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- 08/20/17--19:17: _Fundraising swim ra...
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- 08/19/17--23:00: _How honey badger Ba...
- 08/20/17--18:30: _Toronto shuts down ...
- 08/21/17--09:34: _City-run safe-injec...
- 08/21/17--05:35: _University of Texas...
- 08/21/17--07:48: _Patrick Brown says ...
- 08/21/17--03:00: _Family in anguish a...
- 08/21/17--09:56: _Toronto police unve...
- 08/21/17--10:26: _Secret Service face...
- 08/21/17--03:00: _Women in small Musl...
- 08/21/17--03:46: _Fugitive suspect in...
- 08/21/17--06:42: _Portland friends pa...
- 08/21/17--10:49: _Boys and Girls Club...
- 08/21/17--10:54: _Torontonians gather...
- 08/21/17--11:49: _At least six wildfi...
- 08/21/17--11:58: _North Korean threat...
- 08/21/17--12:42: _Federal government ...
- 08/21/17--12:21: _Police identify man...
- 08/21/17--13:06: _Peel police officer...
- 08/20/17--11:28: Comedian, director Jerry Lewis dead at 91
- 08/19/17--23:00: How honey badger Bannon ate Trump for lunch: Mallick
- 08/21/17--09:34: City-run safe-injection site to open downtown Monday afternoon
- 08/21/17--07:48: Patrick Brown says he wants nothing to do with The Rebel
- 08/21/17--09:56: Toronto police unveil new cruiser design
- 08/21/17--03:00: Women in small Muslim sect say they have had FGM in Canada
- 08/21/17--03:46: Fugitive suspect in Barcelona van attack shot dead, police confirm
- 08/21/17--10:54: Torontonians gather to watch solar eclipse
- 08/21/17--11:49: At least six wildfires combine to form largest blaze burning in B.C.
- 08/21/17--12:21: Police identify man found dead on downtown Toronto street
If you flew over Lake Erie on Sunday afternoon, you might not have noticed the distress below.
You’d have seen boats, of course, the distinctive red-orange of Fort Erie Fire Department vessels, coast guard boats and perhaps the 25 mismatched watercraft moving across the 25,744-square-km Great Lake.
What you wouldn’t have seen were the details that turned a fundraising swim race from Sturgeon Point, N.Y., to Crystal Beach, Ont., into a frantic search-and-rescue mission: swimmers alone in choppy waves, crew members vomiting over boat rails, vessels losing their propellers and any ability to steer across the lake.
In the end, it was a call to the coast guard to find a missing swimmer — who’d been lost in the open water for 40 minutes already — that ultimately ended the race. Not one of the 41 swimmers made it to the other side.
“I’ve had better days,” organizer Miguel Vadillo said about 4 p.m., as he walked to meet swimmers who’d since been taken to dry land. Earlier on Sunday, Vadillo spoke to the Star from aboard one of the race’s accompanying boats. He wasn’t blind to the day’s rocky conditions, but was still optimistic.
“Right now? It’s pretty daunting,” Vadillo said about 10 a.m. The wind whipped in the background while he pointed out a current pulling east. Vadillo has been an open-water swimmer himself since his youth in Mexico.
“It is very challenging, knowing where you’re going, what you’re fighting, what you’re doing,” he said.
He wasn’t worried about the youngest swimmers — four 11- to 14-year-olds braving the water to raise money for Red Roof Retreat, a respite care facility in the Niagara region.
“Those guys are better swimmers than many others here. I worry about some of the adults that are behind that are not making it very far,” he admitted.
Some swimmers came to the race with high-profile causes. Dr. Sherri Mason, a key researcher of Great Lake pollution, was aiming to draw attention to how micro-plastics contaminate the freshwater. Carlos Costa swam against the odds of a double-leg amputation, looking to become the first male para-swimmer to cross the lake.
The event had taken significant planning and co-ordination, including liaising with both the U.S. and Canadian jurisdictions on the route.
But at 2:33 p.m, five-and-a-half hours after the race began, Vadillo revealed the day had gone awry: “Hang on it is not looking good.”
A propeller had broken on one of the boats, and as it was no longer able to steer, its respective swimmer veered off alone. Vadillo went back with his boat in an attempt to step in as a crew. But the waves had got even more turbulent and the crew members started “puking down the side of the boat.”
“It was very clear to me that she wouldn’t be able to make the cutoff at half time, of 10 kilometres at five hours,” he said. The swimmer made the decision to call it a day, and was taken on the boat to Canadian waters.
At that point, they learned that another swimmer — Michael Kenny — was missing in the open water. Organizers had been searching for 40 minutes fruitlessly; it was time to call in the coast guard.
At that point, Vadillo said, “the swimmers abandoned their own race to help a fellow swimmer.” All boats were re-allocated to the search, and the wayward swimmer was located an hour after he disappeared.
But although he had been missing for a full hour, Kenny, who goes by the nickname “Swim Diesel,” was in high spirits. By his account, his boat crew had left to refuel, and were meant to catch up with him after.
But there were “huge waves,” he said, “so I couldn’t hear or see them.”
When he realized he was lost on the lake, Kenny decided that either going back or staying put would only mean more effort against the waves. So he eyeballed a white lighthouse in Canada and a distinct building in the U.S. and swam straight down the middle.
“I know how to swim,” he noted cheerily. “Whether the boat’s beside me or not, it’s the same swimming. So I just said to myself, well, ‘I’ll keep going, and either they’ll catch up with me or they won’t!’ ”
About an hour later, one of the search vessels spotted him and called out to him.
“The coast guard came along and said, ‘Sir, you have to get out!’ And I said, ‘Well, I don’t want to end my race! Can I wait until my boat shows up?’ ” he said.
“And they told me, ‘No, you have to get out. We are extracting you from the water.’ ”
By the end of the day, when the weary swimmers found their land legs again, Vadillo said the race will be given another go next year.
“It takes plenty of courage to even try,” he said of the day’s attempt.
“We’re different because we have courage.”
Jerry Lewis, the comedian and filmmaker who was adored by many, disdained by others, but unquestionably a defining figure of American entertainment in the 20th century, died Sunday morning at his home in Las Vegas. He was 91.
His death was confirmed by his publicist, Candi Cazau.
Lewis knew success in movies, on television, in nightclubs, on the Broadway stage and in the university lecture hall. His career had its ups and downs, but when it was at its zenith there were few stars any bigger. And he got there remarkably quickly.
Barely out of his teens, he shot to fame shortly after the Second World War with a nightclub act in which the rakish, imperturbable Dean Martin crooned and the skinny, hyperactive Lewis capered around the stage, a dangerously volatile id to Martin’s supremely relaxed ego.
After his break with Martin in 1956, Lewis went on to a successful solo career, eventually writing, producing and directing many of his own films.
As a spokesman for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Lewis raised vast sums for charity; as a filmmaker of great personal force and technical skill, he made many contributions to the industry, including the invention in 1960 of a device — the video assist, which allowed directors to review their work immediately on the set — still in common use.
A mercurial personality who could flip from naked neediness to towering rage, Lewis seemed to contain multitudes, and he explored all of them. His ultimate object of contemplation was his own contradictory self, and he turned his obsession with fragmentation, discontinuity and the limits of language into a spectacle that enchanted children, disturbed adults and fascinated postmodernist critics.
Jerry Lewis was born on March 16, 1926, in Newark, N.J. Most sources, including his 1982 autobiography, Jerry Lewis: In Person, give his birth name as Joseph Levitch. But Shawn Levy, author of the exhaustive 1996 biography King of Comedy: The Life and Art of Jerry Lewis, unearthed a birth record that gave his first name as Jerome.
His parents, Danny and Rae Levitch, were entertainers — his father a song-and-dance man, his mother a pianist — who used the name Lewis when they appeared in small-time vaudeville and at Catskills resort hotels.
In 1944 — a 4F classification kept him out of the war — he was performing at the Downtown Theater in Detroit when he met Patti Palmer, a 23-year-old singer. Three months later they were married, and on July 31, 1945, while Patti was living with Jerry’s parents in Newark and he was performing at a Baltimore nightclub, she gave birth to the first of the couple’s six sons. The couple divorced in 1980.
Between his first date with Palmer and the birth of his first son, Lewis had met Dean Martin, a promising young crooner from Steubenville, Ohio. Appearing on the same bill at the Glass Hat nightclub in Manhattan, the skinny kid from New Jersey was dazzled by the sleepy-eyed singer, who seemed to be everything he was not: handsome, self-assured and deeply, unshakably cool.
When they found themselves on the same bill again at another Manhattan nightclub, the Havana-Madrid, in March 1946, they started fooling around in impromptu sessions after the evening’s last show. Their antics earned the notice of Billboard magazine, whose reviewer wrote, “Martin and Lewis do an afterpiece that has all the makings of a sock act,” using showbiz slang for a successful show.
By the summer of 1948, they had reached the pinnacle, headlining at the Copacabana on the upper East Side of Manhattan while playing one show a night at the 6,000-seat Roxy Theater in Times Square.
The phenomenal rise of Martin and Lewis was like nothing show business had seen before. Partly this was because of the rise of mass media after the war, when newspapers, radio and the emerging medium of television came together to create a new kind of instant celebrity. And partly it was because four years of war and its difficult aftermath were finally lifting, allowing America to indulge a long-suppressed taste for silliness. But primarily it was the unusual chemical reaction that occurred when Martin and Lewis were side by side.
Lewis’s shorthand definition for their relationship was “sex and slapstick.” But much more was going on: a dialectic between adult and infant, assurance and anxiety, bitter experience and wide-eyed innocence that generated a powerful image of postwar America, a gangly young country suddenly dominant on the world stage.
Among the audience members at the Copacabana was producer Hal Wallis, who had a distribution deal through Paramount Pictures. Wallis signed them to a five-year contract.
He started them off slowly, slipping them into a low-budget project already in the pipeline. Based on a popular radio show, My Friend Irma (1949) starred Marie Wilson as a ditsy blonde and Diana Lynn as her levelheaded roommate, with Martin and Lewis providing comic support. It was not until At War With the Army (1951), an independent production filmed outside Wallis’s control, that the team took centre stage.
At War With the Army codified the relationship that ran through all 13 subsequent Martin and Lewis films, positing the pair as unlikely pals whose friendship might be tested by trouble with money or women (usually generated by Martin’s character), but who were there for each other in the end.
The films were phenomenally successful, and their budgets quickly grew.
That’s My Boy (1951), The Stooge (1953) and The Caddy (1953) approached psychological drama with their forbidding father figures and suggestions of sibling rivalry; Lewis had a hand in the writing of each. Artists and Models (1955) and Hollywood or Bust (1956) were broadly satirical looks at American popular culture under the authorial hand of director Frank Tashlin, who brought a bold graphic style and a flair for wild sight gags to his work.
Tashlin also functioned as a mentor to Lewis, who was fascinated with the technical side of filmmaking.
As his artistic aspirations grew and his control over the films in which he appeared increased, Lewis’s relationship with Martin became strained. As wildly popular as the team remained, Martin had come to resent Lewis’s dominant role in shaping their work and spoke of reviving his solo career as a singer. Lewis felt betrayed by the man he still worshipped as a role model, and by the time filming began on Hollywood or Bust they were barely speaking.
After a farewell performance at the Copacabana on July 25, 1956, Martin and Lewis went their separate ways.
Lewis saved his creative energies for the films he produced himself. The first three of those films — Rock-a-Bye Baby (1958), The Geisha Boy (1958) and Cinderfella (1960) — were directed by Tashlin. After that, finally ready to assume complete control, Lewis persuaded Paramount to take a chance on The Bellboy (1960), a virtually plotless homage to silent-film comedy that he wrote, directed and starred in, playing a hapless employee of the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach.
It was the beginning of Lewis’s most creative period. During the next five years, he directed five more films of remarkable stylistic assurance, including The Ladies Man (1961), with its huge multistory set of a women’s boardinghouse, and, most notably, The Nutty Professor (1963), a variation on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, in which Lewis appeared as a painfully shy chemistry professor and his dark alter ego, a swaggering nightclub singer.
With their themes of fragmented identity and their experimental approach to sound, colour and narrative structure, Lewis’s films began to attract the serious consideration of iconoclastic young critics in France. At a time when American film was still largely dismissed by American critics as purely commercial and devoid of artistic interest, Lewis’s work was held up as a prime example of a personal filmmaker functioning happily within the studio system.
The Nutty Professor is probably the most honoured and analyzed of Lewis’s films. (It was also his personal favourite.) For some critics, the opposition between the helpless, infantile Professor Julius Kelp and the coldly manipulative lounge singer Buddy Love represented a spiteful revision of the old Martin-and-Lewis dynamic. But Buddy seems more pertinently a projection of Lewis’s darkest fears about himself: a version of the distant, unloving father whom Lewis had never managed to please as a child, and whom he both despised and desperately wanted to be.
His blend of physical comedy and pathos was quickly going out of style in a Hollywood defined by the countercultural irony of The Graduate and M*A*S*H. After “The Day the Clown Cried,” his audacious attempt to direct a comedy-drama set in a Nazi concentration amp, collapsed in litigation in 1972, Lewis was absent from films for eight years. In that dark period, he struggled with an addiction to the pain killer Percodan.
He enjoyed a revival as an actor, thanks largely to his powerful performance in a dramatic role in Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy (1982) as a talk-show host kidnapped by an aspiring comedian (Robert De Niro) desperate to become a celebrity. He appeared in the television series Wiseguy in 1988 and 1989 as a garment manufacturer threatened by the Mob, and was memorable in character roles in Emir Kusturica’s Arizona Dream (1993) and Peter Chelsom’s Funny Bones (1995). Lewis played Mr. Applegate (aka the Devil) in a Broadway revival of the musical Damn Yankees in 1995 and later took the show on an international tour.
In 1983, Lewis married SanDee Pitnick, and in 1992 their daughter, Danielle Sara, was born. Besides his wife and daughter, survivors include his sons Christopher, Scott, Gary and Anthony, and several grandchildren.
Although he retained a preternaturally youthful appearance for many years, Lewis had a series of serious illnesses in his later life, including prostate cancer, pulmonary fibrosis and two heart attacks.
Through it all, Lewis continued his charity work, serving as national chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association and, beginning in 1966, hosting the association’s annual Labor Day weekend telethon. The telethon raised about $2 billion during the more than 40 years he was host.
During the 1976 telethon, Frank Sinatra staged an on-air reunion between Lewis and Martin, to the visible discomfort of both men. A more lasting reconciliation came in 1987, when Lewis attended the funeral of Martin’s oldest son, Dean Paul Martin Jr., a pilot in the California Air National Guard who had been killed in a crash. They continued to speak occasionally until Martin died in 1995.
What is a Steve Bannon? And if so, why? I have never seen a spiky American political operative reduce so many commentators to making lists. Normally opinionators pick an angle and stick to it, but during the Bannon years, they floundered in a sea of possibilities.
Bannon birthed President Donald Trump and worked as his White House chief strategist. He was fired on Friday. Here’s the upsetting part: in many ways, Bannon was the more sensible of the two.
Joshua Green’s new book, Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump and the Storming of the Presidency, makes a good effort at tracking Bannon before and during the election. Trump was an empty vessel. Bannon gave him a world view, plus “an infrastructure of conservative organizations” that worked “sometimes in tandem with mainstream media” to destroy Hillary Clinton.
Bannon was a kingmaker. He provided Green with acres of interviewing time and the book is very much Bannon’s version of things.
But up against a publishing deadline, Green ended the book on June 5 with an afterword, a list of dire reasons for the presidency falling apart as soon as it began.
1. Trump thought being president was about asserting personal dominance, rather than working with people and groups, including Congress.
2. He ran against the Republican Party, Wall Street and Paul Ryan, and then reverted to their agenda.
3. He doesn’t have a political philosophy, being nothing more than a creature of his ego.
This makes sense. But then came that interview Bannon gave to a left-wing outlet on Wednesday, saying white supremacists were clowns, a nuclear war with North Korea was beyond the pale, and that what he really wanted was economic war with China.
Why would Bannon have done this? Margaret Hartmann of New York Magazine made a list:
1. He made a mistake.
2. Or he leaked on purpose, trying to damage a rival for Trump’s ear, or to assert his dominance over Trump, or to distract from Trump’s disastrous reaction to Charlottesville.
3. Or he just didn’t care if he was fired, which he was.
I could write essays on my own response:
1. No, he didn’t.
2. Yes, partly right. He may have already been fired.
But opinionating adds to the chaos, and chaos is what Bannon loves. He’s a hypercompetitive, hyperaggressive “political grifter” whose life in the Navy, Wall Street, Hollywood finance, gaming, and Breitbart News turned him into a malevolent man who wants to blow up his own country.
He was born blue-collar and never fit into Republican country club culture. Shrugging off the status anxiety that afflicts Americans, unshaven and dressed in borderline rags, he made it obvious that he didn’t want to belong. Green calls him “a human hand grenade,” and that was what Trump liked about him, initially.
“Honey badger don’t give a shit” was Bannon’s catchphrase, honey badgers being big furry weasels in Africa and Southeast Asia who attack and eat pretty much anything. The honey badger meme is vile; so are its fans on the extreme right.
But the Republican Party has been driving into animality for a long time, arguably since Pat Buchanan’s “culture wars” speech rolling out their loathing of the modern world at the Republican convention in 1992.
I see the hatred Buchanan expressed as the human embodiment of the underground fires that forever burn beneath abandoned American coal mining towns. Centralia has been smoking in Pennsylvania for 55 years. It looks peaceful enough. You can be asphyxiated or swallowed by gassy sinkholes.
It’s not a bad metaphor for the Republican Party right now.
I was startled by the absurd Canadian reaction to the New Yorker’s casual mention of a “friendship” between the honey badger and Trudeau Principal Secretary Gerald Butts. “They talk regularly.”
Well, of course they do. Bannon was a get. Bannon wants to chat about his pet economic wars; Butts wants to save Canada from economic destruction at the hands of an unhinged president. Butts was doing his job.
For interim NDP leader Thomas Mulcair to demand Ottawa talk only to the nice Americans proves that Mulcair has a student council view of international governance. Bring us a bright, capable NDP leader, please.
Negotiating with Trump’s people is like feeding animals. You have interests in common. You wish to sustain the animal; honey badger wants its meat. I’m glad we have Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland. Who else could manage it?
Toronto fire officials have taken the rare step of closing a string of Dundas St. W. buildings after the owners repeatedly ignored orders to fix fire and building safety issues.
At least 28 rooms inside adjoining two-storey buildings were rented on a variety of travel websites, though apparently not on Airbnb.
The “drastic” step is the city’s latest attempt to manage the booming short-term rental market and ensure the safety of guests, Toronto Fire Services Deputy Chief Jim Jessop said.
“In our minds, this was a necessary and reasonable step to protect the public,” Jessop said.
To get the buildings closed, Toronto Fire Services presented evidence to the province’s Office of the Fire Marshal for permission to change the locks and remove anyone staying inside until the safety problems are fixed.
“This is not a common step,” nor easily approved by the province’s fire marshal, Jessop said. Permission was granted Friday afternoon.
“This step usually is in response to an owner that repeatedly has a history of non-compliance with blatant disregard of violations of the fire code, where there is no attempt to remedy the situation,” Jessop said. “This is something that we don’t take lightly.”
Previous fire code violations for the properties are still before the courts.
The fire department requested the closure saying that 779, 783 and 787 Dundas St. W. appear to be of “combustible construction.” The Electrical Safety Authority — a private safety regulator mandated by the province —found “several shock and fire hazards.”
The two-storey buildings have approximately 28 individual rooms, the fire department said in documents submitted to the fire marshal. “They are being utilized by the travelling public and the occupant load varies depending on the day,” the documents said.
Fire officials and police officers were present when the locks were changed Friday at 779, 783 and 787 Dundas St. W., west of Bathurst St. Notices were posted on the doors indicating the premises must remain closed until inspectors are satisfied the safety violations have been fixed.
In addition to having concerns about electrical installations, inspectors identified issues with exit routes and fire safety within stairways, the documents said. As well, there is no supervisory staff trained as required for a hotel, nor is there an approved fire safety plan.
The city’s building department, Toronto Building, has also issued an order prohibiting occupancy. Renters have been removed on three different occasions.
“The city had commitments from the owner that the property would not be used until all appropriate permits were issued,” said Mario Angelucci, the city’s deputy chief building official. “Despite those commitments the owners again began allowing occupancy for short-term stays.”
Angelucci said if there is continued non-compliance, “Toronto Building will undertake further enforcement action in order to safeguard the health and safety of the public and potential occupants.”
Ownership of the properties can be traced to a numbered Ontario company that is registered to Yen Ping Leung of Richmond Hill.
Her husband, Michael Cheng, and son Kevin Cheng are directors of a company operating two websites offering short-term rentals at the Dundas St. locations.
Neither man responded to the Star’s request for comment. Previously Kevin Cheng told the Star they intended to comply with city orders.
The city proposes a regulatory framework that would limit short-term rentals to a person’s primary residence. City staff will submit a final set of proposals to council this year.
The city wants to curb short-term rentals operating as commercial operations because they remove housing stock from the rental market in Toronto. The city has an extremely low vacancy rate of 1.3 per cent.
The city has said that the 13 per cent of Toronto Airbnb hosts who had multiple listings in 2016 would be forced to shut down if the regulations are approved.
In the absence of regulations, short-term rentals have been operating in a grey area, offering multiple listings in properties taxed at a residential rate, not the much higher commercial property tax rate.
The city’s proposed regulations will also require hosts to comply with municipal bylaws, meet Ontario building and fire code regulations, and share safety and emergency information with guests.
City council will consider a regulation package, including a to-be-determined short-term-rental tax, at its December meeting.
Toronto’s first city-run site for people to use illegal intravenous drugs will open at 4 p.m. Monday in a temporary downtown clinic.
“It provides a safe environment for people who are going to use drugs,” Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s chief public health official, told reporters outside the building at Victoria and Dundas Sts. that already houses The Works needle exchange program.
“We know both through research and lived experience, it’s highest risk for overdose and deaths . . . when people . . . use alone,” she said. “We provide a safe environment, a supervised environment for people to use their drugs safely, so they minimize harm to themselves.”
The temporary safe-injection site, to be replaced by three bigger permanent sites this fall, will operate from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Saturday.
In a plain clinical room, up to three people at a time can sit at a long table and inject drugs and put used needles into a yellow plastic disposal tub.
Staff expect to keep an eye on up to nine drug users per hour, and hope each will stay at least 15 minutes for rest and observation for any signs of overdose.
The permanent site being built across the hall with accommodate up to five people at a time and open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. The others will be at Queen West Central Toronto Community Health Centre on Bathurst St. and South Riverdale Community Health Centre near Carlaw Ave.
Health Canada had previously issued the city permission to host the sites. The federal agency inspected and approved the temporary site last week.
The city pushed forward with a temporary site after local harm-reduction advocates, anxious over a spike in overdose deaths apparently related to the highly toxic painkiller fentanyl, opened their own safe-injection site in a tent in Moss Park.
Nick Boyce, one of the volunteers at that “pop-up” site, welcomed the city clinic, but said there are no plans to close it.
People who shoot up in the tent have a range of mental and physical issues and wouldn’t necessarily head northwest to the city site, he said.
“We intend to continue supporting those people. We’re starting to build relationships and trust with those people,” said the harm-reduction advocate.
“These are people that are injecting drugs in that park already. That’s why we went there. We’re trying to get them away from the playground, away from the swings, away from the baseball diamond, into a tent where they can use safely and we can look after them.”
The city site will be staffed by two nurses, two counsellors and a manager. Shaun Hopkins, who manages the needle exchange, said the permanent site will have more staff to accommodate more drug users and a bigger “chill-out” space for them to be observed.
“They still might overdose, but we’re here to monitor, and make sure they get the medical attention that they need,” she said. “Obviously, we’re really concerned; a lot of people have died. It’s preventable, so that’s why we wanted to get this up and running as quickly as possible.”
Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, who represents Ward 7 in the Finch Ave.-Weston Rd. area, arrived at the new site to tell reporters it will encourage drug use and cause problems in the area including Yonge-Dundas Square.
De Villa noted safe-injection sites have been running for years in other cities and said research on them “supports the benefit of supervised injection services as a harm-reduction measure, not only for drug users themselves, but also as a method by which to minimize social harms.”
Mayor John Tory has expressed reservations about the pop-up safe-injection site continuing in Moss Park, between Jarvis and Sherbourne Sts., after the city-run alternative opens.
Asked Monday about the police response to the Moss Park tent, Toronto Police spokesperson Mark Pugash said: “We’ll continue to operate on a day-by-day basis, but we have no plans to change our position.
“When it first popped up, our superintendent met with the organizers and agreed on a number of conditions which we think go along way towards minimizing risks to public safety, and we’ll continue on that basis.”
AUSTIN, TEXAS—University of Texas President Greg Fenves ordered the immediate removal of statues of Robert E. Lee and other prominent Confederate figures from a main area of campus, saying such monuments have become “symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism.”
There was a heavy police presence, and some arguments occurred among those gathered, after Fenves announced the move late Sunday and crews began removing the statues. The school blocked off the area, and the statues were expected to be gone by mid-morning Monday, a spokesman said.
Fenves said statues of Lee, Confederate Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston and Confederate Postmaster General John H. Reagan will be moved to the Briscoe Center for American History on campus. In 2015, the university moved a statue of former Confederate President Jefferson Davis from its perch near the campus clock tower, the same area as the other statues, to the history museum.
Early Monday, crews first removed a statue of former Texas Gov. James Stephen Hogg, which was commissioned at the same time as the others, a spokesman said. Hogg will get another place on campus.
Less than 30 people, both supporters and opponents of Fenves’ order, congregated after midnight behind barricades near the statues. Among them was Mark Peterson, who identified himself as a University of Houston student. He was seething at the removal of the statues.
“I hate the erasure of history and my people’s history ... people of European descent who built this country,” the 22-year-old said. “It burns me to my core.”
Mike Lowe, an activist for the removal of Confederate statues in San Antonio, was driving to Dallas when he heard the statues were coming down, turned around and drove to campus. Lowe, 37, who is African-American, engaged in a brief but tense argument with a white male protester until police stepped in to separate them.
“They have no other reasons than ‘you are erasing our history.’ Their reasoning is flawed. These monuments represent white supremacy, and black lives haven’t mattered in this county the same as a white man’s matters,” Lowe said.
The debate over public memorials for Confederate figures roared into national conversation last week after one person was killed and 19 were injured when a car drove into a crowd of people in a clash between white supremacists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“Last week, the horrific displays of hatred at the University of Virginia and in Charlottesville shocked and saddened the nation. These events make it clear, now more than ever, that Confederate monuments have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism,” Fenves said in a statement.
Moving the Davis statue in 2015 was a much more deliberate effort. The Davis statue had long been a target of vandalism. Fenves convened a special task force to discuss its future after a shooting rampage by a white supremacist at a Charleston, South Carolina, church and ultimately decided it should come down.
Confederate groups tried to block the removal of the Davis statue and the Sons of Confederate Veterans sued to stop it, but a state district judge sided with the school.
The decision to take down the others came much quicker. Fenves said he spoke last week with student leaders, students, faculty members, staff members and alumni about what to do after the events in Virginia.
“The University of Texas at Austin is a public educational and research institution, first and foremost. The historical and cultural significance of the Confederate statues on our campus — and the connections that individuals have with them — are severely compromised by what they symbolize,” Fenves said. “Erected during the period of Jim Crow laws and segregation, the statues represent the subjugation of African Americans. That remains true today for white supremacists who use them to symbolize hatred and bigotry.”
Asked why the school decided to remove the statues during the overnight hours, university spokesman Gary Susswein said recent events played a factor.
“We’ve seen what happened elsewhere,” Susswein said. “The timing was designed to ensure public safety and provide minimal disruption to campus.”
This story has been updated to correct the spelling of the history museum to the Briscoe Center for American History, not the Brisco Center for American History.
Under pressure from the Ontario Liberal Party, Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown has distanced himself from the controversial far-right website The Rebel.
“I deplore intolerance of any kind and in any place, including Rebel. That’s why they thoroughly detest me!” Brown tweeted, with a link to a Rebel video critical of his party’s troubled nomination process.
His tweet, posted at 11:20 a.m. Saturday, followed one by the Ontario Liberals that was put on the social media site at 7:29 a.m. that day.
“Call on Ontario Conservative leader Patrick Brown to forcefully denounce Rebel Media, here,” the Liberal post said with a link to an online petition that said “Hatred And Bigotry Have No Place In Ontario.”
“Demand Patrick Brown and the Ontario Conservatives disavow The Rebel. Members of Rebel Media have voiced their support for the alt-right and neo-Nazi movement,” the Grits said.
“They were swiftly condemned by people across the political spectrum. But Ontario Conservative Leader Patrick Brown has remained silent, even though he’s appeared on Rebel Media multiple times. We are calling on him to denounce Rebel Media and say he will never appear on the station again.”
While Brown has indeed been interviewed by the controversial two-year-old outlet, he has become a favourite target of Rebel pundits for moving the Ontario Tories to the political centre.
Since taking the helm of the party in May 2015, he has renounced social conservatives by embracing abortion rights, same-sex marriage, and Premier Kathleen Wynne’s updated sex-education curriculum.
As well, Brown has welcomed thousands of people from Ontario’s cultural communities into the fold.
But against the backdrop of the June 7, 2018 provincial election, the Liberals want to paint him as a politician from outside the mainstream.
Rebel, once a darling of conservatives in Canada, has been imploding in recent days, thanks in part to its coverage of the Charlottesville, Va. protest where an anti-Nazi demonstrator was killed. A white supremacist has been charged in her death.
Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has said he will no longer appear on the site.
Simeon Peter’s family believes he held on long enough to hear his mother’s voice in the hospital before he succumbed to injuries sustained in an execution-style shooting.
“As soon as I entered and I held his hand and I called his name, that’s the time the doctors …,” said his mother, Marcelina Peter, becoming emotional as her voice trailed off.
The Peter family has lived through an ordeal that most could not fathom; not just those who have never lost a loved one to a murder, but even those who have.
Because unlike most murder cases, which lead to one trial and some form of justice being delivered, the Peters have had to sit in court and watch as the man accused of killing their son and brother stood trial once, then a second time, and now possibly a third time.
The Crown has always alleged that Warren Nigel Abbey was a member of the Malvern Crew who mistakenly believed that Peter, 19, was a member of the rival Galloway Boys when he shot him multiple times on a Scarborough street in 2004 as Peter was making his way to a job interview.
“The cold and callous nature of this killing cannot be overstated,” Superior Court Justice David McCombs said during the sentencing.
But then Abbey’s lawyers appealed, and earlier this month, Ontario’s top court ordered a third trial, finding that the key part of the Crown’s evidence, an expert witness who testified on the significance of gang members with teardrop tattoos, contained “inaccuracies” and even “falsehoods.”
The Crown had alleged Abbey got a teardrop tattooed under his right eye about four months after Peter’s death.
Sociologist Mark Totten testified for the Crown at the second trial that the teardrop could have one of three meanings: the individual had lost a loved one or fellow gang member, had spent time in prison or had killed a rival gang member.
“I have concluded that the fresh evidence shows Totten’s opinion evidence on the meaning of a teardrop tattoo to be too unreliable to be heard by a jury. If the trial judge had known about the fresh evidence he would have ruled Totten’s evidence inadmissible,” Court of Appeal Justice John Laskin wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel this month.
It’s now up to the Crown to decide if it will pursue a third trial; the Ministry of the Attorney General has not commented publicly on the case because it has until early September to decide if it wants to seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court. Abbey’s lawyers say they will be applying for his release from prison pending a possible retrial.
In an interview with the Star, Peter’s parents and two of his three sisters said the teardrop issue has overshadowed everything else about the case, and lost in the discussion is a devoted son and brother, who went by the nickname Sammy, and who was looking to get a job that day in 2004 so that he could save up and open his own clothing line.
“We want more information out there about our brother, who is never spoken about,” said his sister, Rinita. “Nobody actually knows my brother, anything about him. The whole thing is on Abbey.”
Worse, the initial reports of Peter’s shooting had relatives, including in Dubai from where the Peter family emigrated, calling to inquire if he had indeed been involved with a gang. Media coverage containing a mug shot of Peter from a run-in with police didn’t help, his family said.
“He would say to my relatives, he said once I start working, Momma can stay home,” said Marcelina. “I didn’t work in Dubai, so when I came here, I started working, that was his only concern, once I get a job, Momma doesn’t have to work.
“He was really, really loving and he cared a lot about me and my girls and my husband. I only wish I can get him back, but I cannot.”
Referring to their parents, younger sister Stephanie said: “He knew how much they had sacrificed, and the opportunities they had given us, and he wanted to give back.”
Peter’s father, John, who remained quiet during much of the interview, admitted that following his only son’s death, he briefly had second thoughts about the decision to come to Canada in the 1990s. He worked as a supervisor for the aviation department in Dubai; in Toronto, he did lower wage jobs, and is now retired.
“I asked them: Did I make the wrong decision?” John said, pausing as he began to tear up.
Peter now has nieces and nephews he’s never met. Rinita has two children, as does Peter’s other sister, Rachel. The family said they never glossed over what happened when explaining the killing to the children, and through them, they’ve been able to keep Uncle Sammy’s name alive.
Following his death, the sisters made a promise that part of his name would live on in their kids’ names when they were born some day, which is why both Rachel’s and Rinita’s sons have the middle name “Ralph,” the same as their brother’s.
Rinita said the sisters have kept their last name so that it would also live on after Simeon’s death.
“Every time I accomplish something, I think, ‘I hope you’re watching me, I hope you’d be proud’” Stephanie said through tears.
The Peter family believes Abbey is guilty of Peter’s murder and continues to have many questions about what happened that day. They’re also concerned about the effect the passage of time has had on the remaining evidence in the case.
Aside from Totten’s evidence, which is no longer admissible, the Crown had also called three Malvern Crew members whose testimony implicated Abbey, though the Court of Appeal said this month they had “unsavory” pasts and testified in exchange for immunity on serious offences.
“They say if Dr. Totten wasn’t allowed to give his testimony that maybe that would have affected the guilty verdict,” said Stephanie, referring to the appeal decision. “I find that hard to believe that the jury came to the guilty verdict solely on Dr. Totten’s evidence. I find that truly ridiculous to believe.”
The family is now once again preparing for the possibility of a third trial in Peter’s murder, and all the logistics that come with it, including trying to take time off work to attend the trial, making child-care arrangements, and having their lives at a standstill while the jury deliberates.
Marcelina wishes she could have gotten answers from her son, but that chance in the hospital never came.
“If he could have just opened his eyes and looked at us and said okay mom, this is what happened, I would have said okay, at least he had a chance to speak to us.”
After criticism over plans to switch the force’s frontline fleet from white to dark grey, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders unveiled a new prototype Monday that retains the grey base but adds white doors.
The new design was done after the service conducted a survey that presented members of the public and police employees with a narrow choice of base colours: white, silver, dark blue and black.
The results were tabulated and Ryerson University’s RTA School of Media created the design, Saunders said, after driving the latest version up to the back of police headquarters on Grenville Street.
The vehicles were designed with visibility and professionalism in mind, Saunders told reporters.
Last November, following a backlash, city council passed a motion asking the Toronto Police Services Board to retain the current color scheme of its patrol cars “pending further view.” The motion said “stealth grey” was too militaristic and sent the wrong message to the public.
Safety experts were also critical of grey for not being “on the visibility pyramid of paint color.”
Saunders halted the design after police board members asked him to “clarify” the reasons for the change, since they were not consulted. The board, which includes Mayor John Tory, also asked that community consultations be undertaken and requested that if a new design was warranted, it “reflect diversity, inclusiveness and mutual respect.”
Saunders said Monday he believes the new design meets those criteria though he continues to disagree with critics who believed the all-grey forerunner was too militarized and not visible enough.
“I was very, very confident that if we used fluorescent white that would not be an issue, but you know, once again we have to listen to the public and sometimes they’ll interpret things differently,” he said.
“I’m equally happy with this vehicle and the way it looks and looking forward to seeing how the public feels about it.”
Saunders said as far as he’s concerned the matter is closed — though he is due to present the new design to the board at its monthly meeting on Thursday.
“I’m going to focus on keeping the community safe, if I invest too much time in figuring out the color of the police vehicle then I’m doing something wrong.”
Toronto police officers have been patrolling city streets in the white, red and blue design since 2006.
A Toronto Police Service news release said the new design “achieves a balance between visibility, with white doors, reflective letter and emergency lights, and professionalism, with a sleek, simple design that focuses on the word “POLICE.”
The first newly designed cars will be on the road by November, the release said. It will take five years to replace the entire fleet of frontline vehicles.
WASHINGTON—The Secret Service can no longer pay hundreds of agents it needs to carry out an expanded protective mission — in large part due to the sheer size of President Trump’s family and efforts necessary to secure their multiple residences up and down the East Coast.
Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles, in an interview with USA TODAY, said more than 1,000 agents have already hit the federally mandated caps for salary and overtime allowances that were meant to last the entire year.
The agency has faced a crushing workload since the height of the contentious election season, and it has not relented in the first seven months of the administration. Agents must protect Trump — who has travelled almost every weekend to his properties in Florida, New Jersey and Virginia — and his adult children whose business trips and vacations have taken them across the country and overseas.
“The president has a large family, and our responsibility is required in law,” Alles said. “I can’t change that. I have no flexibility.”
Alles said the service is grappling with an unprecedented number of White House protectees. Under Trump, 42 people have protection, a number that includes 18 members of his family. That’s up from 31 during the Obama administration.
Overwork and constant travel have also been driving a recent exodus from the Secret Service ranks, yet without congressional intervention to provide additional funding, Alles will not even be able to pay agents for the work they have already done.
The compensation crunch is so serious that the director has begun discussions with key lawmakers to raise the combined salary and overtime cap for agents, from $160,000 per year to $187,000 for at least the duration of Trump’s first term.
But even if such a proposal was approved, about 130 veteran agents would not be fully compensated for hundreds of hours already amassed, according to the agency.
“I don’t see this changing in the near term,” Alles said.
Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers expressed deep concern for the continuing stress on the agency, first thrust into turmoil five years ago with disclosures about sexual misconduct by agents in Colombia and subsequent White House security breaches.
A special investigative panel formed after a particularly egregious 2014 White House breach also found that that agents and uniform officers worked “an unsustainable number of hours,” which also contributed to troubling attrition rates.
While about 800 agents and uniformed officers were hired during the past year as part of an ongoing recruiting blitz to bolster the ranks, attrition limited the agency’s net staffing gain to 300, according to agency records. And last year, Congress had to approve a one-time fix to ensure that 1,400 agents would be compensated for thousands of hours of overtime earned above compensation limits. Last year’s compensation shortfall was first disclosed by USA TODAY.
“It is clear that the Secret Service’s demands will continue to be higher than ever throughout the Trump administration,” said Jennifer Werner, a spokesperson for Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings.
Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee who was the first lawmaker to sound the alarm after last year’s disclosure that hundreds of agents had maxed out on pay, recently spoke with Alles and pledged support for a more permanent fix, Werner said.
“We cannot expect the Secret Service to be able to recruit and keep the best of the best if they are not being paid for these increases (in overtime hours).”
South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, the Republican chairman of the House oversight panel, is “working with other committees of jurisdiction to explore ways in which we can best support” the Secret Service, his spokesperson Amanda Gonzalez said.
Talks also are underway in the Senate, where the Secret Service has briefed members of the Homeland Security Committee, which directly oversees the agency’s operations.
“Ensuring the men and women who put their lives on the line protecting the president, his family and others every day are getting paid fairly for their work is a priority,” said Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, the panel’s top Democrat. “I’m committed to working with my colleagues on both sides to get this done.”
Without some legislative relief, though, at least 1,100 agents — for now — would not be eligible for overtime even as one of the agency’s largest protective assignments looms next month. Nearly 150 foreign heads of state are expected to converge on New York City for the United Nations General Assembly.
Because of the sheer number of high-level dignitaries, the United Nations gathering is traditionally designated by the U.S., as a “National Special Security Event” and requires a massive deployment of security resources managed by the Secret Service.
That will be even trickier this year. “Normally, we are not this tapped out,” said Alles, whom Trump appointed to his post in April.
The agents who have reached their compensation limits this year represent about a third of the Secret Service workforce, which was pressed last year to secure both national political conventions in the midst of a rollicking campaign cycle. The campaign featured regular clashes involving protesters at Trump rallies across the country, prompting the Secret Service at one point to erect bike racks as buffers around stages to thwart potential rushes from people in the crowd.
Officials had hoped that the agency’s workload would normalize after the inauguration, but the president’s frequent weekend trips, his family’s business travel and the higher number of protectees has made that impossible.
Since his inauguration, Trump has taken seven trips to his estate in Mar-a-Lago, Fla., travelled to his Bedminster, N.J., golf club five times and returned to Trump Tower in Manhattan once.
Trump’s frequent visits to his “winter White House” and “summer White House” are especially challenging for the agency, which must maintain a regular security infrastructure at each — while still allowing access to paying members and guests.
Always costly in manpower and equipment, the president’s jaunts to Mar-a-Lago are estimated to cost at least $3 million each, based on a General Accounting Office estimate for similar travel by former president Obama. The Secret Service has spent some $60,000 on golf cart rentals alone this year to protect Trump at both Mar-a-Lago and Bedminster.
The president, First Lady Melania Trump and the couple’s youngest son Barron — who maintained a separate detail in Trump Tower until June — aren’t the only ones on the move with full-time security details in tow.
Trump’s other sons, Trump Organization executives Donald Jr. and Eric, based in New York, also are covered by security details, including when they travel frequently to promote Trump-branded properties in other countries.
A few examples: Earlier this year, Eric Trump’s business travel to Uruguay cost the Secret Service nearly $100,000 just for hotel rooms. Other trips included the United Kingdom and the Dominican Republic. In February, both sons and their security details travelled to Vancouver, British Columbia, for the opening of new Trump hotel there, and to Dubai to officially open a Trump International Golf Club.
In March, security details accompanied part of the family, including Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner on a skiing vacation in Aspen, Colo. Even Tiffany Trump, the president’s younger daughter, took vacations with her boyfriend to international locales such as Germany and Hungary, which also require Secret Service protection.
While Alles has characterized the security challenges posed by the Trump administration as a new “reality” of the agency’s mission, the former Marine Corps major general said he has discussed the agency’s staffing limitations with the White House so that security operations are not compromised by an unusually busy travel schedule.
“They understand,” Alles said. “They accommodate to the degree they can and to the degree that it can be controlled. They have been supportive the whole time.”
Over time, Alles expects the Secret Service’s continued hiring campaign will gradually relieve the pressure. From its current force of 6,800 agents and uniform officers, the goal is to reach 7,600 by 2019 and 9,500 by 2025.
“We’re making progress,” he said.
For now, Alles is focused simply on ensuring that his current agents will be paid for the work they have already done.
“We have them working all night long; we’re sending them on the road all of the time,” Alles said. “There are no quick fixes, but over the long term, I’ve got to give them a better balance (of work and private life) here.”
Women from a small sect of Ismaili Muslims called the Dawoodi Bohras have reported that female genital mutilation has been performed on them in Canada, a study given to the federal government reveals.
The first research of its kind to probe the practice within this tightly knit South Asian community, the study found that 80 per cent of Bohra women surveyed have undergone FGM and two of the study’s 18 Canadian participants said it happened within Canada’s borders.
In Canada, FGM was added to the Criminal Code under aggravated assault in 1997. The study does not provide additional information on the two cases it uncovered.
Most commonly associated with communities in sub-Saharan Africa, FGM is also practised among members of this Muslim sect who trace their roots to Yemen in the 11th century and who migrated to Gujarat, India, in the 1500s.
Authored by Sahiyo, an organization of anti-FGM activists and members of the Dawoodi Bohra community, the study was completed in February. Preliminary results went to officials from Canada’s Foreign Affairs Department in June 2016. The federal government says it is looking into the issue.
The researcher’s findings show that more than 80 per cent of the 385 Dawoodi Bohra women surveyed — including all 18 Canadian participants — want the practice to end and would not do it to their daughters.
Female genital mutilation, also known as female genital cutting or female circumcision, is a procedure that intentionally alters or causes injury to external female organs. It can be inflicted on girls as young as 1 and varies in severity from partial removal of the clitoris to excising the clitoris and labia and stitching up the walls of the vulva to leave only a tiny opening.
Khatna is the South Asian term for genital cutting and, according to the study, the sect’s practice of removing a woman’s clitoris is done for reasons including “religious purposes,” to curb sexual arousal, for cleanliness and to maintain customs and traditions.
The Dawoodi Bohras have recently made FGM-related headlines. A Detroit emergency room doctor charged in April with alleged performing of FGM on 100 young girls is a Dawoodi Bohra. The doctor, Jumana Nagarwala, is in jail awaiting trial. In 2016, a Dawoodi Bohra priest in Sydney, Australia, was convicted for his role in performing FGM.
“The findings (of the study) demonstrate that FGC (female genital cutting) is deeply rooted in the community’s culture,” the authors write. Sahiyo means “friends” in Gujarati.
“Understanding the complex social norms and cultural values systems that shape the meaning and significance of the practice within this community is critical work of anti-FGC advocates.”
For this story, the Star also spoke with three local Dawoodi Bohra women who described what it’s like to undergo khatna in their native countries of India and Kenya at the hands of “practitioners,” not doctors, in non-medical environments such as kitchens, with unsterile razors.
A continuing Star investigation has revealed that Canadian girls have been taken overseas to have the procedure and that thousands more could be at risk of being sent abroad to be subjected to FGM.
Practitioners who perform FGM are “almost certainly entering Canada” to engage in the practice, says an internal report from Canada Border Services Agency, as reported by Global News in July.
FGM is a cultural practice dating back hundreds of years, and organizations including the United Nations say that although it is often perceived as being connected to some Islamic groups, it also occurs in other religious communities, including Christians, Ethiopian Jews and certain traditional African religions.
In Ontario, some women have asked their doctors to reverse the most severe type of FGM. Provincial records show that in the past seven years, Ontario has performed 308 “repairs of infibulations,” a surgery that creates a vaginal opening where it has been sewn mostly shut. There are currently no known procedures in Canada that replace tissue.
Canada has recently given $350,000 to a small Quebec organization to fight FGM in at-risk communities, but critics say little has been done to understand the problem’s scope and that Canada is lagging far behind other developed countries in prevention. Experts say there is a lack of support services available for women living with the physical and psychological effects of FGM, regardless of when and where it happened to them.
An email exchange between federal Foreign Affairs officials in Canada and India discussing the report said it will be “helpful” as the government is “in the midst of examining how Canada can engage on this file internationally. One government lawyer, the emails state, is “looking at the domestic implications of this practice.”
Considered progressive in some areas, Dawoodi Bohras have a “high level of education and wealth,” according to the federal emails, and the community has “political and cultural influence that exceeds its size.” The emails — correspondence between government officials over the past two years — were released to the Star through an access to information request. They reference cases the government is aware of in which Canadian girls have undergone or are alleged to have undergone cutting abroad, in addition to the report about the Dawoodi Bohras.
The emails say officials learned from the report how over the past two decades there has been a regression of gender equality in the Dawoodi Bohra community worldwide and there is “significant hidden violence against women.” There are roughly 20,000 to 40,000 Dawoodi Bohras in Canada, according to the federal emails.
Titled “Understanding Female Genital Cutting in the Dawoodi Bohra Community,” the Sahiyo study surveyed 385 Dawoodi Bohra women across the globe, including women in Canada, the U.S., Australia and the United Kingdom, in an attempt to shed light where “little or no data” exists. It aims to inform policy makers and health professionals in order to “end the practice,” the study said, that has left most of its participants with emotional scars — anger, haunting memories and frustration in their sexual lives.
“I feel robbed and cheated of my sexuality,” one respondent told the study’s researchers.
Shaheeda Tavawalla-Kirtane, Sahiyo’s Canadian co-founder, who works in India to raise awareness about FGM, said she has been tweeting to Canadian ministers because Canada should be aware this “crime” is happening on its soil. The Sahiyo study suggests creating a hotline for at-risk girls and education about FGM for front-line workers, such as teachers.
Some of the study’s participants reported that, typically at the age of 7, they were told they were having the procedure to remove a “worm” and that khatna was part of the religion.
The religious justification for this practice may come from passages in the Da’aim al-Islam, a sacred Islamic text that informs the tenets and traditions of the Dawoodi Bohras. According to The Pillars of Islam, a respected translation of the text, cutting will lead to “greater purity.”
Though most study participants said they do not want the practice to continue, breaking the cycle is a challenge because women are afraid of the backlash they’ll face if they don’t keep up with the social norm, Tavawalla-Kirtane said.
Worldwide, there are an estimated 1.5 to two million Dawoodi Bohras, living mainly on the west coast of Gujarat and Maharashtra states in India, and in Pakistan.
The sect’s India-based spiritual leader, referred to as the Sayedna, enjoys centralized power and access to the properties and assets of his communities around the world, the federal emails state.
As Dawoodi Bohras settled in the GTA, the Sayedna in the early 1990s notably tried — but failed — to incorporate himself in Canada as a “corporation sole,” a company of one person. The designation may have given the Sayedna decision-making power over the resources, land and money, of the Dawoodi Bohra communities in Canada.
A local member of the Bohra community, writing to a Canadian senator about the issue at the time, said the Canadian Dawoodi Bohras had questionable practices, including “actively enforcing” female genital cutting. The writer alleged that “a lady with medical background or qualifications visits Ontario regularly to conduct these procedures on little girls of the community.”
In April 2016, a sermon leaked to the media shows the current Sayedna talking about khatna and, according to the federal documents, reportedly saying: “The act has to happen. If it is a man (male circumcision), then it is right, it can be openly done, but if it is a woman then it must be done discreetly, but then the act has to be done.”
Two months later, as described in the federal emails, the Sayedna released a further statement saying that “male and female circumcision … are religious rites that have been practiced by Dawoodi Bohras throughout history” and religious texts, “written over a thousand years ago, specify the requirements for both males and females as acts of religious purity.” But he noted that Bohras must abide “by the laws of the countries in which they reside.”
Faizan Ali, a member of the Mississauga congregation who said he is overseeing the construction of the community’s new 50,000-square-foot mosque, said local Dawoodi Bohras don’t practise FGM in Canada because it is against the law.
As far as he knows, khatna is not practised in the GTA, he said, but “if someone is going at their own discretion, obviously we cannot control it.”
Ali said he does not agree with pushing the practice on a child. But if an adult woman who is 18 or older consents, he said, it is “fine.”
Unlike in other cultures that celebrate FGM, throwing parties and lavishing money and gifts onto young girls as part of the procedure, the Dawoodi Bohra practice has traditionally been done clandestinely, said Dilshad Tavawalla, a lawyer and anti-FGM activist in Toronto whose daughter is the Sahiyo co-founder.
Tavawalla, who underwent the procedure in Mumbai when she was 7, calls it “a women’s secret” even though today it is being “medicalized” and sometimes done overseas by health professionals in clinics and hospitals.
Women who openly oppose the practice are perceived as attacking the community and culture, Tavawalla said, and could face consequences such as being socially ostracized. Friends and family members cut ties — a fate that feels catastrophic in this small, loyal and closely knit religious sect, sources have told the Star.
The three Dawoodi Bohra women who spoke to the Star underwent FGM overseas before coming to Canada.
They were all about 7 years old when their mothers took them to a “cutter,” an older woman operating in a non-medical environment, such as a kitchen. The women were told to remove their underwear before the cutter swiped a razor at their clitorises.
Two of the women the Star spoke with said they tried to run when they realized what was happening but they were held down, their legs forcefully spread by female elders.
Luby Fidaali was 7 years old when her mother kept her home from school one morning and took her to someone she believed was a healer — an elderly woman who said prayers over her sore tummy from time to time when she was not feeling well.
But when she got to the cutter’s house, Fidaali was told to sit on a small kitchen stool like those traditionally used to knead chapatis, she said, and was instructed to pull her legs apart.
She glanced at the fire burning in a charcoal stove in the corner and didn’t see the cutter take out a razor blade. “Even when I think about it, it hurts,” she said recently, telling the story for only the second time in her life. She was instructed to sit near the stove and “take in the heat to help the healing.”
Fidaali’s mother told her never to speak about her experience to anyone, including her father and siblings. She doesn’t begrudge her mother, she said, because she was simply “following societal norms in order to stay in the community.”
Fidaali’s family was excommunicated several years later for challenging the Sayedna’s orders, and since, she said, she feels emboldened to speak out against an “oppressive clergy.”
“The clergy is very powerful and can intimidate their followers into all kinds of acts for fear of social boycott,” she said.
Clarification — August 21, 2017: The headline on this article has been changed from a previous version that described the Dawoodi Bohras as a sect of Ismaili Muslims. While the Bohras were part of the Ismailis, they split many centuries ago, according to Syed Soharwardy, founder and chairman of The Islamic Supreme Council of Canada. “Now they are separate and don’t consider each other as part of them,” he said.
SUBIRATS, SPAIN—A man thought to be the driver in the Barcelona van attack was shot dead by Spanish police Monday after authorities announced he also was suspected of killing the owner of a hijacked getaway car. The fugitive was wearing a bomb belt, authorities said.
Younes Abouyaaqoub was shot when officers confronted him in Subirats, a rural area known for its vineyards about 45 kilometres west of Barcelona, police in Spain’s Catalonia region said. A bomb disposal robot was dispatched to approach him, police said.
Abouyaaqoub, 22, had been the target of an international manhunt that had raised fears throughout the region since Thursday’s van attack in Barcelona.
Authorities said Monday they now have evidence that Abouyaaqoub drove the van that plowed down the city’s famed Las Ramblas promenade, killing 13 pedestrians and injuring more than 120 others.
They said Abouyaaqoub, who was born in Morocco and has Spanish residency, also is suspected of carjacking a man and stabbing him to death as he made his getaway, raising the death toll between the Barcelona attack and a related attack hours later to 15.
Another vehicle attack early Friday by other members of what Catalonia regional police have described as a 12-member extremist cell killed one person and wounded several others in the coastal town of Cambrils. That ended in a shootout with police, who killed five attackers.
Daesh, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has claimed responsibility for both attacks.
Roser Ventura, whose father owns a vineyard between the towns of Sadurni d’Anoia and Subirats, said he alerted the regional Catalan police when they spotted a car crossing their property at high speed.
“The police told us to leave the premises and go home. We heard a helicopter flying around and many police cars coming toward the gas station that is some 600 metres from the property,” Ventura said.
Earlier Monday, regional police chief Josep Lluis Trapero said investigators have “scientific evidence” showing Abouyaaqoub drove the speeding van in Las Ramblas and killed the owner of a hijacked sedan on Thursday night.
He said the suspect walked through Barcelona for about 90 minutes after the van attack — through the famed La Boqueria market and nearly to Barcelona University — before hijacking the car. Abouyaaqoub is believed to have made his getaway in the stolen car with Perez’s body inside.
Perez was parking his car, a Ford Focus, in a lot between 6:10 p.m. and 6:20 p.m. Abouyaaqoub stabbed him before 6:32 p.m., put him in the car’s rear seats and drove away, Trapero said.
Trapero said Perez was already dead when Abouyaaqoub then rammed the car through a police checkpoint minutes later and police opened fire on his car.
The suspect ran over a police officer as the car evaded the checkpoint. At about 7 p.m., police found the car and Perez’s body 3 kilometres away from the checkpoint, near Sant Just Desvern, a town west of Barcelona, but Abouyaaqoub was nowhere to be found.
The Spanish newspaper El Pais published images Monday of what it said was Abouyaaqoub leaving the van attack site on foot. The three images show a slim man wearing sunglasses walking through the La Boqueria market.
Abouyaaqoub escaped and had not returned to his home in Ripoll, said Trapero. The manhunt for him reached well beyond Spain’s borders. Four other suspects have been arrested.
Regional authorities said Monday that 48 people were still hospitalized from both attacks, eight of them in critical condition.
Abouyaaqoub was believed to be the lone attacker on the run by Sunday. Authorities hadn’t confirmed his identity because they were having difficulty identifying the remains of at least two extremists who died Wednesday in an explosion at a house in Alcanar where explosives were being prepared.
The explosion destroyed the house, but police found remnants of over 100 butane gas tanks and materials needed for the TATP explosive, which has been used previously by Daesh militants.
Those discoveries, and reports that Abouyaaqoub had rented three vans, suggested the militant cell was making plans for an even more massive attack on the city.
Catalonia’s regional president, meanwhile, said regional and local authorities rejected the Spanish government’s suggestion to place traffic barriers to protect the Las Ramblas promenade because they deemed them “inefficient.”
Carles Puigdemont told La Sexta television the barriers wouldn’t have prevented vehicles from entering the promenade at other points — and he said closing off Las Ramblas was impractical because emergency vehicles still needed access.
On Monday, crowds of people continued to lay flowers, candles and heart-shaped balloons at the top of pedestrian promenade where the van struck and at other smaller tributes.
Las Ramblas also regained some normality Monday, with throngs of people walking up and down, tourists arriving and residents going about their daily business.
“We have to stand strong in front of these betrayers, assassins, terrorists,” said resident Monserrat Mora. “Because Barcelona is strong and they will not be able to prevail with us.”
It was a clear day when Louis Tomososki’s science teacher mentioned that a partial solar eclipse would be visible from their hometown of Portland, Ore., that afternoon.
So after classes let out, Tomososki, then 16, found Roger Duvall, his friend since the fourth grade and a fellow science buff. The pair ambled up the steps to their high school’s baseball field and planted themselves about three metres behind third base.
They stood and waited, squinting toward the sky. Sure enough, the teenagers eventually spotted what they had been looking for: a partial eclipse of the sun.
“And yeah, there it is! You could see the moon taking a bite out of the sun,” Tomososki remembered thinking then.
That was more than 50 years ago. Both men, now 70, say they wish they had known about the long-term harm that afternoon would do to their eyesight.
“We didn’t know right that second that we damaged our eyes,” Duvall said in a phone interview Sunday. “At that time, we thought we were invincible, as most teenagers do.”
Both estimate they had glanced up for about 20 seconds or so — each using a different eye. Immediately afterward, Tomososki’s right eye and Duvall’s left eye bothered them slightly.
“We had looked down at the ground and you’re still looking at part of the eclipse like it’s imprinted in your eye,” Duvall said.
It was only through separate eye exams later that both men learned they had permanently damaged their retinas. For Tomososki, his “good eye” compensates for his “bad” one when both are open. When his left eye is closed, however, he sees a “scrambled, whitish spot” through his right eye.
“Have you ever seen a news story where they don’t want the license plate seen at home? That’s the exact same colour of everything, except mine’s the size of a pea,” he said. “And that was 20 seconds worth of burning. If we had looked longer — or the worst thing, if you switch eyes looking at the sun — then you’re in real trouble.”
Through the decades, some of the exact details from that day have faded: For instance, Tomososki remembers few people, if anybody else, had been standing on the baseball field with them that afternoon, while Duvall recalls that several others also had been out trying to catch a glimpse of the eclipse.
Both men remember that the eclipse took place after school in 1963, when they were high school juniors, but the eclipse that year occurred on July 20, a Saturday. In some news reports about Tomososki and Duvall’s experience, the year is pinned as 1962; that year, a solar eclipse took place on Feb. 5, a Monday.
Regardless, what hasn’t faded has been the urgency with which both men want to warn others about the dangers of improperly viewing eclipses. With parts of Oregon in the path of totality for Monday’s highly anticipated solar eclipse, Tomososki said he contacted a local television station and cautioned viewers not to stare directly at the sun for any amount of time.
He’s particularly worried about people buying phoney eclipse glasses that don’t offer sufficient protection, or children who look up at the completely covered sun during totality — but don’t put their eclipse glasses back on in time after the moon moves off it.
“My question Tuesday morning, when this thing’s all over, is are people going to be calling me and saying ‘Lou, did you hear how many people damaged their eyes?’ And my stomach’s just rolling over. I don’t want to hear that,” he said. “If I can save one person from having a catastrophic thing happening with their eyes, it’s a good thing.”
Staring at the sun can cause a condition called solar retinopathy, which leads to a decrease or a distortion of a person’s central vision, said Sveta Kavali, an ophthalmologist and retina specialist at Saint Louis University.
“That damage is typically irreversible, and there’s no treatment for this,” Kavali said in a Saint Louis University video about viewing the eclipse safely. “The way the damage occurs on a cellular basis is that the UV rays from the sun induces a photochemical reaction that damages the photo receptors of the retina, and the part of the retina that’s damaged is the part that’s responsible for your central vision. So it’s very important not to look at the partial eclipse, not to look at the sun, without the proper viewing protection.”
Both Tomososki and Duvall plan to watch the eclipse Monday, although neither has a desire anymore to look straight toward the sun.
Tomososki will drive to the nearby town of Colton, Ore., where about 37 seconds of darkness are anticipated during totality.
“I’m going with my wife and I’m going to stand outside and look at the trees and the fields,” he said. “I’m going to watch it get dark. I’m not looking up at the sky.”
Trichelle Primo used the Boys and Girls Club of Canada programs two decades ago as a young girl, making new friends while cooking as well as playing basketball and volleyball.
Now, as a program developer at the same east Scarborough location, Primo, 27, hopes the next generation can enjoy the experiences that she did. But she’s worried because Sears Canada can no longer fund the club due to the retailer’s financial problems.
“It’s going to be a bit difficult but we still want to make the programs as good as they’ve been, we hope the kids don’t suffer,” Primo said.
Sears, who has been a partner and major donor to the agency for almost 50 years, stopped funding the Boys and Girls Club this year, leaving a shortfall of almost half a million dollars.
“It leaves a huge hole on our side,” said Owen Charters, the president and CEO of the agency. “They were very good about letting us know and we weren’t surprised.”
But the gap may lead to reduced programming at the organization’s 700 locations across the country, affecting almost 200,000 children.
The Boys and Girls Club of Canada has existed for more than 100 years and works to provide children, particularly in high-needs and marginalized communities, with after-school activities and snacks.
“The real benefit of clubs is keeping kids out of situations that can turn into something worse, that can turn into gangs or other criminal activity, and hopefully keeping them in school,” Charters said.
The executive team became alarmed when Sears announced it would pursue creditor protection in June, and found out at the end of July that Sears wouldn’t fund them any longer.
Sears usually organized a golf tournament every summer to raise money for the agency’s programs, but it was unable to do so this year. This means some clubs may not be able to offer healthy eating workshops, or mental health and Internet safety workshops for children, Charters said.
“Thankfully it’s not what you’d call a crisis,” Charters said. “Sears used to fund things like that, those have had to either drop off the menu or the clubs are left scrambling to find alternate funders.”
The organization hopes Sears will be able to restructure and continue to be a partner in the future. In the meantime, the agency is trying to find more funds and more donors to fill the gaps.
Primo spent about three hours after school each day at the club when was first seven years old until she was 12, when she entered leadership training. She began working as a staff member at the age of 16, and got her job as a program developer there about a year ago.
“They’ve really molded me into the person I am today,” Primo said. “They’re more like a family away from my own family.”
At the Canadian National Exhibition, a crowd of hundreds waited in line for eclipse glasses as the moon began to creep ahead of the sun.
Red t-shirt-clad University of Toronto students stood in waiting, explaining the mechanics of the eclipse to viewers. Matt Russo, a theoretical astrophysicist at the university, pointed to the white space in their projectional telescope where the eclipse and sunspots, or dark patches, could be viewed in real-time. But other, simpler methods were being used across the lawn.
Parents reminded their kids to shield their eyes with glasses as the excited call started to ring out around 1:15 p.m.
“It’s starting!” Like a bite out of an apple, viewers could see a small black semicircle beginning to cut into the still-bright sun.
Audrey Diamantakos and Travis Vrbos, a pair of students on the lawn, showed up around 11 a.m. to beat the lines and get their hands on viewing glasses. Dimantakos called the day a “once in a lifetime chance.”
Their sentiment was echoed by viewer Bob Wegner, who was mesmerized by the opportunity. “Carl Sagan once said that 99 per cent of us die without knowing our place in the cosmos,” Wegner said. “Days like this are an opportunity for those seeds to be planted to take an interest in astronomy.”
While photographers snapped away, Christine Chung sat beneath a tree in the grass and sketched the sun and the moon's progression, marking the time with each new drawing. Chung said she just wanted to document the moment.
KAMLOOPS, B.C.—Several large wildfires have combined into what the BC Wildfire Service says is the largest blaze burning in the province.
The wildfire service says at least six fires in an area west of Quesnel in central B.C. have burned together to create a single fire that is about 4,700 square kilometres in size.
Until Sunday, the wildfire service said the largest fire covered 2,270-square kilometres and was burning about 60 kilometres west of Williams Lake.
Fire officials reported 137 blazes across the province on Sunday and the wildfire service website shows seven new fires started in a 24-hour period.
Four are believed to be linked to lightning but the website says three may have been caused by human activity.
Several evacuation orders northwest of Kamloops were downgraded to alerts over the weekend, allowing residents around Loon and Green lakes to return home. Members of the Skeetchestn Indian Band west of Kamloops were also cleared to return as of noon on Monday.
Meanwhile, the Cariboo-Chilcotin School District 27 says some schools will remain closed in September if they are located in areas where evacuation orders or alerts are in effect.
School buses will also not operate in areas that are under evacuation orders or alerts, the district says in a news release.
A list of schools and scheduled opening dates will be released by Wednesday and the board says it will be updated as orders and alerts are revised. There are 6,000 students in the school district, which stretches from 100 Mile House to Williams Lake.
Emergency Management BC said Sunday that more than 3,000 people around the province remained displaced by fires and almost 10,000 were on evacuation alert.
OTTAWA—Questions about Canada’s ability to defend itself from a North Korean attack are expected to be under the microscope this week — including whether Canada should finally embrace continental ballistic missile defence.
Opposition parties have called for an emergency meeting of the House of Commons defence committee on Tuesday so they can be briefed on how Canada is responding to the threat posed by North Korea.
The request comes after North Korea tested a second intercontinental ballistic missile this month, sparking warnings and ultimatums between Pyongyang and U.S. President Donald Trump.
One of the main questions when it comes to North Korea is whether Canada should reverse its decision from 2005 and join the U.S. military’s controversial ballistic missile defence system.
The question is timely as the Trump administration is reviewing ways to strengthen BMD, which could open the door to Canadian participation.
While many military officers and defence analysts support the move, the Trudeau government won’t say whether Canadian officials have talked to their American counterparts about joining BMD.
Further information on how a proposed nuclear-waste bunker near Lake Huron might affect area First Nations peoples is needed before the government decides whether to approve the project, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said Monday.
In a letter to Ontario Power Generation, McKenna said the updated information will be taken into account as she mulls the fate of the much-delayed megaproject.
“I request that Ontario Power Generation update its cumulative-effects analysis of the potential cumulative effects of the project on physical and cultural heritage,” McKenna said in her letter.
“The update must include a clear description of the potential cumulative effects of the project on Saugeen Ojibway Nation’s cultural heritage, including a description of the potential effects of the project on the nation’s spiritual and cultural connection to the land.”
A month ago, the Saugeen Ojibway Nation wrote McKenna to say the project should not proceed without its support. It called for government assurance that the nation’s views would be taken into consideration before making any approval decision.
“Members of the SON communities are becoming better acquainted with nuclear-waste issues in order to be able to make a well-informed decision on whether they can support the DGR Project,” said the letter signed by Greg Nadjiwon, chief of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation, and Chief Lester Anoquot of Saugeen First Nation.
“Our view is that the outcome of this community process and, ultimately, the decision of the communities will be necessary information for you to have prior to your decision respecting the environmental assessment.”
In calling on OPG to update its impact analysis, McKenna applauded the utility’s previous commitment that it would not proceed with the contentious multibillion-dollar deep geologic repository without support from the area’s Indigenous people.
She called the promise an example of “how reconciliation practices can be implemented on the ground” and urged OPG to continue working collaboratively with the First Nations community.
In June, federal environmental authorities said OPG had provided further information on alternative sites for burying tonnes of radioactive waste, and they would begin drafting a report to McKenna, who has final say over the repository and what conditions might be attached to any approval. It was not immediately clear how her latest request for information would affect the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s plans to complete the draft this summer.
“The government of Canada believes Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision making in matters that affect their rights, and that Indigenous governments, laws and jurisdictions must be respected,” McKenna said in her letter to OPG.
“I will make a decision based on science and traditional knowledge ... including the views of Indigenous Peoples, the public and other stakeholders.”
OPG, which insists the proposal is safe and the best long-term storage option, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.
Toronto police have identified the man found dead near College and Bathurst streets.
Khadr Mohamed, 22, of Toronto, died from a gunshot wound to the torso. His body was found near a commercial building around 8 a.m. on Sunday at Lippincott St. near College and Bathurst streets.
Det. Shawn Mahoney told reporters at the scene that people in the neighbourhood found the body on their way to work.
Police are appealing to witnesses who heard gunshots around that time or anyone with information to contact them at 416-808-7400 or Crime Stoppers at 416-222-8477.
A Peel Region police officer has been released on bail after he was charged with domestic assault, forcible confinement and mischief over $5,000.
Const. Rajvir Ghuman was arrested over the weekend after an alleged victim came forward to police on Aug. 19, Sgt. Josh Colley said.
He said Ghuman was immediately suspended with pay as per the provisions of the Ontario Police Services Act.
Colley said he would not be releasing any information regarding the specifics of the allegations because of the victim’s privacy and the matter is before the courts.
“Conduct of this nature is not tolerated by the Peel Regional Police and any officer who engages in this behavior will be investigated and charged appropriately,” said police Chief Jennifer Evans in a statement.
Ghuman appeared in court Monday.