerative and incurable condition, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, that slowly kills the ability to swallow, speak and breathe.
In Ontario, the prevalence of motor neuron disease, which includes ALS, is estimated at less than one in a thousand people.
Research conducted in the United Kingdom found “strong evidence” linking aluminum to Alzheimer’s when absorbed into the blood stream.
There are 53 pending WSIB claims for illnesses attributed to McIntyre Powder exposure. Because the 1993 policy is now revoked, the board says it will reach out to claimants to discuss next steps, including an option to have interim decisions made based on existing scientific evidence.
That evidence is still evolving. The OCRC study will not be complete until 2019, and McMaster University has also launched a project to test aluminum levels in surviving miners’ bodies using a non-invasive technique called neutron activation analysis.
Martell says more money is needed to help workers navigate the health care and compensation systems, including compiling evidence to help workers make claims. That effort is being spearheaded by Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers, which is still waiting for its funding proposal to be approved by the Ministry of Labour.
“I’m certainly hoping that funding comes through very soon,” Martell said.
“I think occupational disease is such an invisible disease. People die at home, they die in nursing homes and hostels. They may not even realize that what they were exposed to is what’s killing them,” she added.
“I wanted to put a name and face to it. It’s brutal and ugly and people need to see that.”
ATLANTA—The U.S. Department of Justice says a Canadian man has been charged after allegedly flying to Atlanta in an attempt to have sex with a 13-year-old Georgia girl he met on the internet.
Officials say the 53-year-old Ontario man has been arraigned on federal charges of using the internet to entice a child for sexual activity and enticing the girl to engage in sexually explicit conduct over the internet.
Prosecutors allege Yves Joseph Legault met a Marietta, Ga., girl on Omegle, a free and anonymous online text and video chat tool, in July.
After moving to another site, it’s alleged he asked the teen to perform sexual acts on live video-streaming for him and eventually arranged to travel to Atlanta in order to have sex with her.
Legault was arrested on Aug. 11 after flying from Toronto to Atlanta and was indicted by a federal grand jury on Tuesday.
Prosecutors say the girl’s mother had alerted the FBI to the alleged relationship after she intercepted a package sent her daughter from Canada.
“Cases like this one demonstrate the continued importance for parents to engage with their kids about their activities on the internet, including the apps they are using to chat and the people with whom they are chatting,” U.S. Attorney John Horn said in a release.
The FBI said Ontario Provincial Police, York regional police and Canada Border Services Agency assisted in the investigation.
“The investigation, arrest, and resulting federal charges involving Mr. Legault, a Canadian national, is an example of the great partnership and responsiveness of Canadian law enforcement authorities in helping the FBI carry out this mission,” said David J. LeValley, the special agent in charge of the investigation.
CHICAGO—The results of this weekend’s three-game series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field will not make or break the Blue Jays’ chances of remaining a peripheral wild-card hopeful into September. However in facing the World Series champs, the results — good or bad — will surely have an effect on the Jays’ collective psyche.
The Cubs are reigning champions and though they are struggling to repeat, there is a certain aura about meeting the champs in their own building. Recall the seven games the Jays have played against the class of the American League this year, the Houston Astros. Despite scrambling and scraping to a 3-4 record, the Jays were outscored 63-34 in the seven games, spanked soundly three times and looking outclassed.
The Cubs’ pitching matchups and the intimidating Wrigley experience are hinting at a mismatch in favour of the home team. Jake Arrieta, Jose Quintana and Kyle Hendricks against J.A. Happ, Nick Tepesch and Marco Estrada.
American poet laureate Carl Sandburg labelled it “the city of the big shoulders,” and for 108 years the biggest burden this great city had to bear on its shoulders was that, despite the most loyal fan base in North American sports, the beloved MLB team on the North Side of town had been without a World Series win since 1908. Blame day games, blame the goat, blame Bartman. At last, the Cubs became World Series champs. But success has changed perception.
Cubs fans used to be fatalistically lovable losers: playing nothing but day baseball at Wrigley Field, cheering for Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Hack Wilson, Fergie Jenkins, Ryne Sandberg and others. The late hall of fame broadcaster Harry Caray would lead the fans in a heartfelt “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” for every seventh-inning stretch. With Caray long gone, celebrity guests now lead the seventh-inning singalong, while usually trying to promote one thing or another.
Now they have a president, Theo Epstein, who has been labelled the greatest leader in the world by Fortune magazine. Epstein ranked two spots ahead of the Pope, for God’s sake. The Cubs and their fans are no longer losers and they are no longer lovable. With a World Series title under their broad belts, there is a large dollop of smugness and arrogance that has crept into the mix.
Smug? They even forgave Steve Bartman for his unforgiveable faux pas. In Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS, the fan wearing earphones and a glove spoiled what would have been one of the greatest catches in playoff history by Cubs left fielder Moises Alou. The former Expos star leaped and reached over the short brick wall down the left-field line, with a World Series berth within easy reach. Bartman reached out and knocked the ball away.
The Cubs lost Game 6 and Game 7 with their two best starting pitchers working. The Marlins snuck through the Cubs’ debris on the way to beating the Yankees in the World Series and Bartman became a pariah in the Windy City, going into seclusion until Cubs ownership recently reached out with the offer of a ring. Fourteen years after the fact, he’s got a championship ring — but he’s still Bartman.
Wrigley Field opened in 1914, two years after the Titanic sunk and two years after the opening of Fenway Park and Tiger Stadium. Tiger Stadium has been replaced, but Fenway and Wrigley remain. Blue Jays players who have never been to Wrigley Field will sense a lot of the same atmosphere, the same pros and the same cons, as the iconic Boston ballpark.
Making one’s way down to the field from the elevated visitors’ clubhouse at Wrigley, up through the cracked concrete tunnel and out into the sunlight becomes an emotional experience for any true baseball fan. It’s basically the same trek that has been taken by all the legends of the National League for the past 103 years.
As for visiting players, the act of settling into the batter’s box, toeing the rubber or looking out and seeing the team banners fluttering in the breeze atop the scoreboard — letting you know the standings and the wind direction, and whether to expect a pitchers’ duel or a slugfest — is an experience few others can match.
But the expectation is that the Wrigley Field we’ll see on Friday for the opener of the Jays series will bear little resemblance, in terms of fan experience, to the Wrigley Field I saw from 1973-94 and 2003-05, when the Jays last paid a visit.
One of the great fan aspects back then was the bullpens situated on the field of play down each foul line, set apart from the small dugouts — with pitchers having to warm up with a spotter for protection, sitting on straight wooden benches and in constant conversation with the fans in the first few rows. Most relief pitchers found that aspect ultra-charming and a welcome dose of reality.
Now, the bullpens are tucked under the stands — away from real weather, away from the fans, with expensive seats replacing the old ’pen areas. Cubs ownership claims they tried to maintain the tradition and feel of old Wrigley Field, but not really. Money has changed. The field has changed. The fans have changed.
But the truth is that for any Jays fans looking for a lasting road experience, this Wrigley Field weekend is the trip of the year.
CHARLOTTETOWN—Nine men affiliated with a Toronto-area Hells Angels chapter have been arrested by a new police task force targeting P.E.I.’s growing outlaw motorcycle gang presence.
Police say the nine — reportedly aged 19 to 63 — are “hangarounds” with the Hells Angels in Woodbridge, Ont.
They face charges relating to involvement in a criminal organization as well as lottery and gaming counts.
They were arrested early Thursday by the P.E.I. Organized Crime Task Force — a joint group including municipal forces and the RCMP.
Members affiliated with the Hells Angels chapter set up shop on Prince Edward Island last December.
The Angels were without a beachhead in the Maritimes since police disbanded the former Halifax chapter in 2001.
But the gang has begun to reassert itself, strengthening its presence mainly through affiliate or so called “puppet clubs” in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and P.E.I.
If you tend to do a lot of standing at work, you may want to be sitting down to read this.
A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that workers who primarily stand on the job are twice as likely to have heart disease than workers who mainly sit.
That puts them more at risk of getting heart disease than smokers, said Peter Smith, a scientist from the Institute for Work and Health (IWH) and lead author of the study.
The study, by researchers at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and the IWH, followed 7,300 heart disease-free Ontario workers for 12 years, from 2003 to 2015, to compare their standing/sitting work habits with whether they developed heart disease.
The workers were respondents to the 2003 Canadian Community Health Survey, which collected a range of information on them from their work conditions and job title to their health and health behaviour.
In total, 3.4 per cent of workers developed heart disease. Of that, 6.6 per cent of workers who mainly stood — in jobs that ranged from cashiers to chefs and from nurses to bank tellers — and 2.8 per cent of those who mostly sat at work developed heart disease.
The risk of heart disease remained the same even after adjusting for factors like age, education, health conditions and ethnicity.
“There are a couple of different mechanisms by which prolonged standing can increase your risk of heart disease,” Smith said.
“One of them is by blood pooling in your legs and the other is by increased venous pressure in your body by trying to pump that blood back up to your heart and that increases oxidative stress.”
The results may come as a surprise to many after earlier studies found prolonged sitting can raise the risk of dying.
Smith acknowledged being sedentary is bad for health, but said not enough attention has been given to too much standing.
Hilary Poirier, a customer service agent at WestJet in Halifax, spends most of the workday on her feet.
“We don’t really sit down very frequently at all because we’re always out on the floor,” she said. Though she said she has “the best job ever,” all the standing puts a toll on her body: feet, back, hips, legs, everything.
The results came as a surprise to her.
“For something like heart issues I wasn’t imagining that because usually you’re on your feet you’re being healthy,” she said.
Karen Messing, an ergonomics expert and professor emeritus at the Université du Québec à Montréal, called the study “an important contribution.”
The volume of participants is both one of its strengths and its weaknesses though, she said that because of the size, it’s hard to know exactly what people’s working posture is.
“Control over your working posture is a really important variable that is really hard to study, so there’s a lot of complexity in the area of working postures and health,” she said.
“For example, when you talk about standing, would you say a hockey player stands at work? And what’s the difference between a hockey player standing at work and a supermarket cashier standing at work?” she asked.
“If you think about all the work we do across Canada to prevent people being exposed to smoke at work, I think one of the things we need to ask ourselves is how much are we doing to prevent people being exposed to prolonged standing,” Smith said.
That means increasing the perception that standing for long periods of time is actually a health hazard and giving people opportunities to sit at work, by providing chairs or stools they can use if they get tired.
WASHINGTON—In the morning, Donald Trump echoed the vocabulary of white supremacists. In the afternoon, he endorsed a fictional war crime against Muslims.
Trump’s allies have urged him to talk about jobs and tax reform. Instead, the president of the United States has decided to vigorously embrace the racial and religious animus that was central to his campaign success but has alienated and alarmed much of the country and the world.
His words in 2016 were extraordinary for a major-party candidate, and his words on Thursday were doubly shocking from a president. He triggered the latest round of outrage, moreover, as he was already six days into a self-created crisis over his beliefs about race.
“The president has options here,” Kevin Madden, former top spokesperson for Republican candidate Mitt Romney, said in an email. “One option is to allow his administration to become consumed by these controversies, the other is to refocus the message on the economic agenda, one rooted in jobs and growth. That first option is just not a viable one.”
On Thursday afternoon, Trump issued a relatively conventional condolence tweet in response to the Barcelona terrorist attack that has been claimed by Daesh (also known as the Islamic State). But 45 minutes later, he returned to anti-Muslim bigotry — asking people to research an invented U.S. massacre of Muslim terrorists with bullets dipped in pigs’ blood.
“Study what Gen. Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!”
It would be remarkable even if the story were true: the president advocating extrajudicial killing, involving religious prejudice, as a method of deterring terrorism.
But the story is fake, historians say. Trump was citing an internet hoax that has circulated in email forwards since at least 2001.
“For a guy who keeps shouting ‘fake news, fake news, fake news,’ what does he do? He tweets fake news,” said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Anti-Muslim sentiment is one of Trump’s “core messages,” Hooper said. The persistence of Trump’s rhetoric, Hooper said, has “really created a sense of being under siege in the Muslim community.”
Trump did not elaborate, this time, on what the late Pershing supposedly did. But he told a detailed fable at a campaign rally in February 2016.
He claimed then that Pershing had executed 49 Muslim prisoners during the U.S. occupation of the Philippines in the early 1900s, adding religious insult by smearing the bullets with the blood of an animal observant Muslims are forbidden to consume.
“And he had his men load his rifles, and he lined up the 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people,” Trump said. “And the 50th person, he said, ‘You go back to your people and you tell them what happened.’ And for 25 years there wasn’t a problem, OK? Twenty-five years there wasn’t a problem.”
Republican legislators criticized him more strongly than they had all year after the wild Tuesday press conference in which he blamed “both sides” for the Saturday violence at a white supremacist demonstration in Charlottesville, Va. and claimed there were “very fine people,” who merely wanted to protect a local statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, marching alongside the neo-Nazis.
But Trump was unrepentant as ever. He leaned into the controversy Thursday morning, issuing a series of tweets in support of Confederate monuments — describing them not only as part of U.S. history but a “beautiful” part of U.S. “culture.”
“The beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!” he said.
Though it is common for Republican politicians to argue that Confederate monuments should be preserved as a matter of history, praise for the “culture” of the slaveholding South, and the “beauty” of secessionist leaders, is more commonly associated with white supremacists.
Trump’s comments were roughly in line with the inflammatory advice of chief strategist Steve Bannon. Bannon told the American Prospect magazine Tuesday that he wanted to keep Democrats talking about racism and “identity politics” while Trump presented a message of “economic nationalism.”
But Trump’s current message bears more resemblance to white nationalism than economic nationalism. As of Thursday evening, he had not spoken or tweeted this week about the NAFTA negotiations he initiated.
The Muzzo family name will be emblazoned on a new Vaughan hospital wing after a joint multi-million-dollar donation from their charitable foundation was announced Thursday.
The Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital received a $15-million joint gift from the De Gasperis and Muzzo families, which will go towards building a new 1.2 million square feet facility. Construction began last fall, and the new hospital is scheduled to open in 2020.
The hospital’s west wing will be called the De Gasperis-Muzzo Tower in recognition of the families’ contributions.
“We are very grateful for this generosity, which will benefit the people of Vaughan and neighbouring communities for decades to come,” Ingrid Perry, president and CEO of the Mackenzie Health Foundation, said in the release.
The donation has been in the works for three years, and is the largest single contribution in the hospital’s history.
Name tributes to the Muzzo family appear across the GTA, including the Marco Muzzo Senior Memorial Woods and Park in Mississauga, a titan in the construction and development industry who died in 2005. There’s also the Marco Muzzo Atrium at the University of Toronto Mississauga’s library and the Muzzo Family Alumni Hall on the downtown Toronto campus.
The Muzzo name was in the news recently when Marco Muzzo was sentenced to 10 years in prison following a drunk driving crash that killed three young siblings and their grandfather in 2015.
All three children of Jennifer Neville-Lake — Daniel, 9, Harrison, 5, and Milagros, 2 — died in the crash with their 65-year-old grandfather, Gary.
HELSINKI—A man stabbed eight people Friday in Finland’s western city of Turku, killing two of them, before police shot him in the thigh and detained him, police said. Authorities were looking for more potential suspects in the attack.
A suspect, who police said was “a youngish man with a foreign background,” was being treated in the city’s main hospital but was in police custody. Security was being stepped up across the Nordic country, Interior Minister Paula Risikko told reporters at a news conference.
The man’s identity and nationality were being investigated. Police said he probably acted alone though it was not possible to completely rule out that other people were involved.
Police did not give any information on the two people killed or the conditions of those wounded in downtown Turku, 170 kilometres west of Helsinki, the capital.
Finland’s top police chief, Seppo Kolehmainen, said it was too early to link the attack to international terrorism.
“Nothing is known about the motives . . . or what precisely has happened in Turku,” he said.
It was also not known if Friday’s attack was linked to a decision in June by Finland’s security agency to raise its threat assessment to the second level of a four-step scale. The Finnish Security Intelligence Service says the country’s “stronger profile within the radical Islamist propaganda” led to the change. It said the Nordic country is now considered part of the coalition against Daesh.
The Ilta-Sanomat tabloid said six people were injured in the attack, one man and five women, and that a woman with stroller had been attacked by a man with a large knife. Finnish broadcaster YLE said several people were seen lying on the ground in Puutori Square after the attack.
Witness Laura Laine told YLE she was about 20 metres away as the attack took place.
“We heard a young woman screaming. We saw a man on the square and a knife glittered. He was waving it in the air. I understood that he had stabbed someone,” Laine was quoted as saying.
Finland’s government was closely monitoring the police investigation into the attack, Prime Minister Juha Sipila said.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto arrived in Turku later Friday and condemned the attack as “a shocking and cowardly act.”
“This attack touches us all deeply,” said Niinisto, adding that the country’s political leaders and security officials were doing their utmost “so that all Finns are able to feel safe.”
For now, people were avoiding downtown Turku.
“Police have told us not to go to the city centre, so we are in this coffee shop a few blocks away,” said Vanessa Deggins, an American studying business at one of Turku’s three universities, told The Associated Press. She didn’t witness the attack, but heard emergency sirens going past.
“This is a safe country by American standards. I have gone home alone at 2-3 a.m. . . . I feel safe,” she said.
She carefully unfolds a foil wrapper, delicately removes the crumble of tar heroin within, places it in a spoon. Spits to moisten. Flicks a lighter to cook it, the substance dissolving into a viscous liquid. Rips open a clean needle and draws the solution into the barrel.
Hands it to the man she loves.
He leans over to look at himself in a small mirror. Plunges the needle into his neck.
His name, he says, is Oliver Smith and he’s 34 years old, addicted to heroin since he was 21.
On this afternoon, with rolling IV — saline bag and monitor — still attached to one arm, Smith has trundled over from St. Michael’s Hospital to the pop-up “safe” injection site at Moss Park for his fix. Even though he’s on a methadone regimen. He makes this excursion at least twice a day.
Plodding back to the hospital, passersby offer him food: a burger from McDonald’s, an apple, a doughnut. He is grateful. Especially so when a church volunteer presses a small Bible into his hand.
“Can I have one too?” asks his long-time girlfriend, Angie Austin.
She had just injected herself as well, immediately nodding off, chin sinking into her breast bone.
They are nice people, well-known in the neighbourhood. Many stop to say hello. “His sweetie,” says Austin to a street friend. Several inquire about the IV. “My foot got infected,” Smith explains.
Unlike many of their acquaintances, Smith and Austin aren’t homeless. They live in a subsidized apartment.
But they are both deeply ashamed.
“I grew up in Mississauga,” says Smith. “A Jamaican family living in a middle-class white community. I never felt accepted. Only when I got high with my friends, both white and Black. That gave me a kind of acceptance, you know? At first it was just dope, then I started snorting cocaine. But cocaine is really a nonsociable drug. When you come down, there’s this burnt-out feeling, yucky feeling. So I moved on to opiates.
“The fentanyl scares me. I’ve overdosed 11, 12 times.’’
Austin: “You never know what you’re getting, what the heroin has been mixed with.”
That’s why they’ve been taking advantage of the Moss Park facility — an unsanctioned “safe” and hygienic facility operated by harm reduction volunteers, including a nurse who observes every injection. At least one OD has occurred at the site, last weekend, but workers — with naloxone kits (the nasal spray fentanyl antidote) holstered to their belts — were able to revive the individual before paramedics arrived.
Three permanent injection sites are planned for downtown, South Riverdale and Parkdale but not scheduled to open until the fall. This pop-up and perhaps others are intended to fill that gap amidst an opioids crisis in the city.
“Most of us work in harm reduction,” explains Nick Broyce, whose full-time job is in that field. “All these volunteers are highly experienced in harm reduction, how to respond to overdoses. We’ve revived multiple people.’’
This is a tawdry area of Toronto, surrounded by missions and hostels, possibly the city’s most crime-infested neighbourhood. But businesses line Queen St. and there are new condo buildings nearby. Few are amenable to an injection site added into the mix, fearful of even more crime and violence as a result.
“I don’t think we’re drawing more people into the area who are problematic,” counters Broyce. “These are people who were already here. We’ve set up away from the park benches and the playground. And we clean up every day, remove needles that were discarded overnight.
The injection tents have been set up between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Over-the-counter naloxone kits are available free from pharmacies in Ontario — 80,000 kits have been distributed by the Health Ministry this year — but Broyce points out that users seeking them have to show a health card. “Many don’t have them, don’t have any ID, don’t have a permanent address.”
Not all heroin users fit the stereotype, nor are they all addicts. But clearly many have all sorts of related issues — mental health problems, poverty, the physical manifestations of living rough.
“They’re already highly stigmatized,” Broyce continues. “Is it better to deal with addiction as a health issue or a moral issue — bad people making bad choices? These are vulnerable people who often don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Many have serious mental issues. What is there for them to attach to? For all kinds of reasons many attach to drugs.”
Walking her boyfriend back to the hospital, Austin, 42, describes why she first turned to heroin nine years ago. “Because of him,” she says, referring to Smith. “Because he was using and at first I didn’t even know, he hid it from me. After I found out, I thought it would bring us closer, that it would help our relationship. It was the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”
Smith: “I told her not to.”
And now here they are, all these years later, leaning on each other, often trying — and failing — to get clean. “Withdrawal is awful,” says Smith. “It makes you sicker than anything you can imagine. I want a normal life, a job, to be able to see my young son without upsetting him. I don’t want him to see me like this.”
Austin, who has no family: “I would love to work with kids in some way. If I could help change just one child’s life . . . ”
Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, and others, have called for a public discussion on decriminalizing all drugs, in the wake of the ongoing overdose epidemic; some 2,400 deaths in Canada last year believed attributable to opioid-related ODs.
A matter of health rather than criminality, they argue.
Which is facile to promote from a distance, from a harm-reduction posture, from even the outsider intimacy of front-line workers.
At ground zero of heroin addiction, the view is not necessarily what you’d expect.
Smith: “No, no, no, I’m not in favour of that. We shouldn’t make it easier to end up like me.”
Austin: “Being illegal, that’s what scares a lot of people away from doing it. I wish it had scared me. I wish I could go back.”
Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Two terms jumped to the top of the most-searched at Merriam-Webster dictionary following the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., this past weekend: white nationalist and white supremacist.
Nationalist and supremacist are also the first auto-suggestions on Google, appearing as options when you type the word “white,” suggesting widespread interest in the topic.
Merriam’s word nerds go one step further and do a fine job of explaining the difference between the two.
“White nationalist is defined as “one of a group of militant whites who espouse white supremacy and advocate enforced racial segregation,” while white supremacist is “a person who believes that the white race is inherently superior to other races and that white people should have control over people of other races.”
You’ll notice Merriam-Webster’s explanation makes no mention of white hoods, confederate flags, guns, swastikas, or khakis.
Yet, as with racism, society acknowledges supremacy only when it bears these overt markers, ratified by the white majority, whether in language, in clothing or in accessories.
The Charlottesville protesters who carried torches, wielded bats and shields, and chanted Nazi slogans were easily labelled supremacists. They matched the image of the bad guys seen in history books.
The rest of the time, though, it remains the burden of those affected by its oppressive machinations to prove its existence, to convince people in power that it is not simply a sin of the past.
It was heartening in these polarized times that a large number of counter-protesters who turned up to push back were white. At the same time, the nation-wide indignation indicated that racial supremacy, the principle that powers the continent, continues to be recognized only at a surface level.
Still, if you were one of the liberal-minded progressives who supported the counter-protesters, this basic conversation is worth having again: What does white supremacy without the white hoods look like?
Supremacy is the invisible structure with the visible outcome of placing one group in the centre of financial, political, judicial, corporate, academic, social and cultural power. In other words, it vests one group with supreme control over society.
Earlier this year, Malinda Smith, a political science professor at the University of Alberta, compiled a “diversity gap twittorial” listing representational deficiencies in various sectors.
She demonstrated, with links for further reading, how we end up in Canada with a majority of police forces failing to reflect their communities, visible minorities and Indigenous people under-represented in the judiciary, corporate boards and the legal profession overwhelming white and male. As for the media — you’ve heard from me about that before.
What about universities, those ivory towers regularly excoriated as intolerable bastions of far-left thought?
The Equity Myth, a recently released book based on a landmark four-year study by a group of Canadian academics, including Smith, challenges that stereotype with the finding that “racialized and Indigenous faculty and the disciplines or areas of their expertise are, on the whole, low in numbers and even lower in terms of power, prestige, and influence within the University.”
When I look at this pattern, I don’t see glass ceilings. I see steel-reinforced ones.
When a structure is this deep-rooted and its effects this widespread, you don’t have to consciously work to maintain it. In other words, not doing anything differently perpetuates it.
You know what this means in practical terms. You, as a person with progressive ideals, commiserate with your colleagues of colour about lack of representation in your office, but you don’t feel the need to take up the task of agitating for change.
You’ve agreed more needs to be done, so you tell yourself you’re not racist and absolve yourself of further responsibilities.
The sad reality is if something is to be deemed systemically discriminatory, it is accepted more easily when raised or backed up by a white person; your voice carries more weight than that of your racialized colleagues. When you don’t see workplace diversity as your battle, you abandon those in need of your help.
In effect, you may be an ally in thought but as long as you are a bystander in action, you perpetuate supremacy.
If you were outraged by Donald Trump’s refusal to call out the supremacists after Charlottesville, then you can’t allow yourself to effectively endorse structurally imposed supremacy with your silence.
Put simply, it’s easy to condemn people who chant “white power.” What are you doing to equalize it?
Shree Paradkar writes about discrimination and identity. You can follow her @shreeparadkar
The mother of Heather Heyer, the woman killed while protesting Saturday’s white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., said she won’t talk to U.S. President Donald Trump “after what he said about my child.”
She had been so busy after her daughter’s death that she hadn’t watched TV news until Thursday night, Susan Bro told ABC on Friday.
“I saw an actual clip of him at a press conference equating the protesters ‘like Miss Heyer’ with the KKK and the white supremacists,” Bro said. “You can’t wash this one away by shaking my hand and saying, ‘I’m sorry.’ I’m not forgiving for that.”
Asked if she had something to say to Trump, Bro said, “Think before you speak.”
The White House said Thursday that it was “working on identifying a time that’s convenient for the family to speak with the president.”
“We appreciate the unifying words that Heather Heyer’s mother spoke yesterday (Wednesday)” at her daughter’s memorial service, spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said.
“They tried to kill my child to shut her up, but guess what, you just magnified her,” Bro said at the service on Wednesday, according to The Associated Press. “I’d rather have my child, but by golly if I got to give her up, we’re going to make it count.”
The first call on Trump’s behalf looked like it came during the funeral, Bro said on ABC.
Heyer, 32, was killed when a man whom police have identified as James Alex Fields, Jr., 20 drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters following the rally.
The political fallout of Trump’s remarks about the white supremacists has spread this week, with key Republicans condemning him and CEO advisers abandoning him.
Trump at a news conference on Tuesday said not all of the people protesting the removal of a Charlottesville statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee were neo-Nazis or white supremacists.
“I think there’s blame on both sides,” Trump said. There were also “very fine people” on both sides, he said.
“Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart” by the removal of statues honouring Confederate heroes, Trump added in a tweet Thursday.
A family tradition, I’ve gone to the CNE every year of my life that I can remember. I come with a plan, knowing every ride I want to go on as soon as I get there, after a stop at the Tiny Tom Donut stand (which is vastly superior to every other CNE mini-donut brand), of course. But this time was different, because of the $50 budget I was assigned, which included $19 admission. After a quick scan of the midway, it was go-time.
$21.25 — ride tickets
While Vjosa brought her appetite to the CNE, I came there to let out my inner-child. Making a bee-line for the ticket booth, I started out by buying 12 tickets for $15. That got me on two rides: Polar Express (six tickets) and the bumper cars (five tickets). There I was, a grown man and fully licensed driver, ramming into dozens of tweens with braces. It felt good.
But with one useless ticket left, and an overpowering desire to take a ride on the swings, I purchased five more tickets for $6.25 (which ended up putting me slightly over budget). It turns out I had missed a deal all along, because for 75 more cents, I could have guaranteed myself eight rides in total. Learn from my mistakes.
$5.00 — games
No day at a fair is complete without at least one try at the midway games. Eager to prove my strength, I walked up to the hammer game, where I was told I had three tries to hit a black metal slab with a sledgehammer. “Hold it like a hockey stick, not a baseball bat,” Tony, the compassionate man running the game, told me.
My best score, measured on a vertical bar which provides a very descriptive assessment of your level of strength, was “go girl!” It was a rung higher than “big boy,” but not quite at “fat cat.” Still, my performance was good enough to land me an oversized red, blowup baseball bat. Tony was his ever-reassuring self.
“That’s OK, it’s not every day you have to swing with a sledgehammer,” he said.
$5.00 — massage
I’m not going to lie, the day wasn’t perfect. For one thing, some rides weren’t ready in the first few hours of opening day, like the Ferris Wheel and drop-zone, two of my personal favourites. I also searched the entire grounds for my annual treat, a delicious giant pickle, which I was told by one customer service agent was no longer available in the food building.
To relieve my anger, I headed to the Enercare Centre, packed with vendors of all kinds, and sat down on the $9,000 Panasonic massage chair. It was the most relaxing five minutes of my life.
“We create our own activity by people enjoying the massage at the fair. It’s a full-body massage,” said vendor Jim Markley, adding people can also pay $10 for 15 minutes in the chair. “(We like) making people smile and happy.”
Unfortunately, I had no money leftover for my precious Tiny Tom Donuts.
What I remember from my one and only prior trip to the Ex was how pricey the short rides were, so I wanted to spend the day taking in the sights, carnival games and wacky eats instead.
Here’s how I spent my $31, after the $19 admission fee:
$7 — Carnival games
I didn’t want to walk out of the Ex empty-handed, so the first booth I zeroed in on was the Birthday Game, a $1 dice roll. My gut was telling me I’d roll on a spring month, so I stuck my loonie in the May slot, held my breath and rolled the giant dice on the table. The dice rolled August, and I walked away hoping for better luck on my prize hunt.
As much as I love basketball, I couldn’t justify spending $5 to inevitably miss the smaller-than-regulation sized hoop. But for $1, you get a better chance at winning on the rolling ball game. You have six tries to roll the balls on the platform, which then jump into the slots and you have to get 190 points. I didn’t even make it to 100.
By the end of the day, I was impatient to win something after watching Sammy parade his giant, inflatable bat everywhere. Even though I would have preferred to win a game on merit, I decided to throw two darts at a balloon wall for $5, missing one. My consolation prize was a fidget spinner.
$19 — Food and beverages
A plate of deep-fried Oreos dusted in powdered sugar satisfied my CNE food craving early on in the day, but I didn’t want to leave without trying one more carnival staple. Short a few dollars for poutine, I decided to try Messy Fries at Sloppy’s Sandwich bar in the Food Pavilion. The Oreos and fries cost $8 each, but the portions were big enough for Sammy and I to share. I was more disappointed about forgetting my water bottle than losing at the carnival games. After a few hours of walking by all the free water re-fills stations, I finally gave into my thirst and spent $3 on a water bottle.
$6.25 — Ride coupons
As a thrill seeker, the slight dropping feeling you get in your stomach on the Pharaoh’s Fury — a giant boat that swings side to side next to the Ferris wheel — was not worth the $6.25 I spent on my only ride of the day. A group of four tickets costs $5, and most rides will run you at least five tickets. I went over budget to dish out the extra $1.25 for a single ticket.
I tried to make some of my own fun without reaching for my wallet. I checked out the military vehicles at the Canadian Armed Forces booth, photo-bombed a marching band and got some laughs from the Mighty Mike’s busker performance. His classic move? Juggling the sledgehammer.
“That’s the thing that I’m pretty unique, that I’m the only one that does that,” Mike said.
I missed out on the two daily ice shows starring world champion figure skater Elvis Stojko at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., but it’s a good place to stop by if you need to cool off.
Montreal’s La Ronde amusement park says it has removed a carousel horse depicting an Indigenous man’s severed head in a bag.
The move comes after several complaints, including one by a resident of the Kahnawake Mohawk reserve near Montreal who shared a photo of it online this week.
Jessica Hernandez said she’d heard about its existence and saw it during a visit to the popular park Wednesday.
For her part, she said all she did was post photos on Facebook and Twitter showing a man’s head in a bag on the saddle.
“I wanted to see what people had to say,” Hernandez said Friday. “I thought: ‘how long has this been here? No one has said anything?’”
Hernandez, a mother of two, said the depiction was disturbing and shocking to see, particularly amid efforts to improve education about Indigenous culture.
“For us as Indigenous people, we know what that symbolizes, we’re taught about it and we’re educated on what an Indian head or scalp meant in history,” she said. “It incites a certain emotion in us when we see it.”
Hernandez says she was sad to learn it took multiple complaints, including some reportedly from park employees, to have the horse ultimately removed.
Julie Perrone, a spokeswoman for La Ronde, confirmed in an email the horse was taken out of commission. She didn’t provide any further details about the ride.
“The offensive symbol has since been removed and we apologize to our guests for this oversight,” she said Friday.
La Ronde, one of Canada’s largest amusement parks, is operated by U.S.-based Six Flags.
Visitors to this year’s Canadian National Exhibition will notice enhanced security measures, including more police officers, in and around the grounds in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Spain.
“You can see the exterior of the park has been hardened somewhat with (concrete) barriers but there are other measures that aren’t seen to the eye,” CNE chief executive officer Virginia Ludy said Friday as the 139th annual fair opened for business.
“We have a very robust plan that we roll out for the two weeks of the event.”
On Thursday afternoon, a suspected terrorist drove a van into a crowd on the Las Ramblas tourist area in Barcelona, killing at least 13 people and injuring more than 100.
A second attack occurred in the resort town of Cambrils south of Barcelona eight hours later, leaving one woman dead.
Ludy said CNE organizers consulted with security officials before the CNE opened Friday morning.
“As part of our overall security plans we’re always monitoring what’s going on in the world and certainly when we see scenes like the tragic one we saw yesterday in Barcelona, it just re-emphasizes to us the importance of continuing to review those plans and making modifications where necessary,” she said.
“Clearly when you are inviting 1.6 million people to a community event, safety and security is always top of mind.”
Mayor John Tory joined Premier Kathleen Wynne and other dignitaries for the opening ceremony inside the entrance to the Princes’ Gates, blocked to incoming traffic with concrete blocks.
Tory said he has spoken to Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders who is satisfied with the security plan for the CNE’s two-week run.
It is the primary job of the police and civic officials to keep people in Toronto safe, “and I’m confident that everything is being done in cooperation with security intelligence agencies to do just that,” Tory said.
He also expressed condolences for the victims and horror at what unfolded in Spain.
“This is an attack on our way of life, because we share the way of life with the people of Spain and many other countries.”
The use of barriers to block entrances to the Exhibition grounds demonstrates there are steps that can be taken to prevent someone from driving a car into a crowd, a tactic terrorists used during attacks in Nice, Berlin and London.
“The CNE and many other organizations and public venues are taking the steps necessary to provide as much protection to people as possible and to make sure people in Toronto remain safe.”
The CNE has taken additional measures to keep thrill seekers on the midway safe.
The Fire Ball will not be operating after an 18-year-old man was killed and seven others injured while on the same attraction at the Ohio State Fair in July.
The ride malfunctioned and an entire row of seats broke apart and threw riders to the ground. The manufacturer found that “excessive corrosion” led to the “catastrophic failure.”
The CNE inspects of all of its rides daily during the fair, which runs until Sept. 4.
Is America edging closer to a second civil war? In normal times, this question would be dismissed as absurd. But these are no longer normal times.
After all, this was the week when, as scholar David Rothkopf put it in The Washington Post,“Donald Trump gave the most disgusting public performance in the history of the American presidency.”
In doing so, the 45th president of the United States, already suspected of being a Russian stooge, revealed himself with extraordinary clarity as an apologist for white supremacists, neo-Nazis and anti-Semites.
But this past week also revealed more. We saw the real danger of Trump’s presidency. By reminding us of his lifetime pattern of fuelling racist divisions to achieve his goals, we saw what Trump will truly risk to ensure his personal survival.
So this question — of whether the U.S. is hurtling toward catastrophic internal conflict as a result — is now being taken seriously by serious people.
In an article in this week’s New Yorker — titled “Is America headed for a new kind of civil war?”— journalist Robin Wright asks a corollary question: “How fragile is the Union, our republic, and a country that has long been considered the world’s most stable democracy? The dangers are now bigger than the collective episodes of violence.”
She quotes the Southern Poverty Law Center: “The radical right was more successful in entering the political mainstream last year than in half a century.”
Last March, Foreign Policy magazine asked several national security experts to evaluate the risks of a second civil war. The consensus number was about 30 per cent, although some put it as high as 60 per cent or even 95 per cent.
Keith Mines was one of those experts. With a career in the U.S. army, State Department and the United Nations, Mines estimated the U.S. faces a 60 per cent chance of civil war over the next 10 to 15 years.
He cited five factors to justify his prediction: “entrenched national polarization,” divisive press coverage, weakened institutions such as the press and judiciary, “total sellout of the Republican leadership” and a belief that “violence is ‘in’ as a method to solve disputes and get one’s way.”
As for events that could spark civil war, Mines listed a terrorist attack, economic downturn, a racial event that spirals out of control or impeachment of the president or his fall from office: “It is like 1859,” Mines wrote. “Everyone is mad about something and everyone has a gun.”
In a presidency that has already experienced dozens of eye-popping moments, Donald Trump’s sickening news conference last Tuesday topped them all.
In a rambling, combative account of how he saw the events last weekend in Charlottesville, Va., Trump equated the neo-Nazi thugs who triggered the violence that led to three deaths and many injured with the people who protested their presence: “There were very fine people on both sides,” he said.
The depravity of that false claim was dramatically exposed in a chilling 20-minute documentary produced by Vice News and distributed widely to U.S. and international media outlets. It can be seen through the Vice website (vice.com).
The documentary opens with torch-wielding white men chanting “Jews will not replace us” and the Nazi slogan, “Blood and soil.” It includes interviews with the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who came to Charlottesville for the march. It reveals how well they were organized and rebuts any suggestion that there were “very fine people” among them, as Trump claimed.
Jews were particular targets. During the march through Charlottesville last Saturday, a group of neo-Nazis with semi-automatic weapons in their hands stood across from the city’s historic Beth Israel synagogue during Shabbat services, shouting slogans such as “Sieg Heil.” The rabbi advised congregants to leave the synagogue through the back door.
If the response to Trump’s actions among Republican leaders was mixed, even muted, the international reaction to this week was ferocious.
“America is now a dangerous nation,” wrote Gideon Rachman, chief foreign affairs columnist for the Financial Times.
Rachman noted the danger that Trump will use global and domestic conflicts to evade the growing threat of the Russian investigation.
And the enormity of the challenge was surely evident this week.
The U.S. president appears to have decided that he will protect his own skin — come hell or high water — even at the expense of the country’s interests. This is an extraordinary moment in modern American history.
Tony Burman is former head of Al Jazeera English and CBC News. Reach him @TonyBurman or at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Tony Burman is former head of Al Jazeera English and CBC News. Reach him @TonyBurman or at email@example.com .
By early 1942, in one of the bleakest periods of the Second World War, Germany occupied most of Europe. Allied forces had been pushed back across the English Channel to Britain. Nazi forces were driving into the Soviet Union toward Moscow.
The Allies were desperate for a foothold on the continent and a chance to stop Hitler’s war machine.
So 75 years ago, the Royal Regiment of Canada, mostly men from Toronto, many not long out of boyhood, was tapped to be part of the star-crossed Raid on Dieppe, in occupied France, in the early hours of Aug. 19.
“Everything was against them,” says Doug Olver, son of Pte. William Olver, who would survive a catastrophe that was to write Dieppe into a dark chapter of this country’s history books.
Canadians accounted for almost 5,000 of the 6,100 troops involved in the raid, code-named Operation Jubilee. More than 900 Canadian soldiers were killed and thousands more wounded and taken prisoner.
Of the 554 soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Canada, landing on the beach at Puys, 227 died in battle or later from wounds and 264 were taken prisoner.
It was the highest casualty rate of any Canadian battalion in all of the Second World War for one day’s fighting.
It was only about 18 months ago that Doug Surphlis, Doug Olver and Jayne Poolton-Turvey got to know each other.
But you might say, that as sons and daughter of men who were part of the Raid on Dieppe and ended up as PoWs, they have been living with versions of the same story and the consequences of that awful morning all their lives.
“My mother said it destroyed hundreds of families in Toronto,” says Doug Olver, a retired corrections officer from Georgetown.
So many men killed. So many badly wounded. So many brutalized in PoW camps and returning after the war with what is now known as post-traumatic stress disorder.
“They never got help for it,” says Poolton-Turvey, of Barrie. “They just came back and slid into whatever job or career, family, mortgages, whatever, and they lived their lives.
“We all lived with a former prisoner-of-war who had PTSD and they suffered in silence,” she says.
While silence about war’s horror was not uncommon among vets, it was compounded for the Dieppe men with embarrassment at the disaster of it all and guilt at the massive losses.
“They never spoke about it because it was such a horror story on Blue Beach,” says Olver, using the code name for the beach at Puys.
“When I was a kid, I never heard the word ‘Dieppe’ uttered in my house except once a year. My father always took Aug. 19 off. He wasn’t a drinker, but he would have a couple of scotches that day. And my mother would whisper, ‘Dieppe.’ ”
Buried along with the grief was the anger at what the decision-makers had sent them into at Dieppe.
“They were sent there without any hope of success,” says Poolton-Turvey. “My father always felt that they had been sacrificed.”
That’s why she, Olver and Surphlis got active in their “Every Man Remembered” campaign, and why the three children of Royal Regiment soldiers will be present at Dieppe on Saturday for the 75th anniversary of the raid.
Along with about 75 other descendants of soldiers, they will sail into Dieppe to “see what (their relatives) would have seen as they were going in.”
Initially, the Raid on Dieppe was to be known as “Operation Rutter” and planned for July 1942. It was intended to test German coastal defences and gain experience for the massive amphibious assault — D-Day — that would be necessary to defeat Germany.
Bad weather caused that plan to be postponed. Many wanted it abandoned entirely.
Doug Olver says his father recalled that when the men were told of the first assault plan in July, there was cheering by soldiers eager to get on with the job.
But after they returned from leave after the cancellation and were told in August that the raid was back on as Operation Jubilee, “they were in shock.
“They thought, ‘Oh, my God, what if word has leaked out since last month?’ ”
The Royals were expected to take the small beach and scale the western headlands to knock out German artillery that overlooked the town of Dieppe and its harbour. That would enable the main Canadian force to gain a foothold within Dieppe and beyond.
Everything depended on “stealth, surprise, the cover of darkness,” Olver says. “That was the only way they could succeed in this difficult task of climbing the cliffs.”
From the beginning, however, the plans went awry.
About few kilometres out from Dieppe, as soldiers the were climbing from their mother ships into artillery landing craft at about 3:40 a.m., they ran into a German naval convoy.
The battle was short but loud. “Bullets are pinging off the little craft that my father and uncle were kneeling down in,” Olver says.
The noise alerted any German who might have been sleeping on the coast.
“They’re now in their concrete pillboxes, at their posts,” Olver says. “They just quietly watched as the first wave came in.”
Pte. William Olver, just turned 23, was in the first landing craft and touched down at 5:07 a.m., his son says. They were 17 minutes late because of the engagement with the German convoy and the cover of night was giving way to dawn.
By the time the second wave landed shortly afterward, it was broad daylight.
William Olver was the first man to hit the Puys beach, which was about the size of a football field and shaped like a horseshoe. Olver was also one of the first to cross the beach to the base of the seawall. “That’s what saved his life,” says Doug Olver.
“The Germans waited until his boat was empty and other boats had come on shore. Then they opened a horrific crossfire.
“You’re being shot at from the front, you’re being shot from the left, you’re being shot from the right and right behind you is the English Channel. You had nowhere to go.”
The Allied soldiers “never saw one German until it was all over,” he says.
“There were only approximately 60-70 Germans defending that beach against about 600 men,” Olver says. “But that’s all they needed because of the gun pillboxes.”
As the Canadians were cut down like targets in a shooting range on the beach, or even before they could exit their landing craft, Olver’s father reached the four-metre high seawall with a few other men.
One was Sgt. Charles Surphlis, who almost drowned in the landing. The two men, along with two others on the beach that day, would become friends in the PoW camp and work together after the war for 30 years in the Metropolitan Toronto Police.
Olver blew a hole in the wall and began to scale it.
That’s when he saw the first enemy soldiers, waiting for him.
Atop the seawall, the Canadians were stripped of their weapons. But a young soldier with Olver was shot in the head when the Germans spotted a penknife in his hand.
“So my father thought they were all going to be executed.”
On the beach below, as hundreds of Olver’s comrades lay dead or dying, another German officer came along and taunted him about how prepared the enemy had been for the Allied arrival.
“What happened? You are four days late.”
The campaign to honour the men of Dieppe has “kind of consumed my life,” says Poolton-Turvey, who wrote a book with her late father, Pte. Jack Poolton, in 1998 called Destined to Survive.
“I would go with him to speak at schools and community groups, and I started to learn the story.”
Last year, a group of Dieppe descendants gathered to share information and ensure the sacrifice of their fathers is not forgotten.
Since then, Poolton-Turvey has tried to track down information on almost all the Royals who landed on Blue Beach.
It will be collected in one place where all those vets will be recognized, where future generations can find information about their ancestors.
Poolton-Turvey also organized the tour in which family members of Dieppe vets have travelled to France for the anniversary.
“We’re all going to be standing there shoulder to shoulder honouring the men.”
Photos, a short biography and a Canadian flag will be placed on the graves of the 189 Royal Regiment soldiers buried in the cemetery at Dieppe. (The bodies of some of those killed were never found and others who died later of wounds are buried elsewhere.)
Of the Royals landing on Blue Beach, more than 260 were taken prisoner. During almost three years in captivity, they were given meagre rations, shackled for months at a time, and near the end of the war some endured a “death march” across Germany before being liberated in 1945.
These men were heroes “who never got recognized,” says Poolton-Turvey.
“I’m going to make sure that people know.”
WASHINGTON—Steve Bannon, the polarizing nationalist whose race-baiting tactics have been an incendiary hallmark of U.S. President Donald Trump’s flailing young administration, was ousted on Friday in another indication of the White House chaos that shows no sign of abating.
Bannon was the fourth top Trump aide to be fired or to resign in less than a month, an alarming rate of turnover for a presidency just seven months old. He was the second aide, after Anthony Scaramucci, to be forced out after calling up a journalist and ranting about his colleagues.
The departure of Bannon, described by the White House as a mutual decision, comes as Trump’s new chief of staff, former Marine Gen. John Kelly, tries to find a way to impose discipline on a dysfunctional organization mired in infighting, policy confusion and a race-related confidence crisis.
The move pleased, though did not satisfy, leaders of minority communities who had been aghast at the elevation of a person with Bannon’s views to a position of power. On the other side, some nationalist conservatives were alarmed that Trump’s inner circle is now nearly devoid of aides who subscribe to his racially inflammatory, economically protectionist populism.
“The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over,” Bannon told the Weekly Standard magazine. “We still have a huge movement, and we will make something of this Trump presidency. But that presidency is over. It’ll be something else.”
Bannon blamed “the Republican establishment” for the failure of Trump’s attempts at unorthodoxy.
“The Republican establishment has no interest in Trump’s success on this. They’re not populists, they’re not nationalists, they had no interest in his program. Zero,” he said.
Bannon was beloved by segments of the president’s base, including trade hawks, opponents of immigration and anti-Muslim bigots. His take-no-prisoners attitude toward Trump’s critics and the media, which he gleefully labelled “the opposition party,” made him a symbol and a proponent of Trump’s unusually antagonistic public message.
It was far from clear Bannon’s exit would change anything about Trump’s behaviour. The president, resistant to advice of all kinds, has sounded Bannon-like notes on race and trade for decades.
“Steve Bannon’s firing is welcome news, but it doesn’t disguise where President Trump himself stands on white supremacists and the bigoted beliefs they advance,” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.
Scaramucci, press secretary Sean Spicer and chief of staff Reince Priebus all preceded Bannon in leaving the White House over the past 30 days, a period during which Trump has threatened North Korea with nuclear war and triggered global condemnation by defending participants in a white supremacist demonstration in which a woman was allegedly murdered by an alleged racist.
As Trump’s campaign CEO for the last three months before November’s election, Bannon helped engineer one of the most improbable triumphs in American political history. As a presidential strategist, he had few victories.
He was a leading proponent of the base-first, outreach-last strategy has kept Trump in the good graces of Republicans but also kept his overall approval rating stuck at historically low levels. And though he cultivated a reputation as a Machiavellian mastermind, he was often outmanoeuvred by aides with more liberal and more conventional views.
Bannon is now free to scheme as he wishes. Sources close to him told various U.S. outlets that he would wage a fierce battle from the outside against the former internal rivals, such as Jared Kushner and Gary Cohn, he believes are establishment “globalists” insufficiently committed to Trump’s “America First” campaign agenda.
Joshua Green, author of a book on Bannon, said Bannon was returning immediately to Breitbart News, the website he had once turned into a “platform” for the white supremacist “alt-right” – leaving the White House to chair the website’s evening editorial meeting.
Bannon told Green that he would be fighting on Trump’s behalf, not against him.
“If there’s any confusion out there, let me clear it up: I’m leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents – on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America,” Bannon said.
Bannon’s history of bigotry, including years of unconcealed anti-Muslim sentiment and Breitbart fearmongering about Black people and Hispanic immigrants, had made him the most controversial adviser to Trump. Democrats had demanded Trump remove him in the wake of the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Va. on Saturday.
But this is probably not why Bannon was shuffled out. Trump defended Bannon at a press conference on Tuesday, saying he was “not a racist.” Ominously, he added: “We’ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon.”
Among the people pushing for Bannon to be fired, according to the New York Times, was conservative media titan Rupert Murdoch, an informal Trump adviser. Politico reported that Kelly did not understand what Bannon was actually doing, or why he was so disliked by the rest of the team.
Bannon had feuded with several of his colleagues, including Trump’s son-in-law, Kushner, and was suspected to have irked Trump by appearing to orchestrate a campaign to discredit national security adviser H.R. McMaster. He had angered Trump and others this week by phoning a left-leaning journalist, unprompted, and sharing candid thoughts about North Korea policy and about other administration figures.
Bannon’s remarks on North Korea, in which he said the idea of a military strike was unrealistic given the regime’s ability to devastate Seoul, were seen as undercutting the president’s own threat of “fire and fury,” confusing Asian allies.
Some of Trump’s irritation with Bannon was not about policy at all. U.S. media outlets have reported that Trump resented the credit Bannon has received for election success that Trump sees as his own.
Trump was said to be especially annoyed by a Time magazine cover of Bannon in February that labelled the strategist “The Great Manipulator” and by Green’s Bannon-focused book on the campaign, Devil’sBargain.
“Mr. Bannon came on very late — you know that,” Trump said Tuesday when asked if he still had confidence in Bannon. “I went through 17 senators, governors and I won all the primaries. Mr. Bannon came on very much later than that, and I like him, he’s a good man.”
Bannon, who has pushed Trump to take an aggressive stand on NAFTA, was even the subject of controversy in Canada. This week, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair called on Gerald Butts, Bannon’s counterpart in the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to “immediately disavow” the supposed friendship the New Yorker magazine reported Butts had developed with Bannon.
In addition to encouraging Trump to embrace race-baiting, Bannon also served as a resident skeptic of military action and advocate of left-leaning economic proposals like hiking taxes on millionaires. The New Yorker suggested Bannon was partly inspired by Butts’s account of Trudeau’s success with such a tax hike.
New York Stock Exchange traders were heard on television cheering when the Bannon news broke.
In a rare public appearance, at a conservative conference in Washington in February, Bannon drew cheers by advocating the “deconstruction of the administrative state,” by urging a focus on “sovereignty” and by railing against the “corporatist, globalist media.”
Bannon had sounded confident in his standing in the administration as recently as Tuesday, when he boasted of his plans to get some of his rivals fired.
“They’re wetting themselves,” he said.