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Vicki Keith was about five kilometres from the shore on the first leg of her double crossing of Lake Ontario when her swimming goggles started filling up with water. Salt water.
She’d had an exhausting start — four hours battling three-metre waves that pushed her back and threatened to turn her body into a pretzel, as Keith describes it — and she was now battling through the outgoing current of the Niagara River.
“I was so emotionally frustrated that my goggles were filling up with my tears,” says Keith, who is on the phone from the Kingston pool where she coaches her swim team.
“And I realized at that point that I had to stop where my brain was going,” says Keith of that day in August 1987. She overcame her mental exhaustion by focusing on her strokes, one at a time.
When she hit the far side, she says no one expected her to keep going. But she ate a Big Mac in the water and turned around. Quitting didn’t enter her mind.
Keith has a quality that open-water swimmers need: determination. Some swimmers say, laughing, they have also been called stubborn and pigheaded.
Marilyn Bell had it at age 16, when she became the first person to make the 52-kilometre crossing in 1954. She was driven by her goal that a Canadian should beat the American swimmer who had been contracted by the CNE to attempt the swim, in a bid to drive up attendance.
Trinity Arsenault had it. Arsenault set the record in 2014 as the youngest by a couple of months to cross Lake Ontario, at 14. The St. Catharines native trained for two years, perfecting her stroke with the help of her mother, Christine, who inspired her daughter with her own crossing in 2011.
And Marilyn Korzekwa also possessed the drive when she became the first person to make the Lake Ontario crossing both ways, swimming south to north in 1983 and in the other direction a year later.
The Hamilton psychiatrist says any athlete can be trained physically to swim the lake. But finishing is 70 to 80 per cent due to mental toughness, “stubbornness and wanting to get across that lake at all costs,” she says.
When asked if she would describe Keith as stubborn, Korzekwa says she is the definition of the word.
After Keith’s double crossing, which experts thought was physically impossible, her friends jokingly suggested that she swim across all the Great Lakes the following year.
Instead of dismissing the idea, Keith bought a map, got a magic marker, drew lines across each lake and put the map up on her living room wall. She found newspaper clippings with motivational sayings and photos of things that inspired her and put them up around it.
Every time Keith went by the map, she would look at it and murmur, “I can do it.”
“I started to believe it was possible because of that,” she says. “And once you believe it’s possible, you start to break your goal down into smaller and smaller steps.”
She would need those small steps when her arms ground to a halt in Lake Huron the following summer.
For a moment Keith wondered what to do, but then she turned and looked at her right arm and said out loud, “you just have to go around once.” And then she looked at her left arm and said the same thing.
Keith kept talking to herself for the next hour, until she looked up and saw the shore.
Suddenly she felt great. She finished the crossing doing butterfly.
The open-water swimmers have experienced moments of beatific calm, but they’ve also battled currents that keep them hopelessly swimming in place and waves that feel like a slap across the face.
And yet they all say the lake is where they feel at home.
“I felt like I was exactly where I wanted and needed to be,” says Trinity Arsenault. Arsenault did a lot of research beforehand and says many competitors describe it as a “beautiful, aha moment.”
Women have done well in the water. The group Solo Swims has documented 51 people who conquered Lake Ontario. Twenty-eight have been female, some crossing multiple times. Keith believes that as the distances increase, women and men become more equal in their ability to complete the challenge.
Marilyn Korzekwa — who raced in high school and at U of T — says she feels like a fish out of water in the summer if she’s not in the lake every couple of days.
She is president of Solo Swims, which was formed after a coroner’s inquest into the death of 17-year-old Neil MacNeil, who drowned in 1974 trying to cross Lake Ontario. The safety organization is the official record keeper for Lake Ontario and other swims within the province’s borders.
After an attempt by Korzekwa in 1981, which she had to abandon because of heavy fog, she says it was such a huge disappointment that “every time I looked at the lake it just hurt in my heart. That did not go away until I conquered it in 1983.”
And at 79, Marilyn Bell Di Lascio, as she is now known, still remembers the first time she floated as a child. On the phone from her retirement home in New Paltz, N.Y., she describes the sensation of being held up by the water as “wonderful.”
“From then on it became my happy place.”
Early on, no one realized Bell Di Lascio’s potential.
When she was a rambunctious child, she says, her parents enrolled her in one sport, only to try another when she failed. “They had made the decision that there had to be something I had to be good at,” says the Toronto native.
She tried ballet. Gymnastics. Tap.
A music teacher told her father he was wasting his money and that Bell Di Lascio was never going to be a dancer.
Bell Di Lascio tried ice skating.
And then her father bought her 10 lessons at an open-air pool at Oakwood and St. Clair Aves. in Toronto. Her first coach was Alex Duff, who created an early form of synchronized swimming. He also founded the Dolphinet swimming club and was head coach at the 1934 British Empire Games. Duff taught her the basics and invited her to swim in the winter with his team at Jarvis Collegiate.
Bell Di Lascio loved being part of the team, but she was too slow to win, and “not much of a competitor,” she says. Her second coach, the legendary Gus Ryder, said later that she wasn’t hungry enough to beat her friends.
When her parents wanted to pull her from training at age 13 because of her lack of success, and the expense, Ryder convinced them to let her stay and train. In exchange, Bell Di Lascio would work in the pool office of the Lakeshore Swim Club, which Ryder founded in 1930.
She trained for the 1952 Olympics in Finland but didn’t make it and was crushed that she would never swim for Canada. “I wanted to go to the Olympics and represent my country,” says Bell Di Lascio.
But Ryder noticed she would often do an extra quarter-mile during training in the Credit River, or that she was the last to get out of the lake, and he could see she had the makings of a distance swimmer.
“I was definitely getting stronger and a little more mature,” says Bell Di Lascio, who kept swimming longer and longer distances.
“My dad would always say to me, why do you have to be so pigheaded? Or why do you have to be so stubborn?” she says, and he mentioned these qualities to Ryder.
“And Gus said, I’ve never really thought of her as being stubborn. I see determination. And she doesn’t know how to quit.”
When Bell Di Lascio dove into the pitch-black water that night in 1954 after scrambling to follow American swimmer Florence Chadwick’s 11 p.m. start, it was with blind faith that Ryder and her escort boat would meet her somewhere up ahead in the Niagara River. The only light was the one fading as Chadwick’s entourage got farther and farther away.
Korzekwa’s mother, sick in bed, turned the radio on the next day, excited about the story and waiting for every update.
Three years later, when she was pregnant with Korzekwa, she decided the name Marilyn symbolized endurance and strength and named her daughter after Bell Di Lascio.
“Being an immigrant from war-torn Poland, post-war, endurance and strength were something she wanted her daughter to have,” says Marilyn Korzekwa.
Most swimmers start on the south side because the current from the Niagara River gives them a northward push that can be felt up to 10 kilometres out, says Korzekwa.
But once they’re in the lake, anything can happen.
A wind from either direction can push away the warm surface water and drive up the cold from below, resulting in temperature decreases of about 17 degrees C in a single crossing, says Keith.
The lake gets warmer in August, but thunderstorms are always a risk and can end a swim unless the athlete can outpace them.
When the water is rough, a swimmer can get so seasick that they throw up for hours.
And sometimes the combination of high winds and white-capped waves at the start of a swim can cause agonizing tendinitis, which forced Korzekwa to battle through pain the entire way.
“I discovered on my first crossing how much it hurt,” she says.
The swimmer hit a wall every three hours, when her brain told her she had to stop. “My lungs hurt. I didn’t feel like I could move my arms one more stroke,” says Korzekwa.
But she kept going, swimming slowly for an hour until the thoughts passed and she devised a strategy to deal with them when they came again.
Like most swimmers, she relied on her crew to help get her across.
At one point when Korzekwa thought she couldn’t go any further, her pacer Libby Brown, a pool swimmer, told her she would accompany her the rest of the way.
“I thought, well, if she could do it, then I could do it,” says Korzekwa, who went on to outsprint Brown. Brown was pulled from the water because she was slowing Korzekwa down.
Bell Di Lascio, too, wanted to quit, but it wasn’t the lamprey eels that bothered her.
She’d encountered them in the Credit River and although she hated the feel of their long snake-like forms curling around her legs, she knew to smack them in the head before their teeth could latch onto her body.
But she was sleep-deprived after staying awake during the day of the swim, ready to follow Chadwick into the water but not knowing when the American would leave.
Her coach accompanied her in a lifeboat from the downed passenger ship the Noronic. The lifeboat was lent to them by a private owner, she recalls Ryder telling her. She herself remembers the smell of the fumes when the luxury ship burned in Toronto’s harbour in 1949, killing 119 people.
To keep her going, Ryder wrote inspirational messages on a chalkboard that she could read without stopping. Messages such as “ ‘Nobody made you do this. You wanted to do this for Canada. You wanted to beat the American,’ ” says Bell Di Lascio. “He was really practising psychology without certification. He knew me better than I knew myself.”
She hummed and sang her way through the night, every stroke taking her closer, she says, to a sunrise she’d never seen.
When dawn broke, she wasn’t even sure at first what it was.
“That was a wonderful experience,” says Bell Di Lascio. “The water had flattened out. It was so beautiful. It reminded me of the story of the resurrection,” she says. “It was almost a type of resurrection on the water for me because I had made it through the night and that was my biggest fear.”
Sunrise had an effect on Keith, too.
On the way back to Toronto she started hallucinating around the 36-hour mark, something she had learned to expect after a record-setting continuous swim of five and half days in a pool.
When Keith looked down she saw patio stones in the shape of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and little stone alligators and crocodiles that moved across them. She’d already given her crew permission to pull her if she ever headed under water to explore.
Then, around 3 a.m. on her third day in the lake, she saw a great big wall right in front of her. She tried to swim faster to close the gap and slower to see if it would get bigger. But the wall was always in the same spot ahead of her.
When Keith complained to her crew that she couldn’t get through it, one member realized what was happening and said he’d pull the boat through and make a hole for her. But as soon as everyone went through, the wall closed up behind them, she says.
It was only when the sun rose that the wall disappeared.
“The sun came up and I could see the CN Tower — the SkyDome wasn’t there yet. And I started to pick up my pace from there,” says Keith, although she remembers struggling in those last few hours, doing sidestroke and barely able to lift her arms out of the water.
As she got closer to shore, though, she realized that she was going to make it and changed to butterfly, which later became her signature stroke, “just to prove that I had something left,” says Keith.
Of course, the finish is different for everyone.
Trinity Arsenault made it through the night singing camp songs with her crew, which included her mother and Keith — who together set off a confetti bomb at sunrise — as well as Korzekwa.
But the next day, it started to rain and a chop that started in the middle of the night grew into three- to-four-metre waves. Arsenault had to outrun a thunderstorm.
“At one point, I was moving three kilometres an hour and the storm was moving behind me at two kilometres,” says Arsenault. “So I was literally sprinting all the way to the finish.”
In the summer of 2016, Trinity Arsenault became the youngest Canadian to cross the English Channel, a shorter swim by a third but another brutal challenge.
Cuts in her mouth, caused by her braces, swelled 10 times more than she expected because of the salt water. The jellyfish that typically congregate in a calm zone in the middle of the channel had floated much closer to shore. Arsenault says she wasn’t mentally prepared to be surrounded as soon as she stepped into the water. And the sea is colder and swimmers battle strong tides.
The distance is 32 kilometres from coast to coast but swimmers often go further because the current pushes them from side to side.
Arsenault made it across in 12.5 hours.
“I’m a competitive person by nature,” explains Arsenault about why she takes on challenges. “I really enjoy setting goals, striving to achieve them and I really appreciate hard work.”
Distance swimming also allows her to raise money for Jumpstart, a charity that helps financially disadvantaged kids participate in organized sports.
“Growing up in a single-parent family, I knew how hard my mom had worked to give us our opportunities,” says Arsenault. Her sister Michaela is also a Great Lakes swimmer and swam across Lake Erie in 2016.
“I wanted to do it for an organization that would help kids who were having the same financial barriers or in many cases, much worse than I was,” she says. Arsenault is now training to become an elite rower.
Vicki Keith has raised more than a million dollars for charity.
Keith continues to coach her swim team, the Kingston Y Penguins, a club for kids with physical disabilities as well as their able-bodied siblings. Keith was chosen as head coach for Team Ontario, which recently competed at the Canada Games in Winnipeg.
She’s also been a motivational speaker and in one TED Talk appearance, tells a story similar to Bell Di Lascio’s, about an instructor who told Keith’s parents that their daughter danced like a horse.
Keith was so determined to be good at something that she bought her own trophy when she was 10.
“It was my way of saying I have value, I have something wonderful and unique about me,” says Keith. She still has the trophy.
Marilyn Korzekwa quit the sport to work and raise a family but came out of retirement nearly 30 years later. She was the first Canadian to complete the Triple Crown of Marathon swimming which includes crossing the English Channel and the Catalina channel off California (2011, 2013) as well as a course around Manhattan Island (2014).
On Monday, the 60-year-old became the first Canadian to swim across Lake Tahoe, raising money for the Sashbear Foundation, a mental health organization.
Bell Di Lascio went on to set records as the youngest person to swim the English Channel and the Strait of Juan de Fuca in B.C. But like Korzekwa she quit swimming when she married and moved to the States, where she worked as a teacher.
She continued to mentor swimmers though, and as technology progressed, has been able to track their movements in real time online because of GPS. She says she thinks of many of the swimmers as family.
“Over the years I’ve developed a real close bond with just about everybody,” says Bell Di Lascio. “There are very few that I haven’t met.”
When she was 30, Bell Di Lascio was diagnosed with a deteriorating spinal condition called scoliosis that has made it painful for her in recent years to swim front crawl. She still swims, but on her back, kicking her feet.
But she started swimming front crawl again last year after a local instructor came to her retirement home and taught her a new technique that allowed her to swim for hours without any pain.
Her condition worsened though, and the scoliosis is “now causing my chest cavity to be compressed,” says Bell Di Lascio, who has developed restrictive lung disease that makes it difficult to breathe at times.
She just got back in the pool after several months.
“My life has been like a marathon swim, because there’s so much in life that we’re not in control of,” she says. There’s “the tide that’s going to take you where you wish to go and the flood tide that’s going to push you back where you have been.
“It’s always been a metaphor for me,” says Bell Di Lascio, who has imparted the message to her students and others as a motivational speaker.
“The good news is, and the message I always try to leave with people, is that if we’re patient and determined, we know that the tide will change,” she says. “Cause it always does.”
At a glance
VICKI KEITH, 56, born in Winnipeg
She is the only swimmer to complete the 104-kilometre double crossing of Lake Ontario and the first person to swim across all five Great Lakes. Keith has 18 world records, including pool swims. Her swims include:
Lake Ontario, 1986 (attempted double crossing but pulled after first crossing because of storm); 1987, 1989 (butterfly)
Lake Ontario, Lake Superior,Lake Michigan,Lake Huron, Lake Erie: 1988
Catalina Channel: 1989, world record for butterfly
English Channel: 1989, world record for butterfly
Strait of Juan de Fuca: 1989, world record for butterfly
Tandem crossing of eastern Lake Ontario with husband John Munro: 2001
Lake Ontario, 2005: 80.2-km butterfly to raise $260,000 for the Kingston Family YMCA
MARILYN BELL DI LASCIO, 79, born in Toronto
At 16, she became the first person to cross Lake Ontario.
Lake Ontario: 1954
English Channel: 1955 (Second Canadian, after Winnie Roach in 1951, to cross)
Strait of Juan de Fuca: 1956 (Fifth swimmer and second woman to swim the strait. She was the fastest on the strait’s long course — a record that held until this month, when Susan Simmons of B.C. beat it)
MARILYN KORZEKWA, 60, born in Toronto
The first person to cross Lake Ontario south to north and north to south in separate swims. The second person, after American Diana Nyad, to make the north-south crossing.
Lake Ontario: 1983, south to north; 1984, north to south
English Channel: 2011
Catalina Channel: 2013
Manhattan Island: 2014, first Canadian to complete Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming
Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, P.E.I.: 2016
Cook Strait: 2016
Cape Cod Bay: 2016
Lake Tahoe: 2017, first Canadian
TRINITY ARSENAULT, 17, born in St. Catharines
At 14 years and 71 days old, she became the youngest person to swim the lake, beating out fellow Canadian Annaleise Carr, who held the record after crossing in 2012.
Lake Ontario: 2014
Lake Erie: 2014
English Channel: 2016, youngest Canadian
A valuable pink diamond is nestled among stolen cars and baggies of seized drugs in a cavernous Toronto police warehouse, waiting for its rightful owner to take it home. That much, everyone can agree on.
But the family of its now-dead original owner and the pawnshop that later bought it from a convicted jewel thief bitterly disagree on nearly every other detail of the story: how much the gem is worth, who it truly belongs to and even whether it was actually stolen.
Ownership of the diamond is now at the centre of a court battle that’s lasted two years and counting, with both sides viewing the situation as a miscarriage of justice. On one side is a pawnshop owner who says he bought it fair and square; on the other is a family who says it belongs to them. Think of it as a custody dispute, with a tiny pink stone at the centre of it.
“I’ve chosen to pursue it because I don’t think it’s fair,” said Howard Green, owner of the H. Williams and Co. pawnshop, which possessed the jewel before Toronto police seized it in 2012. “This has gone on far too long.”
The saga began in 2011, when Martin Winberg bought the diamond from a Toronto-area gold and gem dealer for $40,000. The jewel is an orange-pink colour — the quality that makes it valuable, according to Green — and weighs in at 0.59 carats.
Winberg suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder and a leg injury that left him essentially homebound, according to his statement to police, taken over the phone. His family declined to speak with the Star or share photos of him, citing a desire for privacy.
Winberg asked the salesman who sold him the diamond to store it on his behalf, along with another gem he’d purchased, according to the statement he gave police. The man agreed to do so as a friend, but later left the jewels with a colleague he thought he could trust, the statement said.
“In or around April 2012, Martin’s acquaintance informed him that it had been stolen by a thief named Brian Colyer,” alleges an argument submitted to the Ontario Court of Appeal by Winberg’s estate.
“Mr. Colyer had stolen several pieces of property in and around the same time, including the diamond and another diamond belonging to Martin. Martin Winberg had never met or heard of Mr. Colyer before, and had never authorized him to have possession of the diamond, much less to steal and convert it.”
The allegations in the filing haven’t been proven in court. When reached by the Star, Colyer didn’t respond to requests for comment.
In 2015, however, he pleaded guilty to the theft of gold bars, coins and gems valued at more than $800,000 from several other of the dealer’s clients — though the pink diamond was not among the items he was convicted of stealing.
Colyer was a regular customer at H. Williams and Co., Green said. The store, a mainstay on Church St. in downtown Toronto, is exactly what you’d imagine a pawnshop to look like — rows of jewels lie in display cases beneath shiny guitars, while a safe with a heavy metal door sits open at the back of the room.
Colyer was a regular customer at the pawnshop and staff had no reason to suspect anything untoward about the diamond, Green said. To illustrate his point, he pulled out a box of receipts he said were Colyer’s, flipping through them as he listed the dollar values of items the man pawned, all in the thousands. The shop gave Colyer $5,000 for the Winberg diamond in April 2012.
Winberg reported the diamond stolen. In his statement to Toronto police, Winberg said he’d never met Colyer, let alone given him permission to pawn the diamond.
Green told the Star he believes the diamond was never stolen, and that Winberg gave Colyer the diamond to sell on his behalf (Green wouldn’t say why he thought so). Green’s lawyers argue that since Colyer wasn’t convincted for this particular theft and Winberg isn’t alive to answer questions, the former owner’s estate can’t prove a claim to the gem.
“This particular diamond, it should be returned to me,” Green said. “They think we’re crooks . . . I’ve done nothing wrong.”
The Winberg estate’s lawyer, Paul Adam of Wise Law Office, strongly disagrees with that version of events.
“We haven’t seen a single scrap of evidence that that is the case,” he said.
In July 2012, police seized the diamond from the pawnshop after several of the dealer’s employees complained about Colyer. Investigators held onto the gem while the case moved through the courts.
But Winberg died in February 2015, two months before Colyer was sentenced to two years less one day in jail. Colyer pleaded guilty to eight charges, but the Crown dropped the counts related to Winberg after his death, saying it wasn’t in the public interest to pursue them.
Though the criminal case was closed, the conflict was far from over.
In June 2015, after the trial, police told Winberg’s estate and the pawnshop that investigators no longer needed the diamond. Green applied to have the diamond returned to H. Williams and Co. An Ontario Superior Court of Justice judge ordered police to return the diamond to Green.
Before Green actually received the diamond, however, Michael Winberg — Martin Winberg’s brother, who had been made a trustee of the estate — asked for an appeal, saying the judge who made the order was mistaken.
The Ontario Court of Appeal set aside the order. No timeline has yet been set for any upcoming proceedings, and Adam declined to comment on what happens next with the case.
And so the diamond remains in the hands of police.
Adam said his client maintains that the Winberg estate is the true owner of the diamond since the pawnbroker has no right to stolen property.
Green strongly disagrees, saying neither Winberg nor his family tried to claim the jewel in the years after it was pawned, and the court gave it to him fair and square.
“There’s nothing to argue about,” Green said. “We’re out the money, we’re out the diamond and at one point a court ordered it be returned to us.”
Green said he’s now spent far more on legal fees than he did on the diamond. Adding to Green’s frustration, he said he believes the diamond isn’t even worth $40,000.
“I wish it was,” he said with a chuckle, adding that he believes it’s worth closer to $15,000.
Adam said the estate had no comment on the value of the diamond, or how much it has spent in legal fees.
“They could make it go away real quick if they just give me my $5,000 plus costs,” Green said, adding that the Winberg estate declined such a deal.
Adam said it would be inappropriate for him to comment, but said the case presents an interesting dilemma — one for which there is little legal precedent.
“I guess there haven’t been many cases where a judge has had to puzzle over this,” he said.
August 2011— Martin Winberg buys the diamond from a dealer for roughly $40,000. He leaves it with the employee who sold it to him.
April 2012— The employee allegedly tells Winberg that his coworker, Brian Colyer, has stolen the diamond. Colyer had pawned the gem at H. Williams and Co.
May 2012— Colyer is fired from the dealer after several clients complained to management.
June 2012— Toronto police charge Colyer with a series of thefts, including Winberg’s diamond.
July 5, 2012— Toronto police seize Winberg’s diamond from H. Williams and Co.
Feb. 19, 2015— Winberg passes away.
April 7, 2015— Colyer pleads guilty to eight charges related to thefts of gems, gold and coins and is sentenced to two years less a day in jail. Prosecutors drop the charges related to Winberg’s diamond.
June 2015— Toronto police inform Winberg’s estate and the pawnshop that investigators no longer need the diamond, as the criminal case against Colyer is over.
September 2015— H. Williams and Co. applies to a court to get the diamond. A judge awards the diamond to the pawnshop.
June 2, 2017— Ontario’s top court allows the estate to appeal the lower court order, sending the case back to trial court. The diamond remains in police custody.
ALTHORP, ENGLAND—Diana is entombed and enisled, eternally out of reach.
And yet, two decades after the death of a princess, the world is still grasping at her.
Who was she? What is her place in history? How did this gauche naïf, transformed into a woman of glamour steeped in misery, change the British monarchy?
Because she did, if only, ultimately, by taking her leave of it. Just as she’d predicted that she would never be queen.
Because she is the mother of a future king who has more of his mother — and his grandmother — in him than the king he will succeed.
Because, for a moment in time, the world stood shock-still in grief and disbelief.
It has become easy to mock the unprecedented torrent of public and “performative” mourning triggered by that middle-of-the-night news bulletin that Diana, Princess of Wales, had been killed with her summer-fling boyfriend in Paris, casualties of a car crash in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel on Aug. 31, 1997.
The paparazzi were there to record it, contributed to it in a foolish chase to the death, although a lengthy French judicial investigation blamed the single-vehicle accident on the driver, Henri Paul, drunk at the wheel and speeding.
Conspiracy theorists still claim nefarious murder plots afoot. Just as some insist Diana is not actually buried here, on the tiny island in the middle of an ornamental lake known as the Round Oval within the gardens of Althorp Park, the 500-year-old ancestral estate where Diana grew up.
Diana was buried here on Sept. 6, 1997, in a black Catherine Walker dress, with the rosary given to her by Mother Teresa only two months earlier tucked into her hand. There have been four vandalism attempts upon the island in the years since, her brother, Charles — the current Earl Spencer — told the BBC last month. “There are some odd people out there, and keeping her here is the safest place.”
A place, however, that had fallen into shabby neglect, for which Spencer was sternly rebuked until a massive rehabilitation of the estate grounds was undertaken over the past year. Althorp reopened to the public in July. There is no public access to the island, but visitors can reflect in a Grecian-style temple on the edge of the lake.
On July 1, which would have been Diana’s 56th birthday, Princes William and Harry were graveside with Diana’s two grandchildren in a private rededication and remembrance service. Her former husband, Charles, the Prince of Wales, was fortuitously touring Canada at the time. He would not have belonged in the melancholy group.
Remembering Diana, unforgettable Diana.
Except an entire generation has grown up without her. And it’s unlikely she’s being taught in the history texts.
For insight into the Princess of Wales — she lost her HRH status upon divorcing (the young William promised her he would restore it) — one would have to turn to the pop library of biographies and glossy celebrity trash and first-person accounts written by an inner cadre (they claim) who professed intimate knowledge of the aristocratic arriviste who stood the House of Windsor on its head. Who just about broke it in a fight to the modernizing finish.
Scores of books, many reissued for the “anniversary” of Diana’s death — the “Untold Stories” told time and time again — and dozens of documentaries that have been broadcast in recent weeks. From Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy, an encomium featuring rare interviews with William and Harry and wherein, interestingly, their father is never mentioned, nor the tumultuous marriage the boys observed, nor Charles’s subsequent marriage to his longtime mistress, Camilla, the asp at Diana’s breast; to an NBC special interview with her former bodyguard Ken Wharfe on Dateline: The Life and Death of Princess Diana; to ABC’s Martin Bashir entry, The Last 100 Days of Diana; to a National Geographic Diana-logue, Diana: In Her Own Words, narrated entirely by the princess and taken from the taped conversations she provided to journalist Andrew Morton, who authored the 1992 bestseller Diana: Her True Story, the tell-all that cracked open the fraud of the Windsor marriage.
“It started life as 150 pages and now it’s 450 pages,” says Morton, of his updated book of the same name. “Contains all of Diana’s words from the tapes. It’s now the historical record. This is the stuff historians and biographers will go back to 100 years from now.”
Those tapes were recorded by an intermediary, Diana’s friend Dr. James Colthurst. Portions of the tapes originally indecipherable have been rescued by enhanced modern technology.
Those tapes take their place alongside the infamous and impetuous TV interview Diana gave to Bashir in 1995, a broadside against Charles and Camilla that banged the final nail into the coffin of a mutually loathing spousal mismatch, and the scandalizing — albeit candid — recordings of conversations between the princess and her voice coach, Peter Settelen, packaged as controversial documentary for Channel 4. Tapes that were never intended to be seen publicly (the program drew record viewership) and which were the subject of lengthy legal battles.
One more ghoulish profiteer.
Diana is the gift that keeps on giving.
So that’s one question answered: Diana clearly continues to beguile, possibly even more so than had she not died so tragically young, had she been now a middle-aged grandmother, doubtless still chic and captivating but also a relic from Malice in the Palace days. Frozen in time, like Marilyn Monroe, she won’t ever grow old, marginalized and irrelevant. She’s a cipher, a prism through which to marvel upon a mosh pit era of frenzied royalty splashed daily across the tabloids and broadsheets.
Diana moves more covers dead than alive and doing who-knows-what as a humanitarian dilettante. The public’s infatuation has never cooled, with viewership demographics showing young people just as fascinated.
“How would she be today?” Morton muses. “It’s difficult to say but I would have thought that by now she would have remarried. She always wanted more children, especially a girl. She was eager to find another partner at some point. It wasn’t going to be Dodi. I have in mind some kind of American billionaire with all the toys, the British equivalent of Jackie O.”
Someone to keep her safe — as the hapless Dodi Fayed did not — and to underwrite all her decidedly un-royal humanitarian interests, which ran the gamut from AIDS to leprosy to land mines as Diana cast about for a purpose post-HRH.
And to think that all that drenching Diana coverage — the most famous woman on Earth, both hounded by the press and expertly manipulating of it; oh yes, she honed cunning — occurred in a pre-social media universe.
“Would she be tweeting her sorrows?” Morton wonders.
Certainly she heated up the phone lines, spilling her rage and her hurt to anybody who would give a listen, her circle of intimates morphing, friends un-friended, allies alienated when they dared to gently remonstrate, or when they just couldn’t bear the burden of supporting Diana any longer. Only a handful stayed resolute, saw her maddened side and didn’t blink, never betrayed her.
How unprepared she was for the caged craziness of royal life and a fussy, hidebound husband — a mere dozen or so times they saw each other before the fairytale nuptials at St. Paul’s Cathedral, which Diana, typically melodramatic, afterward described as “the worst day of my life.” Still just 19 and nubile, baby-fleshy — before the bulimia — when formally stepped into the limelight for the first time after the blue sapphire and diamond engagement ring had been placed on her finger. A charity affair at Goldsmiths’ Hall four months before the wedding, and she’d picked an off-the-shoulder cleavage-revealing black taffeta gown by designers Elizabeth and David Emanuel.
“I remember being very excited,” Diana says on the Colthurst tapes. “I got this black dress from the Emanuels — I thought it was OK because girls my age wore this. I hadn’t appreciated that I was now seen as a royal lady.”
Charles allegedly scolded her for it.
“I remember walking into my husband-to-be’s study and he said, ‘You’re not going in that, are you? But it’s black. Only people in mourning wear black.’
“Black to me was the smartest colour you could have at the age 19 — it was a real grown-up dress.”
It was the first time she put her foot wrong. She would do so again and again, though the public remained unaware of the reprimands and reproofs behind closed doors, the chafing, the despondency and violent clashes with Charles, the escalating bitterness that found release in mutual infidelity, the ashes of a marriage as Charles returned to the mummy-embrace of Camilla.
What she couldn’t scream out loud to the world, Diana wore on her person, a dog-whistle of fashion as she segued from frilly and sometimes old-lady frumpy to regimental suits à la Michael Jackson, to Dynasty silhouette costume gowns, to sleek, to sheaths, and finally to the F-U revenge ensemble, a statement dress, black and figure-hugging and trailing a hip veil, worn to a Vanity Fair party at the Serpentine Gallery on the same night in June 1994 Charles’s tit-for-tat TV interview with Jonathan Dimbleby — confirming his affair with Camilla — aired.
The dress said: see what he rejected for that hag.
Her evolving fashionista chops — frocks hanging on bones during the eating disorder years — guaranteed perpetual cameras-on for Diana, as her wardrobe and hairstyles launched countless copycats, just as they’d rushed to imitate her voluminous wedding gown. But there was always more to the public fascination than that, even before the truth of the warring Windsors emerged.
There was Diana the debutante royal, Diana the giggler in very early days when Charles couldn’t keep his hands off her, Diana the baby-mama, Diana the crowd-thrilling performer on tours, Diana of the tender touch, Diana at first unintentionally eclipsing Charles and then deliberately casting him into shadow — crowds audibly disappointed when the Prince of Wales worked their side of a walkabout — Diana the dour, Diana the tearful, Diana the deranged, according to the Charles loyalists.
Really, Charles & Diana was the highest-rated reality TV show in history, played out for 15 years of wedlock deadlock and no connubial relations, apparently, after the birth of Harry. “As suddenly Harry was born, it just went bang, our marriage,” Diana says on the tapes. “The whole thing went down the drain.”
Surely it said something about us, too, how in thrall to them — to her — we were. Royalty had no mystery after all, further vulgarized by ascent and descent of Sarah, Duchess of York — The Real Wives of Kensington Palace. They were just like us but worse, their adulteries seamier, their sulks gloomier, their naughtiness more sensational, if often downright juvenile. All the privileges in the world and they were just another man and woman behaving badly, wounding each other as spectacle.
But Charles was always assured of his place in the venerable order of things. Diana was not.
So there was a beguiled pity for her and she worked it deftly, which didn’t make the suffering any less real.
In the present age, would she have risen above the Kardashians or the Duck dynasts or Donald Trump (who once tried wooing Diana) as dysfunctional celebrity? Or was it all about that touch of magic bestowed by real royalty upon a kindergarten teaching assistant and sometime char elevated to within a heartbeat of the throne?
Something, however indefinable, made Diana the People’s Princess, her loss so wrenching that mourners didn’t know what to do with their grief, as if something bigger than one woman’s tragic death had been ripped from their hearts. In spontaneous tribute, they piled up bouquets and wreaths outside Buckingham Palace — an estimated 60 million blooms — and they sobbed as the gun carriage that bore Diana’s casket made its dolorous passage to Westminster Abbey, passing by a million mourners lining the streets. Forcing even a stubbornly resistant Queen to bow her head. Some 2.5 billion people worldwide watched the funeral on TV, as Earl Spencer memorably lambasted the Royal Family in his eulogy.
Her devastated sons, 15 and 12, made to walk behind the casket, was a grotesquerie.
“My mother had just died and I had to walk a long way behind the coffin, surrounded by thousands of people watching me while millions more did on television,” Prince Harry told Newsweek this summer. “I don’t think any child should be asked to do that, under any circumstances. I don’t think it would happen today.” In the princes’ documentary, essentially a tribute, Harry also says: “It was very, very strange after her death, the sort of outpouring of love and emotion from so many people that had never even met her.”
But they felt as if they had, such was her chimerical presence in their lives.
Diana’s legacy is highly debatable. In a realm devoted to statuary and monuments, there’s hardly a trace of the princess in 2017 — a faltering memorial fountain at Hyde Park, a bronze statue of Diana and Dodi at the bottom of the escalator at Harrods. A Thames garden bridge originally conceived by the actress Joanna Lumley, to be largely financed by a trust, collapsed this year amid acrimony because London Mayor Sadiq Khan would not commit to further public funds for the project.
In April, a temporary White Garden — flowers and foliage inspired by the princess — was opened in the Sunken Garden of Kensington Palace. A statue commemorating Diana, commissioned by her sons, was also to have been unveiled at Kensington this month, although it’s unclear if it had been finished.
At Buckingham Palace, which Diana hated, a state room has been transformed as anniversary tribute into a recreation of the princess’s sitting room at Kensington, featuring the desk at which she wrote letters. William and Harry chose the personally cherished items, including: family photos, favourite music cassettes and the ballet slippers that had hung on her sitting room door. As well, an exhibition of her iconic wardrobe — Diana: Her Fashion Story— has been mounted at Kensington. (Recall that many of her outfits were auctioned for charity shortly before her death at William’s suggestion.)
The commemorative newspaper stories are coming fast and furious as the anniversary date approaches. But only a month ago, many of those same papers ran fawning spreads about Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, marking her 70th birthday, clearly orchestrated. “They were part of a long-term plan to make Camilla acceptable as Queen Consort,” Morton says, although Camilla has allegedly insisted she has no interest in elevation to the title when Charles becomes king.
“It’s interesting that Edward VIII gave up the throne for the woman that he loved and then forever more was bitter about the fact they never gave Wallis (Simpson) the title Her Royal Highness. It’s something that does matter to members of the Royal Family — status and title. Prince Charles is a notorious stickler for status as titles.”
William and Harry certainly appear fond of Camilla, yet Morton suggests their palpable exclusion of father or stepmother — not even a mention — in their documentary was an unsubtle statement.
“They’ve had to learn to tiptoe around their father’s sensibilities, especially William. He’s second in line. They are developing separate courts and separate ways of doing things. That documentary, intentionally or unintentionally, is a broadside across Charles’s ambition to make Camilla queen. In the affection they have for their mother, they reminded the British people of what we had lost and, obviously, the two elephants in the room were Charles and Camilla.”
As adults, Morton continues, the princes are very much still a creation of their mother, especially William, who was so keenly aware of the tumult in his parents’ marriage, with Diana leaning on him heavily for support.
“You don’t need to be a psychologist to work it out. What did Prince William want? He wanted stability and he wanted family.”
This, Kate Middleton, now Duchess of Cambridge, gave him. “Stability, family and an eager preparedness to play second fiddle. Stable to the point of boredom. It’s notable that the world talks about William and Harry as a double act more than William and Kate. These were two children from a broken home. The eldest one’s married a partner who will provide stability and adoration. Prince Harry is probably keen to get hitched as well, he’s virtually said as much.”
As future king — which he’s described as a job rather than a vocation — William would bring evident qualities of a natural reserve, like his grandmother, but also the “humanity and accessibility that his mother had,” Morton says. “He is very much the duality of Spencer and Windsor.”
We can all speculate on what Diana would have thought of Kate. No woman is good enough for a beloved son. But she would certainly have been over the moon with those adorable grandchildren.
“Diana remains relevant for the causes that she championed, as an echo of the impact she had when she was alive,” Morton says. “But her greater relevance is in her living legacy: Prince William and Prince Harry, Prince George and Princess Charlotte.”
In a BBC poll, Diana made the Top 5 of the greatest Britons ever, alongside Churchill and Shakespeare.
“That shows she does have an enduring place,” Morton says. “If the monarchy is a reflection of the changes in society, which it often is, then the abdication (of Edward VIII) in 1936 was a step-change in the monarchy and Diana’s death in ’97 was a step-change in the monarchy. Her impact will continue, not just through William and Harry but also through Charlotte and George. It’s no coincidence that Charlotte’s middle name is Diana.”
Twenty years come and gone since Diana’s death. That, too, provides a point of reflection for the rest of us.
“We all know where we were when she died,” Morton says. “God, is it that time already? Twenty years have gone by in a heartbeat.
“Like Marilyn Monroe or James Dean, she never gets old. She looked glamorous, she looked sleek, she looked like she’d got her act together after years of kind of meandering. And she seemed pretty happy. She was filled with the bright hope of morning promise.
“Her life was short, but, like a firework, it burned bright.”
CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS—Hurricane Harvey rolled over the Texas Gulf Coast on Saturday, smashing homes and businesses and lashing the shore with wind and rain so intense that drivers were forced off the road because they could not see in front of them.
The fiercest hurricane to hit the U.S. in more than a decade came ashore late Friday about 48 kilometres northeast of Corpus Christi as a mammoth Category 4 storm with 209 kph winds. It weakened overnight to Category 1.
But the storm’s most destructive powers were just beginning. Rainfall that will continue for days could dump more than a metre of water and inundate many communities, including dangerously flood-prone Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city.
“Our focus is shifting to the extreme and potentially historic levels of flooding that we could see,” said Eric Blake, a specialist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
No deaths were immediately reported. High winds kept emergency crews out of many places, and authorities said it could be hours before emergency teams are able to fully assess damage.
By dawn, nearly 300,000 consumers were without power in the coastal region, and nearly 0.5 metres of rain had fallen in some places.
The mayor of Rockport, a coastal city of about 10,000 that was directly in the storm’s path, said his community took a blow “right on the nose” that left “widespread devastation,” including homes, businesses and schools that were heavily damaged. Some structures were destroyed.
Mayor Charles “C.J.” Wax told The Weather Channel that the city’s emergency response system had been hampered by the loss of cellphone service and other forms of communication.
About 10 people were taken to the county jail for treatment after the roof of a senior housing complex collapsed, television station KIII reported.
On Friday, Rockport Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Rios offered ominous advice, telling the station that people who chose not to evacuate should mark their arm with a Sharpie pen, implying that the marks would make it easier for rescuers to identify them.
In the storm’s immediate aftermath, the Coast Guard sent two helicopters to try to rescue the crews of three tugboats reported in distress in a channel near Port Aransas. And about 4,500 inmates were evacuated from three state prisons in Brazoria County south of Houston because the nearby Brazos River was rising.
By late morning, Harvey’s maximum sustained winds had fallen to about 120 kph and the storm was centred about 40 kilometres west of Victoria, Texas. It was moving north at 3 kph, according to the hurricane centre.
The system was expected to become tropical storm by Saturday afternoon.
The hurricane posed the first major emergency management test of President Donald Trump’s administration. The president signed a federal disaster declaration for coastal counties Friday night.
Trump commended the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency for his handling of the storm.
In a tweet Saturday morning addressed to FEMA head Brock Long, Trump said: “You are doing a great job — the world is watching! Be safe.”
In a separate tweet, Trump said he is monitoring the hurricane closely from Camp David. “We are leaving nothing to chance. City, State and Federal Govs. working great together!”
The president also tweeted, “We have fantastic people on the ground, got there long before #Harvey. So far, so good!”
In Corpus Christi, the major city closest to the storm’s centre, wind whipped palm trees and stinging sheets of horizontal rain slapped against hotels and office buildings along the seawall as the storm made landfall.
Daybreak revealed downed lamp posts and tree limbs and roof tiles torn off buildings. The city’s marina was nearly unscathed, save an awning ripped from a restaurant entrance and a wooden garbage bin uprooted and thrown.
Along Interstate 45 leaving Galveston, motorists had to stop under bridges to avoid driving in whiteout conditions.
In Houston, rain fell at nearly 76.2 millimetres an hour, leaving some streets and underpasses underwater. The many drainage channels known as bayous that carry excess water to the Gulf were rising.
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, the chief administrator of the county that includes the city of 2.3 million, said flooding so far was a “minor issue,” but warned that “we’re not out of this.”
Fuelled by warm Gulf of Mexico waters, Harvey grew rapidly, accelerating from a Category 1 early Friday morning to a Category 4 by evening. Its transformation from an ordinary storm to a life-threatening behemoth took only 56 hours, an incredibly fast intensification.
Harvey came ashore as the fiercest hurricane to hit the U.S. in 13 years and the strongest to strike Texas since 1961’s Hurricane Carla, the most powerful Texas hurricane on record.
The storm’s approach sent tens of thousands of people fleeing inland. Families who escaped Rockport were worried about neighbours and whether their homes are still standing.
Johanna Cochran was panicking over whether her house or the McDonald’s where she works survived the storm. She and her boyfriend evacuated to a San Antonio shelter.
Another Rockport resident, Pamela Montes, said she knew many people who stayed behind because “no one felt like it was going to hit.”
Just hours before the projected landfall, the governor and Houston leaders issued conflicting statements on evacuation.
Gov. Greg Abbott urged more people to flee, but Houston authorities recommended no widespread evacuations, citing greater danger in having people on roads that could flood and the fact that the hurricane was not taking direct aim at the city.
The last Category 4 storm to hit the U.S. was Hurricane Charley in August 2004 in Florida. Superstorm Sandy, which pummeled New York and New Jersey in 2012, never had the high winds and had lost tropical status by the time it struck. But it was devastating without formally being called a major hurricane.
Harvey is the first significant hurricane to hit Texas since Ike in September 2008 brought winds of 177 kph to the Galveston and Houston areas, inflicting $22 billion in damage.
Surrounded by police at a Willowdale residence, a man wanted for attempted murder evaded inevitable arrest by slamming his car into a police cruiser and speeding away.
Toronto police Const. David Hopkinson said police had been searching for Tyrell Evans, 28, since an incident in April. When police received information that he was at an address in the Yonge St. and Avondale Rd. area, they surrounded the house late Friday.
“We were in the process of getting the proper warrants to go in,” Hopkinson said. “While we were doing that, he was able to escape.”
Hopkinson asid Evans got into a black Maserati and rammed it into police vehicles blocking his path in order to get away.
“What if somebody was walking in front of the house as he’s leaving and doing all this stuff, right?” Hopkinson said. “He has absolutely no regard for our rule of law, human life. That’s what he’s showing, that’s what he’s exhibiting.”
The dramatic scene was a culmination of police efforts after an initial warrant for Evans’ arrest was placed on April 9, when police received a report of a person with a gun in the Queen St. W and John St. area. Police said a man was involved in an altercation with a group of people when he pulled out a handgun and aimed it at a 33-year-old man. The trigger was pulled twice, but the gun did not fire, possibly due to jamming. The man, allegedly Evans, then fled the scene.
“It wasn’t a fight, I believe it was just verbal,” Hopkinson said. “Over an argument, he was willing to shoot a stranger.”
The gun was never recovered from the first incident. Police believe it may still be in his possession.
Evans faces ten charges including attempted murder, assault with a weapon, possession of a firearm obtained by crime, and failure to comply with probation. He is now also wanted for dangerous driving after Friday’s incident.
Police describe him as six foot, with a muscular build, a beard and a shaved head. His car’s license plate is CBBH 661, and it should have damage to the driver’s-side door after the collision with police vehicles.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police, but police are urging people to be cautious.
“If anybody sees (him), we absolutely do not want them to approach. They see the car—and let’s face it, a Maserati is not a common car—they see the car, call 911 immediately.” Hopkinson said. “He is going to harm someone if we don’t catch him.”
It had been more than two decades since a white man had won the world heavyweight boxing title.
The eccentric promoter Don King knew not only that, but that the United States was still a country with deep racial divisions. So when Gerry Cooney — a stout, white New Yorker with a punishing left hook — agreed in summer 1982 to face the reigning champion, Larry Holmes, who was Black and from the Pennsylvania rust belt, King knew what he had to do.
“If it’s an antagonistic fight between two Blacks, it’s one thing,” King said in a recent interview. “But if it’s an antagonistic fight between a white and a Black, then you can play the race card tremendously and get an overwhelming return.”
Such deliberate racial themes, long a tradition in boxing, might not be laid out quite as starkly Saturday night when boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., who is Black, and mixed martial arts fighter Conor McGregor, who is white, square off in Las Vegas in a boxing match.
But race has certainly influenced this spectacle of a bout between two titans of their respective sports in ways both stark and subtle.
Both fighters have flung racially tinged barbs at each other — McGregor told Mayweather to “dance for me, boy” and said he himself was half black “from the bellybutton down”; Mayweather said he was fighting “for all the Blacks around the world.”
The racial animosity cuts deeper than a few comments.
Mayweather had spent more than a decade embracing his status as the undisputed king of fight sports villainy: brash, derogatory and eager to flaunt his money, while trying to brush aside a record of domestic violence convictions.
Then along came McGregor, a mixed martial artist from Ireland, who used a boldness that rivalled Mayweather’s to reach the peak of stardom in the fast-growing Ultimate Fighting Championship universe, in which fighters use their fists and feet and can wrestle opponents down. Even though the two men competed in different sports, they became fast rivals.
Read more: Conor McGregor’s fans are keeping the faith
Now, as they prepare to fight, McGregor is claiming most of the fan support, while Mayweather is asking a pointed question: Is there a racial double standard?
“He’s arrogant, he’s cocky, he’s this, he’s that, he’s unappreciative,” Mayweather told reporters of how his antics have been received, while McGregor has exhibited similar behaviour “and they praise him for it.”
To some, the very fact that McGregor has an opportunity to make nine figures in his first professional boxing match speaks to a racial double standard.
Mayweather, 40, has compiled a 49-0 record since his professional debut in 1996. Although McGregor, 29, has proved to be a devastating striker en route to a 21-3 mark in mixed martial arts, this will be his first professional boxing match.
Holmes, the defending champion and the victor in the 1982 fight, drew a comparison to the $10 million purses that he and Cooney — each undefeated entering their bout — received when they met in the ring.
“If it wasn’t for the white guy that I was fighting, we wouldn’t have gotten $10 million,” Holmes said. “If I would have fought five brothers, we wouldn’t have got that much money.”
McGregor’s earnings might have come down to his marketability.
“McGregor is in many ways a cheap imitation of Floyd’s ‘Money Mayweather’ persona,” Todd Boyd, a professor who studies race and pop culture at the University of Southern California, wrote in an email. “But McGregor is white, he’s younger, and his clowning comes with an Irish accent. All of this seems to have endeared him to some in the media and many fans as well. McGregor is being celebrated for the same things that Floyd has been denigrated for.”
But one important difference between Mayweather and McGregor, Boyd noted, is that Mayweather has been in serious trouble with the law related to domestic violence and has served jail time. And even though the crowds at promotional events have leaned heavily in McGregor’s favor, Mayweather has welcomed — and made plenty of money from — people who cheer against him.
So it is difficult to quantify how much of the support for McGregor is from people who like him as opposed to those who just want to see Mayweather lose.
McGregor said he did not believe that there was a double standard in how he was treated compared with Mayweather, and he noted that he had his fair share of detractors.
McGregor has been criticized for some of his racial remarks during the promotion of the fight. He gyrated on stage during a promotional event, calling it “a little present for my beautiful, Black female fans.” In an interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live, McGregor seemed to refer to Black boxers in a scene from Rocky III as “dancing monkeys.”
McGregor insisted that he was not making race an issue in this fight.
“I’m not saying that there are not people on both sides that have this mindset where it’s Black versus white, and this type of thing,” he said. “But it’s certainly something I do not condone. I’m disappointed to hear the way sometimes it’s been portrayed. But I suppose it’s just the nature of the game, with the way things are going on in the world at the moment.”
His comments came before white nationalists’ protests over the planned removal of a Confederate statue led to violence in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12 and subsequent disputes across the country.
Stephen Espinoza, general manager of Showtime Sports, which is broadcasting the Mayweather-McGregor bout, said the fight was primarily about two athletes at the top of their disciplines proving who was best, but he acknowledged that such events were often seen through the trends of the time.
“The interesting thing to me personally about boxing is it’s always been a mirror of society,” Espinoza said. “The sport has always been reflective of everything from U.S. immigration trends to socioeconomic and demographic trends.”
The diversity of boxing has been reflected in Showtime’s audience. The network said its boxing telecasts attract a viewership that is, on average, 35 per cent Black and 30 per cent Hispanic.
The UFC, on the other hand, tends to attract a whiter audience, in both viewership and attendance at matches.
For the Mayweather-McGregor meeting, the combined disciplines may attract a more diverse audience, though as a boxing match, it may have to pull more of the weight in any effort to unify racial and ethnic groups.
“Ultimately, when you get these disparate groups that end up enthusiastically rooting, you get sometimes a combustible environment,” Espinoza said. “Generally, these are national and ethnic rivalries, which are confined to the sport. One of the things that boxing does well is that it brings together a multicultural, multigenerational audience in a way that can be a bonding experience.”
WINNIPEG—A man who lured young girls over the internet while awaiting sentencing for the same offences told a Winnipeg judge the lengthy delay in his case allowed him to reoffend.
David Thomas Pearson was sentenced Friday to five years and nine months for eight criminal charges, including six counts of luring — for posing as a teenage boy online — and requesting nude photos from young girls.
The Winnipeg man was charged in 2011 with child luring for communicating with a 15-year-old Las Vegas girl he met online while pretending to be a 16-year-old boy.
He pleaded guilty to that offence in January 2015 but sentencing didn’t happen until May 2016, when he received a two-year sentence.
Pearson told the judge had his case been handled quicker, “I probably wouldn’t be here before you today because I would’ve been incarcerated and I would’ve had the opportunity to reflect on what I have done as being negative, hearing the victim-impact statements and learned from my wrongs at that point in time.”
While Pearson was out on bail awaiting sentencing, he purchased a laptop and smartphone, violating conditions of his bail, and continued to pose as a boy on an instant-messaging app called Kik and asked girls to send him nude photos.
His online communications only came to light after a parent noticed Pearson taking cellphone photos of children at Nutimik Lake in Whiteshell Provincial Park in August 2015.
RCMP investigators seized his devices, finding zoomed-in photos of children’s genitals while they were playing on the beach, court heard.
Police couldn’t access Pearson’s password-protected Samsung smartphone, but while it was in police possession, messages from girls kept popping up.
Police found Pearson had been communicating with at least six girls in the United States between the ages of 13 and 16 from 2013 until his arrest in 2015. Some of the girls believed Ethan was their online boyfriend, and four had sent him intimate images.
In a victim-impact statement read Friday by Crown prosecutor Debbie Buors, one of the girls said she dropped out of school and had to stop going to counselling because it became too expensive.
“It made me feel less of myself and that I am just an object,” she wrote.
Pearson said hearing the victim-impact statement was “beneficial” for him. If he’d heard it sooner, he suggested to the judge, he may have “learned from his wrongs.”
“I can say before this all occurred, I wasn’t aware of how the victims would be impacted by my actions,” he told provincial court Judge Tim Killeen.
Pearson has about four years and eight months left to serve, after being given credit for the time he’s already spent in custody. He will be required to register as a sex offender for life.
MANILA, PHILIPPINES—Thousands of Filipinos poured out of their homes to join a funeral march Saturday for Kian Loyd delos Santos, the 17-year-old boy whose death at the hands of police has galvanized opposition to President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war on drugs.
Students joined nuns, activists and even supporters of Duterte as an estimated 5,000 people marched in light rain, demanding accountability from the president, who has appeared to soften his tough anti-crime rhetoric and has ordered the detention of three police officers pending an investigation into the killing.
“I hope that what happened to my son will not happen to members of their families,” Saldy delos Santos, the boy’s father, said of the police officers. He wore a white shirt with the words “Justice for Kian” written on an image of a black ribbon.
“The whole village knows my son as a good boy,” he added. “All he knows is how to help the family. How can they say he was on drugs?”
Next to him was his wife, Lorenza delos Santos, who wept silently as a stream of mourners stopped by a small neighborhood church in Caloocan, a mostly poor, northern Manila suburb, where a funeral mass was offered for their son.
The teenager was among 96 people killed in the Manila area in what police called a “one-time, big-time” crackdown on drug dealers and addicts in the capital and in several sprawling suburbs.
His death has rankled the government and forced Duterte to acknowledge publicly that there may have been lapses. On Saturday, the president’s spokesman, Ernesto Abella, said the government would not tolerate “wrongdoings or illegal acts” from any law enforcement officer.
That statement was a reversal from Duterte’s words last week, when he appeared to encourage police to kill more drug suspects after praising them for a bloody anti-narcotics operation that has left nearly 100 people dead — the bloodiest siege since he began the campaign last year.
Delos Santos’ death has raised serious questions about how police conduct raids. Abella said the government’s public prosecutor had filed criminal complaints of murder against the officers involved at the Justice Department — underscoring the “resolve” of the government, he added.
“Let us allow the legal process to run its course, and trust the justice system under the Duterte presidency,” Abella said.
The complaint followed a Senate inquiry Thursday during which forensics investigators and the public attorney’s office testified that delos Santos had been shot at close range while kneeling.
That account contradicted police’s narrative that he had been shot because he had fought with the officers. Pictures provided by investigators showed the dead teenager with a gun in his left hand, even though the boy was right-handed.
A closed-circuit television camera showed police officers leading the boy away minutes before he was found lifeless in a nearby cul-de-sac with at least two gunshot wounds to the head and torso. Three witnesses, two of them minors, came forward to testify against police.
“My son was begging them,” the elder delos Santos said at the march. “He said he wanted to go home because his father was looking for him. To the policemen who killed an innocent person, go to church. It’s not too late to ask for forgiveness.”
The politically influential Roman Catholic Church, which counts 80 per cent of Filipinos as members, has used the death of the teenager to call on Duterte to stop what it called his ill-conceived war on drugs. On Saturday, one of its most outspoken priests, Rev. Robert Reyes, led the funeral march and attacked Duterte’s campaign against crime, which he said was “clearly, a war on the poor.”
“I think if you look around, the majority of those who joined the march are from the ranks of the poor,” he said. “All were shouting, ‘Justice for Kian.’ People may be wondering, ‘Is this boy the new Ninoy?’”
He was referring to Benigno Aquino Jr., known as Ninoy, who staunchly opposed dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Aquino was gunned down in 1983 on the tarmac of the Manila airport upon returning from exile in the United States. Marcos was widely blamed for the assassination.
His death united the opposition, and the effort grew into a “people power” revolution that toppled Marcos three years later. Aquino’s widow later became president, and his son and namesake preceded Duterte in the position.
Whether delos Santos’ death will translate into a united front against Duterte is unclear.
“The call for justice has begun,” said Edwin Lacierda, a political strategist and former spokesman for the younger Aquino. “The Senate hearings and rallies have seen to that. That call for change has likewise begun, both from the people and those within the government.”
“Where it leads, we do not know,” he added. “But certainly, the people can no longer tolerate the binary attitude of condemning the killings but not calling to account” Duterte.
For the time being, he said, the boy’s death had forced the public “to face and confront reality, no longer with timidity.”
On Saturday, supporters of Duterte joined the crowd at the funeral march and cried with the boy’s father. Some, including Michael Alberto Darang, a 20-year-old college student, said he had voted for Duterte. He displayed a wristband bearing the president’s name.
“I used to believe in Duterte’s promise to end crime,” he said, “and in fact, I think that is partly true. But I never wanted deaths for the innocent. Stop these killings. Instead, arrest drug lords and others.”
He said it was clear that delos Santos had been a victim “of the police wanting to impress Duterte.”
“He promised us a better life,” Darang said of Duterte. “Death for the innocent is not the change we want.”
NEW YORK—Mark Cuban isn’t ready to launch a formal campaign to challenge U.S. President Donald Trump.
Yet Cuban, an outspoken Texas billionaire who describes himself as “fiercely independent” politically, sees an opportunity for someone to take down the Republican president, who is increasingly viewed as divisive and incompetent even within his own party.
“His base won’t turn on him, but if there is someone they can connect to and feel confident in, they might turn away from him,” Cuban told The Associated Press. “The door is wide open. It’s just a question of who can pull it off.”
Indeed, just seven months into the Trump presidency, Republicans and right-leaning independents have begun to contemplate the possibility of an organized bid to take down the sitting president in 2020. It is a Herculean task, some say a fantasy: No president in the modern era has been defeated by a member of his own party, and significant political and practical barriers stand in the way.
The Republican National Committee, now run by Trump loyalists, owns the rulebook for nominating the party’s standard-bearer and is working with the White House to ensure a process favourable to the president.
Yet Trump’s muddled response to a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, this month has emboldened his critics to talk about the once unthinkable.
GOP officials from New Hampshire to Arizona have wondered aloud in recent days about the possibility of a 2020 primary challenge from a fellow Republican or right-leaning independent. No one has stepped forward yet, however, and the list of potential prospects remains small.
Ohio’s GOP Gov. John Kasich has not ruled out a second run in 2020. Another Republican and frequent Trump critic, Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, last month visited Iowa, which hosts the nation’s first presidential caucuses. And a handful of wealthy outsiders including Cuban and wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, are being encouraged to join the fray.
Trump’s comments about Charlottesville “frightened” many Republicans in New Hampshire, said Tom Rath, a veteran Republican strategist in the state that traditionally hosts the nation’s first presidential primary election.
“While he has support from his people, the party itself is not married to him,” Rath said of his party’s president.
Trump denounced bigotry after the Virginia protests, but he also said “very fine people” were on “both sides” of the demonstrations, which drew neo-Nazis, white nationalists and members of the Ku Klux Klan. One woman was killed when a man drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters.
Even before the divisive remarks, Trump’s public approval ratings were bad. Gallup found in mid-August that the president earned the approval of just 34 per cent of all adults and 79 per cent of Republicans. Both numbers marked personal lows. And as he lashes out at members of his own party with increasing frequency, frustrated Republican officials have raised questions about the first-term president’s political future.
On Monday, Maine Sen. Susan Collins said it’s “too early to tell” whether Trump would be the GOP presidential nominee in 2020. On Wednesday, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake said Trump’s divisive governing style was “inviting” a primary challenge. And on Thursday night, former Sen. John Danforth, of Missouri, called Trump “the most divisive president in our history” in a Washington Post op-ed.
“There hasn’t been a more divisive person in national politics since George Wallace,” Danforth wrote.
Trump has also disappointed “The Rock,” a former Republican-turned-independent, who told Vanity Fair in May that he’d “like to see a better leadership” from the Republican president.
Trump’s response to Charlottesville “felt like a turning point” among those thinking about 2020, said Kenton Tilford, a West Virginia political consultant who founded “Run The Rock 2020.” He said the group has already organized volunteers in Iowa and New Hampshire.
“He’s vulnerable,” Tilford said of the president.
Yet there is good reason why no sitting president since Franklin Pierce in 1852 has been defeated by a member of his own party. As is almost always the case, the most passionate voters in the president’s party remain loyal. And in Trump’s case, activists across the country are starting to come around.
The president has personally installed his own leadership team at the Republican National Committee and in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, where new GOP chairmen are more devout Trump supporters than their predecessors.
As RNC members from across the country gathered in Tennessee this week, leaders had already begun focusing on protecting Trump in 2020.
RNC co-chairman Bob Paduchik, who ran Trump’s winning campaign for Ohio last year, was named to lead an RNC effort to review the presidential nominating process in conjunction with White House political advisers.
An RNC rule allows the committee to revisit its delegate selection system and make changes to the plans established last year. It was last invoked before the 2004 election, when President George W. Bush was seeking re-election.
In that year, for instance, the RNC set the date of the Republican National Convention for late August, which allowed Bush to spend millions in federal matching dollars over a shorter, more concentrated, period of the fall campaign.
RNC chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel suggested that the blowback for Trump’s Charlottesville comments only reminded his hardcore supporters what they like most about him.
“He’s not filtered. He’s not poll-testing everything. That’s part of the appeal he has,” McDaniel said. “He has a great understanding of the pulse of the grassroots Republicans right now.”
Other RNC members seemed more concerned about the president’s statement there were “very fine people” on both sides of the white supremacist rally.
New Jersey RNC member Bill Palatucci said Trump “got it wrong” in his initial comments, but he stands by the president’s agenda, especially business deregulation and his recent decision to send more troops to Afghanistan.
Mississippi RNC member Henry Barbour said the confusion following Trump’s response to Charlottesville was “a huge distraction.” The president’s future will brighten, he said, if the GOP-controlled Congress overhauls the tax code and approves sweeping public building projects.
“If he doesn’t get those done, we’re going to have trouble,” Barbour said.
Yet few predicted a significant primary challenge in the most important early voting states.
New Hampshire RNC member Steve Duprey said he’s heard no serious talk of one. Said Iowa RNC committeewoman Tamara Scott, “I firmly stand behind my president.”
Beaumont reported in Nashville, Tennessee.
WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump’s end-of-the-week pardon of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, a campaign supporter who shares Trump’s hardline views on immigration, touched off a political outcry that did not abate Saturday even as much of the U.S. was focused on a hurricane that pummelled Texas.
Jesse Lehrich, a spokesman for Organizing for Action, the political group that grew out of former president Barack Obama’s campaigns, said the pardon “signals a disturbing tolerance for those who engage in bigotry.”
He added: “It sends an unsettling message to immigrants across the country. And it’s a repudiation of the rule of law. As a massive hurricane is hurtling toward the southern United States, the White House is focused not on saving lives, but on pardoning a man who committed unlawful acts of racial discrimination.”
The White House announced the pardon amid preparations for hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 storm, but the federal government said it was on top of the looming natural disaster.
Reaction to the decision was sharp and swift, including among some fellow Republicans with whom Trump has been feuding openly.
House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin disagreed with the pardon. “Law-enforcement officials have a special responsibility to respect the rights of everyone in the United States,” Ryan’s spokesman, Doug Andres, said in a statement. “We should not allow anyone to believe that responsibility is diminished by this pardon.”
Sen. John McCain of Arizona, echoed Lehrich’s sentiment that Trump had sent a poor message about living by the rule of law. The state’s other Republican senator, Jeff Flake, who has been attacked by Trump and who is facing a potential primary challenge, was more muted.
“Regarding the Arpaio pardon, I would have preferred that the President honor the judicial process and let it take its course,” Flake wrote on Twitter.
Rep. Trent Franks, another Arizona Republican, said he saw it as a just end to the saga of Arpaio’s legal entanglements, which included defying a court order intended to halt racial profiling of Latinos.
“The president did the right thing — Joe Arpaio lived an honorable life serving our country, and he deserves an honorable retirement,” Franks posted on Twitter.
Outside Arizona, most Republicans stayed quiet.
There is no legal dispute over Trump’s ability to pardon in a contempt of court case, as was Arpaio’s. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1925 that a presidential pardon for a criminal contempt of court sentence was within the powers of the executive, and Trump had telegraphed his move for days. But the pardon was unusual given that Arpaio was awaiting sentencing. It also had not gone through the normal pardon process, which includes lengthy reviews by the Justice Department and the White House counsel’s office.
Jens David Ohlin, vice-dean and professor at Cornell Law School, said he was disturbed by the pardon, given Trump’s relationship with the judiciary.
“Ever since the campaign and the beginning of his administration he’s had a very contentious relationship with the judiciary and hasn’t shown much respect for either members of the judiciary or the proper role of the judiciary within our constitutional structure,” Ohlin said Saturday.
During the campaign, Trump called Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts “an absolute disaster” and “disgraceful,” mainly for two opinions Roberts wrote that left Obama’s health care law intact. Trump also went after U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who presided over fraud lawsuits against Trump University. Trump said Curiel was “a hater of Donald Trump” who couldn’t be fair to Trump because of Curiel’s “Mexican heritage” and because of Trump’s campaign pledge to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Trump also referred to U.S. District Judge James Robart as a “so-called judge” after Robart imposed a temporary halt on Trump’s travel ban.
Many presidents have issued controversial pardons. Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon. Bill Clinton pardoned Marc Rich, one of his donors, in his final days in office. By definition, pardons absolve someone of having broken the law.
But Arpaio, who had yet to be sentenced in his criminal case, has long been accused of abuses against minorities, including repeated violations of Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. His pardon struck a different political chord, one that led Democrats to tear into Trump.
Paul Begala, a Democratic strategist who advised the main super PAC supporting Hillary Clinton in 2016, suggested that Trump was offering a different type of signal: one to people who might be approached by Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, as well as possible obstruction of justice by the president when he fired the FBI director, James Comey.
“The Arpaio pardon was awful in and of itself, but I also think it was a signal to the targets of the Mueller investigation that ‘I got your back,’ ” Begala said on Bill Maher’s HBO program Friday night.
David Axelrod, who was a senior adviser to Obama in the White House, saw a different motive at play. Trump, he argued, was sending a signal after removing his chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, a nationalist who is an icon among segments of the president’s base.
“I think this was a nod to the base, post-Bannon, that he’s still with them,” Axelrod said.
Although the pardon could in the short term energize Trump’s conservative base, which includes many with strong anti-immigration views, the decision could further alienate voter groups, such as Latinos, whose support the Republican Party has said it needs to win future elections. Trump managed to defy those dynamics in 2016.
Arpaio was an early admirer of Trump. He appeared with him at a rally in Phoenix in 2015, and he vocally supported Trump’s interest in raising false questions about whether Obama, the first black president, was born in the United States.
The sudden, and unusual, presidential pardon seemed to answer a lingering question: What future would await Arpaio, one of the most polarizing figures in law enforcement and a longtime darling of the far right, after he was voted out of office last fall?
Arpaio hinted to local reporters he might return to politics.
Arpaio told the Associated Press he wouldn’t rule out running for office again, saying he would be “very active” politically, even at age 85. He had the same message for the state’s largest newspaper.
“I told my wife I don’t want nothing to do with politics, but now I’ve got to rethink that,” Arpaio told the Arizona Republic. “I think I’ve got a big political message to get out.”
With files from The Associated Press and the Washington Post
With files from The Associated Press and the Washington Post
GREENWOOD, N.S.—There were no injuries after a small fire broke out on one of the planes flown by the Snowbirds aerobatic team as it landed on Saturday.
The nine-plane team was taking part in the Atlantic Canada International Air Show at CFB Greenwood, roughly 144 km from Halifax.
As the Tutor jets used by the Snowbirds landed, one of them stopped well before the end of the runway after a small fire was spotted around the nose wheel and two fire trucks rushed out to the runway, said Michele Tremblay, a spokesperson for the Snowbirds.
“He stopped his plane, and we advised the emergency response team,” Tremblay said. “They arrived immediately, put the flames out, and (the pilots) safely disembarked.”
Tremblay said Capt. Matthew Hart and Capt. Kevin Domon-Grenier, who is still in training, were in Snowbird 5 when the fire occurred.
She said any assessment of the damage to the aircraft would be “pure speculation” until the incident is investigated.
“What’s the important thing right now is that our pilots are safe,” Tremblay said. “They did their drills to the teeth, and tomorrow we’ll carry on with our show.”
Tremblay said the damaged aircraft may be replaced for Sunday’s performance or the Snowbirds could fly in an eight-plane formation.
The Snowbirds have been performing since 1971.
DALLAS—A young girl’s repeated attempts to dial 911 went unanswered as her mother lay dying from stab wounds in a Texas hotel room. She didn’t know she had to dial 9 first to get an outside line.
Under a measure nearing final approval in Congress, businesses would be required to include direct-dial 911 on any new telephone system they install. That means there would be no need to dial an access code or additional digit to reach emergency assistance.
“Kari’s Law” was named after Kari Hunt Dunn, who was slain in 2013 when her estranged husband stormed into her hotel room and stabbed her multiple times while her children watched. The 9-year-old girl who tried four times to dial for help sat on her grandfather’s lap in the police station after the attack, and he promised to find a way to simplify nation’s the 911 system.
“A little girl did what she was taught to do, and adults prevented her from doing it,” said Hank Hunt, the girl’s grandfather and Kari Hunt Dunn’s father. “Adults should be the one to fix it. I wish I didn’t have to. I wish I had my daughter with me.”
The legislation Hunt has championed through Congress would amend the 1934 Communications Act to mandate both direct-dial 911 and software that automatically alerts first responders and on-site personnel. Both the House and Senate passed versions of the bill this year without opposition, but they both must approve an identical version before sending it to President Donald Trump.
“I know with my own children, we taught them to call 911, so I think a lot of people identified when they heard about this situation,” said Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican who introduced the House bill. “When it became clear that a law was not going to be an over ominous demand, then that’s what we put together.”
Most multi-line telephone systems, like the ones installed in hotels, offices and universities, can be made compliant with a programming or software upgrade that is reasonably priced, said Mark Fletcher, the chief public safety architect at the communications technology firm Avaya. Fletcher, who has helped Hunt push for the passage of Kari’s Law, said many systems already have settings that meet compliance standards that can be enabled for free.
Businesses will have two years to comply before being penalized with a fine, but many have already begun making voluntary changes.
More than 70 per cent of major hotel chains are in the process of requiring their franchises to have direct-dial capabilities to emergency services, which extends access to approximately 7,800 properties, according to a 2015 Federal Communications Commission report.
A year earlier, none of the chains required direct-dial access to 911. And only 25 per cent of multi-line telephone system vendors shipped products that allowed direct access to emergency services in the default settings.
“The industry wants to be responsible,” Gohmert said. “They did the reasonable thing of getting ahead of the law, but there’s always going to be some that don’t comply. The sooner this gets signed into law, the better.”
Legislators have passed state versions of Kari’s Law in Illinois, Maryland, Tennessee and Texas. But advocacy organizations such as the National Emergency Number Association say a national law is needed to standardize requirements and provide people with a common approach to accessing 911.
Until it becomes a federal mandate, Hunt said he will keep pushing for change at the state and local level. When the Texas legislation passed, his granddaughter stood beside Gov. Greg Abbott and received the pen he used to sign the bill into law. She wants to do the same in Washington.
“I made that promise to a 9-year-old, and I wasn’t giving up until it got signed,” Hunt said. “People kept telling me it would be 10 to 15 years down the road. I said, ‘We’ll see.’”
A 15-year-old boy who was shot by Peel police in late July has died, the Special Investigations Unit said Saturday.
The teen was shot about 1:50 a.m. on July 27 in the Credit Valley Town Plaza at Creditview and Britannia Rds. in Mississauga.
Police were called to the plaza for a gas station robbery.
The police claim the teen was part of a group of three who tried to rob the gas station. The other two suspects fled, but the victim remained to rob another establishment and break into vehicles, the SIU said.
One witness of the incident said the 15-year-old had a gun that he pointed at police, although at the time the SIU could not confirm if the teen was armed.
The boy was taken to the Hospital for Sick Children with a gunshot wound in his upper torso.
The victim’s identity is not being released. There are six investigators and two forensic investigators looking into the incident, the SIU says.
The SIU investigates cases involving police where there has been a death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.
With files from Emma McIntosh and Alanna Rizza
With files from Emma McIntosh and Alanna Rizza
It’s been nearly one week since Toronto opened its first city-run site for people to use illegal intravenous drugs and so far three dozen people have used the controversial service.
“We are thrilled to be offering this life-saving service to the community,” Dr. Rita Shahin, Toronto Public Health’s associate medical officer of health, said Saturday.
“The very first client that we had when we opened our doors, to us, represents a potential life that we may have saved. We had 36 visits in just five days, which . . . represents a great success. We look forward to more people becoming aware of the service and helping more people in our community.”
The temporary clinic, located at Victoria and Dundas Sts. in a building that already houses The Works needle-exchange program, has been open since Monday.
In a plain clinical room, up to three people at a time can inject pre-obtained drugs with clean needles. Staff — two trained nurses, two counselors and a manager — can keep an eye on up to nine drug users per hour and hope each will stay at least 15 minutes for rest and observation and signs of overdose.
The site is open from 4 to 10 p.m. Monday to Saturday.
City staff did not deal with any overdoses this week at the temporary site, Shahin said. Nor was there need to administer Naloxone, an antidote for the powerful opioid fentanyl, a drug responsible for a growing number of overdose-related deaths.
Health Canada had previously approved three larger permanent safe injection sites for Toronto: one in the building where the temporary site is now located, as well as one in South Riverdale and one in Parkdale. They were expected to open this fall.
But after local harm reduction advocates, concerned about an increasing number of overdoses, many of which are apparently related to the highly toxic painkiller fentanyl, opened their own unsanctioned “pop up” safe injection site in a tent in Moss Park, the city pushed ahead with its temporary site.
That “pop up” site in Moss Park has been operating for two weeks, from 4 to 10 p.m. daily. About 20 to 25 people inject on site each day and an additional 20 people smoking crack or methamphetamine, Nick Boyce, a volunteer at the site, said on Saturday.
The Moss Park site has stopped or reversed 12 overdoses, and volunteers (80 in total, 25 of them medically trained) have closely monitored many more at risk people, according to Boyce. “These are all people who would have died, ended up in emergency costing thousands of dollars, or would have been prone to assault.”
Boyce said some of the same people come every day and there are no plans for the “pop up,” funded by donations from a Go FundMe page, to shut down now that the city site is up and running. In fact, Boyce said organizers of the Moss Park site are exploring implementing a program for people to check their drugs for fentanyl.
For some people, the downtown city-run site may be too far for them to travel, Boyce said. And for others, who are used to injecting in alleyways, they feel more comfortable in the tent in the park rather than the more sterile clinic-like environment, he added.
Toronto Police have so far allowed the unsanctioned site to operate. Last week, a department spokesperson, Mark Pugash, said police have met with the organizers and agreed on “a number of conditions which we think go a long ways towards minimizing risks to public safety.”
“We’ll continue to operate on a day-by-day basis, but we have no plans to change our position,” Pugash said.
Police in Ottawa are also monitoring an unsanctioned safe injection site that opened Friday.
As for the city-run site, which has had fewer visitors in its first week than the Moss Park “pop up,” Shahin said that because the site opened so quickly there wasn’t a lot of time or opportunity to promote the service.
“Over the coming weeks we will be conducting street outreach to notify more people of the service,” she said.
“We . . . remain optimistic that, with more time, more people in need will become aware of this vital health service and use it. The more people that use it, the more potential we have for people to avoid injecting alone and to potentially save lives.”
Shahin said staff have been debriefing at the end of each shift, sharing lessons learned among themselves and with colleagues in other Canadian cities and abroad.
Safe injection sites currently operate in Montreal and in B.C. cities of Vancouver, Surrey, Kelowna and Kamloops, with other cities including Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton planning or considering them.
With files from David Rider and Betsy Powell
With files from David Rider and Betsy Powell
LAS VEGAS—For weeks, the boxing match hyped as the richest ever — the one pitting ring legend Floyd Mayweather against UFC champ Conor McGregor — didn’t have a title.
Great fights don’t always have them but they often do. Roberto Duran snapped Sugar Ray Leonard’s undefeated streak in the Brawl in Montreal. Muhammad Ali vanquished George Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle, and year later outlasted Joe Frazier in the Thrilla in Manila.
But Mayweather-McGregor remained nameless until late during fight week, when emcees at events promoting the bout bestowed the name that makes the most sense.
The Money Fight.
Because money made this fight happen, money has been changing hands in Las Vegas all week, and money is the main objective.
It certainly isn’t a title bout.
Mayweather vacated his various boxing championships when he retired in 2015, and McGregor has never boxed professionally. The only belt at stake is the one the World Boxing Council put together to reward Mayweather for his loyalty, a gold-plated, diamond-studded, alligator skin strap called The Money Belt.
Just how much cash each fighter would gross was open to speculation until Friday night, when the combatants’ guarantees were revealed.
Where McGregor will make $30 million, Mayweather will take home a minimum of $100 million.
The two fighters’ $130 million combined payday makes this fight the most expensive main event ever, and exceeds the opening day payrolls of 14 MLB teams, including the National League-leading Houston Astros. They’ll make nearly enough Saturday night to cover Major League Soccer’s $150-million expansion fee, and could meet payroll for every CFL team for nearly three years.
When the pay-per-view totals are tallied in a few weeks, each fighter’s payday is likely to rise.
McGregor is a 29-year-old Dublin native who has become the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s most reliable pay-per-view revenue generator since he joined the organization in 2013. In addition to holding titles in two divisions simultaneously, McGregor has headlined three of the UFC’s four top-selling pay-per-view broadcasts, peaking at 1.6 million buys for his win over Nate Diaz last summer.
Mayweather, meanwhile, has featured in three cards that have generated more than 2 million buys. His career-defining 2007 win over Oscar De La Hoya earned a then-record 2.5 million buys, while his 2013 decision over Saul (Canelo) Alvarez drew 2.2 million. And, two years ago, Mayweather combined with Manny Pacquiao to sell a record 4.6 million pay-per-views.
But unlike that bout, Saturday’s fight has the UFC pitching in as a co-promoter, lending its marketing muscle and distribution expertise to this big-money project. In addition to home and sports bar pay-per-view, the bout will be streamed on a series of promoter-affiliated online platforms and screened at movie theatres.
Each of those sources of revenue flows into a pot that ultimately enriches the fighters.
It’s not yet clear whether McGregor’s contract entitles him to a portion of pay-per-view sales, but as the bout’s lead promoter, Mayweather Promotions receives the bulk of sponsorship, licensing and broadcast rights revenue.
When the Internal Revenue Service informed Mayweather earlier this summer that he owed $29 million, the boxer’s lawyers went to court to have the tax lien lifted, telling the judge Mayweather had a “liquid event” in August.
Mayweather recently told talk show host Jimmy Kimmel he would gross $350 million for this fight.
That’s a quarter-billion dollars on top of his guarantee, enough to pay his back taxes, and another reason they call the fighter — and this fight — Money.
LONDON—Jabed Hussain said he was really lucky. The delivery driver was one of the latest victims in an alarming surge of acid attacks in Britain.
He was still trembling when he said, “But they didn’t get my face. They didn’t ruin me.”
Attacks by people throwing acid at their victims has tripled in the past three years in Britain, stoking fears that almost anyone can be the victim: from a moped rider to a city banker or politician.
The alarming rise comes amid a clampdown on weapons and fears of a frightening new crime fad involving teenage motorbike thieves using corrosive substances, in part because they are relatively easy to obtain.
Hussain, 30, was riding his three-wheel scooter, stopped at a traffic light in East London this month, when he felt what he thought was water, doused on him by a pair of faceless teenagers in wraparound helmets, mounted on a motorbike beside him.
“Then I started to feel the burning, and I knew instantly what it was,” Hussain said. “Because this is what we are all fearing.”
He ripped off his helmet and began clawing at his clothing. His assailants stole his bike and sped away, as Hussain begged passing motorists for help.
“I must have looked like a mad man,” Hussain said. “Nobody would roll down their windows for me.”
The United Kingdom is a safe country, but the spike in acid attacks is clearly unnerving: A possible assailant is anyone with bottle of bleach, ammonia or drain cleaner.
“Because it is not like seeing a gun or a knife,” said Rachel Kearton, assistant chief constable of the Suffolk Police, the National Police Chief Council’s top investigator on corrosive attacks.
“Because the intent is to maim and disfigure,” Kearton said.
According to the London Metropolitan Police and regional police chiefs, there were more than 700 acid attacks last year, double the number in 2015.
Kearton said it appears likely that acid attack numbers will increase by another 50 per cent this year.
Police chiefs say there isn’t a single motive behind the attacks, but acknowledge gangs and robberies seem to be playing a part. Some of the attackers are only teenagers. Of those whose ages are known, 21 per cent under the age of 18. The most common corrosive liquids are bleach, ammonia and acid.
According to leaders in London’s City Hall, “many recent acid attacks are connected to violent and aggressive organized scooter theft.” In a recent statement, they said “this is particularly frightening for people who ride scooters in London.”
Scooter drivers have staged a number of protests to highlight their concerns about being doused with acid in attempted bike robberies.
Police, victims and the gang members agree: There is just something terrifying about being splashed with acid.
Late last year, a London business executive named Gina Miller took the British government to court to decide if it could trigger Brexit, Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, without parliamentary approval.
Since then, Miller said she’s been living in fear someone will attack her.
“I have been getting threats of having acid thrown in my face for months and months now. When I see someone walk toward me on the street with a bottle of water or something, I just freak out,” she told Verdict magazine.
“My life has completely changed,” she said.
Ohid Ahmed, a councillor from Jabed Hussain’s East London neighbourhood, said although acid was certainly the latest weapon of choice for assailants, there was something deeper going on.
“If you want to steal a moped, you can steal a moped,” he said. The criminal can use a hammer, a knife or his fists, he said. “But throwing acid is a hate crime,” Ahmed said.
You are seeking to destroy your victim, he said.
Some places are taking extra precautions. This month, officials in some court buildings began asking anyone entering a court with a water bottle —visitors, judges, lawyers — to take a “sip test” to prove their liquid isn’t acid.
Britain is “near the top, or the top of the pack globally,” when it comes to reported attacks, said Jaf Shah, executive director of Acid Survivors Trust International, a London-based nonprofit. He said other countries, including India, probably have far more attacks, but they remain unreported.
The U.K. is unusual in that so many of the attacks are against men. In many other countries, women and girls are disproportionately affected with spurned men or jilted suitors dousing former wives or girlfriends in the hope of disfiguring them for life.
By contrast, Shah said, two-thirds of the victims in the U.K. are men. Campaigners say the rise in attacks could be linked to a clampdown on weapons.
In 2015, a “two strikes” rule was introduced so those convicted of carrying a knife for the second time received a mandatory six-month prison sentence.
Shah said for some gang members it’s possible that acid is becoming “the weapon of choice” because it’s now seen as a “safe crime to commit because you can’t be charged for carrying acid, only charged if police can prove intent.”
To be sure, the number of acid attacks in the U.K. is dwarfed by gun and knife crime statistics.
But the increase is still alarming, and the British government is reviewing its guidelines to see if police and prosecutors have the powers they need and if new restrictions will be placed on retailers who sell corrosive liquids.
“We have seen acid used in cases of gang violence, drug trafficking, domestic abuse and so-called honour-based violence,” the Home Secretary Amber Rudd wrote in the Sunday Times. “We can and will improve our response,” she wrote.
Stephen Timms, a lawmaker for the opposition Labour Party, has called on the government to introduce harsher punishment for the possession of corrosive liquids.
“It should be a criminal offense to carry acid around on the streets in the same way that it is already in the U.K. a criminal offense to carry a knife,” he said.
In Britain, it is illegal to carry a knife without a good reason.
Timms’s constituency in east London has some of the highest levels of acid attacks in the country. An attack in June on two Muslim cousins sparked panic in the local community, he said. Jameel Muhktar and Resham Khan were celebrating Khan’s 21st birthday in east London on the day their worlds turned upside down. They were stopped at traffic lights when a man knocked on their car window and hurled acid at them.
After that attack, Timms said, “people starting asking themselves, especially women, was it safe to walk down the street without someone throwing acid over you?”
Writing from her hospital bed, Khan has won many admirers on social media for chronicling the highs and lows of her recovery.
“My plans are in pieces; my pain is unbearable, and I write this letter in hospital whilst I patiently wait for the return of my face,” she wrote in one blog entry calling on lawmakers and retailers to make a number of changes.
“I can’t dwell on the past but what I can do is help build a better future, one without attacks like these,” she said.
SAN FRANCISCO—Protesters opposing a right-wing gathering in liberal San Francisco claimed victory Saturday when the event was cancelled after city officials walled off a city park, a move that the event’s organizer said was more about silencing his group’s message than preventing a violent clash.
Civic leaders in San Francisco, a cradle of the free speech movement that prides itself on its tolerance, repeatedly voiced concerns that the event organized by Patriot Prayer would lead to a clash with counter-demonstrators.
Joey Gibson, who is Japanese American and leads Patriot Prayer, said his group disavows racism and hatred and wanted to promote dialogue with people who may not share its views. He cancelled a planned rally Saturday at a field under the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge after he said his members received anonymous threats on social media and feared civic leaders and law enforcement would fail to protect them.
He said he felt like San Francisco’s Democratic leaders had shut him down. Earlier in the week, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee raised concerns that Patriot Prayer would attract hate speech and potential violence. U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, a fellow Democrat who represents San Francisco, called the planned rally a “white supremacist” event.
“They’re definitely doing a great job of trying to make sure my message doesn’t come out,” Gibson said.
San Francisco officials closed the park where Gibson had planned a news conference after cancelling the rally at Crissy Field. City officials surrounded Alamo Square with a fence and sent scores of police officers —some in riot gear — to keep people out. Lee defended the city’s response.
“If people want to have the stage in San Francisco, they better have a message that contributes to people’s lives rather than find ways to hurt them,” Lee said. “That’s why certain voices found it very difficult to have their voices heard today.”
Gibson later spoke in suburban Pacifica with a handful of supporters that included African Americans, a Latino and a Samoan American. Several said they support President Donald Trump and want to join with moderates to promote understanding and free speech.
More than a thousand demonstrators against Patriot Prayer still turned out around Alamo Square park waving signs condemning white supremacists and chanting, “Whose streets? Our streets!” Hundreds of others took to the streets in the Castro neighbourhood.
“San Francisco as a whole, we are a liberal city and this is not a place for hate or any sort of bigotry of any kind,” Bianca Harris said. “I think it’s a really powerful message that we’re sending to people who come here to try to spew messages of hate that it’s just not welcome in this city.”
Benjamin Sierra, who organized counter protesters, said the demonstration had become a “victory rally.”
The San Francisco Bay Area has nurtured freedom of speech, and police in San Francisco have traditionally given demonstrators a wide berth.
Student activism was born during the 1960s free-speech movement at Berkeley, when thousands of students at the university mobilized to demand that the school drop its ban on political activism.
However, the deadly confrontation in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12 during a rally of white supremacists led San Francisco police and civil leaders to rethink their response to protests.
The following week, thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-Nazi slogans converged on downtown Boston in a boisterous repudiation of white nationalism, dwarfing a small group of conservatives who cut short their planned “free speech rally.”
Gibson had said his followers would attend an anti-Marxist rally on Sunday in Berkeley. But a short time later, the organizer of that rally, a transgender woman named Amber Cummings, called it off. The left-wing group By Any Means Necessary, which has been involved in violent confrontations, had vowed to shut down the event at Civic Center Park.
Asked Saturday whether he had any plans to go to Berkeley, Gibson said he would “analyze the situation.”
Berkeley police were planning for a number of contingencies, police spokesperson Jenn Coats said in an email.
The city has banned a long list of items from the park, including baseball bats, dogs and skate boards. People at the park are also not allowed to cover their faces with scarves or bandanas.
Inside the fence lies two community gardens, a play structure, cement pathways and a banner that reads, “Friends of Watkinson Park demands a nature park for the people. Down with gentrification.”
Outside the fence, community organizers in the Junction, which sits in between St. Clair Ave. W. and Bloor St. W. just north of High Park, worry about the rapid development of their west-end neighbourhood and the loss of its green space.
On Saturday, their fight was expected to bring roughly 200 people to the Dundas-Watkinson Parkette for a sleepover protest.
Development of Keele St. has been encroaching on what has always been a low-income area, driving out the poor and reducing access to affordable rental spaces, they say.
“Gentrification is spreading from Toronto’s downtown core to outlying neighbourhoods,” said Angela Browning, the spokesperson for Friends of Watkinson Park, a collection of community organizers attempting to preserve one of the last green spaces in the area.
In recent months, the group has stewarded two gardens in the park in its ongoing efforts to work alongside Six Nations elder Donna Powless.
“Watkinson park is an important restorative space for the low-income community who do not have yards,” Browning said. “We want to network with people who are environmentally concerned with the global warming issue and take up a movement.”
The protest is just the first step in a movement to empower low-income communities to take ownership of their neighbourhoods, added Browning.
“The Junction is being gentrified at a rapid rate,” she said. “There are condos going up. People are being evicted from rental housing.”
The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, or OCAP, is among the other organizations working with Browning.
“They were having issues with poor people in the park facing harassment from police, mainly for being told they couldn’t smoke in the park at that point,” said spokesperson Randy McLin.
“Since then we’ve been collaborating specifically around issues of access to public space.”
This weekend’s sleepover was inspired by the controversial campout OCAP organized at Toronto Mayor John Tory’s condo last April.
“It was really important for us to support this action because we need similar actions and resistances happening across the city,” McLin added.
After the city redesigned the parkette last year, Browning and other community organizers were disappointed that the final plans opted for cement and a playground, rather than the “nature-based” space they petitioned for.
Browning said the group wishes it had more support from the police and their local councillor.
They were unsure how police were going to respond to the campout.
“We’re just going to have to play it by ear,” Browning said ahead of the protest.
The campout was scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. on Saturday and run until Sunday morning.
The boxing legend Floyd Mayweather fights Conor McGregor tonight. Maybe you’ve heard something about it.
Follow along with live updates here and stick around post-fight to watch the live news conference. Finally, if you’re just coming to the fight now, learn what you need to know about the whole thing below. Just a warning — there may be some explicit language in our social media feed.
When is the fight?
Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Coverage starts at 9 p.m. ET, but the main event is likely to be quite deeper into the evening.
How much will it cost?
Cable providers are offering it on pay per view for about $100. Most bars showing the fight will have cover charges for the night.
How many people will watch?
The Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao megafight in 2015 got more than 4 million buyers, making it the No. 1 grossing pay-per-view ever. With the popularity of McGregor and his mixed martial arts fan base, many feel this fight could get 5 million.
What sport is this anyway?
Definitely boxing. Promoters say that if McGregor tries mixed martial arts moves like kicking or a takedown during the fight, he will face significant financial penalties.
What’s this I hear about gloves?
Normally fighters at 154 pounds in Nevada must fight with 10-ounce gloves. But the fighters have received a waiver from the athletic commission to use eight-ounce gloves instead. Mixed martial artists generally wear light gloves of only four ounces, so some say this change favours McGregor. But Mayweather partisans note that his fast hands will be even faster with smaller gloves.
Has there been a war of words?
Has there ever. Here are a few of the zingers over the last few months (in some cases with profanities removed).
Who’s on the undercard?
Gervonta Davis, an undefeated super featherweight (or junior lightweight) titleholder who is a friend and protege of Mayweather, will face Francisco Fonseca. In a light-heavyweight bout, Welsh titleholder Nathan Cleverly will meet Swede Badou Jack.
Who’s going to win?
Virtually every expert predicts Mayweather will have his way with McGregor, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “We all like McGregor, but I think it’s not his sport,” Trudeau said Friday. “Mayweather’s going to teach him what boxing’s all about.” McGregor was a long shot when the odds first came out but the public, sensing value or merely supporting their favourite, bet that all the way down to 3-1.
— The New York Times
OTTAWA—On the eve of the only French debate of the NDP leadership race, contender Jagmeet Singh criticized two of his opponents for their statements on a contentious Quebec law that would ban face coverings, such as the niqab worn by Muslim women, for people who are giving or receiving public services.
Singh told the Star that he unequivocally opposes Quebec’s Bill 62, and predicted that, if passed, it would be found to contravene the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as Quebec’s own human rights law.
He went on to call out two of his leadership opponents — Quebec MP Guy Caron and Manitoba’s Niki Ashton — for their positions on the matter, which he said amount to an “inconsistent understanding of human rights.”
Caron, the only Quebecer in the contest, released a “Quebec 2019” policy platform this week. It included a pledge to respect the Quebec legislature’s “authority” to pass laws on secularism, and said there is a consensus emerging from both left- and right-wing parties in the province over legislation that would impose some limits on religious clothing.
Caron’s platform also made clear that he personally believes government has no place dictating what people are allowed to wear.
Ashton, an MP from Manitoba, initially appeared to agree with Caron. In a statement this week to the Huffington Post, she said, “There is a consensus emerging” in Quebec on secularism, and that “the Canadian government should respect the will of Quebecers on this matter.”
She subsequently told the Star she disagrees with Caron’s position, but would hold judgment on the Quebec legislation until something is passed in the National Assembly. She emphasized that no government should dictate what people can wear, calling it a “line in the sand” that shouldn’t be crossed.
Singh dismissed the position of each candidate.
“To me, it doesn’t sound like a consistent position. It doesn’t seem like they’ve thought this through and provided a consistency, or a consistent respect for human rights,” he said.
“Human rights shouldn’t be a matter of popularity,” he added. “(Rights are) not supposed to be subject to the whims of the majority.”
The fourth candidate in the race, Charlie Angus, this week said he doesn’t trust politicians to legislate how women dress. “I also know that any legislation at the provincial or federal level has to be charter compliant and that’s the way it should be,” Angus said.
The debate over secularism and the appropriateness of religious symbols in public institutions has burbled through Quebec politics for years. Recent examples include a controversial proposition from the Parti Québécois during the 2014 election for a charter of “Quebec values” to legally enshrine a version of secularism in the province.
The leadership candidates vying for Thomas Mulcair’s position as party leader have all remarked on Quebec’s “distinctness” from the rest of Canada. As Caron’s platform for the province pointed out, Quebec’s historical experience — the Catholic Church was closely linked with government and provided social services like education until the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s — has led to a particular debate on the separation of state and religion in the province.
Speaking with the Star on Saturday, Singh acknowledged the province’s “unique experience” in this regard, but added that Quebec society isn’t solely preoccupied with the question of secularism.
“It’s a nation that has a very clear commitment to social justice,” he said, alluding to social policies in the province, such as universal child care, which many have said indicate a more left-leaning political bent.
“There’s more to Quebec than just this one issue.”
The place of religious clothing like niqabs and burkas also came up during the 2015 federal election, in which a ban on niqabs and burkas for people taken citizenship oaths was hotly debated.
In the months since, many NDP insiders blamed Mulcair’s strong stance against the proposed niqab ban for their plummeting numbers in Quebec. The party went on to lose most of the seats it gained during the breakthrough “Orange Wave” election in 2011, when Jack Layton led the NDP to unprecedented success in the majority-francophone province.
The election also played out against the context of an increasingly visible Syrian refugee crisis — a chilling photograph of a dead toddler face down on a beach dominated the news — and featured an announcement from the Conservative party for a “barbaric cultural practices” snitch line.
If Singh were to win the NDP leadership race — he raised more money than all three opponents combined during the second quarter of the year, but has also lagged in polls of NDP members — he would become the first person of colour to lead a federal political party.
He said Canadians must show solidarity with Muslim Canadians who may feel targeted by legislation on religious clothing.
“We need to oppose Islamophobia,” he said. “Hate is on the rise and we need to make a clear statement in opposition to that.”
Sunday’s NDP leadership debate begins at 2 p.m.
Party members begin voting for a new leader Sept. 17.