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TOPSTORIES

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    For the Athanasopoulos siblings, collecting TTC transfers from every subway station in one day was all about strategy.

    “Me and Matthew ran extremely fast up all the steps,” said 8-year-old Sophia Athanasopoulos, describing the race to climb flights upon flights of stairs on their journey to each of the TTC’s 69 subway stations (including the Scarborough RT).

    She and her eldest brother Matthew drew up a game plan on their TTC map one night prior to their August 31 trip, after middle-child Lukas casually suggested the idea.

    Read more: Twitter account @TTChelps uses humour to defuse tense situations

    It’s something their mother Lydia said she may have subliminally planted in her kids’ minds through stories from her childhood, and memories of collecting TTC transfers back when they were multicoloured.

    “It’s like collecting trading cards, they think it’s rare,” Lydia said, her family’s dining room table covered in arts supplies as the siblings worked away at showcasing their TTC treasures.

    “We went to the (Canadian National) Exhibition the day before, and this was far more entertaining. They had so much fun the whole day,” Lydia said.

    “I think that’s why they got extras,” she said, noting her kids usually picked up more than one transfer from each station, “because they think it’s going to be worth something down the road.”

    With the encouragement of their mother, the Athanasopoulos kids kicked off their journey at 3 p.m., starting at Jane Station. They travelled east on the Bloor-Danforth line up to McCowan station, the last stop on the Scarborough RT line.

    The family made their way back to conquer the northbound section of the Yonge-Univeristy Line and then travelled east on the Sheppard Line. Sheppard, or the purple line, was the favourite stretch of TTC track for the kids, who stopped to take a minute and enjoy the artwork displayed at each station platform.

    Fuelled by carrot sticks, burritos, cookies, chocolate milk, and Bathurst station’s beef patties — the finest patties the TTC has to offer, according to the siblings — they went back down Yonge-University to seize the west side of the U-shaped line. Then they hopped back onto Bloor-Danforth to complete their trip, ultimately travelling more than 130 km on the TTC.

    “It’s cool to just have them all,” said 13-year-old Matthew, who wants to keep his collection displayed beneath a Plexiglas sheet on his desk. “It’s a hundred per cent complete.”

    Despite gentle nudging from their mother Lydia to call it a day as the hours wore on, the siblings raced to snag the last transfer just as the clock struck midnight.

    Transfer time stamps show some trips were made in under a minute, but stops north of Yorkdale Station took up to 17 minutes to get to.

    “At Wilson, it was really hard to get to Sheppard-West because the trains were all messed up and people wouldn’t get off,” said Lukas.

    The children turned into animated transit critics as they described the subway shortfalls that got in the way of their efficiency, like signal delays, aging subway cars, and the inconvenient positioning of some transfer machines.

    While Lydia was impressed with the boost in maintenance of some TTC washrooms since her youth, she said accessibility at the stations hasn’t improved as much as she expected.

    “The accessibility factor . . . that should be a priority. I would say nothing’s changed really, from when I was a kid on the yellow and green line,” she said.

    The kids say they’re relieved to now have a copy of all the transfers, but would make the trip again to include new stations.


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    The home of the Maple Leafs and Raptors will carry the Scotiabank name for the next two decades, but branding experts say the bank will have to do far more if they hope to reap the benefits of the $800 million megadeal revealed last week.

    Under the terms of the 20-year deal, the Air Canada Centre will be known as Scotiabank Arena as of Canada Day 2018.

    Some doubt whether the deal will lead local sports fans, other than a few die-hard followers of the Leafs and Raptors, to switch banks.

    “I think it’s a potentially huge waste of money,” said brand and marketing expert Allen Adamson, the founder of Brand Simple Consulting based in New York. “I just think it’s potentially one of the least effective ways to build a brand.”

    RELATED:

    Air Canada Centre name change greeted with a shrug: Keenan

    Stadium branding might be worth the steep cost when companies need to build awareness or prove to the public they are substantial businesses, according to Adamson.

    “But Scotiabank already has awareness and they’re already substantial,” he said. “Then the marketing challenge, the brand challenge, is tell me something different about you that I care about. Why should I do business with the bank?”

    Jacquie Ryan, the bank’s vice-president of sponsorship and philanthropy, said external consumer research done for the bank shows people who are aware of its financial support for hockey are three-and-a-half times more likely to consider using its services, a potential boon for a bank in a nation where it’s difficult to entice consumers to switch institutions.

    “It’s quite possible that number could go up,” she told The Canadian Press, thanks to increased visibility when the Scotiabank name appears on the Toronto venue.

    Through the partnership, Scotiabank will handle the daily banking and financial needs of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, according to Brian Cooper, CEO of MKTG Canada, a marketing agency which was part of the bank’s negotiating team that brokered the deal.

    The deal will also include benefits for Scotiabank customers. Existing card holders will have access to a “separate and glorified entrance” to the arena, and the company hopes other in-game promotions will encourage fans to switch over to Scotiabank.

    In previous seasons, Bank of Montreal customers had access to an entrance that allowed them to skip lines at the gates of Air Canada Centre, through a special entrance reserved exclusively for their use at Raptors and Leafs games.

    “Without a doubt, there’s a business reason to bring new, and to reward existing, customers of Scotiabank in their association with the Leafs,” Cooper said. “If people are questioning the value and the return, they will see why as time goes on.”

    Cooper said the deal made sense for Scotiabank given its focus on hockey for more than a decade. He said the ACC’s location on Bay St., “the financial capital of the country” also offered an opportunity for branding exposure.

    “The ability to host various investment bankers and clients and other people that they do business with at the games, both the Leafs and the Raptors, is significant,” he said.

    This is the third time Scotiabank has bought the naming rights to an NHL arena. Its name previously graced the home of the Ottawa Senators and in 2010 it also purchased the naming rights to the Saddledome, where the Calgary Flames play.

    The latter deal, which is still active, was significantly smaller than the new Toronto one, according to Cooper, whose firm analyzed the past 30 years of arena naming contracts, including factors such as city size, demographics, and the number of teams and events that it hosts.

    “No one’s paid that amount of money (in Canada),” he said, adding the closest comparable might be Chase Bank’s marketing agreement with New York’s Madison Square Garden, worth $30 million (U.S.) annually, though the arena name doesn’t include the bank’s brand.

    “By comparison, by the assets that we got, we think we got a good deal.”

    Scotia considers hockey “core to our strategy,” Ryan said, noting that it supports more than 8,000 community teams as well.

    “Hockey is a key driver of our brand health,” she said, adding “the reach of a hockey sponsorship portfolio in Canada is significant.”

    Scotiabank might face a challenge in getting people to drop the catchy “ACC” nickname of the building, said Richard Powers, a sports marketing expert at the University of Toronto.

    “That will take some time, but they’ve got it for 20 years and you can bet that they’ll be pushing it out as much as they can,” he said.

    Powers said the move will allow Scotiabank to extend its brand to the U.S., where the vast majority of NHL and NBA teams are based.

    “Every team that comes to Toronto, those games are always highlighted in news in Chicago, in New York, in L.A., and it will be ‘the L.A. Kings tonight at the Scotiabank Arena,’ ” he said.

    “The big thing is for Scotiabank, how do they get $800 million of value over the next 20 years? I think they have a chance at it.”

    With files from The Canadian Press


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    Toronto saw delays on 139 bus routes on Tuesday morning – the first day of school for elementary and high school students.

    Kevin Hodgkinson, general manager of the Toronto Student Transportation Group, said that this is about four times higher than a typical school day.

    “On average, you’re looking at about 30 delays each day, morning or afternoon,” Hodgkinson said Tuesday morning.

    According to the Toronto Student Transportation Group’s website, buses for both the Catholic and secular boards were delayed by anywhere from 10 to 80 minutes.

    “We are having some delays as we do every day,” said Ryan Bird, a spokesperson for the Toronto District School Board.

    He added that the actual number of routes with delays is somewhat lower. A single bus route may service three or four schools, Bird said – so a delay can show up several times on the website.

    The reasons for delays, according to the website, range from mechanical breakdowns to drivers showing up late. By mid-morning, Hodgkinson said around 45 per cent of all delays were traffic-related.

    Hodgkinson said that despite the delays, Tuesday’s bus situation is better than the first day of school in 2016.

    Last year, hundreds of parents complained to the TDSB after a critical shortage of bus drivers affected over 2,600 students on the first day of school.

    A change from last year is a requirement for school bus companies to call in the reasons for their delays to the Toronto Student Transportation Group.

    Hodgkinson expects the delay situation will be about the same when Toronto students return home after their first day back. He said that schools tend to take extra time to ensure students are boarding the right bus home.

    “Those types of general delays – we’ll see that after the first week or two,” Hodgkinson said.


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    The Toronto Stock Exchange and its American peers have fallen dramatically this morning, the first day of trading since North Korea announced Sunday that it had successfully conducted its most powerful nuclear test so far.

    The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index fell 123.53 points to 15,068.07 in the first 90 minutes of trading since the Labour Day holiday weekend.

    In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 167.43 points to 21,820.13. The S&P 500 index lost 12.26 points to 2,464.29 and the Nasdaq composite index gave back 33.32 points to 6,402.02.

    The Canadian dollar was trading at 81.04 cents U.S., up from Friday’s average price of 80.71 cents U.S.

    The October crude contract was up $1.52 to $48.81 (U.S.) per barrel and the October natural gas contract was down nine cents to $2.98 per mmBTU.

    The December gold contract advanced $11.90 to $1,342.30 an ounce and the December copper contract moved up three cents to $3.15 a pound.


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    WASHINGTON—Putting hundreds of thousands of people at risk of deportation and triggering a furious political battle, U.S. President Donald Trump has decided to eliminate a Barack Obama program that protects young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Tuesday.

    Trump’s decision jeopardizes the futures of 800,000 people, many of whom are university students or professionals familiar with no other country and largely indistinguishable from their American-born peers.

    Read more:Undocumented ‘DREAMers’ face ruin under Republican presidency

    The decision is certain to set off an emotional and prolonged fight, with the sympathetic and activist-minded “DREAMers” stuck in the middle. They began protesting on Tuesday even before Sessions’s announcement, with hundreds gathering outside the White House and others participating in a fast at the Capitol.

    Sessions said Obama had offered an unconstitutional “executive amnesty” to people he described as “mostly adult illegal aliens.” Obama, he said, had showed “disrespect” for the wishes of Congress in implementing “an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws.”

    “We are people of compassion and we are people of law. But there is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws,” said Sessions, a staunch opponent of the program.

    Sessions, who implied with no evidence that the program puts Americans at risk of crime and terrorism, said there would be a “wind-down process” to allow Congress to pass legislation before the program disappears. But he provided few details and took no questions, leaving the DREAMers anxious and uncertain about their fate.

    Administration officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters earlier that people currently enrolled in the program will be able to continue working until their two-year work permits expire. People whose permits expire over the next six months, but none of the others, will be allowed to apply for a two-year renewal.

    That means about a quarter of enrollees may be granted renewals. The other three-quarters will have their permits expire unless Congress acts.

    The officials said the DREAMers would not be treated as a priority for deportation — but that they would be treated like all others in the country illegally, which means they would face the risk of deportation at all times. Many DREAMers have expressed concern that the addresses and biographical information they gave to Obama’s government to enroll in the program would now be used by Trump’s government to locate and evict them.

    Trump stopped short of his campaign promise to immediately terminate the Obama program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). His move to phase out the program rather than dump it — which gives him a theoretical opening to change his mind later — may not fully satisfy anti-immigration activists.

    But Trump’s move is also a betrayal of his words to DACA enrollees as president. In April, he told the Associated Press that the DREAMers should “rest easy.” In February, he said he would “deal with DACA with heart,” calling DREAMers “some absolutely incredible kids.”

    The decision puts new pressure on the Republican-controlled Congress, which has struggled to pass any kind of major legislation, to take some sort of action on a particularly delicate issue. Though party leaders have denounced DACA as improper, some of its senior officials have expressed a desire to protect the DREAmers.

    “These are kids who know no other country, who were brought here by their parents and don’t know another home. And so I really do believe there that there needs to be a legislative solution,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told a Wisconsin radio station last week.

    In a tweet on Tuesday morning, Trump wrote: “Congress, get ready to do your job - DACA!”

    Obama created DACA in 2012 after Republicans thwarted his attempts to pass a comprehensive immigration reform law. The program allowed people who came to the U.S. illegally before their 16th birthday, were enrolled in high school or had graduated, and had no felony convictions to pay $495 to apply for protection from deportation and renewable two-year work permits.

    The DREAMers, named for the so-far-unsuccessful DREAM Act legislation that would grant them legal residency, described the program as life-changing.

    DACA allowed them to earn the professional jobs, elite educations and driver’s licenses unavailable to most of their parents, and it afforded them a feeling of freedom they say has improved their overall health. Trump’s move could force them back into the shadows, consigning them to under-the-table cash jobs and a constant fear of apprehension.

    Numerous big-business chief executives urged Trump to retain DACA.

    “To reverse course now and deport these individuals is contrary to fundamental American principles and the best interests of our country,” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said in a statement.

    DREAMers are viewed more favourably than other unauthorized immigrants, since they are widely seen to be morally innocent. Polls suggest that even a majority of Republicans have believed that the DREAMers should be allowed to stay in the country.

    In a Morning Consult poll in April, 48 per cent of Republican voters said they should be granted citizenship, 24 per cent said they should be allowed to stay, and 22 per cent said they should be deported.

    That anti-immigration minority, however, is especially active in Republican politics, and many party legislators fear angering this part of their base.

    Trump, whose demonization of Hispanic illegal immigrants was a staple of his campaign, has made a concerted effort to retain his most loyal supporters during his tumultuous first seven months. His decision comes a week after his controversial August pardon of anti-immigrant former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio.


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    It was October 2015. She was 16 years old. Attending a local hockey team’s “rookie party” was supposed to be a night out with her friends.

    “I thought I was safe,” the now 18-year-old victim of a Kingston assault wrote in an impact statement. But, she said, she was never allowed to read it in court.

    Last week, after nearly two years, the story of 22-year-old Chance Macdonald — a hockey player and Queen’s student charged with sexual assault, but later reduced to a common assault plea — was reported by media.

    But to his victim, who spoke to the Star and whose identity is protected under a publication ban, the case is something she lives with every day.

    The setting was a “rookie party” in October 2015, for a Gananoque junior hockey team, which took place in the Queen’s student district, the victim confirmed. She attended the party with friends.

    At the house later that night, in a dark room with multiple people present, she says Macdonald made unwanted physical advances towards her and she became trapped under the weight of his body. She can’t be sure exactly what happened in the dark, but she remembers that hands, some belonging to Macdonald, were shoved up her shirt and down her pants. Only when a friend entered the room and turned on the lights did the encounter stop.

    At the urging of a friend, she reported the incident to the police. A month later, Macdonald was charged with two counts of sexual assault and one count of forcible confinement. Those charges were later reduced to one count of common assault, which Macdonald pleaded guilty to in April.

    After the guilty plea, Justice Allan Letourneau postponed the business student’s sentencing for four months. In that time, Macdonald completed a prestigious internship at Deloitte.

    Letourneau’s oral decision on Aug. 25 began with reference to his own past as an athlete.

    “I played extremely high-end hockey and I know the mob mentality that can exist in that atmosphere,” Letourneau said. “I’m sure you disappointed not only a lot of people including your parents, but yourself. Not everyone has the talents that you have, and you have them.”

    Letourneau then pointed out how lucky Macdonald was to plead guilty to common assault, instead of a sexual offense.

    “That would have been extremely unfortunate given how accomplished you were at the time, and your potential,” he said. “If there was a trial and you were convicted of a sexual offence, I have no doubt that would have dramatically changed the course of your life.”

    Taking the stand to testify could have been traumatic for Macdonald’s alleged victim, Letourneau continued, saying that such an experience often resulted in anxiety and breakdowns.

    “I am not here to say that all of that may factor into the statistics that [crown attorney Gerard] Laarhuis talked about, 1000 incidents and how many are reported, and how many are pursued, and how many are actually found guilty,” he said.

    “You spared her all of that, that is significant.”

    The victim, though, said she didn’t really understand what was happening when the charges were reduced.

    “All I knew was I was 16 at the time and terrified to go to court,” she wrote in a Facebook message to the Star. The Crown and the defense came to the agreement together, she confirmed, but “it wasn’t really discussed with me, or if it was it wasn’t spoken to me in a language a 16-year-old girl would understand.”

    “I had no idea until I was in the courtroom in April that he wasn’t getting [sentenced for] sexual assault and only assault.”

    As for her victim statement, she alleged that Letourneau didn’t agree with her use of the phrase ‘hockey culture,” and therefore wouldn’t allow her to read her original draft in the courtroom.

    She wasn’t aware of the sentencing on Aug. 25 until the day before, she says, by which time she was out of town.

    She provided a copy of her final victim impact statement to the Star, which includes harrowing details about pressure from some of Macdonald’s fellow hockey players to drop the charges and leave the case alone.

    “At first that is exactly what I wanted to do, but it is hard to forget about something that is constantly in the back of your mind,” she wrote. Though the party was for “rookies,” she noted that Macdonald wasn’t one of them.

    “He was a role model and he was setting an example for others,” she wrote. “I worry that what has happened to me will happen to other young girls.”

    Since that night, she wrote that she’s missed countless days of work and classes due to anxiety and depression. All details of the victim’s statement have been published with her express consent.

    “To Mr. McDonald,” the last paragraph begins, “I hope this has taught you a lesson that will carry throughout your life.”

    Letourneau confirmed via a judicial secretary that he doesn’t discuss cases with members of the public and would not be commenting. Meanwhile, an online petition to remove Letourneau from the bench had reached 11,485 signatures by Tuesday morning.

    Macdonald’s lawyer, Connie Baran-Gerez, also didn’t return the Star’s multiple phone calls.

    Queen’s administration issued a statement expressing sympathy for the “emotions that people are expressing about this case,” but also noted that due to privacy, they wouldn’t be speaking about it publicly.

    In a statement, Kingston Police sexual assault unit Sgt. Barbara Hough wrote that “for students hesitant to report a sexual assault, Kingston Police want you to know that we have several sexual assault investigators that are dedicated to providing a safe, respectful and supportive environment.”

    Deloitte Canada issued a statement after the sentencing, saying that they were unaware of the situation before it was reported by media last week and that Macdonald was no longer employed with their company.

    Macdonald will serve his 88-day sentence on weekends.

    He will be on probation for two years, including conditions to attend and participate in assessment, counselling, and rehabilitative programs as directed by his probation officer.

    Meanwhile, the victim said, not a day goes by when she isn’t affected by what happened that night in early October.

    “I often have flashbacks and relive memories of what happened, wishing I could change my mind about going out that night with my friends,” she wrote. “Maybe if I did then none of this would have happened.”


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    Rumoured Toronto mayoral candidate Doug Ford does not have the endorsement of CUPE Local 416, the union said Tuesday after photos of him at a Labour Day parade infuriated some organized labour supporters.

    Photos on social media show Ford wearing a black Local 416 T-shirt with members of the union, which represents more than 5,000 City of Toronto outside workers, at the annual celebration of union rights in downtown Toronto on Monday.

    Ford was a city councillor during the 2010-2014 mayoral term of his late brother, Rob Ford. While professing support for union members and disdain for their leadership, the brothers celebrated a contract that exacted concessions from Local 416 members. They also convinced council to privatize collection of trash from 165,000 west-end homes previously serviced by the city workers.

    Doug Ford, who lost to John Tory in the 2014 mayoral election and is expected Friday to announce a rematch in 2018, famously said the duo were intent on “outsourcing everything that’s not nailed down.”

    Tory had vowed to expand private garbage collection east of Yonge St. but, facing a possible loss at city council, retreated last January and said more study of the issue was required.

    Fred Hahn, president of CUPE Ontario, minced no words on his Facebook page Monday that linked to photos of Ford at the parade in a post by website rankandfile.ca.

    “This vile anti-union Fu$%er thinks he can ‘trump’ the Toronto (municipal) election and get working class folks to vote for him – and he is DREAMING – We will NOT let that happen,” Hahn wrote. “CUPE 416 recently saved 500 + jobs from contracting out and this guy – he’s all about killing good jobs.....So hear me now – let’s make it clear – we will work our butts off to make SURE union folks do nothing to support this....this....candidate.”

    Comments from others echoed his anger, questioned who gave Ford the T-shirt and asked what kind of reception Local 416 members gave him.

    Eddie Mariconda, Local 416 president, declined a Star request for an interview Tuesday but released a statement saying politicians want union members’ votes so it’s no surprise they turned up at the “inclusive” event.

    “Anyone can show up at a parade and show support to working people,” he wrote.

    “I want to state as clearly as possible, that Local 416 has not endorsed any candidate at this time. We look forward to next year’s municipal elections, where our members will be working hard to elect candidates who support public services and working people in every ward across the City of Toronto. We are confident that when people cast their votes for Mayor, they will vote for a candidate worthy of working people’s support.”

    Doug Ford did not respond to the Star’s inquiries Tuesday.


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    Premier Kathleen Wynne will take the witness stand in the Sudbury byelection trial on Sept. 13 in a case being closely watched for political fallout with a provincial election next June.

    Her former deputy chief of staff, Patricia Sorbara, and Sudbury Liberal organizer Gerry Lougheed head to court Thursday for the beginning of the Elections Act trial against them.

    Crown prosecutors allege the pair offered a previous Liberal candidate jobs or posts to withdraw from the party’s nomination race to make way for Wynne’s preferred candidate, Glen Thibeault, now her energy minister.

    Wynne revealed the date Wednesday while appearing at a Toronto school.

    “The date has now been given to me,” she told reporters. “I will be appearing as a witness on that day.”

    The premier suggested her comments in court will be similar to what she has said before: that officials were trying to keep the previous Liberal candidate, quadriplegic mortgage broker Andrew Olivier, involved in the party.

    “I’ve been very clear about the situation. I’ve been clear in the Legislature, I’ve been clear in the public realm and I will continue to be clear and open about what happened,” Wynne said.

    The premier has waived her legal right, under parliamentary privilege, not to testify in the trial.

    If convicted of the charges, which do not fall under the Criminal Code, but under a lesser category called provincial offences, Sorbara and Lougheed, a wealthy local funeral home owner, face fines of up to $25,000 and maximum jail sentences of two years, less a day.

    Sorbara, who has stepped aside from her key role in the Liberal re-election effort, faces two counts of bribery and Lougheed one count. Both have repeatedly maintained they did nothing illegal.

    “We look forward to publicly clearing the air of any suggestion of wrongdoing,” says Toronto lawyer Brian Greenspan, representing Sorbara.


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    A middle-aged man who lived an ordinary life for decades after raping and killing his frail 70-year-old neighbour deserved the adult life sentence handed him when he was finally brought to justice for the grisly crime he committed as a 15-year-old, Ontario’s highest court ruled Tuesday.

    In upholding the sentence, the Court of Appeal found the punishment given Christopher Ellacott reasonable and proportionate given the savage killing.

    “He sexually assaulted and murdered his elderly, vulnerable neighbour. He went on as though nothing had happened, avoiding justice for nearly 30 years,” the Appeal Court said. “There is no explanation for his crime; no sense of what motivated him to have committed so heinous an act.”

    Court records show Ellacott, a high school student, occasionally did household chores for Velma Thomson, of Petrolia in southwestern Ontario, who had suffered a stroke. In mid-October 1983, the 90-pound hairdresser was found at home, partly nude and lying in a pool of blood. An autopsy found several stab wounds to her heart and her jugular vein cut. She had likely been raped and sodomized, according to the records.

    The case went cold for years until a random check at a fingerprinting convention allowed police to link a thumbprint from the crime scene to Ellacott. Police then secretly obtained DNA samples from him. They arrested Ellacott in 2008 in Owen Sound, Ont., and charged the working father of two, who had no convictions, with Thomson’s first-degree murder and rape.

    A jury in Sarnia, Ont., convicted him in April 2012 and in March 2013, Superior Court of Justice John Desotti sentenced the then-45-year-old as an adult, as the Crown had requested. Ellacott was given life without parole eligibility for seven years, and a lifetime supervision order.

    Ellacott, who abandoned his conviction appeal, challenged the sentence. He argued he should have been punished as a youth, which means he would have received a maximum six years behind bars as opposed to the minimum seven he was given, and only a four-year period of supervision.

    Desotti made several errors, Ellacott argued, among them not properly considering his age at the time of the crime, and deeming his testimony an aggravating factor.

    The Appeal Court rejected the idea that he had been less morally culpable because he was 15 when he killed his victim. His blameworthiness was self-evident, the court said.

    “The appellant’s conduct was no mere mistake or lapse in judgment,” the Appeal Court said. “He committed an act of extreme violence against an elderly, vulnerable neighbour, who until then had no known reason to fear him.”

    The higher court did find fault with Desotti’s dim view of Ellacott’s testimony. At trial, the accused insisted the incriminating thumbprint came from a day before the crime when he helped Thomson carry a cardboard box inside the home. He also maintained the DNA wasn’t his.

    The testimony, Desotti said at various points, was a “lame and cobbled contrivance” and “nonsense,” and revealed something “quite sinister” about Ellacott.

    Those statements crossed the line, the Appeal Court found. Nevertheless, it declined to interfere with the sentence.

    “Although the sentencing judge erred in using the appellant’s testimony and denial of guilt as aggravating factors, the error is of no consequence,” the Appeal Court said. “The enormity of (Ellacott’s) crime renders a youth sentence manifestly inadequate to hold (him) accountable.”


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    A newspaper photographer from Ohio was shot Monday night by a sheriff’s deputy who apparently mistook his camera and tripod for a gun, and fired without a warning, the newspaper reported.

    Andy Grimm, a photographer for the New Carlisle News, left the office at about 10 p.m. to take pictures of lightning when he came across a traffic stop and decided to take photos, according to the paper’s publisher, Dale Grimm.

    “He said he got out, parked under a light in plain view of the deputy, with a press pass around his neck,” Grimm told The Washington Post. “He was setting up his camera, and he heard pops.”

    Clark County Sheriff’s Deputy Jake Shaw did not give any warnings before he fired, striking Andy Grimm on the side, according to the paper.

    Dale Grimm, who is Andy Grimm’s father, said his son called him from an ambulance on the way to the hospital. He is expected to recover.

    The state attorney general’s Bureau of Criminal Division is investigating the shooting. A representative for the attorney general’s office was not immediately available for comment Tuesday morning. It also remains unclear if Shaw has been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure in officer-involved shootings, or if he will face disciplinary actions.

    The Clark County Sheriff’s Office has not returned a call seeking comment. Sheriff Deborah Burchett has not responded to an email.

    Andy Grimm, who knows Shaw, said he does not want the officer to be fired, the paper reported.

    “I know Jake,” he said. “I like Jake. I don't want him to lose his job over this.”

    Asked if he thinks the sheriff’s deputy or the department should be held accountable for the shooting, Dale Grimm said he’d rather not say anything.

    “We know the deputy. This is a small town of 5,000 people . . . We know the deputies. We work with them on a daily basis. We have an excellent relationship with them,” he said.

    Dale Grimm and his son run the family-owned newspaper, located in New Carlisle, a town just outside of Dayton, Ohio. The family contracts with reporters, editors and stringers.

    The newspaper echoed the same sentiments of sympathy toward the officer and posted a message on its Facebook page asking its readers and followers to refrain from making harsh comments about Shaw.

    “On behalf of our entire family, we thank you for all of the kind messages. One other thing. Please don’t mean mouth the deputy. Andy said he doesn’t want Jake to lose his job over this,” the paper wrote.

    Dale Grimm said he saw Burchett, the sheriff, shortly after his son was shot.

    “She held my hand. She said, ‘You know I love Andy,’” he said.

    He said the sheriff’s office has not said much to him about what prompted the shooting, but he’s assuming that the officer thought the camera was a weapon.

    “He probably didn’t know what it was,” he said. “I don’t want to second guess the deputy because they have to make split-second decisions. Sometimes they’re right, sometimes they’re wrong.”

    Andy Grimm is a known photographer in the community and has been working at the paper for years, his father said.

    “He really took to photography. He watched hundreds of tutorials on YouTube,” Dale Grimm said. “He’s a whiz with his camera, a whiz with Photoshop. He also lays out the newspaper.”

    Dale Grimm said his son had finished laying out the paper before he was shot. Otherwise, the print edition would not have been published.


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    WASHINGTON—A Tennessee teacher who coaches the school soccer teams in his spare time.

    A Washington nursing assistant who leads the patient transport team at her hospital.

    A criminal justice student who spent last week driving around Houston to help strangers clean their flooded houses.

    Read more: Trump ends Obama program that protects undocumented ‘DREAMers,’ putting 800,000 at risk for deportation

    They’re the kind of immigrants U.S. President Donald Trump has praised as “absolutely great kids.” They’re indistinguishable from their native-born peers. And they’re now at risk of losing their jobs and being deported to countries they remember only barely or not at all.

    In a decision that pleased parts of his voter base but produced tears and terror in thousands of immigrant households, Trump decided Tuesday to end the Barack Obama program that allows 800,000 young people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children to obtain work permits and avoid deportation.

    “The first thing I thought about was my daughter. She’s only 4 months. How am I going to provide for her? What am I going to do now? And then if I have to be sent back to Mexico — what do I do there?” said the Houston justice student, Alejandra Rodriguez, a 24-year-old who was carried to the U.S. at age 1. “What’s going to happen? What are we going to do?”

    Trump’s move to target the so-called “DREAMers,” a group he had advised to “rest easy,” set off an emotional and treacherous political battle. The young immigrants, most of whom are now in their 20s, are inclined toward activism and widely seen as sympathetic.

    “No one is going to push us back into the shadows,” Greisa Martinez, advocacy director for the group United We Dream, told a protest at the White House.

    Trump stopped short of his campaign promise to immediately terminate the Obama program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). His move to phase it out rather than dump it all at once gives him a theoretical opening to reverse course later.

    But Trump officials argued Tuesday that Obama never had the constitutional authority to shield unauthorized immigrants without congressional approval.

    Trump asked Congress to “get ready to do your job” and figure out a legislative fix. Top Republicans said that they would try.

    This Congress, though, has had trouble passing anything of consequence, and it was clear that Republicans would struggle to find a solution on such a fraught issue in the six months before Trump stops renewing the DREAMers’ two-year work permits.

    When their permits lapse, officials said, the DREAMers will again be treated like other illegal immigrants. But in a crucial respect, they are even more vulnerable than people who have always lived in the shadows: to enrol in the DACA program, they had to tell the government about their backgrounds and addresses.

    “It’s scary. They have our information. They know where we live,” said Aimee Duenas, 23, the nursing assistant in Washington, who was brought from Mexico at age 5.

    Trump has made a concerted effort as president to retain the support of his overwhelmingly white and largely anti-immigration devotees. His decision on the DREAMers comes a week after he pardoned anti-immigrant former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, three weeks after he defended participants in a white supremacist rally, and a month after he endorsed legislation to slash legal immigration.

    Duenas said she shook when Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the DACA announcement on Tuesday, her stomach “just doing flips.” Without authorization to work, she could no longer pursue her nursing career. Instead, she said, she would become a permanent stay-at-home mother, abandoning a central part of her identity.

    “Everything that I have worked for would be lost. Everything I have dreamed,” she said. “It just seems that at every turn we are blocked. The way things have been lately, it seems like they don’t care about immigrants or people of colour. It’s all about making everyone else happy except for people of colour or immigrants.”

    DREAMers described DACA as life-changing, freeing them from the menial cash jobs and constant fear that characterize their parents’ lives. Sessions called DACA a “circumvention of immigration laws” benefiting people he described as “mostly adult illegal aliens.”

    “We are a people of compassion and we are a people of law. But there is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws,” Sessions said. “Enforcing the law saves lives, protects communities and taxpayers, and prevents human suffering. Failure to enforce the laws in the past has put our nation at risk of crime, violence and even terrorism.”

    Sessions offered no evidence that DACA enrollees, who are subjected to background checks and cannot have felony convictions, pose a security risk. And polls suggest that a large majority of Americans, even a majority of Republicans, see the DREAMers as morally innocent.

    The program allowed people who came to the U.S. illegally before their 16th birthday — they are known as DREAMers after failed legislation called the DREAM Act, which would have given them legal status — to pay $495 to apply for renewable two-year work permits. They had to be enrolled in high school or have graduated.

    Sessions said Tuesday there would be a “wind-down process” to allow Congress to pass legislation before the program disappears. But he provided few details and took no questions, leaving the DREAMers anxious and uncertain about their fate.

    Administration officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters earlier that people currently enrolled in the program will be able to continue working until their two-year permits expire. People whose permits expire over the next six months, but none of the others, will be allowed to apply for a two-year renewal.

    That means about a quarter of enrollees may be granted renewals. The other three-quarters will have their permits expire unless Congress acts.

    The officials said the DREAMers would not be treated as a priority for deportation — but that they would be treated like all others in the country illegally, which means they would face the risk of deportation at all times.

    “Ultimately, this is about basic decency,” Obama said in a statement Tuesday, denouncing Trump’s decision.

    “To target these young people is wrong — because they have done nothing wrong,” he said. “It is self-defeating — because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel. What if our kid’s science teacher, or our friendly neighbour turns out to be a DREAMer? Where are we supposed to send her? To a country she doesn’t know or remember, with a language she may not even speak?”

    Ramon Ivan Ramirez, 24, the social studies teacher and coach in Tennessee, is a fanatic supporter of the University of Alabama football team. He was brought from Mexico at age 3. In his slight southern accent, he said he is an “American at heart” who knows little of his native country’s culture.

    “Jeff Sessions talked about assimilating into the American culture. On paper I don’t know how I could get more American,” he said. “I went to college, I was in a fraternity, I’m well rounded socially, I teach, I love college football. I don’t know what I could do to be more American. Except that little green card.”

    The end of his DACA status would mean the end of his teaching career. He said he did not even want to think about what else he might do.

    “I would essentially have a $120,000 college degree hanging on my wall but be unable to have a job,” he said.

    Miguel Mendez, a 27-year-old brought from Mexico around age 8, is an electrical engineer at a utility in Texas. He is angry, he said, that Republicans are “throwing us around like we’re some kind of ball.”

    He said he would fight, “loud,” to keep DACA alive. But if it dies, he said, he has made a resolution.

    He would rather scrape by working as an overqualified cleaner, like his mother and father, than leave.

    “My parents did it. I don’t see why I can’t do it,” he said.

    “But it’s going to be a waste of time, a waste of effort, a waste of studying. To get an education that I can’t exercise in this country which happens to be my home. I’m not going to go back to a country I’m not familiar with, because this is my home. America is my home.”


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    Toronto police are searching for a black sedan driven by four suspects wanted in a brazen fatal shooting inside Sheridan Mall last week.

    Jovane Clarke, 22, was shot and killed inside the North York mall on Sept. 1 as shoppers scrambled out of the way.

    Det. Sgt. Mike Carbone told reporters at a briefing Wednesday morning that the sedan followed Clarke as he drove to the mall, then waited outside for him to finish shopping.

    When Clarke left the mall, Carbone said, he was met by four people — at least two of whom opened fire and chased him towards the mall’s south entrance. One of them continued firing even after Clarke ran into the mall

    “These are all signs of what can be described as an overkill,” Carbone said.

    Clarke died of his wounds at the mall at around 6:30 p.m., police said at the time.

    Carbone said the motive behind Clarke’s death isn’t yet clear, but he does believe it was deliberate, calling it a “targeted attack.”

    No arrests have been made.

    The black sedan, seen in surveillance footage obtained by police, was apparently seen driving in the Tandridge Cres. area about an hour before the shooting happened.

    “I released this image here today in a hope that someone can recognize it and supply us with information on who was driving it, and who it’s registered to, so that we can move the investigation forward,” Carbone said.

    Police are also asking for footage from anyone with dash-cams who was driving along Albion Rd. between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 1.

    Clarke is Toronto’s 35th homicide victim of 2017.


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    As the new academic year gets underway, students, teachers and parents are gearing up to deal with one of the education system’s more controversial elements: split-level classes.

    Some parents worry that integrating students from several grades, typically to offset shrinking enrolment or mitigate a surge in a particular year, leaves younger pupils behind or fails to adequately challenge more advanced ones.

    But educators and experts say split classes can be beneficial — and the outcome often depends on the teacher.

    “When (my daughters) were first put in split classes, I wasn’t too happy about it,” says Christine Armstong, a mother from Innisfill, Ont.

    One of her twin girls, Jessica, was in Grade 1 when she was placed in a split class with children from senior kindergarten, prompting Armstrong to fear the class would repeat the play-based learning her daughter had already experienced, she said.

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    Armstrong said she worried Jessica wouldn’t progress at the same rate as Grade 1 students in single-grade classes, but now realizes she was wrong.

    “The teacher was so good,” Armstrong said. “She was very organized, and she was able to separate the two different grades and the different needs for each grade. It was amazing.”

    This year, her other twin daughter Vanessa is enrolled in a Grade 5/6 split class and Armstrong said she wonders whether the experience will be different for a student on the younger side of the class.

    “If (the teacher) is used to Grade 6 and she’s focused on the Grade 6s, will she be too hard on the Grade 5s?” Armstrong says. “I’m not concerned, but I’m curious.”

    Students can thrive in split classes if teachers are adequately prepared, said Clare Brett, a professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.

    “Like most things in schools, a lot depends on the teacher,” said Brett, adding split classes require considerably more work from a profession already under strain in Ontario.

    Brett’s own children were in a split Grade 1/2/3 class about 15 years ago, which allowed her to observe how lessons unfolded, she said.

    The work was usually divided up so the teacher would work with the Grade 3 students on math while Grade 2 students read independently and Grade 1 kids went to gym, she said. They would sometimes have class discussions all together, which she said fostered a sense of responsibility in the older students.

    “It’s not like the one-room schoolhouse, which is what I think people think of it as,” Brett said. “Done well, it’s learning experience for everybody.”

    Richard Messina, principal of Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School at OISE, said he understands why parents are wary of split classes and acknowledges they aren’t a good fit for every child.

    But he said many of the issues parents are concerned about — a gap in knowledge or in stimulation — exist in single-cohort classes as well. The difference typically isn’t that much more pronounced in split classes, he said.

    “In every classroom, there is a developmental range in knowledge, in skill development, social-emotional development,” he said. “In some areas of the curriculum, the change from one grade to the other is small.”

    It’s in classes where subject matter changes considerably from one year to the next, such as science and social studies, that “the creativity of the teacher needs to come in,” he said.

    In the end, there’s no catch-all solution for what makes an effective classroom, he said.

    “It’s not like working at The Gap, where every sweater is folded to look exactly the same,” he says. “We’re working with human beings.”


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    Premier Kathleen Wynne is set to announce a sweeping review of how students are assessed in Ontario, including possible changes to EQAO tests in math and literacy and what skills are measured on report cards.

    Sources told the Star Wynne will unveil plans Wednesday to create a panel of experts who will report back to the government this winter with recommendations. The announcement comes a day after the province’s 2 million students headed back to class after the summer break.

    The panel of experts will explore ways to more effectively assess whether students in kindergarten through Grade 12 are learning the skills they need for their futures, in both the workplace and as citizens, sources said.

    That means looking at the role, relevance and timing of standardized tests administered by the province as well as what parents read on their children’s report cards.

    The shakeup comes at a time of growing concern that the system is too focused on EQAO tests which critics say don’t broadly reflect the many skills students need to keep learning — such as creativity and critical thinking.

    The debate erupted again last week in the wake of dismal scores in province-wide math tests for elementary school students conducted by the Education Quality and Accountability Office, or EQAO.

    For the second straight year, only half of Grade 6 students met the provincial standard, despite the introduction last year of a $60-million math strategy aimed at boosting those results. Among Grade 3 students, 62 per cent met the standard.

    While some parents and educators blame a curriculum that doesn’t focus enough on the basics, others argue the test is too narrow and not a fair gauge of how and what children are learning and the skills they need.

    Every year Ontario students in Grades 3 and 6 are tested for reading, writing and math. They are tested again for math in Grade 9 and take a mandatory literacy test in Grade 10.

    Those in favour of standardized tests argue they are a valuable benchmark for how the province and individual schools are performing. But concern has been building about how the tests can drive education policy and narrow the focus of classrooms.

    Teachers may feel pressured to “teach to the test” to boost scores, while other important and less easily measured skills are overlooked.

    The new panel will also consider how to update and broaden the scope of report cards by assessing skills considered essential for the current environment. That might include, for example, a student's ability to distinguish fact from opinion, how they use and interpret social media and the Internet, and their ability to formulate and confidently ask questions, sources said.

    Groups like People for Education have long called for an overhaul of what the province considers critical skills for today’s students, along with how those skills are taught and assessed.

    “It is definitely time to move beyond the traditional three Rs,” says executive director Annie Kidder.

    The research and advocacy group has been working in partnership with the Ministry of Education for the past four years on Measuring What Matters, a project aimed at defining other key “competencies” children need to master such as imagination, perseverance, innovation and collaboration.

    “All of those things are skills you need for life, for jobs, to be an engaged citizen and that’s what the school system is supposed to be doing,” says Kidder.

    When asked to comment in general on provincial assessments, education expert Charles Pascal said curriculum, report cards and tests need to encourage creative problem-solving and nourish emotional intelligence.

    “But you don’t start with how to change grading, report cards or EQAO; you start with clarity about what learning objectives are key for our future,” says Pascal, a professor at University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and a former deputy minister of education who advised the previous Liberal government on its early years strategy.

    “When it comes to documenting this learning, the easily measured usually isn’t worth measuring,” he says.


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    OTTAWA—The Bank of Canada is once again raising its benchmark interest rate as it sees the economy's powerful performance pointing to broader, more self-sustaining growth.

    The central bank hiked its rate Wednesday by one-quarter point to 1.0 per cent, its second 25-basis-point increase since July.

    The move, which will likely be a surprise for some, came less than a week after the latest Statistics Canada numbers showed the economy expanded by an impressive 4.5 per cent in the second quarter.

    That followed unexpectedly healthy growth in the first three months of 2017 and easily exceeded the Bank of Canada's projections.

    In a statement Wednesday, the bank said solid employment and wage growth led to strong consumer spending, while the key areas of business investment and exports also improved.

    “Recent economic data have been stronger than expected, supporting the bank's view that growth in Canada is becoming more broadly-based and self-sustaining,” the bank said.

    Looking ahead, the bank insisted future rate decisions will not be “predetermined” and will be guided by upcoming economic data releases and financial market developments.

    It pledged to pay particular attention paid to the economy's potential, job-market conditions and any potential risks for Canadians from the higher costs of borrowing.

    “Given elevated household indebtedness, close attention will be paid to the sensitivity of the economy to higher interest rates,” the statement said.

    Even with the recent economic improvements, the bank still underlined concerns around geopolitical risks and uncertainties related to international trade and fiscal policies.

    The bank predicted the pace of growth to moderate in the second half of the year.

    The rate increase means governor Stephen Poloz has now reversed the two cuts he introduced in 2015 to help the economy deal with the plunge in oil prices. The bank said Wednesday the increasingly robust economy shows it no longer needs as much stimulus.

    The rate hike Wednesday likely came as a bit of a surprise for some experts. Many had been expecting Poloz to wait until October before introducing the second increase.

    Following a quiet August for bank officials, some believed the bank would hold off because hadn't clearly telegraphed a September hike.

    Others predicted the bank would refrain from moving the rate out of concern such a move would drive up an already strengthening Canadian dollar and pose a risk to exporters.

    In its statement, the bank also said headline and core inflation have seen slight increases since July, largely as expected. It noted, however, that upward pressure on wages and prices remain more subdued than historical trends would suggest, which has also been seen in other advanced economies.


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    The Toronto Real Estate Board says the number of residential properties sold in August was down 34.8 per cent from the same month last year, but the average price was up modestly.

    The average price for all home types was $732,292, still up three per cent from August 2016, but down from July’s average of $746,033.

    That makes August the fourth month in a row that the Toronto-area average home price has fallen since hitting a record $919,086 in April.

    In April, the Ontario government introduced more than a dozen measures — including a 15 per cent tax on foreign buyers — aimed at improving home affordability.

    The board’s director of analysis, Jason Mercer, says year-over-year price growth is expected to stabilize at slightly above the rate of inflation but could begin to accelerate if the number of properties for sale remains at low levels.

    The real estate board says the number of new listings last month was the lowest for an August since 2010 and down 6.7 per cent from a year ago.

    Read more: Lull in Toronto-area housing market expected to linger

    Average Toronto home price drops $173,000 since April

    Toronto house prices not fuelled by foreign funds: TREB


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    Hurricane Irma roared into the Caribbean with record force early Wednesday, its 298 km/h winds shaking homes and flooding buildings on a chain of small islands along a path toward Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and a possible direct hit on South Florida.

    The strongest Atlantic Ocean hurricane ever recorded passed almost directly over the island of Barbuda, causing widespread flooding and downing trees. France sent emergency food and water rations to the French islands of Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy, where Irma ripped off roofs and knocked out all electricity.

    The regional authority for Guadeloupe and neighbouring islands said the fire station in Saint Barthelemy was flooded by more than 1 metre of water and no rescue vehicles could move. The government headquarters on Saint Martin was partially destroyed.

    There were no immediate reports of casualties but the minister for overseas territories, Annick Girardin, said “We have a lot to fear for a certain number of our compatriots who unfortunately didn’t want to listen to the protection measures and go to more secure sites . . . We’re preparing for the worst.”

    Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said the twin-island nation appears to have weathered its brush with Hurricane Irma with no deaths, though he noted that the government had only done a preliminary assessment of Barbuda. There were widespread reports of property damage but he says the public and government had prepared well for the storm.

    “We in Antigua have weathered the most powerful hurricane ever to storm its way through the Caribbean,” the prime minister said. “And we have done so with stunning results.”

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    The centre of the storm was about 25 kilometres west of St. Martin and Anguilla about 8 a.m. Wednesday, the hurricane centre said. It was heading west-northwest at 26 kph.

    As the eye of Hurricane Irma passed over Barbuda around 2 a.m., phone lines went down under heavy rain and howling winds that sent debris flying as people huddled in their homes or government shelters.

    The storm ripped the roof off the island’s police station, forcing officers to seek refuge in the fire station and at the community centre that served as an official shelter. The Category 5 storm also knocked out communication between islands.

    The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Irma’s winds would fluctuate but the storm would likely remain at Category 4 or 5 strength for the next day or two. The most dangerous winds, usually nearest to the eye, were forecast to pass near the northern Virgin Islands and near or just north of Puerto Rico on Wednesday.

    U.S. President Donald Trump declared emergencies in Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and authorities in the Bahamas said they would evacuate six southern islands.

    Warm water is fuel for hurricanes and Irma was moving over water that was 1 degree Celsius warmer than normal. The 26 degree water that hurricanes need went about 80 metres deep, said Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the private forecasting service Weather Underground.

    Four other storms have had winds as strong in the overall Atlantic region, but they were in the Caribbean Sea or the Gulf of Mexico, which usually have warmer waters.

    The northern Leeward Islands were expected to see normal tide levels rise by as much as 3.3 metres, while the Turks and Caicos Islands and southeastern Bahamas could see surge of 6 metres and higher waves later in the week, forecasters said.

    Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said his government was evacuating six islands in the south because authorities would not be able to help anyone caught in the “potentially catastrophic” wind, flooding and storm surge. People there would be flown to Nassau in what he called the largest storm evacuation in the country’s history.

    “The price you may pay for not evacuating is your life or serious physical harm,” Minnis said.

    The U.S. National Weather Service said Puerto Rico had not seen a hurricane of Irma’s magnitude since Hurricane San Felipe in 1928, which killed a total of 2,748 people in Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico and Florida.

    “The dangerousness of this event is like nothing we’ve ever seen,” Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello said. “A lot of infrastructure won’t be able to withstand this kind of force.”

    The eye of the storm was expected to rip westward on a path taking it a little north of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba.

    The northern parts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti could see 25 centimetres of rain, with as much as 50 centimetres in the southeast Bahamas and Turks and Caicos.

    The storm seemed almost certain to hit the United States by early next week.

    “You’d be hard pressed to find any model that doesn’t have some impact on Florida.” said University of Miami senior hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy.

    In Florida, people stocked up on drinking water and other supplies.

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott activated 100 members of the Florida National Guard to be deployed across the state, and 7,000 National Guard members were to report for duty Friday when the storm could be approaching the area. On Monday, Scott declared a state of emergency in all of Florida’s 67 counties.

    Officials in the Florida Keys geared up to get tourists and residents out of Irma’s path, and the mayor of Miami-Dade County said people should be prepared to evacuate Miami Beach and most coastal areas.

    Mayor Carlos Gimenez said the voluntary evacuations could begin as soon as Wednesday evening. He activated the emergency operation centre and urged residents to have three days’ worth of food and water.

    The Hurricane Center in Miami said hurricane-force winds extended 85 kilometres from Irma’s centre and tropical storm-force winds extended 280 kilometres.

    Also Wednesday morning, a new tropical storm formed in the Gulf of Mexico off Mexico’s coast. Tropical Storm Katia had maximum sustained winds of 65 kph with some strengthening forecast over the next two days. But the hurricane centre said Katia was expected to stay offshore through Friday morning.

    And another tropical storm farther east in the Atlantic was expected to become a hurricane by Wednesday night. Tropical Storm Jose’s maximum sustained winds had increased to near 95 kph. The storm was centred about 2,020 kilometres east of the Lesser Antilles and was moving west near 20 km/h.


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    A Toronto woman who has pledged allegiance to Daesh and is facing several terror-related charges has been deemed mentally fit to stand trial.

    Rehab Dughmosh, arrested in June after allegedly brandishing a golf club and knife at a Canadian Tire, was ordered to undergo a mental fitness assessment last week by Judge Kimberley Crosbie.

    Dughmosh has, over the past week, been assessed by a forensic psychiatrist at the Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences in Whitby, Crown Attorney Bradley Reitz said.

    The psychiatrists report was “unequivocal” in finding her fit for trial, Reitz added.

    Being “fit” requires only that the accused person has a basic understanding of the court process, what they are charged with, what it means to be under oath, who the judge, prosecutors and defence lawyers are and what they do.

    Dughmosh met those criteria at her early court appearances. But statements by a member of her family, contained in the Crown’s evidence, suggest there is reason to believe Dughmosh has some form of mental illness, said Ingrid Grant, a lawyer appointed to the case as amicus — someone who assists the court by making sure all relevant evidence and arguments are properly presented, particularly when the accused represents themselves.

    Dughmosh refused to appear in person or by video for three consecutive scheduled court appearances in July and August. She has been reluctant to leave her cell for exercise and refuses to shower, guards at Vanier detention centre in Milton have told the court.

    When brought by force before a camera for a live video court appearance on Aug. 21, Dughmosh answered every question put to her by the judge with the words, “You are all infidels. I do not worship what you worship.”

    Dughmosh has said in court that she does not believe in the Canadian legal system and said that “if you release me, I will commit these actions again and again and again.”

    She has told the court she does not want legal counsel, and plans to plead guilty to her charges, which include one count of leaving Canada for the purpose of participating in a terrorist group and multiple counts each of attempted murder, assault with a weapon, carrying a dangerous weapon and carrying a concealed weapon, all “at the direction of, or in association with, a terrorist group.”

    Dughmosh is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 20 for a pre-trial hearing.


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    A Toronto-area police officer pleaded guilty to assault after siccing his K-9 unit dog on a man who was lying down awaiting arrest.

    York Region police Const. Michael Partridge admitted to his role in the assault that occurred on March 30, 2016 and left a man with minor injuries. Partridge was originally charged with assault and assault with a weapon — the weapon being the dog, but he pleaded guilty to one count of assault on Wednesday, the day his trial was scheduled to begin.

    The Crown attorney in the case called the officer’s actions an “excessive use of force.”

    York police had been investigating break-and-enters in the region and had identified three men who had allegedly committed the crimes, according to an agreed statement of facts read in court. Various officers began surveilling the men that day and watched them allegedly break into one home in Brampton, Ont.

    The officers followed the men to a condominium near the Gladstone Hotel where they were met by several Toronto police officers. Around 3:30 p.m., one of the suspects was arrested after he walked out of the condominium and a subsequent search revealed a baggy with loose ammunition.

    Partridge was on scene with his police dog, Lex, to support the arrests, court heard. Officers then received information that another suspect had entered the condominium with another man, both of whom bolted when officers tried to arrest them.

    Three officers quickly caught one of the suspects, but the other had gotten away. Several officers then began searching for him when bystanders on a rooftop pointed in the direction of a running man.

    The suspect — Median Jackson — sprinted into an alley, and lay down, winded, near a set of stairs, which was captured on surveillance video from the Gladstone Hotel. That video was filed in court as an exhibit.

    In the video, York Region police Const. Matt McLean arrives and orders Jackson face down until help arrives. Court heard that the officer didn’t have his handcuffs because he had used them on one of the other suspects.

    “Jackson was compliant, lying face down underneath the stairs,” Crown attorney Peter Scrutton told court.

    Partridge did not know the suspect was on the ground obeying the officer’s orders when he yelled out “Police, K9, you’re under arrest, come out,” court heard.

    Almost immediately, Partridge released the dog before he knew Jackson’s whereabouts.

    The dog bounded into view on the video and bit down on Jackson’s arm and began thrashing its head back and forth. Partridge then began kicking and punching Jackson who had recoiled underneath the stairs.

    “While these strikes did not cause any injury, they appeared to have served to incite the dog, which continued to grip and bite Mr. Jackson’s arm,” Scrutton told court.

    Jackson suffered minor injuries from the incident. He was initially charged with break and enter and breach of probation, but those charges were later dropped due to Partridge’s actions, said Jackson’s lawyer, Morrie Luft.

    “Having heard the facts, in my view this would be an error of judgment, perhaps through inadequate training, rather than being premeditated or a loss of temper,” said Justice Harvey Brownstone.

    Partridge said little during the proceedings, and his lawyer declined comment. The officer is scheduled for sentencing on Sept. 27. He also faces three Police Services Act charges, including two for discreditable conduct and one for unnecessary exercise of authority.


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    BRIDGEWATER, N.S.—Six young Nova Scotia men who admitted to exchanging intimate images of at least 20 girls without their consent treated the victims as “objects for the accused’s own sexual gratification,” a Nova Scotia judge said Wednesday in handing down conditional discharges.

    But Judge Paul Scovil also recognized that the young men have shown remorse for their part in the creation two Dropbox accounts for the purpose of sharing dozens of intimate images of girls naked or in various states of undress.

    “The victims were in a vulnerable position that these accused took advantage of,” said Scovil as the six young men watched on from the gallery amongst loved ones.

    “These young men have come forward and admitted responsibility. Each one of them has said how they understand how they hurt the victims, and I am encouraged by that.”

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    The conditional discharges mean the six young men will follow court-imposed conditions for nine months — which include completing community service and counselling — and that their youth court records will be erased three years from the date they pleaded guilty.

    Scovil acknowledged that some of the conditions of his decision may have already been met.

    Court heard that the six young men have participated in a restorative justice process since being charged in July 2016.

    All six chose to address the court Wednesday, each expressing their remorse.

    “It’s probably the biggest mistake I will make in my life,” one of the young men told Scovil.

    At the time they were charged, four of the accused were 15 years old and the other two were 18. However, all were under 18 when the offences were committed, which means their identities are protected from publication under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. The victims’ identities are also protected.

    The case is one of Canada’s largest involving a relatively untested law introduced in 2015 to combat the non-consensual sharing of intimate images.

    The law came after the suicide of Nova Scotia teen Rehtaeh Parsons, whose family says a photo of her allegedly being sexually assaulted was circulated among students at her school in Cole Harbour.

    Senior Crown attorney Peter Dostal said the decision acknowledges the seriousness of the offence.

    “These young persons were not in any way bad kids,” said Dostal outside of court. “What we hope that can be taken out of this is that despite all of their good character, they made some profoundly poor choices.”

    No victim impact statements were submitted with the court.

    Scovil also took defence lawyers to task for arguing in a joint-submission that the girls should have known photos shared through Snapchat could have been saved.

    He said that wrongfully blamed the victims.

    “Such thinking and such comments hearken back to a time of sexual stereotyping that anyone who has been offended against sexually must have put themselves in that position... It’s discouraging that (society) would still look to women and blame them for what took place,” said Scovil.

    But defence lawyer Stan MacDonald said that was not the intent of their arguments. He said what they did was present an “alternative view.”

    “At no point in time did we make any attempt whatsoever to blame any victims,” said MacDonald, one of six lawyers who argued for an absolute discharge. “I take issue with the comments that the judge made.”

    The boys, who are all from the Bridgewater area, admitted to forming a private Facebook group to exchange photos of the girls, who ranged in age from 13 to 17.

    In the agreed statement, the photos’ subjects cited a variety of motivations for sending the images.

    Some said they felt pressured by what they described as persistent requests for intimate images, while others said they were vying for boys’ affections or just joking around, the statement said.

    The document said one 13-year-old girl was repeatedly asked for sexual photos by one of the accused over the course of several days, despite persistent rejection.

    Another girl who was 14 at the time said the boy would talk about how they could trust each other, then asked her for naked photos.


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