Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel

Embed this content in your HTML


Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)

More Channels


Channel Catalog

Channel Description:


older | 1 | .... | 1044 | 1045 | (Page 1046) | 1047 | 1048 | .... | 1083 | newer

    0 0

    OTTAWA—Canada’s lead NAFTA negotiator doesn’t expect the United States to make demands for the dairy sector during the third round of talks this week, and said American officials still haven’t proposed changes to some of the thorniest issues of the agreement, including on car manufacturing and dispute resolution mechanisms.

    Steve Verheul, chief trade negotiator with Global Affairs, said there is still “plenty to work with for the time being” but stopped short of expressing confidence that the shared goal of a new deal by the end of the year can be met.

    “We’ll make good progress for the next few rounds, I think. But the endgame is always the hardest part, and impossible to predict,” he told reporters Sunday afternoon, as Ottawa hosted the third round of talks on the 23-year-old trade deal between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

    Read more:

    Canada nervous about U.S. NAFTA proposal on auto content

    Everything you need to know about NAFTA

    “As in any negotiation, there are moments when things get a little heated, but for the most part, I’d say it’s quite constructive,” Verheul said. “We’re making good, solid progress.”

    The U.S. government signalled this week that one of its top priorities in the agreement is to increase the rules-of-origin for auto parts — essentially pushing to get more American content in the components of cars made in North America. U.S. President Donald Trump has also criticized Canada’s supply management system that protects its domestic dairy industry, which Ottawa has vowed to support, while the American government stated this summer that one of its goals is to ditch the Chapter 19 dispute panel from NAFTA.

    Yet so far, U.S. negotiators have not made specific demands in those areas at the negotiating table, Verheul said.

    “We have made a detailed proposal on Chapter 19; we have not seen a U.S. proposal,” Verheul said. One of Canada’s priorities is to preserve that chapter, which dictates how disputes between the trading partners are resolved.

    Verheul added that of the 28 negotiating groups working on areas of the agreement, there are a “couple” that could be resolved before the third round of negotiations wraps up on Wednesday, but he would not specify which ones.

    The lack of specificity from the U.S. in key areas for Canada had union leaders on the sidelines of the talks accusing the Americans of not taking the renegotiations seriously. For the second day in a row, Jerry Dias, the president of Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, predicted the talks would fall apart in the coming weeks, with Canada and Mexico walking away from an intransigent American administration.

    “It looks as if the tactics (for the U.S.) are: We’re the big player and we’re going to force the agenda and if you don’t like it, too bad. So my guess is that everybody walks away,” Dias said.

    “You can go through the charade and see how this thing unfolds, and I believe everybody has to do that, but I’m not expecting anything meaningful by any stretch of the imagination.

    “This is a political discussion, not an economic discussion.”

    Christopher Monette, director of public affairs for Teamsters Canada, called on the U.S. to engage more seriously with Ottawa’s proposals to bring tougher labour standards into the 23-year-old trade deal.

    “The Canadian government is not kidding around in terms of their labour proposals. This is strong stuff that our union both in Canada and the United States strongly supports. We think this needs to be taken more seriously by American negotiators,” Monette said.

    Trump has repeatedly threatened to drop out of NAFTA, citing concern about American trade deficits and the loss of manufacturing jobs in his country. Trump has also predicted the renegotiation will fail to produce a new deal, while officials from Canada and Mexico have stated that it is still early in the process that continues in Ottawa until Wednesday, before returning to the U.S. for a scheduled fourth round of talks.

    “We’re just starting,” Kenneth Smith Ramos, the lead Mexican negotiator, told reporters here on Saturday.

    The agenda for the third round of negotiations, which was obtained by the Star this week, showed that negotiators were scheduled to talk about customs, digital trade, the environment, government procurement, state-owned enterprises and other issues on Sunday.

    Key points surrounding the Ottawa round of negotiations include the American demand to change NAFTA’s rules-of-origin component, which dictates how much of certain products must be made in North America to qualify for free trade under the deal. The U.S. has signalled that it wants more American-made content in auto parts, though it has yet to say exactly by how much.

    The current North American content rules for auto parts under NAFTA is 62.5 per cent.

    Dias, whose union represents autoworkers in Canada, said Sunday that he’s not against raising rules-of-origin in that industry, but cautioned that doing so without bringing tougher labour standards into a new NAFTA could simply mean more manufacturing jobs leave Canada for lower-wage jurisdictions in the U.S. and Mexico.

    “There won’t be a trade deal unless Mexico takes Canada’s proposals on elevating the standard of living for Mexican workers in a very serious way,” he said.

    He added that despite his doomsaying on the prospects of the renegotiation, he has faith in Canada’s negotiating team and said he’s more hopeful that a deal can be reached sometime next spring, once the U.S. begins to put proposals on the table and is willing to compromise with its NAFTA partners ahead of elections in Mexico and the U.S. next year.

    “Ultimately, the U.S. business community is going to need what Canada has to offer. We’re in a very good position, so we should make sure that we carve a deal that’s in the best interest of Canadians,” Dias said.

    Canada’s Liberal government has proposed bringing labour and environmental agreements between the three countries, which are currently side deals to NAFTA, into the main body of the accord. Ottawa has also called for an updated NAFTA to be a “progressive” deal with chapters on Indigenous Peoples and gender rights, while reserving the right to pass regulations “in the public interest.”

    That last bit is why Rob Cunningham, a lawyer for the Canadian Cancer Society, was on hand Sunday to tout his demand that tobacco products be exempted from the trade deal. That would prevent cigarette companies from using NAFTA to challenge Canada’s health laws as a barrier to fair competition, he said — something that was first threatened in 1994 when Ottawa floated the idea of plain cigarette packaging.

    He said Canada should push hard to drop tobacco products from the deal, to protect the government’s ability to pass health regulations for cigarettes and other tobacco goods.

    “There’s a very strong case to do this exemption,” he said, pointing out that Canada, the U.S. and Mexico agreed to cut tobacco out of the now-stalled Trans Pacific Partnership agreement.

    “It’s not like this is an economic protection measure. It’s an absolutely pure health measure.”

    With files from Tonda MacCharles

    Canada’s top NAFTA negotiator says U.S. hasn’t proposed changes to thorny issuesCanada’s top NAFTA negotiator says U.S. hasn’t proposed changes to thorny issues

    0 0

    Day one activities included athletics at York's Lions Stadium and a visit from Prince Harry, Patron of Invictus Games Foundation.

    Photos: Day one of Invictus GamesPhotos: Day one of Invictus GamesPhotos: Day one of Invictus GamesPhotos: Day one of Invictus GamesPhotos: Day one of Invictus GamesPhotos: Day one of Invictus GamesPhotos: Day one of Invictus GamesPhotos: Day one of Invictus GamesPhotos: Day one of Invictus GamesPhotos: Day one of Invictus GamesPhotos: Day one of Invictus GamesPhotos: Day one of Invictus Games

    0 0

    It looked like Florida at spring break on Sunday as hundreds took to the water or basked in the sun at Woodbine Beach, enjoying record-breaking fall temperatures.

    The eastern Toronto beach was crowded with people and umbrellas and on the boardwalk, to entertain them all, was soprano sax player Bernie Blue, who said he was enjoying the weather despite being a bit overdressed for the day, in a shirt and long pants held up by red suspenders.

    “I love being by the lake,” said Blue, a semi-professional musician. “It’s the most pleasant place to play.”

    By 3 p.m., the mercury hit 32C at Pearson airport, beating the record high for September 24 of 30.8 C set in 2010. (Further north at Buttonville Airport the temperature had already reached 33C.)

    The normal high for this time of the year is 19 or 20C, but a slow-moving high-pressure system over Southern Ontario is causing the warmth, says Weiqing Zhang, a severe weather meteorologist with Environment Canada.

    A heat warning was in effect for a swath of Ontario from Ottawa across the GTA and down to Windsor thanks to the system, which is expected to move out by Thursday and be replaced by more seasonal temperatures. And while the heat can be oppressive or even dangerous for some, on the waterfront downtown, it wasn’t deterring book lovers from attending the annual Word on the Street festival at Harbourfront Centre.

    All the chairs were filled in the Toronto Star tent, where Linda Barnard and Peter Howell were dishing on what can happen at TIFF, with Barnard recalling Nick Nolte walking down Bay St. in his bathrobe. Author and restaurateur Jen Agg, who wrote the autobiography I Hear She’s a Real Bitch, was addressing a full audience in the Toronto Book Awards tent.

    “There seems to be a lot more people out today than in the last two years,” said Rupert McNally, who was sweating in the shade of the tent for Ben McNally Books, the Yonge St. bookstore founded by his father Ben. Meanwhile, a block east of Harbourfront, Kim Crossley handed out flyers for Toronto Harbour Water Taxi, which already had a long queue of people willing to pay $10 to go across to the island.

    “It’s like summer all over again,” she said.

    Heat-seekers head for shore as Toronto makes most of record highHeat-seekers head for shore as Toronto makes most of record high

    0 0

    OTTAWA—When Malaika was 6, she travelled with her family on an airplane for the first time, on a summer vacation to Somalia to see her aunts, uncles and cousins.

    While there, she was rounded up with other girls in the village and taken into a stranger’s living room, where her genitals were cut with a razor blade.

    Now in her early 20s and pursuing a post-secondary degree, Malaika, who was born and raised in the Ottawa area, says she was told by family members to not speak about the cutting. For about 15 years she kept the secret.

    “I just felt really, really lonely,” she says.

    That was until two months ago, when she read Yasmin Mumed’s story, published in the Star. Yasmin is a 24-year-old recent graduate of the University of Guelph who was subjected to female genital mutilation in her native Ethiopia when she was 6. Three years later, she emigrated to Canada.

    On a recent day in August, the women met and spoke about their shared experiences and desire to see other girls spared from the same fate.

    The Star is not revealing Malaika’s real name and has withheld some details that could identify her. She asked that her identity be concealed because she is not comfortable sharing intimate details publicly. She has also never addressed what happened with her family and is concerned about receiving criticism from her community.

    She worried that photographs showing even the colour of her nail polish or the hijab she often wears could offer clues to her identity to those closest to her.

    “A lot of women praise the procedure despite its negative health-related side effects,” she says. “I don’t agree with what happened to me or the practice being done to millions of women across the globe. (But) I feel like coming out not agreeing with it would be like siding against my community.”

    A continuing Star investigation has revealed the federal government is aware of cases in which Canadian girls have been sent abroad and subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM). The term often used to describe what happens to these children is “vacation cutting.”

    There is no reliable data on the prevalence of the problem here, but officials from Global Affairs Canada say “a few thousand” Canadian girls could be at risk, “some of whom will be taken overseas for the procedure,” according to a 2015 internal email obtained by the Star.

    Recent evidence also suggests FGM may be happening on Canadian soil, including a report that found two women from a small Muslim sect called the Dawoodi-Bohras who reported being cut here.

    Since 1997, it has been illegal in Canada to subject a child to FGM. It is also illegal to remove them from the country for the same purpose.

    Although federal government ministers have called the practice “abhorrent and unacceptable,” experts say Canada lags behind other developed countries, like the United Kingdom, which has dedicated charities and government agencies collecting statistics, administering education campaigns and taking other proactive measures, such as programs designed to identify potential victims at the airport.

    “It just makes me the most mad,” says Malaika. She is measured and thoughtful with her words.

    “There was a possibility for this to not happen to me. It doesn’t mean that just because you were born in a westernized country that it’s not going to happen.”

    FGM has no health benefits. It can cause severe bleeding, problems with urination and later cysts, infections, as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths, according to the World Health Organization. It can also deny women sexual pleasure.

    It varies from partial removal of the clitoris to its most severe form, a procedure known as infibulation, in which the clitoris and labia are excised and the vulva stitched together, leaving only a small opening.

    Today, Malaika remembers little about her cutting.

    She knows it happened without any explanation or warning. She remembers only that other girls in the village were coming in and out of a living room in someone’s home, one at a time. She’s blocked out her memory of the procedure, except pain. Afterward, she recalled, the family continued with the vacation as if nothing happened.

    She doesn’t know for certain, but she believes her mother did not plan to have her cut before they left. “I think it’s just something in the moment. That it was a pressure thing,” she says. “And maybe other girls . . . were doing it as well, so I guess it would look kind of weird if they didn’t.”

    She has never spoken with her father about what happened, and does not know if he is aware.

    FGM is known to be practised in 29 countries — most commonly in Africa, but also in other places like Indonesia and India. It is seen by some as a rite of passage into womanhood or a condition of marriage. It occurs in both Islamic and Christian communities, but is largely a cultural tradition that dates back hundreds of years. In many areas, there is huge social pressure on families to have their daughters cut.

    When Malaika returned to Canada from her summer vacation, she pushed any memories aside until high school, when students in her class began to learn about and discuss FGM and “how it was done in specific areas in Africa.”

    “That’s when I realized it had happened to me,” she says.

    “It just made me more sad. I was always saying, ‘Why am I being punished for this?’. . . On my confidence I think it hit the most there because you’re constantly reminded that you’re not like everyone else. This is something that’s going to follow you for the rest of your life.”

    In August, around the same time Malaika was working up the courage to confide in a close girlfriend, she found Yasmin’s story in the Star. She read that Yasmin had made some peace with her cutting and that she is now pursuing reconstructive surgery in the United States. Malaika decided to confide in her friend.

    “It took my whole life to tell her about it,” she says, adding that her friend encouraged her to reach out to Yasmin, so she could speak with someone who had been through the same thing.

    Malaika got in touch with Yasmin on Instagram and the pair connected by phone. Their first conversation lasted more than two hours. About two weeks later, they met, after Yasmin drove, along with two Star journalists, to Ottawa to meet her.

    Just talking to Yasmin and “(knowing) there is a way we can move on from this and also help other people deal with it” has been helpful, said Malaika as they chatted on the bank of the Ottawa River, the Parliament buildings in the background. “I felt like someone understood me for the very first time.”

    Their stories have striking similarities.

    Like Malaika, Yasmin kept her cutting a secret from those closest to her. She, too, buried the memories until her teens, when she started having flashbacks of women holding down her arms and legs, of a brand-new pink embroidered dress her grandmother had bought her covered in blood.

    Like Malaika, she felt alone. She searched for services in the Toronto area where she grew up: a support group, specialized health-care professionals, an organization that focuses on FGM. She found nothing and had a negative experience with a local gynecologist, who she says told her she didn’t need reconstructive surgery because she had not been cut enough to cause problems with going to the bathroom or giving birth.

    The federal Justice Department recently gave $350,000 to a small Quebec organization to fight FGM in at-risk communities. Other than that, experts say there are few support services available for women living with the physical and psychological effects of FGM, regardless of when and where it happened to them.

    Recent data from the province’s Ministry of Health offers a glimpse into the prevalence of women living with the effects — it shows Ontario doctors have performed 308 surgeries to reverse infibulations in the past seven years.

    There is no medical procedure in Canada that aims to give women back sensation. Yasmin and Malaika are now pursuing a reconstructive surgery offered by a doctor in California. The surgery, which is controversial because some medical professionals have questioned whether it works, removes the scar tissue from the clitoris and cuts ligaments around it, allowing it to descend, in the hopes of giving the woman back some feeling.

    Both are clear about why they want the surgery. They want to make their own decisions with their bodies. They want to try to get something back that was taken away without their consent.

    Yasmin, who after much deliberation decided to speak publicly about what happened to her, says she did not do so to demonize her family (her beloved grandmother, who took her to be cut, believed it was what was best for her), but to take the issue out of the shadows.

    About a week after her story was published, a man from her Oromo ethnic group recognized her at an Ethiopian restaurant. He’d been carrying around a copy of the Star and pulled it out to show her. He told her he was proud of her for speaking out.

    Recently, she received a message from her mother, who read her story and called to say that she supports her and wants to travel with her to California when she gets the surgery.

    Yasmin says the main reason she spoke out, though, was to reach young women like Malaika.

    “I thought . . . I’m going to do it even if I reach one person,” she says to Malaika as they sit on the river bank. “I was like ‘there is somebody out there like me who grew up here who feels so different than like her peers’ . . . When you reached out to me I was like ‘this is it. This is what I did it for.’ ”

    Malaika hopes that by sharing her story, she can do the same.

    “I definitely think me reaching out to Yasmin will pave the way for other girls,” she says. “As Yasmin told me, this is not something that defines us.”

    Jayme Poisson can be reached at or (416) 814-2725

    This woman was just 6 years old when she was forced to undergo FGM. Now she’s telling her storyThis woman was just 6 years old when she was forced to undergo FGM. Now she’s telling her story

    0 0

    BERKELEY, CALIF.—It was 30 minutes until Milo Yiannopoulos’ planned Sunday rally at the University of California at Berkeley, and already the south side of campus was buzzing with the cross-currents of mutually directed rage.

    “We’re standing up today to push these Nazis off our campus!” a woman was yelling through a bullhorn, as a cluster of men wearing American flags as capes tried to drown her out with chants of “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”

    Yiannopoulos, the former Breitbart editor and self-described “troll” best known for railing against women and minorities online, had announced months earlier that he would sponsor a “Free Speech Week” on this campus known for its leftist activism.

    Read more:

    UC Berkley refuses to cancel conservative group’s plan to host Milo Yiannopoulos

    Ex-Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos sue Simon & Schuster over cancelled book deal

    Masked counterprotestors violent drive out right-wing demonstrators at Berkeley rally

    He had tried to speak here before but had been thwarted; he said it was a product of this town’s virulently liberal opposition, and campus officials said it had been because he was bad at organizing.

    And here it was on Sunday: the same thing all over again. A long-planned four days of speeches to criticize Muslims, feminists, leftists and liberals called off barely a day before it was to begin. Yiannopoulos said the university again was standing in the way of free speech, and the university said Yiannopoulos and his student group counterparts had failed to fill out the necessary paperwork.

    Sunday’s gathering happened because Yiannopoulos vowed to hold an unofficial rally anyway, and because his opponents were already so angry that they likely would have protested regardless.

    Some observers said it was also never really about a clash of ideas so much as a clash of extremes, anyway. No one on Sunday seemed to be debating or conversing, and most appeared more concerned with who was allowed into the plaza where Yiannopoulos planned to speak, and who wasn’t.

    “It was a showdown of different, competing powers and who physically controls a given space,” said Amanda Jo Goldstein, a Berkeley English professor, who came to peacefully protest what she views as Yiannopoulos’s exclusionary politics. “There’s an illusion that the ability to express ideas occurs in a vacuum of physical power.”

    The police were there, their visors tipped up and batons ready.

    Berkeley, with its history of protest and argument and politics, has become a central battlefield for the extremes, a place were the alt-right has chosen to poke at the liberals, and where some liberals have tried to silence them, in turn. The militants on both sides have chosen to rumble here before, making it a magnet for Antifa and neo-Nazis. And campus police estimated they had spent around $800,000 for the extra security.

    The contest started, as police had anticipated, before Yiannopoulos even arrived. A few dozen people stood shouting in each other’s faces, waving signs as a seemingly larger crowd of bystanders with cameras filmed them, and an even larger crowd of helmeted police clutched their riot gear and lurched into new phalanxes with each new shift of the crowd.

    “Trump! Trump! Trump!” shouted the American flag-draped group. “No Trump! No KKK! No fascist U.S.A.!” shouted their rivals.

    “They’re just yelling at each other,” a young woman remarked to her friend, as they stood off to the side.

    Hundreds of UC Berkeley police, with help from other local departments, had erected large orange barriers to surround Sproul Plaza, where Yiannopoulos planned to speak. They formed a narrow corridor, through which fans and protesters jostled in an effort to gain entry. Police officers manning a metal detector there turned most of them away.

    There were no weapons allowed — no knives, no sticks, no bats. But also no helmets. No cameras. No backpacks, purses, snacks or water bottles.

    “Regardless of what side they were on, we just wanted to make sure that everybody was being safe,” said Sabrina Reich, a spokesperson for the UC Berkeley campus police department.

    When Yiannopoulos finally did appear, on the steps of Sproul Hall, wearing an American flag hoodie and a denim jacket, he had no microphone — police wouldn’t allow it — and only a small handful of listeners in a largely empty plaza. Some were chanting.

    He said later that “hundreds of people were waiting to get in” and that “the press wasn’t showing the lines.” The police, he said, were “nuking” phone signals; he wasn’t able to give the speech he had prepared; he’ll “keep coming” back.

    “Rich, famous celebrities are on their knees disrespecting your flag,” came one of his only audible comments, a reference to the dust-up over President Trump and the NFL and the national anthem, a drama that played out coast-to-coast on Sunday.

    Most of what Yiannopoulos said was drowned out by chants, even after he climbed onto a concrete wall, flanked by the anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller, right-wing commentator Mike Cernovich, known for railing against feminists, and another man wearing a T-shirt that read: “Hillary Clinton killed my friends.”

    “Our ideas are better!” came Geller’s hoarse voice above the shouts and laughter. “That is why they must silence us!”

    Both sides appeared to comprise fewer students than they did middle-aged adults.

    “Let’s get a selfie!” Yiannopoulos declared, leaning toward a few fans. Someone else asked for an autograph. He beamed.

    And then, in less time than it had taken police to set up the barricades, he was done.

    “It’s not about the numbers. It’s about making sure that we’re here,” Yiannopoulos said to a reporter as he and his entourage quickly began moving across the grass toward a barricade, trailed by fans and protesters, shouts and chants. He was never expecting a big crowd at Berkeley, he added.

    The group hoisted themselves, one by one, over the orange blocks, joined on the other side by more supporters and more protesters, more TV cameras and reporters, and more police. Then he was in a car that was waiting. The door closed. The police told the crowd to move back.

    And then he was gone.

    “Wait,” a woman protester said, lowering her sign as a brief silence took hold. “Did he just leave?”

    A few hours later, Yiannopoulos sent a statement via text: “I didn’t get to say much. But I’ll be back.” He’ll keep coming “until the university starts treating its conservative students fairly,” he said. “Look forward to two decades of MILO talks and rallies at UC Berkeley.”

    Milo Yiannopoulos appearance at UC Berkeley sparks clash of extremesMilo Yiannopoulos appearance at UC Berkeley sparks clash of extremes

    0 0

    U.S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has used a private email account to conduct and discuss official White House business dozens of times, his lawyer confirmed Sunday.

    Kushner used the private account through his first nine months in government service, even as the president continued to criticize his opponent in the 2016 presidential election, Democrat Hillary Clinton, for her use of a private email account for government business. Kushner several times used his account to exchange news stories and minor reactions or updates with other administration officials.

    Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, set up the private account before Donald Trump moved into the White House and Kushner was named a senior adviser to the president in January. Once in the White House, Kushner used his private account for convenience from time to time — especially when he was travelling or using a personal laptop, according to two people familiar with his practice. A person who has reviewed the emails said many were quickly forwarded to his government account and none appear to contain classified information.

    More news about U.S. President Donald Trump

    Clinton offered a similar explanation in 2015 when it was revealed that she set up a private email account as her exclusive means of email communication when she was secretary of state. Clinton also said she opted for private email “as a matter of convenience.” She insisted that she never shared classified information on her private account or tried to sidestep the federal law that requires that official government communications are preserved. She said nearly all of her communication was stored by the government because she was communicating with other officials on their government accounts.

    Kushner’s use of a private account was first reported Sunday by Politico.

    Trump repeatedly blasted Clinton during the 2016 campaign for her email practices — and has continued to do so for many months after defeating her in the race to the White House.

    “What the prosecutors should be looking at are Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 deleted emails,” Trump said in West Virginia in early August. He made the comment just hours after news broke that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was using a grand jury to investigate the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia.

    The president had a similar refrain in mid-July, when his son Donald Trump Jr. faced questions about a meeting he had with a Russian lawyer during the campaign after he was offered incriminating information about Clinton.

    “Hillary Clinton can illegally get the questions to the Debate & delete 33,000 emails but my son Don is being scorned by the Fake News Media?” Trump tweeted on July 13.

    Kushner’s use of a private account, however, does appear to differ in degree from the former secretary of state and Democratic nominee, according to the descriptions provided Sunday. Kushner and his wife didn’t set up a private server, two people familiar with their email account said. Kushner’s lawyer said his client used official White House email to conduct much of his official government business, and the private email was incidental.

    “Fewer than a hundred emails from January through August were either sent to or returned by Mr. Kushner to colleagues in the White House from his personal email account,” Kushner’s lawyer Abbe Lowell said Sunday. “These usually forwarded news articles or political commentary and most often occurred when someone initiated the exchange by sending an email to his personal, rather than his White House, address. All non-personal emails were forwarded to his official address and all have been preserved in any event.”

    These dozens of emails typically discussed media stories about the Trump White House, planning for coming events and some reactions and logistics. A person who has reviewed the emails said several contained nothing more than links to news stories.

    Read more:

    U.S. Vice President Mike Pence turns over AOL emails from time as Indiana’s governor

    White House defends Pence’s use of private email account to conduct state business

    Lowell declined to answer questions about how it was determined that none of the emails contained classified information. Clinton also claimed none of her emails contained classified information, but later reviews founds hundreds contained secret information and a small handful contained top secret material.

    Lowell declined to specify if Kushner routinely forwarded all of his private emails to his government account, but said that all have since been forwarded for preservation.

    Kushner’s use of a private account mirrors a broader trend within the Trump White House. He is not alone in communicating about official business over private channels.

    Many senior White House officials and others in the administration regularly correspond with journalists about government business on their personal cellphones, as opposed to using their official lines. People familiar with his communications said former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and former senior adviser Stephen Bannon also used private email accounts from time to time, including in their exchanges with Kushner. It’s unclear if these officials forwarded emails to their White House accounts, said one White House official.

    Bannon could not be reached for comment Sunday.

    William Burck, an attorney for Priebus, declined to comment.

    A person familiar with Priebus’ email use said his general practice was to use his White House account but confirmed he used a personal account from time to time, particularly to respond when other people emailed him using the account. This person said such exchanges were rare, but more common at the start of Trump’s term, particularly since Priebus had been using the account during the presidential transition. The account was one he had held for a number of years.

    Clinton was the subject of a massive FBI investigation last year that focused on whether she or her aides had mishandled classified information when she set up a private server to handle all of her work discussions on email. Clinton has since blamed her loss of the presidential race on the flawed explanations and hyperbolic reaction to her use of a private email account. She said that then-FBI Director James Comey’s decision to publicly announce he was reviving the investigation in the final days of her campaign battle tipped the election to Trump.

    Clinton’s choice to entirely sidestep government emails during her tenure while also using a private server was unprecedented. But Congress has lambasted other government officials who appeared to be trying to shroud their communications from public view. Republicans criticized former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson for using a dummy account name — “Richard Windsor” — on an EPA government email account for some of her personal communications.

    They also criticized Jonathan Silver, a Barack Obama appointee to the Energy Department, when one of his emails showed him warning his subordinates amid a discussion of government business: “Don’t ever send an email on doe email with private email addresses. That makes them supoenable.”

    The Federal Records Act requires government officials and agencies to create systems and practices so that they preserve all records, memos, correspondence and other documents that detail their government work.

    The use of personal email to conduct government business potentially puts those messages beyond the reach of congressional investigators and the media requesting public information. Private accounts can also open security risks if the email service used is lax on password security or doesn’t regularly patch its software — weaknesses that hackers can exploit to gain access.

    Jared Kushner used private email account for some White House business, his lawyer admitsJared Kushner used private email account for some White House business, his lawyer admits

    0 0

    Steve Murgatroyd can walk up stairs normally, run in the rain and, soon, he’ll be able to ride his motorbike again with his prosthetic leg.

    He has an Ottobock X3, an advanced microprocessor leg that uses high-tech sensors to mimic what his nerves and muscles used to do naturally, and it’s the leg he thinks will let him return to frontline service in the Canadian infantry.

    For now, he’ll use it to compete in Toronto at the Invictus Games, an eight-day sporting competition for ill and injured armed forces members and veterans from 17 countries.

    With 550 athletes competing in 12 sports as diverse as running, swimming, powerlifting and wheelchair rugby, it’s an inspiring display of athleticism and the human drive to overcome adversity.

    But, in reality, the hardest thing that Murgatroyd and many of the competitors will do this week is walk to their competition venues.

    Regular life, with all its variables — tripping over kids’ toys in the living room, walking on an uneven sidewalk or running to catch the bus — demands much more from a prosthetic leg than sprinting 100 metres down the track.

    “It looks fine, minute to minute, but any distance of walking is extremely difficult,” says Murgatroyd, who competes in archery and the precision driving challenge.

    It’s a similar story for the co-captain of Canada’s team, Maj. Simon Mailloux, who will swap out his X3 for a running blade when he competes on the track, or plays sitting volleyball without a prosthetic.

    That just walking can be hard with a leg that costs $100,000 and looks strong enough to kick a car across the parking lot is not what many people expect to hear.

    Top-of-the-line prosthetic devices have come so far — the materials they’re made of and the sophisticated technology embedded within them — that people raised on action movies and science fiction easily leap to the conclusion that they’re as good as, or perhaps even better, than what most of us are born with.

    “Kids, especially, they see my leg and they think I’m Iron Man and I can fly and things like that and part of me wants to let them believe that,” Mailloux says with a chuckle.

    “Technology will come to a point, I truly believe in my lifetime, where we exceed our capacity, but we’re not there yet. Now, my leg almost does what it used to.”

    Prosthetics have come light years from the days of Terry Fox, who used an awkward skip-hop stride during his 1980 run across Canada because of the limitations of his prosthetic leg and old-style mechanical knee.

    But the misconception that prosthetics are so advanced that they’re nearing the scenarios played out in Hollywood is something that Gary Sjonnesen deals with all the time. He’s the director of clinical services at the Canadian headquarters of Ottobock, the German-based company that manufactures the X3 and provides technical services at this week’s Invictus Games.

    He remembers the controversy around whether South African double amputee Oscar Pistorius had a superhuman advantage because of his carbon-fibre running blades and so shouldn’t have been allowed to run with able-bodied athletes in the 400-metre event at the 2012 London Olympics.

    He shakes his head and goes on to explain that a sprinter’s natural foot and leg is far more efficient at storing and transferring energy than any mechanical spring currently in production.

    “If we could develop a machine that could give back 250 per cent over what we put in, we’d be millionaires,” Sjonnesen says.

    And, closer to home, he overheard his young son telling his friends it didn’t matter if he lost a leg or an arm because his dad could just make him a new one.

    At Ottobock’s Burlington facility, with the cupboards and shelves full of titanium and carbon-fibre prosthetic devices that would look at home on the set of a Terminator movie and a lab designing silicone overlays that can match real skin right down to freckles and scars, it’s easy to see why people expect so much.

    Sjonnesen picks up a bebionic hand that looks like it could crush steel just by making a fist. It can’t. It also can’t be used to write normally with independent finger movement.

    But it’s an enormous advance in prosthetics because, among other things, it can grasp keys to unlock a door and when holding a glass, it knows to tighten the grip as the glass fills and gets heavier.

    Those are the sorts of everyday life challenges that upper limb amputees actually face and getting a hand like this one can be life transforming.

    It’s the same thing with the X3.

    It’s so advanced compared with the mechanical knee that Murgatroyd was first fitted with when he lost his leg two summers ago after a car crashed into his motorcycle that he remembers exactly when he got it: Oct. 26, 2016.

    “That’s a day I won’t forget. It makes such a huge difference in everything,” says the infantryman, who works in recruiting in Truro, N.S.

    “It makes me feel a bit normal again. I know that leg won’t let me fall down.”

    The X3, thanks to its five sensors including a gyroscope and accelerometer, knows exactly where Murgatroyd’s leg is in space and how fast it’s moving. It’s constantly assessing and computing every hundredth of a second so it doesn’t just know where the leg is now, it knows where it should be going and what to do if something goes wrong.

    “If something happens that is not anticipated like a stumble then it reacts really quickly to change its function,” Sjonnesen says.

    The knee can lock down the hydraulics to increase resistance just like a quad muscle would do to stop a fall.

    Murgatroyd hopes to return to frontline service with his prosthetic leg — something that Mailloux has already done.

    He lost his leg in Afghanistan in 2007 when his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device. In 2009 he returned there for another tour of duty, becoming the first Canadian soldier with a prosthetic leg to return to frontline service.

    It wasn’t easy. Ask Mailloux what is the hardest thing he does with his prosthetic leg and the answer has nothing to do with sport.

    “Anything I do in the infantry: walking on uneven ground, walking over a branch or rocks requires my foot not being stuck and trusting that my knee will understand what I’m doing,” says Mailloux, who commands a company of 110 soldiers and 15 armoured vehicles.

    “I did the same job, I wasn’t as fast as or as strong as I used to be but the job was done for sure and I had a better understanding of the consequences of our actions and our decisions.”

    The X3, the original version of which was developed in collaboration with the U.S. military, is waterproof and comes with programmable modes for activities such as running, biking and golf.

    But, overall, the biggest advance with microprocessor knees and the reason they were designed in the first place is that they reduce falls — the biggest problem for amputees.

    In a 12-month period, about 4 per cent of able-bodied people will fall; it’s 66 per cent for amputees, Sjonnesen says.

    That’s a big deal because the vast majority of amputees bare little resemblance to the competitors at the Invictus Games or the even more elite athletes who compete in the Paralympics.

    “They’re the ones that get the press and it’s good to expose people to it,” Sjonnesen says of the educational benefit of para sport.

    “It does create some misconceptions mind you (because) 80 per cent of amputees are diabetics and they’re just trying to live day-to-day in their house,” he says.

    “The other thing that really drives me nuts is when I’m talking to funding agencies or even lay people and they talk about X3 and say, ‘Well, that’s a Cadillac or Mercedes,’ No. it’s not. It might be a bicycle compared to what they lost.”

    Top-of-the-line prosthetic devices have improved by leaps and boundsTop-of-the-line prosthetic devices have improved by leaps and bounds

    0 0

    Sports, like everything else, lives in the world. It can be tempting to believe sports is a shiny, ridiculous bubble of wins and losses and dingers and dunks. It’s like closing your curtains and pretending the stadium down the road was built by magic. It’s one of many comforting illusions. Stick, as they say, to sports.

    And then Sunday the sports world found itself more enmeshed with politics and protest than at any point in modern history. A little over one year ago then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during the American national anthem before a pre-season game to protest against systemic racism in the United States. Nobody even noticed at first. He kept kneeling. He left the 49ers after last season, and was not signed by any NFL team. He isn’t a Top 10 QB, but he’s being blackballed without shame.

    Read more:

    NFL sees widespread player protests after Trump’s ‘fire or suspend’ comments

    As Trump feuds with NBA and NFL, Penguins say they would still visit the White House

    Trump turns sports into political battleground with comments about NFL Warriors star Curry

    One year later, the argle-bargle-belching president of the United States decided to play to his canker-sore ego and his racism-fuelled base by attacking the athletes of the National Football League and the National Basketball Association, which by sheer and utter coincidence are the two pro sports leagues in North America with the most Black players. At a rally in Alabama — another coincidence! — he called players who kneel to protest during the national anthem “sons of bitches,” and said they should be fired. Then, after Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry said he didn’t want to visit the White House to celebrate their NBA championship, Donald Trump rescinded the invitation. Sunday, on the only Twitter account in the world that may start a nuclear war, he called for a boycott of the NFL.

    Suddenly sports hadn’t been this political since Muhammad Ali. LeBron James called Trump, with devastating precision, “U Bum.” Jim Harbaugh, the football coach at Michigan, said, “Read the Constitution.” People across the NFL criticized Trump: Even former coach Rex Ryan, on ESPN, said: “I supported Donald Trump . . . and I’m reading these comments and it’s appalling to me, and I’m sure it’s appalling to almost any citizen in this country. And I apologize for being pissed off, because right away I’m associated with what Donald Trump stands for.”

    Ryan was mighty late to the party on this one, but at least there was a party. There were sideline protests and demonstrations during anthems across the NFL, some of which were booed by fans in the stadiums. It had already spread: Saturday night, Oakland A’s rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first MLB player to kneel during an anthem. During the anthem before Game 1 of the WNBA final Sunday, the Los Angeles Sparks stayed in their locker room. In the NFL, anthem performers knelt. It’s a hell of a day when Terry Bradshaw takes time on the Fox NFL pre-game show to explain that the president might not grasp the concept of freedom of speech.

    And every piece of it became, thanks to the howling unquenchable ego of the most powerful man in the world, a choice. Seattle and Tennessee stayed in their locker rooms during the anthem, and so did the Pittsburgh Steelers. But Seattle cited “the injustice that plagues people of colour in this country”; Pittsburgh tried to make it about avoiding politics, even as Steelers offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva, a decorated army veteran, left the locker room to stand for the anthem.

    “People shouldn’t have to choose,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told CBS. “If a guy wants to go about his normal business and participate in the anthem, he shouldn’t be forced to choose sides. If a guy feels the need to do something, he shouldn’t be separated from his teammate who chooses not to. So we’re not participating today.”

    But that’s not how things work anymore. Trump is a human lie detector, revealing what you are, and he divides people as naturally as he breathes. And as much as anything, Trump is a force for white nationalism and white supremacy. You can’t find a middle ground on white supremacy: When you try, there are suddenly very fine people among the KKK and Nazis. As former NFL player Charles Woodson said on the NFL Network, “This is choose-your-side Sunday. It really is. And what side are you on?”

    This is the era of everything is politics, and sports has been pulled into the ever-widening gyre. NASCAR owners threatened to fire drivers who protested during the anthem. The Stanley Cup-winning Pittsburgh Penguins put out a statement that said they would indeed visit the White House and that “any agreement or disagreement with a president’s politics, policies or agenda can be expressed in other ways. However, we very much respect the rights of other individuals and groups to express themselves as they see fit.” It was so mealy-mouthed and tin-eared it could have sung, “If I only had a heart.” Now the Penguins get to stand next to Trump after he trumpets what can now be considered, in the wake of the protests, their support.

    It might not seem like it, but Kaepernick didn’t kneel to protest Trump, or the military, or the anthem itself, any more than Gandhi’s hunger strike was about protesting food. Last year, Kaepernick explained himself by saying, “I have great respect for men and women who have fought for this country. I have family, I have friends that have fought for this country . . . they fight for liberty and justice for everyone, and that’s not happening.”

    He talked about police brutality, systemic racism, empathy for those who didn’t have his platform. He wasn’t protesting America. He was protesting racism in America. That’s what it was about, and is about, and the real conversation here. Other players joined him, but only a few. And Donald Trump dumped rocket fuel on the spark because that’s only thing he knows how to do.

    Stick to sports, as an idea, was always a childlike fantasy or a disingenuous barb, and it is as dead as it has ever been. That, along with humiliating Chris Christie, might be the only good thing Trump has ever done. Everyone picks a side now. Sports is part of the fight, and there’s no turning back.

    Sports is part of the fight against racism, and there’s no turning back: ArthurSports is part of the fight against racism, and there’s no turning back: Arthur

    0 0

    With talks continuing but little progress made, the union representing 12,000 Ontario college faculty is now seeking a “no-board” report — which would put instructors in a strike position by the middle of October.

    On Friday, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union — which represents full-time professors and those teaching a “partial-load” — said it had made the request to a conciliator to put pressure on the colleges and “trigger real negotiations.”

    But Sonia Del Missier, who heads the colleges’ bargaining team, said “continued threats by the union to strike are not going to help us reach a negotiated settlement.

    “The union repeatedly states that it wants to avoid a strike. Yet, after just two days of bargaining (last week), the union chose to start the strike countdown clock.”

    The two sides continue bargaining on Monday and are expected to meet all week.

    The College Employer Council, which bargains for all 24 public institutions in Ontario, has said the union’s proposals would cost $400 million a year, and lead to thousands of lost contract jobs.

    The union’s demands “are not the basis for settlement,” said Del Missier.

    But for the union, bolstering the ranks of full-time positions, instead of the more precarious contract work, is a priority, as well as giving academic staff a say in how the colleges are run by creating a governing body similar to university senates.

    Faculty have voted 68 per cent in favour of a strike, with about 60 per cent of full-time and partial-load instructors — who teach from seven to 12 hours weekly — casting ballots.

    JP Hornick, head of the union’s bargaining team, recently told reporters at Queen’s Park the colleges were “stonewalling” negotiations, and has accused them of demanding concessions.

    Del Missier, however, said the colleges’ proposal contains no concessions, offers a lump-sum payment as well as improvements to benefits.

    “We do have a good offer on the table,” she said in a phone interview. “We remain committed to achieving a negotiated settlement, one that is fair to faculty, but, at the same time, affordable and responsible.”

    The schools, represented by the College Employer Councilhave offered a 7.5 per cent raise over the next four years, putting the highest-paid professors at about $115,000.

    Del Missier said any decision about creating a senate is outside of bargaining parameters. As well, the union’s current position on staffing ratios would bring 2,840 new full-time positions, but at a cost of 7,120 contract jobs.

    But for OPSEU, the move to add more full-time jobs “is about creating stability in the system,” said Hornick.

    The OPSEU union local represents professors and “partial-load” instructors, among others. Of its 12,000 members, 7,500 are full-time, and 4,500 partial-load.

    OPSEU does not represent part-time or sessional faculty, though a union drive is underway.

    In 2011, colleges faced a strike by support workers, and in 2006 a lengthy job action by instructors.

    The colleges say full-time faculty cover 49 per cent of all teaching hours, and partial-load, 22 per cent. The remaining 29 per cent are covered by part-time and sessional faculty.

    While the union has warned that the college system is nearing its breaking point, the College Employer Council says 83 per cent of grads have landed jobs six months after earning their diploma, and colleges have high approval ratings from employers and students themselves.

    The colleges also say their offer is comparable to that reached by OPSEU support staff.

    Since 2010, colleges have created 1,000 new academic positions — about half of them full-time.

    During Wednesday’s Question Period, NDP education critic Peggy Sattler said the province’s 24 colleges “have seen an alarming rise in precarious work,” something post-secondary minister Deb Matthews said the government recognizes is an issue.

    Speaking to reporters afterwards, Matthews noted that while the government is not at the table, “nobody wants a strike — I think everybody wants what’s in the best interest of students.”

    Academic college staff represented by OPSEU include:

    • Full-time college academic staff including permanent professors, instructors, counsellors and librarians. Their maximum salary is $107,000, but the average is closer to $90,000 a year.

    • Partial-load instructors who teach anywhere from seven to a maximum of 12 hours a week, and earn an average of $104 an hour for teaching. They are not paid for prep time, marking or for meeting with students outside of class. They are considered contract and reapply for their jobs every four months.

    OPSEU is also hoping to soon represent:

    • Part-time faculty, who are on contract and teach less than six hours each week. They earn about $60 an hour, and are not paid for time spent preparing and marking. This group encompasses those who teach continuing education courses. They also must reapply for their jobs.

    • Sessional faculty, who are also considered contract faculty, with a 12-month maximum contract within a two-year time frame. They earn about $60 an hour, and can carry a full-time teaching load. They may also teach continuing education courses. They too reapply for their jobs.

    College faculty union seeks strike date as talks continueCollege faculty union seeks strike date as talks continue

    0 0

    The Toronto-bound lanes of the QEW have reopened following an early Monday morning collision at Burlington Skyway that killed a motorcyclist.

    The collision occurred just before 6 a.m. at the QEW and North Shore Blvd., blocking all Toronto-bound lanes. Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said the crash involved two cars, a minivan, a pick-up truck, and a motorcycle.

    Jim Summers, spokesperson for the Hamilton Paramedic Service, said one person was pronounced on the scene. Schmidt said the deceased was a 51-year-old woman from Hamilton.

    There was contact between one of the cars and the motorcycle as traffic was slowing down, resulting in a multi-vehicle chain reaction event, Schmidt said. Vehicle parts were scattered along the lanes of the highway.

    “We’ve now surpassed the number of motorcycle fatalities that we’ve seen in over a decade,” Schmidt said. This is the 37th fatal motorcycle collision this year.

    The collision caused heavy traffic delays during the morning rush hour. Traffic was being rerouted onto Eastport Dr.

    The OPP said their collision reconstruction team is on scene to determine the cause of the collision.

    With files from Bryann Aguilar

    Toronto-bound Burlington Skyway reopens after fatal motorcycle collisionToronto-bound Burlington Skyway reopens after fatal motorcycle collision

    0 0

    A retired OPP officer who worked on the investigation into deleted emails is too far “inside the tent” to be used as an independent expert witness by prosecutors in the gas plants case, the defence lawyer for a former top Dalton McGuinty aide said Monday.

    “His intimate involvement in key decisions in the case make it impossible for him,” lawyer Scott Hutchison told Judge Timothy Lipson in Ontario Court of Justice, where the defense is pushing to have retired OPP detective Robert Gangnon disqualified from giving his opinion on evidence.

    Read more: McGuinty staffers ‘destroyed records they had a duty to preserve,’ gas plant trial told

    The law is clear that expert witnesses must be “independent and impartial,” Hutchison added during day two of the criminal trial of his client, Laura Miller, a former deputy chief of staff to McGuinty as premier, and former chief of staff David Livingston.

    They are charged with breach of trust, mischief in relation to data and misuse of a computer system in the alleged wiping of hard drives in the McGuinty premier’s office before Kathleen Wynne became premier in February 2013.

    Miller and Livingston have pleaded not guilty. They face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

    Gagnon testified Friday that he was involved in numerous meetings with investigators and the Crown after concerns were raised at Queen’s Park that emails and documents related to the Liberal government’s controversial decision to cancel gas-fired power plants before the 2011 provincial election had been deleted.

    Hutchison noted that Gagnon was pulled out of retirement to handle forensic computer examinations for the OPP after hard drives were seized from the McGuinty premier’s office‎.

    “It’s telling that he was hand-picked for the job for the police and remains the expert of choice,” the lawyer added.

    “That expertise is widely available outside the police...there’s no legitimate reason or need to use that witness.”

    Gangnon’s own testimony last Friday that he was only paid for 15 hours a week because of payment caps under his police pension but actually worked longer hours “for free” shows he is loyal to the prosecution and should not be considered an independent expert witness, Hutchison added.

    It was also Gagnon who suggested the additional charge of mischief in relation to data against Miller and Livingston, Hutchison said in his submission to the judge, who is expected to rule Wednesday on Gagnon’s suitability as an expert witness.

    The Crown will make submissions later Monday on why Gagnon should not be excluded from giving his opinion on the witness stand.

    Key witness at gas-plants case not impartial, defence saysKey witness at gas-plants case not impartial, defence says

    0 0

    JUNCOS, PUERTO RICO -- In the heat and humidity here in the central mountains, Meryanne Aldea fanned her bedridden mother with a piece of cardboard Sunday as the ailing woman laid on her side, relieving a large ulcer in her back.

    The 63-year-old mother, Maria Dolores Hernandez, had cotton stuffed in her ears to keep flies out, since her now screenless windows were letting all sorts of bugs in. The gray-haired diabetic woman spoke with her daughter about her worries: that she would run out of prescription drugs, that they were almost out of generator fuel to keep her insulin refrigerated and to run the fans at night. With all the heat, she feared her ulcer would become infected.

    Read more: Ontario mother seeks help after Hurricane Maria leaves daughter stranded in Dominica

    Carlos Beltran pledges $1M (U.S.) in hurricane Maria relief for Puerto Rico

    Hurricane Maria leaves Puerto Rico facing weeks without power

    But she worried most about her daughter’s home on the floor above hers, which was destroyed by Hurricane Maria. The shrieking winds had ripped off the zinc roof and the pounding rains had soaked the unprotected rooms below. While the outer cement walls were mostly intact, everything else was ruined, covered by dirty tree branches, leaves, glass and debris.

    Aldea reached out to hold her mother’s hand.

    “Relax,” she said. “It’s OK.”

    Days after a major hurricane battered Puerto Rico, leaving the entire island in a communications and power blackout, regions outside of San Juan remained completely disconnected from the rest of the island—and the world. Juncos, in a mountainous region southeast of the capital that was slammed with Maria’s most powerful winds, remains isolated, alone, afraid.

    For many residents, the challenge of accessing the essentials of modern life—gasoline, cash, food, water—began to sink in. And government officials had no answers for them. Estimates for the return of electricity and basic services will be measured not in days but in weeks and months. For those most vulnerable, far too long.

    Many have been openly wondering when help will arrive, whether from local officials or from the federal government. The first thing some villagers ask when they see outsiders is: “Are you FEMA?”

    For federal agencies trying to respond to Maria, the situation in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands is inescapably more challenging than the situations in Texas and Florida after hurricanes Harvey and Irma. It’s difficult to get into the islands.

    The airports and harbors here were severely damaged. That means the islands are more isolated than ever, even as the humanitarian crisis has worsened by the day.

    So although massive amounts of food, water, fuel and other supplies have been dispatched by federal agencies and private organizations, with more resources on the way, this has been an obstacle-filled process.

    Federal agencies have succeeded in clearing the use of the Port of San Juan for daytime operations, but other ports remain closed pending inspections. Many roads are blocked, inhibiting relief convoys. The Department of Transportation has opened five airports in Puerto Rico and two in the Virgin Islands, but only for military and relief efforts.

    Six commercial cargo ships have delivered supplies including food, water and generators to the Caribbean islands, and more supplies are on the way by ship from Florida and by air from Florida and Kentucky. Among the provisions: The Defense Logistics Agency is sending 124,000 gallons of diesel fuel to Puerto Rico.

    In addition to concerns about basic survival, on the west side of the island worries have intensified about a ruptured dam that has been tenuously holding back the waters of Lake Guajataca. Government officials said Sunday that the “fissure” in the dam is “large and will collapse at any time.” Throngs of residents in nearby towns have been urged to evacuate. The dam’s failure could lead to massive amounts of water flowing unabated through coastal communities.

    In Juncos, scores of homes were destroyed, and thousands of homes sustained damage, Mayor Alfredo Alejandro estimated. Four highways are inaccessible by car, and two bridges were harmed. Roofs of homes all over town are gone, and almost all government buildings were damaged.

    Mountains typically brimming with trees and other vegetation are brown and desolate, stripped of all greenery. The mayor of 17 years said he discovered a river he never knew existed in his town, because it was always overgrown with plants. Curved bamboo lining the winding roads were left as bare sticks.

    Less than a week ago, Alejandro said, “I had a pretty town.”

    “Today I have a desert,” he said.

    Puerto Rico’s executive director of emergency management said in an interview that aerial views of destruction in this region looked “more like a tornado than a hurricane.”

    But Maria’s destruction in the town was just the beginning. The mayor said Juncos “anxiously” needs diesel, water, hospital equipment and satellite phones for local leadership. Some local responders were forced to clear streets by hand with machetes, because the town doesn’t have enough chain saws.

    Just two gas stations were functioning in the town, and lines stretched for more than half a mile. Some drivers camped out in their cars at one station on Saturday night, but awoke Sunday to find out the gasoline there had run out, one resident said. Some people walked and rode bicycles for miles with empty gas canisters in hand.

    One of the town’s two supermarkets was open Sunday, and employees would only let in 10 people at a time to avoid chaos. Residents, who stood in line for hours, could purchase only rationed food. There is no functioning bank or cash machine in the entire municipality.

    When Aldea, 37, and her 5-year-old daughter walked through her shell of a home in Juncos after the hurricane had passed, the child hardly said a word. She scoured her pink room, with pony stickers on its walls, and picked out a couple of soaked dolls and coloring books.

    “We don’t have a house anymore,” Aldea explained to her daughter, Darangellie. “We’re going to have to start new with what we have.”

    Aldea, who works as a secretary in the mayor’s office, is living with and taking care of her mother in the tiny room downstairs. Darangellie spends most of the days with a relative in town, but at night she sleeps with her mother. The child has asthma and needs to use a daily nebulizer treatment—requiring her mother to turn on their generator at night. They have enough diesel to power the generator for one more day.

    She has a half-tank of gas left and can’t set aside the entire day that would be necessary to wait in line for more because she has to care for her daughter and mother. It doesn’t help that driving to town for her job—which usually takes seven minutes—now takes more than a half-hour because of blocked or inaccessible roads.

    But Aldea remained calm. More than anything, she is thankful to be alive: “If I don’t stay strong, how can I take care of the two people who depend on me?”

    Across town, a second-level three-bedroom apartment was ripped to shreds, the cooking appliances, kitchen counters and cabinets the only surviving evidence of the wooden structure.

    Maribel Quiñones Rivera, 53, lived with her husband in the home for decades, raising her children and grandchildren there. During the hurricane and in the days that followed, she sought shelter with relatives in their apartment directly below.

    On Sunday, she still hadn’t walked upstairs to see the debris up close. When asked why, she shook her head and cried. “I can’t,” she said.

    To make matters worse, Quiñones Rivera and her relatives are out of cash—they used their last $30 to buy gasoline. They have five or six bottles of water left.

    There are some moments of hope amid the misery in Juncos. On Sunday, about 30 people gathered in a small blue church for Mass. The priest apologized for the lack of a microphone and said the service would be brief.

    Aida Sanchez, a member of the congregation, said she came to thank God.

    “Because despite the circumstances,” she said, “we’re alive.”

    Parts of Puerto Rico nearing desperation as food, water and fuel supplies begin to run outParts of Puerto Rico nearing desperation as food, water and fuel supplies begin to run out

    0 0

    In times of great moral crisis, JFK liked to say, “the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality.”

    That threat of heat apparently failed to melt the Stanley Cup Pittsburgh Penguins when they took a stand against racial justice on Sunday by claiming not to take any.

    In a decision subsequently endorsed by their captain and golden boy Sidney Crosby, they accepted an invitation to the Donald Trump White House one day after the U.S. president said the NBA champion Golden State Warriors were not welcome to visit.

    Read more:

    Leafs’ Auston Matthews says protesting during anthem dishonours military who ‘fight for the flag’

    Raptors president supports players after Trump remarks: ‘Nobody is getting fired here’

    Sports is part of the fight against racism, and there’s no turning back: Arthur

    It’s just business as usual for the Penguins, as if it were 2016, as if they were operating in a vacuum oblivious to the rising tide of anger washing all around them.

    A little over a year ago, when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick chose to first sit, then kneel, during the national anthem to protest police brutality against Black people, his peaceful protest became a lightning rod of controversy, an act of dignity conflated with lack of patriotism, insult of the flag and of American troops.

    By and by, other players faced off booing spectators and knelt, so riling the country’s president that he put aside less pressing matters such as war and natural disasters to exhort team owners to fire or suspend them. On Sunday, that unleashed a reaction that transformed one man’s gesture into a powerful symbol of solidarity reaching out to include basketball and baseball players, and singers including Stevie Wonder.

    Then came this hockey team’s chance to bring the NHL into the conversation.

    “We attended White House ceremonies after previous championships . . . with presidents George H.W. Bush and Barack Obama — and have accepted an invitation to attend again this year,” the Penguins said in their statement.

    “Any agreement or disagreement with a president’s politics, policies or agenda can be expressed in other ways.”

    What “other ways,” would the Penguins approve of? Nodding solemnly after their commissioner speaks of inclusivity?

    After spending hours hoping the team had had a rethink and change of heart — and finding Crosby’s stance rejecting my implicit bias linking Canadian presence on the team with social conscience — I gave up my rather foolish hope they might still use the opportunity to voice their discomfort with the president’s support of racist policies.

    This is not a president one reasons with.

    “He’s now using sports as a platform to divide us,” said a sombre LeBron James about Trump on a video he posted online.

    Crosby’s words stood out in contrast. “I support it,” he said, of the Penguins’ decision. “It’s a great honour for us to be invited there.”

    Perhaps he’s so focused on the game he doesn’t know what else is going on. Perhaps he’s just apolitical. Perhaps he puts team above all else.

    None of the excuses I tried to conjure up made me unsee Crosby the hero morph into an ordinary establishment man. That guy in the office whose support you don’t bother seeking when you speak up against wrongdoing.

    The Penguins say they respect the institution of the Office of the President. You can’t respect an office by supporting the president who disrespects it utterly.

    Trump calls the mostly Black athlete protesters, “sons of bitches” but has labelled white extremist protesters in Charlottesville, “very fine people.”

    “This has nothing to do with race,” Trump told reporters Sunday about his criticism of the athletes. “I never said anything about race. This has nothing to do with race or anything else. This has to do with respect for our country and respect for our flag.”

    He wants us to believe his vicious disagreement with a protest against racial injustice has nought to do with race, just like the Penguins want us to believe that theirs is a dispassionate separation of sports and politics.

    They did not, as a CBC headline said,“set politics aside” to accept Trump’s invitation.

    Saying no to celebration at this White House celebration makes a statement. Saying yes to a celebration at this White House also makes a statement.

    Neutrality in a battle for human rights is a statement of support for the status quo that props up the powerful at the cost of the powerless.

    Leaving aside the marginalized for a moment, what statement is this team making to the sprinkling of their NHL colleagues that don’t look like them — P.K. Subban, Wayne Simmonds, Joel Ward, or Evander Kane, for instance?

    My colleague, Kevin McGran, wrote that “hockey has largely stayed out of the protests, partly because of citizenship. The NFL and NBA are manned mostly by Americans, while pro hockey has a large percentage of Canadians and Europeans on rosters, who may feel uncomfortable criticizing the country that is hosting them. Also, the large majority of NHL players are white.”

    To those uncomfortable players: dissent is not disrespectful. Not taking a stand against racial injustice is, for it knows no borders and indeed abounds in your home countries too. Like the NFL players, like the NBA players, you, too, have a platform. You, too, have a voice.

    This isn’t about the Penguins’ freedom to make their choice. Rather it’s what that choice says about them.

    There come moments in public life when certain decisions are plucked out and pinned on to an arc of history.

    When that happens to this moment, when the future gazes back, where does this team want to see itself placed?

    Shree Paradkar writes about discrimination and identity. You can follow her @shreeparadkar

    Why the Pittsburgh Penguins should reconsider meeting Trump: ParadkarWhy the Pittsburgh Penguins should reconsider meeting Trump: Paradkar

    0 0

    NEW YORK—Former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner was sentenced Monday to 21 months in prison for sexting with a 15-year-old girl in a case that rocked Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the White House in the closing days of the race and may have cost her the presidency.

    Weiner, 53, dropped his head into his hand and wept as U.S. District Judge Denise Cote handed down her sentence. After the hearing ended and the judge left the bench, Weiner sat in his seat for several minutes, continuing to cry.

    In pleading with the judge to be spared from prison, the former congressman tearfully said he was “a very sick man for a very long time.”

    “I am profoundly sorry,” he said, reading from a page in front of him. “The crime I committed was my rock bottom. ... I live a different and better life today.”

    The sentencing completed the sordid downfall of the New York Democrat whose penchant for exchanging lewd messages and photos with young women destroyed his congressional career in 2011, doomed his 2013 run for mayor of New York, wrecked his marriage to Clinton’s closest aide, Huma Abedin, and became entangled in the 2016 presidential campaign.

    Weiner pleaded guilty in May to transferring obscene material to a minor, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, for illicit contact with a North Carolina teenager. Prosecutors said he sent her porn and got her to take her clothes off and touch herself on Skype.

    In imposing sentence, the judge cited a need in such a highly publicized case to “make a statement that can protect other minors.”

    Cote noted that Weiner repeatedly got caught sexting and said that while he has made “great strides” in treatment, “the difficulty here is that this is a very strong compulsion.”

    Federal prosecutor Amanda Kramer had urged Cote to give Weiner a significant prison sentence to end his “tragic cycle” of sexting.

    Weiner wore his wedding ring to court. His parents were in the courtroom but not his wife. He and Abedin, who have a 5-year-old, are going through divorce proceedings.

    Weiner said nothing as he left the courthouse. He must report to prison by Nov. 6.

    He was also fined $10,000. After his sentence is served, he must undergo internet monitoring. He must also enrol in a sex-offender treatment program.

    The FBI was investigating Weiner’s contact with the high school student when it came across emails on his laptop between Abedin and Clinton, prompting then-FBI Director James Comey to announce in late October 2016 that he was reopening the probe of Clinton’s use of a private computer server.

    Two days before Election Day, the FBI announced there was nothing new in the emails. But Clinton has blamed Comey’s handling of the episode more than any other factor for her loss to Donald Trump. In a recent NBC interview, she called the FBI director’s intervention “the determining factor” in her defeat.

    In court papers, Weiner’s lawyers portrayed the girl as an instigator, saying she wanted to generate material for a book and possibly influence the presidential election.

    Weiner’s behaviour in all its lurid detail — including his online alias “Carlos Danger” and a selfie of his bulging underwear — turned him and his last name into an irresistible punchline for late-night comics and mortified his wife again and again.

    In her new memoir, What Happened, Clinton revealed that Weiner’s wife “looked stricken” and burst into tears upon learning her husband had triggered Comey’s “October surprise.”

    “This man is going to be the death of me,” Abedin was quoted as saying.

    Anthony Weiner sentenced to 21 months in prison for sexting with teen girlAnthony Weiner sentenced to 21 months in prison for sexting with teen girl

    0 0

    When the Rick Mercer Report returns to CBC Tuesday night, the opening headline will be “Final Season.”

    The Canadian comedian has decided to end the show in March after 15 seasons and 277 episodes.

    In an interview with The Canadian Press, Mercer said there was no “seismic event or epiphany that this should be the end. It’s still the best job in the world.”

    It was simply the right time, he said.

    Mercer, who turns 48 next month, posted his announcement Monday in a specially taped rant to his 1.3 million Twitter followers.

    It will be one of 264 rants he will have performed since the series premiered on Jan. 12, 2004 — all captured in various graffiti-strewn Toronto alleyways by director of photography Don Spence.

    “I’m incredibly proud of the show and everything we’ve done,” said Mercer.

    To get ready for one last season, he flew thousands of kilometres this summer, taping segments “from sea to sea to sea.” One 12-day trip saw him snorkelling in the Arctic Ocean off Cambridge Bay where Canadian underwater archeologists are based.

    “They’re way up there,” said Mercer. “It was fantastic.”

    In P.E.I., he hung off the side of the Confederation Bridge with a maintenance crew.

    “I had nightmares for days afterwards,” he said.

    A stop on the B.C. coast saw him helping to release eagles into the wild. In rural Manitoba, he helped seniors paint a grain elevator.

    “Three coasts and a grain elevator,” said Mercer. “You can’t get more Canadian than that.”

    All that travel left him with “luggage in my house in various stages of packed and unpacked for 15 years.”

    He praised members of his road crew, including field producer John Marshall, who have been with him from the beginning.

    He’s proud of all the money raised for causes such as the malaria-prevention “Spread the Net” campaign.

    “That’s engaged a whole bunch of young people in ways that just keeps on paying dividends,” said Mercer.

    Read more:

    Humour is Canada’s way of pushing back against U.S. dominance

    CBC’s fall lineup includes Alias Grace, TV’s third dose of Margaret Atwood

    Canadians are funny that way — at least that’s the myth

    Just how lucky he’s been hit him a few years ago when he struck up a conversation with a passenger on a plane.

    “He revealed to me, sadly, that he didn’t have long to live,” said Mercer. “This man had compiled a bucket list of, like, a hundred things that he was going to do.

    “So he started explaining his bucket list to me, and I had to stop myself because everything he said, I was like, ‘Oh, you’ve got to do that! It’s great!”

    Mercer realized that he’s been living a bucket list life.

    “You don’t know how many people you might meet whose fondest dream is to fly in the back of a fighter jet,” he said. “Well, I’ve done that three times.”

    So why walk away from the best job in television?

    “I’ve done this before,” said Mercer, who was one of the founders of This Hour Has 22 Minutes. That series returns Tuesday night for its 25th season right after the Mercer Report.

    Mercer was 23 when 22 Minutes launched and left after eight seasons.

    “A lot of people said, ‘You’re mad, why would you walk away from this?” said Mercer, “Sometimes you have to take a chance.”

    What followed was a five-season run on the sitcom Made in Canada. He also scored huge ratings with his “Talking to Americans” comedy special. Factor in Mercer Report and he will have been a key part of the CBC schedule for 25 consecutive seasons.

    Now that the series is ending, will politicians be clamouring for one last appearance? Mercer shot segments with everyone from former prime ministers Stephen Harper and Jean Chretien to NDP leadership hopeful Jagmeet Singh. He’s shied away from that lately, “but if Bob Rae wants to get naked again for one last skinny dip, he’s welcome.”

    He swears he’s not leaving to write a book or accept a Senate appointment. He’s not angling for a raise or “looking to spend more time with my family.” And he promises he won’t grow a giant beard like David Letterman.

    He doubts he’ll change his mind, either.

    “There’s a lot of people who’ve worked on this show for a long time,” he said. “They’re like family in many ways. They deserve the heads-up.”

    Mercer talked it over with his partner at home and work, executive producer Gerald Lunz. It was their call to go out on top.

    “You leave to protect the legacy of the show,” he said. “That’s what you have to do.”

    What will he do next?

    “I honestly don’t know the answer,” said Mercer. “Right now, I just want this to be the best season ever.”

    Rick Mercer announces end of ‘Mercer Report’ after 15 seasons on CBCRick Mercer announces end of ‘Mercer Report’ after 15 seasons on CBC

    0 0

    Chelsea Manning has been “permanently banned” from travelling to Canada, because she had been convicted for charges that would equate to treason under the Criminal Code of Canada, she said in a tweet on Monday morning,

    Manning, 29, is a transgender woman who was known as Bradley Manning when she was convicted in 2013 of leaking classified documents. She was released from a U.S. military prison in May after serving seven years of a 35-year sentence, which was commuted by former U.S. president Barack Obama before he left office.

    In her tweet, Manning attached a picture of the document she received from the Government of Canada, which states that she was denied entry “for having convicted of an offence outside Canada that, if committed in Canada, would constitute an offence … punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of at least 10 years.”

    The document later says that they classify her offence as “treason,” which is punishable with “a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.”

    Manning said that she will be challenging the decision at an admissibility hearing at a date yet to be set.

    Chelsea Manning denied entry to CanadaChelsea Manning denied entry to Canada

    0 0

    Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri says he is fine with his players speaking their mind, adding nobody is going to get fired here.

    His comment was a reference to U.S. President Donald Trump’s speech Friday in Alabama when he said NFL owners should fire players who protest during the national anthem.

    Ujiri says he’s “110 per cent” behind his players, adding on the team’s first day of training camp that players “have a platform. There’s nobody getting fired here, you can quote me.”

    Raptors guard Delon Wright says it’s a freedom of speech issue and athletes should be able to use their platform. And he thinks the president should be tweeting about bigger issues than athletes kneeling.

    Read more:

    Trump says he’s ‘proud of NASCAR’ for not protesting national anthem

    Sports is part of the fight against racism, and there’s no turning back: Arthur

    NFL sees widespread player protests after Trump’s ‘fire or suspend’ comments

    Trump’s comments and subsequent tweets prompted swift reaction. As did his decision to retract an invitation to the White House to the NBA champion Golden State Warriors.

    More NFL players knelt. Other stood and locked arms, with team owners in some instances.

    The president doubled down Monday with several more tweets.

    ‘The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!”

    Trump also praised NASCAR after several team owners warned of consequences for anthem protests.

    Coach Dwane Casey, who met with his players Sunday night to discuss the issue, also said he encouraged the Raptors to use their First Amendment rights.

    He called it unfortunate that people “can even question” whether athletes’ have the right to speak out.

    “And coming from our president, it’s hurtful,” he said.

    Casey said he did not see the anthem protests as disrespectful.

    “I applaud the NFL players, the owners that were out there standing together in unity. And again it’s not disrespecting our flag whatsoever.”

    Casey said he tells his kids and his players that you don’t disrespect your flag or your country — or the office of the presidency.

    “It stands for something,” he said.

    “But if you feel strongly about something, you have the right to speak up about it,” Casey added.

    Ujiri said while there’s plenty of things about the U.S. that are special, “Canada is a blessing.”

    “I think we’d get to go to two White Houses, right? If we win a championship, hopefully, one day. I think we’ll be fine with (Prime Minister) Justin Trudeau,” he said, drawing laughs.

    Star guard DeMar DeRozan said it was “awesome” that the Raptors had the support of their coach and president — and their league.

    DeRozan, who grew up in Compton, Calif., said friends have been shot by police. Even today, he said there are questions about driving a luxury car.

    He said Trump had brought a lot of the firestorm on himself and the U.S.

    “You’ve got your president on Twitter more than a 12-year-old, saying the most outrageous things for people who are just trying to do something right,” he said. “It’s crazy.”

    He supports what the NFL players are doing.

    “I’m all for anything that’s right,” he said. “A lot of the NFL players are doing a heck of a job standing up for what they believe in. It’s great to see all the guys sticking together.”

    Raptors president supports players after Trump remarks: ‘Nobody is getting fired here’Raptors president supports players after Trump remarks: ‘Nobody is getting fired here’

    0 0

    Two hooded and masked killers brandishing semi-automatic pistols sprayed their target with bullets as he was trapped inside a Scarborough apartment foyer waiting to be buzzed in.

    The images of Anthony Soares’ brutal execution Sept. 14, captured by a surveillance camera and released last week by Toronto police, were shocking, as was the revelation that the victim was a close friend of rap superstar Drake.

    No one disputes the Toronto-born rapper’s worldwide success as an international recording artist, producer and former teen actor in the TV series Degrassi: The Next Generation.

    But senior police officials are privately expressing dismay that “Toronto’s biggest champion” — as a city press release called him last year — has so far ignored a homicide detective’s request to encourage witnesses to step forward to help solve his friend’s killing.

    It was a case of déjà vu. Two years ago, after two people were shot to death during a Drake-hosted after-party at Muzik nightclub at Exhibition Place, the hip-hop singer was under intense pressure to denounce gun violence and appeal for witnesses.

    “Drake we need your voice to help #StopTheViolence in #Toronto,” said a post from CrimeStoppers.

    A statement posted 10 days later on his website was slammed on social media for not calling for an end to gun violence or urging potential witnesses to co-operate with police, fuelling online speculation that Drake wanted to keep his “street credibility” intact by not appearing to condone “snitching,” considered heresy in the hip-hop world.

    Some cited the lyrics in his song “No Tellin’ ” as a possible explanation. “Yeah, police comin’ round lookin’ for some help on a case they gotta solve, we never help ’em.”

    Drake has spoken against violence. In 2013, he tweeted his condolences to the family of the victims who died in a mass shooting at a barbecue on Danzig St., adding that senseless violence in Toronto has to stop.” He also rapped “told you no guns and you didn’t listen,” in a reggae tracked “No Guns Allowed.”

    On Tuesday, Toronto police Det.-Sgt. Gary Giroux, who is in charge of the Soares’ homicide investigation, released the horrifying video at a news conference where he appealed to Drake to send out a tweet asking for people to come forward with information to help solve the murder.

    “Many of the family members have met Drake,” the veteran cop told reporters.

    “I certainly would encourage him through his tweets to encourage anybody within the community to come forward with regards to any information they have that may assist in solving his friend’s murder.”

    A few days later, there was still no mention of the homicide on Drake’s Drizzy Twitter feed.

    “I would hope if Drake was a real and true friend that he would encourage anyone with information that pertains to the murder of a close friend to share that information with the police with a mind to protecting the community and bring justice to the deceased’s family,” Giroux said in an emailed statement to the Star.

    Read more:

    Hundreds gather for funeral of Drake friend who was gunned down in Scarborough

    Police release security footage of Anthony Soares shooting

    Drake spoke out after two were killed at OVO Fest after-party in 2015

    It wasn’t that Soares’ death went unacknowledged by Drake, born Aubrey Graham.

    Soares’ photo appeared on the rapper’s Instagram account, with a message referring to him as “one of our family members.” Soares, who was 33, had a rap sheet with three gun possession convictions.

    “It was a honour to have shared years together and I will always keep your memory alive,” read the post beside the photo along with Fif, Soares’ nickname.

    Drake was one of the pallbears at Soares’ funeral on Saturday.

    Tattoo artist Inal Bersekov posted a photo of his tattoo of the dead man’s face, writing beside it he was “honoured to pay tribute tattooing FIF on my brother,” beside Drake’s Instagram handle.

    Asked to comment on Drake’s silence, Mayor John Tory said “every citizen” has a duty to help police solve crimes and keep our city safe. He pointed out a tweet was a “fairly simple request.”

    Last year, Tory stood at centre court at the Air Canada Centre to “proudly award the key to the city” to Drake, saying it was recognition of his role in drawing the eyes of the world to Toronto and for his contribution “to the city’s social harmony and well-being, especially as it relates to youth.”

    This year, a senior Toronto police officer, now retired, questioned why Drake had invited a young rapper who is facing firearms, assault and kidnapping charges along as his opening act on the European leg of his Boy Meets World tour.

    “I find it troubling,” now retired inspector Mike Earl told the Toronto Sun. “Here’s a guy (who’s) supposed to be on bail on serious charges. Why is he permitted to leave country and tour with somebody who is a literal mentor for the city’s youth?”

    The Jane and Driftwood rapper, who performs as Pressa, is 21-year-old Quinton Gardner. Last week he appeared in an online interview talking openly about his criminal history, including selling crack at his mother’s house. He returns to court Oct. 30.

    In January, Drake signed rapper Baka Not Nice, a longtime member of his inner circle, to his record label, OVO Sound.

    His real name is Travis Savoury, and he has convictions for armed robbery and assault. In 2015, he pleaded guilty to assaulting a woman, drawing a six-month sentence. Procuring and human trafficking charges were dropped.

    After Savoury’s release, Drake again took to Instagram.

    “Something in the air today … a lot of good things happening at once. But this one means the MOST!!! Been waiting for 11 months!! Baka finally home!!!!!”

    Some online commentators weren’t impressed.

    “Do the Raptors know this is the company you keep?” read one posting, apparently referring to his involvement with the Toronto Raptors organization. In 2013, Drake was named the team’s “global ambassador.”

    “Drake supports a domestic abuser and criminal? Maple Leaf Sports must be so proud of their Raptors ambassador. What an example for today’s youth,” wrote another anonymous poster.

    A spokesperson for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment declined to comment on anything to do with Drake. Repeated attempts to contact Drake’s New York-based publicist, Melissa Nathan of Hiltzik Strategies, and his Toronto lawyers were unsuccessful.

    Members of Drake’s security detail have also been accused of using heavy-handed tactics.

    Toronto pop sensation Shawn Mendes “recently learned one crucial lesson: Don’t mess with Drake’s security,” People magazine’s website reported.

    The 19-year-old singer recalled on the Tonight Show this month how he tried to approach Drake at a recent Toronto concert by the Weeknd.

    “Next thing I know I’m in the middle of the Weeknd show with my arm hooked behind my back. Drake’s security guard has me completely at his mercy,” Mendes told host Jimmy Fallon.

    Mendes said he managed to make eye contact with Drake who ordered his hulking body guard to let go of Mendes.

    Two years ago, also in Toronto, an autograph seeker sued Drake alleging he had been assaulted by members of the star’s entourage. The lawsuit was “resolved” and no further details will be released, the man’s lawyer said in an email to the Star.

    Last year, Matt Small, a city worker and hobby photographer, was taking pictures of the cityscape on Toronto’s Polson Pier when he came into conflict with Drake and a member of his entourage when the pair demanded he erase photos of them leaving a helicopter.

    “He was in my face, saying, ‘You need to delete those pictures out of respect,’ ” Small told the Star in 2016. “I said, ‘You’re not respecting me right now, man, you’re in my face harassing me.’ ”

    A family doctor, who witnessed the heated encounter, corroborated the account with the Star.

    After friend's killing, police have questions about the company Toronto-born rapper Drake keepsAfter friend's killing, police have questions about the company Toronto-born rapper Drake keeps

    0 0

    Royal watchers, rejoice!

    It has happened — Prince Harry and actress Meghan Markle made their first public appearance as a couple during an Invictus Games event in downtown Toronto on Monday afternoon.

    The couple held hands as they made their way to watch the wheelchair tennis semifinal match at Nathan Phillips Square. The two haven’t been seen together in public since speculation of the pair dating started last year.

    The two sat next to each other courtside as they watch the match between Australia and New Zealand.

    They were last seen attending the opening ceremony of the games over the weekend, where they sat in different sections of the Air Canada Centre.

    For Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, it's love during wheelchair tennis match at Invictus GamesFor Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, it's love during wheelchair tennis match at Invictus GamesFor Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, it's love during wheelchair tennis match at Invictus GamesFor Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, it's love during wheelchair tennis match at Invictus Games

    0 0

    North Korea’s top diplomat said Monday that President Donald Trump’s tweet that leader Kim Jong Un “won’t be around much longer” was “a declaration of war” against his country by the United States.

    Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told reporters that what he called Trump’s “declaration of war” gives North Korea “every right” under the U.N. Charter to self-defence and to take countermeasures, “including the right to shoot down the United States strategic bombers even when they’re not yet inside the airspace border of our country.”

    It was not the first time North Korea has spoken about a declaration of war between the two countries. In July 2016, Pyongyang said U.S. sanctions imposed on Kim were “a declaration of war.”

    Ri referred to Trump’s tweet Saturday that said: “Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!” Trump also used the derisive reference to Kim in his speech to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 19.

    A senior Trump administration official said Monday that the U.S. policy is not regime change. The official was not authorized to comment publicly on the issue and spoke on condition of anonymity.

    The foreign minister’s brief statement to a throng of reporters outside his hotel before heading off in a motorcade, reportedly to return home, built on the escalating rhetoric between Kim and Trump.

    “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” Trump had told world leaders. “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”

    Kim responded with the first-ever direct statement from a North Korean leader against a U.S. president, lobbing a string of insults at Trump and calling him a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard,” a word to describe an old person who is weak-minded.

    Trump responded by tweeting that Kim is “obviously a madman who doesn’t mind starving or killing his people.” Kim retorted that Trump would “pay dearly” for his threat to destroy North Korea and said his country will consider the “highest level of hard-line countermeasures in history.”

    Read more:

    Even Trump’s top aides think taunting North Korea’s leader is a huge risk: Analysis

    A short history of ‘dotard,’ the arcane insult Kim Jong Un used in his threat against Trump

    Top Russian diplomat hopes ‘hotheads’ in North Korean crisis can ‘calm down’

    Asked about countermeasures, Ri then told reporters in New York that “I think it could be the most powerful detonation of an H-bomb in the Pacific.”

    In his speech Saturday to the General Assembly, Ri said Trump’s “rocket man” insult makes “our rocket’s visit to the entire U.S. mainland inevitable all the more.”

    “None other than Trump himself is on a suicide mission,” Ri had said. “In case innocent lives of the U.S. are lost because of this suicide attack, Trump will be held totally responsible.”

    On Monday, Ri escalated the threat.

    He opened his remarks to reporters in Korean by saying that over the last few days, the U.N. and the international community clearly have wished “that the war of words between the DPRK and the United States will not turn into real action.”

    DPRK refers to the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

    “However, that weekend, Trump claimed that our leadership wouldn’t be around much longer, and ... he declared the war on our country,” Ri said.

    “Given the fact that this comes from someone who is currently holding the seat of (the) United States presidency, this is clearly a declaration of war,” the foreign minister said.

    He said all U.N. members and the world “should clearly remember that it was the U.S. who first declared war on our country.”

    Ri then said North Korea now has the right to retaliate against U.S. bombers.

    He ended his brief remarks by saying: “The question of who won’t be around much longer will be answered then.”

    The Pentagon said on Saturday that the Air Force had sent B-1B bombers and F-15C fighters over waters north of the Demilitarized Zone that separates the two Koreas, in response to what it called the North Korean government’s “reckless behaviour.”

    It was the farthest north “any U.S. fighter or bomber aircraft have flown off North Korea’s coast in the 21st century,” Dana W. White, the Defense Department’s chief spokeswoman, said in a statement.

    The North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, had said last week, “Now that Trump has denied the existence of and insulted me and my country in front of the eyes of the world and made the most ferocious declaration of a war in history that he would destroy the DPRK, we will consider with seriousness exercising of a corresponding, highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history.”

    With files from the New York Times

    Donald Trump’s tweet is ‘a declaration of war,’ North Korea saysDonald Trump’s tweet is ‘a declaration of war,’ North Korea says

older | 1 | .... | 1044 | 1045 | (Page 1046) | 1047 | 1048 | .... | 1083 | newer