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    DUNEDIN, FLA.—Sheriff’s deputies conducting a child porn raid on a Florida home on Wednesday found an arsenal of guns and explosives and a homemade silencer, along with a note promising “bloody revenge.”

    Investigators found the weapons — including an AK-47 assault rifle, a 50-calibre pistol, a baseball bat with nails jutting out and 2,300 rounds of ammunition — in a locked closet in the Dunedin, Florida, home where 24-year-old Randall Drake lived with his parents, said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.

    During a news conference on Thursday night, Gaultieri said that even more “troubling” is that investigators found aerial images of two schools and a water treatment plant in nearby Tampa. There was also the note written by Drake that promised he’ll have his “bloody revenge” and “the world will burn burn.”

    “I don’t know what his plan was,” the sheriff said. “He had all kinds of books and all kinds of gun powder and if he had taken those devices put them in something else and put a bunch of nails and screws and other things, he could have caused some serious damage. Because it’s the shrapnel that hurts and kills everybody.”

    The sheriff said he notified law enforcement and school officials in Hillsborough County, but so far investigators believe Drake was working alone.

    His parents told authorities they didn’t know what he kept in his locked closet, the sheriff said. Drake had no criminal history. He was fired in 2015 from Florida Firearm Academy in New Port Richey after he came to work with guns strapped to his thighs, officials said. He also was an Explorer with the Tampa Police Department when he was younger.

    Drake’s parents told deputies he was home-schooled.

    Gualtieri compared Drake to Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock in the way he seemed to be acting alone.

    “These are the people who are most concerning to us,” he said. “What we call the lone wolves, the sleepers who are out there, the people who are not on our radar, the people who have fallen under the radar or off of it. You don’t know about them until they engage in devastating acts and kill a whole bunch of people.”

    The note deputies found in Drake’s bedroom read: “My fury at those who imprisoned me shall be vast and without mercy. I shall have my bloody revenge, and then the world will burn burn.”

    The child porn investigation that led to the search warrant this week began in January, the sheriff said.

    Drake faces felony charges of possessing destructive devices. He left jail on a $20,000 bond, but an attorney isn’t listed on jail records.

    Police discover an arsenal of guns and a note promising ‘bloody revenge’ in a Florida homePolice discover an arsenal of guns and a note promising ‘bloody revenge’ in a Florida home

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    Four people were stabbed Friday afternoon near a school in Scarborough.

    Paramedics said they transported three teenage male victims from the scene, with one in life-threatening condition.

    The two other victims transported had serious injuries.

    The incident occurred just after 3:30 p.m. near Lawrence Ave. E. and Brimley Rd., police said.

    Paramedics said the incident unfolded both on school premises and nearby.

    The school, David and Mary Thomson Collegiate Institute, had been placed in hold and secure. It was lifted around 4:30 p.m.

    Outside the school, students and parents gathered on the lawn and sidewalk looking for answers.

    Some came in after the school day ended after they heard the news. The sound of helicopters could be heard overhead.

    Many of the students had gone home by the time of the stabbing, but there were still a few waiting to be picked up by parents or friends, the student said.

    The Toronto District School Board tweeted that they have notified the parents of a 17-year-old male victim, who is a student at the school.

    TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird said it is currently unclear whether the other victims are students and how events unfolded.

    Bird said it’s possible that the initial incident happened at the plaza nearby and the victims then came onto school property.

    During a “hold and secure,” Toronto police spokesperson David Hopkinson said it should be business as usual inside the school.

    A “lockdown” is when there is an active threat inside the school building and all the classrooms inside are locked with the lights shut off, Hopkinson said.

    Four people stabbed near school in Scarborough, one in life-threatening conditionFour people stabbed near school in Scarborough, one in life-threatening condition

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    Jagmeet Singh has resigned as an Ontario MPP three weeks after taking the helm of the federal New Democrats.

    Singh made it official Friday, announcing he has stepped down as Bramalea-Gore-Malton NDP MPP.

    “It has been an honour serving the people of Bramalea-Gore-Malton and I'm looking forward to continuing this work on the federal level, building a more fair and just Canada,” he said in a statement.

    But Singh will be back at Queen's Park on Monday to meet with provincial NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.

    First elected as an MPP in 2011, he won the federal leadership on Oct. 1.

    Premier Kathleen Wynne has said there will be no byelection in Bramalea-Gore-Malton as there is a provincial election on June 7, 2018.

    Singh has not yet determined where he will run to be an MP in the 2019 federal election.

    Jagmeet Singh quits as MPP for Bramalea-Gore-MaltonJagmeet Singh quits as MPP for Bramalea-Gore-Malton

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    SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO—Tucked deep beneath the bleachers at the Coliseo Roberto Clemente Coliseum, a hulking concrete sports and concert venue, past half a dozen security checkpoints and down a tiled hallway, there stands a double row of small rectangular dressing rooms.

    The hideaways, outfitted with cots, have been home to Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, key staffers and, in some cases, their families, since Hurricane Maria brutally pinwheeled through Puerto Rico on Sept. 20. Cruz, whose blunt and provocative criticism of the federal response to the storm has made her an object of White House scorn — but also earned her many admirers — sarcastically calls the converted sleeping area “The Trump Tower Presidential Suites.”

    One evening, Cruz recalls, an observant staffer in the “suites” asked why she was wearing her pyjamas inside out.

    “Because,” she responded, “my world is inside out.”

    More than four weeks into a crisis that seems likely to stretch for months, if not years, the 54-year-old Cruz has positioned herself as the face of the island — tearful, then angry, then frustrated, then hopeful, then resolute — a made-for-live-streaming omnipresence with a mile-wide emotional range. Like Ray Nagin, the New Orleans mayor whose desperate cries for help played an early role in jolting the nation to attention about Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Cruz has demanded that people listen.

    But unlike the often-befuddled Nagin, Cruz has gone about the task with a blend of message discipline and media savvy fit for the digital age.

    On high-profile treks through San Juan, her ravaged, debris-strewn and power-starved city, she is trailed by a mayor’s office photographer and videographer, who feed images to her social media accounts. Images of her tromping through floodwaters, rescuing the elderly and delivering supplies are everywhere, because she seems to be everywhere.

    Cruz is fond of profanity, and she’s become eminently bleepable as well as eminently quotable as she tries to communicate the urgency of the plight here. She brusquely dismisses criticism of her approach, waving off portrayals that cast her as a whiner or grandstander.

    “I don’t give a s---,” she said in an interview at a folding table on the basketball court of the Clemente coliseum, now piled with pallets of bottled water and canned goods. “Because people’s lives are at stake.”

    Cruz’s smash-mouth approach to the White House administration — she has called U.S. President Donald Trump“disrespectful,” “the miscommunicator-in-chief,” and “the hater-in-chief” among other things — raises the question of whether a local official can get what she needs despite a strained relationship with Washington.

    Read more:

    A month after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico is still working to get the power back on

    In Puerto Rico, 80% remain in the dark, 30% are without water — a month after Hurricane Maria

    Stranded Puerto Ricans rely on ingenuity to survive after Hurricane Maria

    “She takes risks,” said José Vargas Vidot, a physician and independent member of the Puerto Rican Senate from San Juan. “That’s a good virtue. She has earned the right to be critical because she has also taken action.”

    Trump has threatened to abandon Puerto Rico recovery efforts. He also has sniped that Cruz is demonstrating “poor leadership,” and Trump’s Federal Emergency Management Agency director, William “Brock” Long, recently told ABC that “we filtered out the mayor a long time ago. We don’t have time for the political noise.”

    Cruz seems to be banking on her ability to work around Trump, leveraging her mega-media platform and appealing directly to the public and to corporate givers. She points to truckloads of corporate donations pouring in as verification that she’s on the right path. But she also has continued to nudge the federal government to do much more, both in terms of relief resources and in delivering financial assistance to an island that has long been drowning in debt.

    “The nation has a big heart and the president has a big mouth,” Cruz said.

    Cruz detonated in the national consciousness shortly after Maria struck, delivering impassioned remarks at a news conference. She warned of a potential “genocide” and delivered a line that defined the early coverage of the storm: “We are dying here and you are killing us with the inefficiency and the bureaucracy.”

    The words she used in the news conference were such a hit that her staff printed them out on a computer and ironed them onto a black T-shirt, she said. She wore the T-shirt on a national television interview. Later, when Trump disparaged her as “nasty,” she appeared for interviews with a T-shirt that read “nasty.”

    She was going to a playbook she’d used before. Cruz confides that she has lots of T-shirts — 179 to be exact — each with a political message.

    “LGBT,” she says, launching into a long list.

    “Against contamination of our land.”

    “In favour of women’s rights.”

    As Cruz was talking, the conversation was interrupted by someone bringing over white rice and pork chops.

    “Oh my God,” she said.

    She tilted her head forward, removed her glasses, and held her face in her hands for several moments. When she lowered her hands, her eyes had welled with tears.

    “It’s warm,” she said, adding that she hadn’t had warm food in a long while.

    Cruz, like many islanders, made her way to the mainland United States. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Boston University and a master’s from Carnegie Mellon, then went on to human resources executive positions, according to her official biography.

    She gave birth to her only child, Marina Paul Yulín Cruz, in Pennsylvania, but in the 1990s she was drawn back to the island to work as an adviser to Sila María Calderón, who would later become governor.

    Cruz went on to serve as an elected member of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives, then launched a campaign for mayor in 2012. Few gave her a chance.

    “I wanted to be mayor but my party didn’t want me,” she said. “I was perhaps too liberal.”

    Vargas Vidot, the Puerto Rican senator, said Cruz’s independent streak has been one of her greatest virtues, but also one of her weaknesses.

    “She has a lot of forces working against her, including her own party,” Vargas Vidot said. “It’s necessary to create alliances. It’s necessary to make connections.”

    During the interview with Cruz, she occasionally fingered a rosary that dangled from her left wrist. When asked about it, she recalled without hesitation the exact day she received it: Feb. 19, 2012.

    At that time, she said, her campaign seemed to be going nowhere. But on that day that she remembers with such precision, she ran into a woman she didn’t know at a restaurant. The woman told her: “You’re going to be mayor in November.”

    She says her response was something like, “Yeah, right.”

    Shortly thereafter, a rival became embroiled in scandal, and she ended up winning an unlikely victory. She’s worn the rosary ever since.

    Not surprisingly, the attention she’s received since the hurricane has led to speculation that she has set her sights on higher office, such as the governorship. Cruz has now taken to countering the rumours by telling several local media organizations that she will not seek the governor’s office and that if she runs for anything in 2020, it will be for re-election as mayor.

    At times she effects the demeanour of a drill sergeant, loudly barking orders. She can be self-effacing one moment — laughing as a random cat strolls through her news conference or pulling off her cap to show reporters the grey roots in her dyed blond hair — and imperious the next, yelling profanities into the phone or gruffly ordering around her staffers, who scurry at the barest hint of a request.

    “She’s always been this way, even when she was little,” said Cruz’s aunt, Irma Soto, as she watched her niece. “Always the leader.”

    On a recent afternoon, as Cruz’s team of staffers and volunteers was packing to leave on a tour of San Juan, Cruz began straightening up chairs in the corner of the coliseum basketball court where she holds news conferences.

    “When I was in school, I was too short to erase the blackboard,” the diminutive mayor said. “It was my job to put away the chairs.”

    Later that afternoon, Cruz’s caravan — pickup trucks, a press van, police motorcycles — pushed off from the coliseum, sirens blaring to clear holes in the epic San Juan traffic.

    They came to a stop on a scruffy street on a bluff overlooking the city.

    Cruz bounded out of one of the lead vehicles. She wore cargo pants tucked into the brown “5.11 Tactical” brand combat boots that have become her signature look during the crisis. She wears grey horn-rimmed glasses that look like expensive designer frames.

    “They’re cheaters,” she said later with a laugh, pulling them off and pointing out how the tint is peeling away. “$19.99 at Walgreen’s.”

    Trailed by cameras and a small pack of reporters, she made her way down a street lined with modest concrete homes, looking for old people.

    At the high end of the steep street she plunged into a house where someone had told her some senior citizens lived. She popped out moments later.

    “Donde estan los viejitos?” she yelled. Where are the little old people?

    Startled neighbours, who had come out onto their porches and stoops, pointed to a small yellow house. Cruz went inside. There she found several older people, and she started quizzing them about their medicines. For all the journalists spreading across San Juan, Cruz — through her social media postings and non-stop interviews — has become, in a sense, one of the foremost chroniclers of the storm’s aftermath. In this little house, she’d found another story to tell, one she says would have been missed if her caravan had been moving too fast.

    “Then you will lose the human stories behind it and the human condition behind it,” Cruz said.

    From there, her caravan made its way deep into Caimito, an impoverished stretch of outer San Juan that was once a rural getaway but now has been swallowed by the spreading city, filling with the flimsy homes of some of the area’s poorest residents. Her destination was the home of a 9-year-old boy genius with a 140 IQ who lost almost all his books during the storm.

    Above her head, a drone — operated by a charitable organization that is distributing solar lamps — videotaped everything.

    At the base of a precipitous gravelly roadway, the procession stopped. Cruz went ahead alone as staffers held back the reporters.

    “This boy is a genius,” one of Cruz’s top aides, José Cruz, whispered in a voice reminiscent of a golf announcer narrating a crucial putt.

    A child in a blue T-shirt, shorts and Crocs emerged from a cinder block house that lost its roof to the storm and had walls patched with plywood. It clung perilously to the edge of the hillside above a steep ravine.

    “This is him,” the mayoral aide, whispered. “Look at him with his books.”

    Ever the master of ceremonies, Cruz suggested that the boy lead the camera crews on a tour of his wrecked house. Cruz hung back. With the cameras turned away from her, she and the boy’s mother embraced for a long time. Both of them were crying.

    “God,” the mother said, “will reward you for this.”

    Taking on Trump while trying to right Puerto Rico — ‘My world is inside out,’ San Juan mayor saysTaking on Trump while trying to right Puerto Rico — ‘My world is inside out,’ San Juan mayor says

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    WASHINGTON—American policy-makers admit they have not worked to analyze the economic impact of the end of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

    That absence of research applies to both the Trump administration and to the Congress.

    A research unit for Congress, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, tells The Canadian Press it has not received any requests from lawmakers for an impact assessment.

    It’s the same thing for U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade czar. Robert Lighthizer said this week that he hasn’t done the research.

    He says there hasn’t been any analysis about the economic impact of a pullout because he’s still focusing on getting a deal.

    Duncan Wood, a Washington trade-watcher with the Wilson Center, isn’t so sure — he says the U.S. is acting like it’s preparing for a pullout, and he takes no comfort from the fact the government hasn’t examined the potential impact.

    U.S. officials admit they haven’t analyzed the economic effects of ending NAFTAU.S. officials admit they haven’t analyzed the economic effects of ending NAFTA

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    The Peloponnesian War (Athens vs. Sparta): 27 years.

    Punic Wars (Rome vs. Carthage): 118 years.

    Wars of the Roses (House of Lancaster vs. House of York): 32 years.

    Hundred Years War (England vs. France): 1337 to 1453.

    Thirty Years War (most of Europe): 1618 to 1648.

    Conflicts around the planet that claimed at least 1,000 lives in 2016: 14.

    The War on Terror: World without end.

    One may not agree with the war on terror, its claims and its objectives, but there’s no doubt that such a global waging exists, with civilians, as always, caught in the crossfire.

    And we won’t see the end of it in our lifetime, probably our children’s lifetime.

    It’s certainly not possible to strike ISIS off the list following this past week’s recapture of Raqqa — de facto capital of the Islamic State caliphate — by U.S.-backed forces.

    Indeed, even as ISIS (Daesh, ISIL) sank to its knees as a territorial power in northeast Syria, radiating into Iraq, a sideways dilemma erupted with Iraqi troops driving Kurdish forces out of the contested city of Kirkuk — crucially, the disputed oilfields — which Kurdish separatists had held for three years. Took it back after Iraqi forces fled the region in the face of a lightning strike onslaught by ISIS jihadists.

    Twenty-four hours earlier they’d been allies, Kurds and Iraqis. Without the Kurds, there would have been no Operation Inherent Resolve, the coalition of 69 countries which has smashed ISIS to smithereens, at least as a self-declared pseudo-state.

    But Kurds are the sadsacks of history, endlessly betrayed, their aspirations for independence — the ethnic Kurd population estimated as about 35 million spanning four countries — repeatedly and violently suppressed.

    So, Baghdad wasn’t having any of it, especially following another referendum last week by the Kurdistan Regional Government, with 93 per cent casting votes for independence. Turkey, which is petrified of its own Kurdish population, wasn’t having any of it. Iran, with nearly 7 million restive Kurds, wasn’t having any of it.

    Change coalition partners and dance, although for now most of the peshmerga troops, outgunned and outmanned by the Iraqi military, evacuated peacefully, along with tens of thousands of fleeing civilians jamming the road from Kirkuk to Erbil.

    Kirkuk, in the past decade, has been claimed both by the central government in Baghdad and the Kurdish regional authority in Erbil.

    It’s the oil of course: the region had been earning about $8 billion (U.S.) a year from oil exports since 2014.

    Oil is power. Geopolitics is stomach-turning.

    The ambiguous fate of Kurds is but one reason — not even the main one — why the liberation of Raqqa and the purported death throes of ISIS does not merit a victory lap. There were lessons learned by president George W. Bush’s premature “Mission Accomplished” speech in 2003 from the flight deck of the USS Lincoln, in which he declared an end to major combat in Iraq. In November, 2015, president Barack Obama similarly declared that the pushback campaign against vast territorial gains by ISIS had “contained” the terrorist organization. Next day, gunmen who pledged fealty to ISIS killed 120 people in Paris.

    Having transformed terrorism as a global entity, there’s no reason to think ISIS will turtle, regardless of triumphalist proclamations.

    The four-month Raqqa offensive, with the multi-ethnic Syrian Democratic Forces at its pointy end, supported by heavy air coverage, tactically advised by U.S. special forces on the ground, has left the city in ruins. We are encouraged to believe that ISIS is ruined also.

    “Overall, ISIS is losing in every way,” Army Col. Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, said at a press conference on Tuesday. “We’ve devastated their network, targeted and eliminated their leaders at all levels. We’ve degraded their ability to finance their operations, cutting oil revenues by 90 per cent. Their flow of foreign recruits has gone from about 1,500 fighters a month down to near zero today. ISIS in Iraq and Syria are all but isolated in their quickly shrinking territory.”

    Al Qaeda, from which death cult ISIS emerged in Iraq and later became a rival, had warned the Islamic State about the perils of declaring a territorial caliphate. A geographic target could be kinetically attacked and defeated. Ideology can’t. And ideology is the oxygen for terrorism. Which is why the world needs to brace itself for the next reminder from ISIS that it’s still here, can still deploy acolytes, can still unleash horrors. It may no longer command a quasi emirate, enforcing its austere version of Islamic law upon a subjugated populace — beheadings, stoning, crucifixion, sexual slavery and genocide against religious minorities. But it hasn’t sheathed its sword. It retains active franchises operating from Libya to Yemen to Afghanistan.

    Thus the wisely subdued reaction internationally, almost anticlimactic, to a coalition war which has gone widely undocumented by media.

    What remains to be seen is whether the blow ISIS has absorbed has blackened its propaganda lure among recruits. On the surface it certainly looks like they backed a loser. The epic battle between good and evil which ISIS avowed — supposedly foretold by seventh century Islamic prophecies — never happened. But even amidst the rubble of thwarted glory, the Islamic State has emerged as a transnational organization, with battle-hardened leaders who arrived from various jihadist battlefields across the globe, joined now by enthralled naïfs who made their fighter stones in the last three years. Zealotry is remarkably enduring.

    With no co-ordinated political strategy to blunt Daesh’s fundamental ideology — the Americans will doubtless lose interest now, just as they did in Afghanistan with appalling consequences — the remnants of ISIS, like the remnants of Al Qaeda, the remnants of the Taliban — can regroup, recalibrate and re-envision with deadly impact. The animosities that animated ISIS haven’t been uprooted. Unlike the Islamic State, the cycle is unbroken.

    Meanwhile Al Qaeda, left largely ignored as the counter-insurgency efforts focused on ISIS, appears well situated for a comeback, expert analysts fear. On the eve of Sept. 11, there were only about 400 Al Qaeda members in Iraq. Now their numbers are estimated at 20,000 in Syria alone. And the quagmire that is Syria will continue to inspire rebel-rousers from around the globe.

    Just what the world needs: Retro Al Qaeda.

    “Al Qaeda will try to unify the global jihadi movement under its command,” Ali Soufan, the former FBI special agent who led the investigation of the bombing of the USS Cole and supervised counterterrorism investigations surrounding Sept. 11, told National Public Radio a few days ago. “And I believe they have a strategy to do so.”

    And they’ve got a charismatic millennial leader to coalesce around for Al Qaeda 2.0: Hamza bin Laden. Son of.

    Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

    Daesh has been beaten on the battlefield, but the war on terror is far from over: DiMannoDaesh has been beaten on the battlefield, but the war on terror is far from over: DiManno

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    A judge has decided not to allow the testimony of a retired American physician brought to court by the family of a Brampton woman who was declared dead in September but has remained on life support.

    Dr. Paul Byrne, a specialist in pediatrics, was brought in by Taquisha McKitty’s family to serve as an expert. He has written about brain death and has testified in court in cases about brain death in the U.S.

    Judge Lucille Shaw ruled on Friday that she would deny Byrne’s testimony over his lack of understanding of the Canadian medical guidelines, and his “lack of independence, partiality and bias” on the subject of brain death, which constitutes death in Ontario.

    “Dr. Byrne cannot be an independent witness . . . when he opposes the concept of brain death,” Shaw told the court.

    Byrne is the president of Life Guardian Foundation, a Christian organization he co-founded, which disagrees with the concept of brain death.

    Byrne told court earlier this week he thinks brain death is a made-up concept meant to facilitate the collection of organ donations.

    He testified that he would never pronounce someone dead solely because their brain has stopped functioning, even though he recognized that is a respected medical opinion and legal standard in the U.S.

    Shaw ruled that Byrne has never reviewed the Canadian medical guidelines on determination of death before the case, and has never applied them.

    Brain death in Canada, according to the Canadian Medical Association Journal, requires “the irreversible loss of the capacity for consciousness combined with the irreversible loss of all brain stem functions . . . including the capacity to breathe.”

    McKitty, a 27-year-old mother of a young daughter, was declared dead on Sept. 20 by Dr. Omar Hayani at Brampton Civic Hospital after he determined that her brain had ceased functioning.

    Shaw granted a two-week injunction to keep McKitty on life support on Sept. 28.

    McKitty’s family argues that she is moving voluntarily, and that she is not brain dead, and hopes to have her death certificate revoked.

    Hugh Scher, the lawyer for McKitty’s family, intends to seek another expert, ideally a Canadian neurologist.

    With files from The Canadian Press

    Judge dismisses doctor’s testimony in legal battle to revoke death certificate for Brampton woman on life-supportJudge dismisses doctor’s testimony in legal battle to revoke death certificate for Brampton woman on life-support

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    “Please, baby, pleeeease. I’d do anything for you. I’m nothing without you. I neeeeeeeed you. Please!” That’s an enduring theme of pop music lyrics, but it’s actually a really terrible romantic overture. “I’m a desperate lonely loser who needsyou to make me less desperate and lonely” is the kind of pitch that will turn almost no one on. No one you want around, anyhow. What’s in it for them?

    And yet it remains common among lyricists and heartsick wannabe romantics. And as it is in love, so it is, apparently, in business.

    I was thinking about those pleading crooners while scanning news items about cities making their bids for Amazon’s affection. The online retail giant announced it was accepting offers for a city to host its second headquarters (and the 50,000 high-tech jobs expected to come with it) and suddenly mayors were on their knees belting out ballads.

    Tucson, Ariz. promised to create a whole new city, name it after Amazon, and install the company’s founder, Jeff Bezos, as mayor-for-life. Chula Vista, Calif. offered $400 million in tax incentives. Newark, N.J. upped the grasping bribery stakes to $7 billion.

    All of this was enough to make a Torontonian cringe while waiting to see what sort of sorry self-abasement our own region’s bid package was likely to contain. And yet, when the Toronto Region bid book for Amazon came out this week, it didn’t contain a rendition of “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.” Instead, it was more like something from the independent women period of Destiny’s Child: “Don’t you want to dance with me? Can you handle, handle me?”

    No begging involved. What incentives were we willing to offer? None.

    Well, not none, exactly. The city’s bid offered the incentive of locating in Toronto: an amazing city to live in, and an amazing place to do business. It explains what we are, why we’re attractive, and why anyone would be foolish to overlook us. Amazon would be lucky to locate here. And that ought to be incentive enough.

    How absolutely refreshing.

    After all, this is a city that has never failed to contemplate how an Olympics or a World’s Fair or some other bit of external validation might finally “make us want to be a better city,” to paraphrase Jack Nicholson in As Good as it Gets. That’s our history: If we win our bid for this BIG DEAL THING, maybe we can finally develop the Port Lands! If we land that GIANT EVENT, maybe we’ll get around to building the transit we should have built for ourselves decades ago. Affordable housing construction? Maybe we could DO IT FOR THEM, if only they’ll reward us with their affection.

    And yet somehow, finally, in considering the prospect of inviting a new global tech giant to the city, we became aware of our own attractiveness. And felt some confidence in ourselves, with or without them. It’s like a recipe for success from a self-help manual: love yourself first.

    The submission reads like a manifesto of civic self confidence: “From safety, crime, healthcare, and education, to housing, culture, and economic as well as geophysical stability, the Toronto Region leads North America on every important quality of life metric,” it says in one place. “Ontario was the first province in Canada to legalize same-sex marriage in 2003. We remain signatories to the Paris Climate agreement. We believe in — and enforce — gun control. Abortion is in no danger of being repealed, and birth control is accessible. We have universal healthcare and robust public schools,” it goes on. “We are also fun,” it also says, maybe protesting too much.

    Of course, it makes the economic case for a large American company, too. It emphasizes that Toronto has the most educated workforce of any major North American city. It clues them in that our government healthcare system would save a company like Amazon $600 million a year. It points out that our talent level ranks very high but, in comparison to a major American city, our average wages are very low. The corporate income tax rate is 12.5 per cent lower than the American average and business operating costs here are “26 per cent lower than comparable tech markets.”

    Presumably, all of this is what helped drive Google’s decision, announced formally last week, to locate a new city-building laboratory here. And it’s also why Toronto is already the third-largest tech hub in North America, and is the fastest growing tech market in the world.

    But beyond those specific business benchmarks, it’s fascinating to see what this proposal emphasizes. There are two pictures of the Pride Parade. Another picture of bike lanes. A picture of a graduating university class that shows off the city’s obvious ethnic diversity alongside bragging points stats: “We welcome more new immigrants each year than New York, L.A., and Chicago combined. We speak over 180 languages and dialects.” Lots of fawning over our walk scores and the growth plans for our transit system.

    It’s great that we put all this stuff down to entice a business to locate here. It’s a document aimed at Amazon, but it’s there ready to send out to virtually any other company looking to see what we offer.

    Let Amazon decide whatever it wants. We’ll be fine either way.

    But I kind of wish our local politicians would also look at it and see what we’re bragging about when we talk to other people about why they should move here. Because it seems too often they forget those things when they’re talking to those of us who already live here.

    If transit and cycling and walkability are big selling points, why do so many of our provincial and municipal debates revolve around protecting the commute times of car drivers, at almost all costs? If transit expansion and service is such an economic asset, why are we always hacking our plans back over budget worries? All these things we want to show to other people: why don’t we focus on building them up even better for ourselves? Take some pride in those things, even when no one else is looking?

    Edward Keenan writes on city issues Follow: @thekeenanwire

    There’s no begging in Toronto’s Amazon bid: KeenanThere’s no begging in Toronto’s Amazon bid: Keenan

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    MONTREAL—Somewhere in the Quebec government’s legal department, a team of lawyers is bracing to argue in court in what may be the not-too-distant future that the wearing of dark sunglasses puts the safety of the province’s public transit system at risk. Ditto presumably in the case of local libraries and city parks.

    For a province to declare war on sunglasses is pretty unique in the history of Canada. For a government to do so in the name of the separation of church and state is even more remarkable.

    And yet according to Quebec’s Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée, the sunglasses ban is part of Bill 62, the just-adopted law that requires Quebecers to uncover their faces to provide or receive provincial and municipal services.

    Vallée’s contention is that critics who describe the law as a discriminatory attack on the fundamental rights of the minority of Muslim women who wear the face-covering niqabs and/or burkas have it wrong.

    One can understand why so many would have come to that conclusion given that the bill’s title is: “An act to foster adherence to state religious neutrality and, in particular, to provide a framework for requests for accommodations on religious grounds in certain bodies.”

    Notwithstanding the bill’s label, Vallée’s says that under her law someone sporting dark sunglasses would be treated in the same way as a woman wearing a face-covering veil. Both would have to remove them for the duration of a transit ride or in the minister’s own words for “as long as the service is being rendered.”

    Vallée’s comments mostly illustrate the lengths to which Premier Philippe Couillard’s Liberal government has to go to claim that it has, if not a public policy rationale, at least a legal footing for its dubious bill.

    Unless some smaller Quebec town wants to wage war on face-covering snow apparel, Bill 62 may not be tested in real life anytime soon.

    Muslim women who veil their faces are hard to come by anywhere in Quebec but in particular outside Montreal. Denis Coderre and Valérie Plante — the two main candidates vying for the mayoralty of the province’s metropolis in next month’s municipal election — have both vouched to disregard the new law. The union that represents the city’s employees is also set to give its prescriptions a pass. There are no penal sanctions for those who fail to apply Bill 62.

    Indeed there are those who believe Couillard’s plan was to fend off charges that his government is failing to address the religious accommodation issue with a bill that is neither applicable nor legally viable.

    What the new law will not do is end Quebec’s decade-long travails on the front of the accommodation of religious minorities.

    It may not even be on the books long enough to be thrown out by the courts on constitutional grounds. That’s because it could be replaced by a more restrictive but not necessarily more constitutional law on religious wear sooner rather than later.

    If elected to government next fall, either of Quebec’s main opposition parties would replace the Liberal ban on face-coverings with a wider one that would prohibit judges, crown attorneys, prison guards and police officers from wearing religious garments at work.

    The Coalition Avenir Québec — whom the latest of polls cast as the ruling Liberals’ main election rival — would add elementary and secondary school teachers to the list of those on whom it would impose a secular dress code.

    The niqab flare-up in the 2015 election, the more recent backlash over M103, the federal Liberal motion dealing with Islamophobia, the floating of a values test on would-be immigrants at the time of the federal Conservative leadership campaign have demonstrated that the debate over the accommodation of religious minorities is not limited to Quebec.

    On Friday, a tweet by Ontario Tory Leader Patrick Brown suggesting that, absent a federal intervention, the province should support a Charter-based court challenge of the Quebec law prompted a load of pro-Bill 62 responses from followers purporting to be Ontario voters.

    Two decades ago the federal government sought guidance from the Supreme Court on the divisive matter of Quebec secession. If Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wanted to be proactive in the festering debate over reasonable accommodation, he would seek the advice of Canada’s top court on achieving a Charter-friendly balance between the rights of religious minorities and the values of a secular society.

    Chantal Hébert is a national affairs writer. Her column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

    Quebec’s Bill 62 declares war on sunglasses: HébertQuebec’s Bill 62 declares war on sunglasses: Hébert

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    Premier Kathleen Wynne has served Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown with a libel notice for claiming she’s on “trial” in the Sudbury byelection bribery case.

    Having given Brown the requisite six weeks to apologize for his statement on Sept. 12, the premier’s lawyers served the Tory leader with the legal papers on Friday at his Orillia constituency office.

    “You have refused to retract or apologize for those defamatory statements and have made further defamatory statements about Premier Wynne,” lawyers Jack Siegel and Sheldon Inkol of Blaney McMurtry LLP said in a four-page letter.

    The notice is the next step toward a defamation suit being filed in court.

    It stems from Brown telling a Queen’s Park media scrum that Ontario had “a sitting premier sitting in trial” and that Wynne “stands trial” in Sudbury.

    His comment was made the day before the premier testified as a Crown witness in a Sudbury courtroom where Patricia Sorbara, her former deputy chief of staff, and Liberal activist Gerry Lougheed are on trial for alleged Election Act violations, which they deny.

    “Your statements above are false and defamatory. The express meaning of these statements is that Premier Wynne was on trial for bribery, which was not the case,” wrote Siegel and Inkol, adding Brown had the “intention of further harming Premier Wynne’s reputation.”

    “A further implied meaning of these statements is that Premier Wynne is unethical and was under investigation by the police for a criminal act.”

    The lawyers said Wynne, whose legal bills are being paid by the Ontario Liberal Party, could seek an “award of aggravated and punitive damages” if the case proceeds to court.

    An unrepentant Brown accused the premier of using the libel notice “to deflect from news that 180 pages of emails and documents were released to the public yesterday during one (of) her two political corruption trials.

    “Her Liberal government is also under fire from an explosive report on hydro from the auditor general,” said the Tory chief, a lawyer by training.

    “Make no mistake, it is political corruption that’s on trial. And the premier is oblivious to the fact that her party is politically corrupt,” he said.

    “It was a sad day for Ontario and truly a sorry spectacle that the premier of our province testified in a trial,” said Brown.

    “No one wants to see the premier of our province debased or humiliated. Regrettably Kathleen Wynne compounded this with baseless legal threats against me.

    “Her baseless threats will be ignored.”

    Speaking to reporters in Windsor, where she was co-hosting the Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, Wynne urged Brown to recant.

    “An acceptable outcome for me is to have a debate about the truth — whatever the subject we’re talking about — to talk about the facts and to talk about the substance of the issues,” she said.

    Two Star reporters and a columnist were in Brown’s Sept. 12 press scrum along with journalists from CBC, Radio-Canada, The Canadian Press, The Globe and Mail, QP Briefing, Global, CP24, CTV, TFO, Queen’s Park Today, Fairchild, CHCH and Newstalk 1010.

    Prior to the 2014 election, Wynne launched a $2-million libel action against former Tory leader Tim Hudak and MPP Lisa MacLeod (Nepean-Carleton) over their comments about her alleged role in former premier Dalton McGuinty’s cancellation of gas-fired power plants in Oakville and Mississauga. That matter was settled out of court in 2015.

    NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has called on Brown to “absolutely” say sorry to Wynne.

    “People are human beings. You make a mistake, you apologize. There’s not enough of that in politics,” Horwath said last month.

    Kathleen Wynne serves Patrick Brown with libel noticeKathleen Wynne serves Patrick Brown with libel notice

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    WASHINGTON—Kristen Dewar’s NAFTA nightmare goes like this.

    She is representing one of her 100 clients at a criminal trial. Then Donald Trump terminates the North American Free Trade Agreement.

    Suddenly, she cannot keep working in North Carolina without breaking the law herself.

    Dewar, 34, is a defence lawyer from Mississauga who is allowed to practice in the U.S. under the “TN” immigration status reserved for Canadian and Mexican professionals.

    TN stands for Trade NAFTA. And NAFTA might vanish, in which case the TN status might vanish as well.

    “And I have to go home,” Dewar said. “I would be literally a person without status.”

    The possible demise of the trade pact has alarmed Canadian professionals working in the U.S. under the TN, an immigration category unlike the others: it was created not through domestic U.S. law but through NAFTA itself.

    They are engineers, scientists, architects, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and graphic designers, among more than 50 additional occupations. If Trump follows through on his threat to terminate NAFTA— and he is not thwarted by lawsuits or Congress — it is entirely unclear what will happen to them.

    It is possible Trump and Congress would allow them to stay indefinitely. It is possible they would be allowed to stay until their current three-year permit expired. But it is also very possible, given Trump’s desire to reduce immigration of all kinds, that they would be forced to leave the country fast.

    “It’s a little bit unnerving,” said Mike Doherty, 30, a software engineer from Cambridge working at a large technology company in Silicon Valley. “I think the really unfortunate thing is that if things totally fall apart, no one really knows what that means. Do people have to leave the country immediately? Is there a six-month grace period? Do you potentially get to stay for the remainder of your work permit? No one really knows.”

    Immigration lawyers say they have experienced a flurry of concerned inquiries from TN holders. They have little reassurance to offer.

    “I’m advising them that I don’t know what Mr. Trump has in mind,” said Blair Hodgman, an immigration lawyer licensed in Nova Scotia, Ohio and Massachusetts. “Who knows what’s going to happen?”

    The apprehension over the TN is another example of just how wide-ranging the impact of a NAFTA termination could be. While the deal is widely understood to govern the manufacturing and trade in hard goods, like cars, it also affects everything from immigration to intellectual property to entertainment.

    Some Canadian firms could stand to benefit if the TN were eliminated, since some of Canada’s educated professionals would be forced to return home. But the Liberal government generally sees professional mobility as an asset. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has said Canada will push in the ongoing NAFTA negotiations for more professional occupations to be added to the outdated 63-occupation TN list.

    The idea is a tough sell to the Trump administration. Trump has backed a bill to cut legal immigration in half. And he has repeatedly, as recently as this month, floated the idea of killing NAFTA altogether.

    At the talks, a Canadian official said on condition of anonymity, the U.S. has largely stayed quiet during Canada-Mexico discussions of the professional-entry issue, participating “only to the degree to avoid being seen as non-co-operative.”

    Hodgman and other lawyers said people who are able to renew their TNs now should do so to position themselves for the possibility the U.S. will let them stick out their current term.

    It is not only individuals fretting. The demise of the TN would harm the American companies who employ them.

    “We represent companies that transfer workers through the NAFTA agreement. And their HR departments are quite concerned about how it’s going to impact their ability to recruit foreign workers,” said Michael Niren, a lawyer and chief executive of Canadian-American immigration firm VisaPlace.

    The U.S. government said it could not immediately provide statistics on how many Canadians currently hold TN status. But the number is at least in the tens of thousands.

    Unlike most other U.S. work visas, TNs can be obtained immediately at the Canada-U.S. border. And there is no defined limit on how long they can be renewed.

    If the TN disappeared, some Canadians would likely be able to obtain other visas through their employers. Others would almost certainly be out of luck.

    “I have my life set up here. So the uncertainty is always on my mind every time I read these articles or see Trump’s tweets or anything like that. I definitely don’t want to be kicked back to Canada all of a sudden. I’d have to uproot my life,” said Rami Abou Ghanem, 27, a Calgary software engineer working in New York City. “For my field, I found there are a lot more opportunities in this country.”

    Doherty was able to look on the bright side: Canadians face far less dire prospects than some of the other people Trump has tried to evict.

    “We’re really lucky that if I do get sent home, it’s going to be to Canada and not somewhere tragic,” he said.

    Thousands of Canadians live in the U.S. on NAFTA permits. What happens if Trump kills the treaty?Thousands of Canadians live in the U.S. on NAFTA permits. What happens if Trump kills the treaty?

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    Wearing a white T-shirt emblazoned with swastikas, Randy Furniss, hands in his pockets, walked slowly through a crowd Thursday that had largely gathered to protest white nationalist Richard Spencer, who was delivering a speech at the University of Florida.

    Days before Florida Gov. Rick Scott had warned in an executive order that a “threat of a potential emergency is imminent” in Alachua County, where the University of Florida is located, noting that prior speaking engagements involving Spencer have sparked protest and violence.

    The event was Spencer’s first public speech on a college campus since he led hundreds of torch-bearing white supremacists, white nationalists and others through the University of Virginia in a far-right rally in August that preceded a weekend of violent protests in Charlottesville. More than 500 law enforcement officers were deployed, with snipers positioned on the rooftops of nearby buildings.

    Read more:

    White nationalist Richard Spencer greeted by chants of ‘Black lives matter’ and ‘Go home, Spencer’ at Florida speech

    University of Florida students rally against speech from Richard Spencer

    Florida declares state of emergency ahead of Richard Spencer speech, white nationalist rally

    “Go home, Nazi scum!” the crowd chanted, jeering at Furniss, of Idaho.

    Suddenly, an individual in a green hoodie punched Furniss in the face, before quickly disappearing into the crowd. Furniss recoiled, but carried on walking. Blood trickled from his lip down his chin.

    Then something unexpected happened.

    A man went up to Furniss and gave him a hug, wrapping an arm around the Nazi’s shoulders, and another arm around his shaved head.

    “Why don’t you like me, dog?” the man asked Furniss.

    The man, identified by the New York Daily News as Aaron Courtney, is a 31-year-old high school football coach in Gainesville, Florida. He said he wanted to show Furniss some love.

    “I could have hit him, I could have hurt him ... but something in me said, ‘You know what? He just needs love,’” Courtney told the Daily News.

    The hug may have been a small act, but Courtney thinks it can speak volumes.

    “It’s a step in the right direction. One hug can really change the world. It’s really that simple,” he said.

    Courtney did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

    Furniss, a self-described white nationalist, explained his views to News4Jax.

    “They want what we have. And we just want them to shut up and get on with life,” Furniss said. “They’re being raised up and it’s getting to the point where they want to push us down. That’s not right.”

    Furniss could not be immediately reached for comment.

    Courtney hadn’t originally planned on attending the protest. But he was surprised when he received a state of emergency notification on Monday, ahead of Spencer’s planned appearance, the Daily News reported.

    Courtney didn’t recognize Spencer’s name, and decided to do some research.

    “I found out about what kind of person he was and that encouraged me, as an African-American, to come out and protest,” Courtney said. “Because this is what we’re trying to avoid. It’s people like him who are increasing the distance ... between people.”

    Courtney was about to leave the protest, having already spent almost four hours at the scene, when he saw Furniss causing a scene in the crowd, the Daily News reported.

    “I had the opportunity to talk to someone who hates my guts and I wanted to know why. During our conversation, I asked him, ‘Why do you hate me? What is it about me? Is it my skin colour? My history? My dreadlocks?’ “ he said.

    Courtney repeatedly asked Furniss for an answer, only to be met with silence and a blank look.

    Exasperated, Courtney asked Furniss for a hug. He was initially reluctant, but as Courtney reached over the third time, Furniss reciprocated, wrapping his arms around Courtney.

    “And I heard God whisper in my ear, ‘You changed his life,’ “ Courtney said.

    “Why do you hate me?” Courtney asked Furniss one last time.

    “I don’t know,” Furniss finally answered, Courtney said.

    For Courtney, that was a good enough answer.

    “I believe that was his sincere answer. He really doesn’t know,” Courtney said.

    Inside the school, Spencer’s speech was repeatedly disrupted and drowned out by people shouting at him.

    After the speech, three men were arrested and charged with attempted homicide after arguing with protesters and firing a shot at them, police said.

    A Black protester hugged a white supremacist outside Richard Spencer’s Florida speech. ‘Why do you hate me?’ he askedA Black protester hugged a white supremacist outside Richard Spencer’s Florida speech. ‘Why do you hate me?’ he asked

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    It’s been two weeks since movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was outed and ousted for alleged sexual assault and rape. One week since a hashtag sparked a movement that exposed the global scale of the sexual misconduct epidemic.

    In social media terms, you could say the #WeinsteinScandal relit the spark for a decade-old #MeToo movement, which opened the #Floodgates releasing harrowing stories of sexual experiences in various forums, prompting the confessional and rather ghastly #ItWasMe, but also leading a few men to step up and say #IWill and #IWillChange.

    It’s stupendous, really, this mass level gaslighting: about half of humanity has been silently heaving under misogynistic pressure to receive unwanted sexual advances as a compliment, or consider them the price to pay for ambition, or as part of the parcel of living with the other half.

    This violence draws its power from the secrecy vested in it; it depends on concealment.

    As long as those who are sexually assaulted keep it secret, it allows the creation of a parallel world where men — especially those who present to the world as powerful, talented and therefore respectable — can inflict violence on them. They can be secure in the knowledge that the shame of their actions will be borne by the violated, and serve to silence them.

    As long as there is silence, these men have the power to wound.

    It hardly needs saying that this misogynistic duplicity is also supported by women who are conditioned to see as normal a system that privileges men. These are the women who will rush to dismiss others’ experiences or minimize them as a rite of passage: “This is just normal.” “That guy is an idiot.” “This happens to everyone. You’re not that special.” “Be the better person.” “Don’t be weak.”

    That wall of silence is crashing down.

    We’ve seen it before, high-profile cases of sexual misconduct leading to the sharing of stories. This time around though, the sharing has penetrated more layers, opening the door wider to hear the experiences of women of colour.

    Tarana Burke is the Black woman who founded the Me Too movement 10 years ago, long before the actress Alyssa Milano tweeted about it last Sunday.

    “Sexual violence knows no race or class or gender,” Burke told The Root, “but the response to sexual violence does.”

    For women of colour, there are additional layers that constrict speaking out: patriarchy within their own cultures, instances of racial contempt and misogyny from white men (or men of another race in positions of power) and lack of support from white women.

    Then there is the fear of contributing to racial stereotyping, something white women don’t have to bear. Women of colour face pressure from within their communities to not speak out against perpetrators of their own background, to not air dirty laundry in public, for fear that the entire community would be further marginalized.

    The sexual assault of a white woman by a white man is about toxic gender power dynamics — nothing to do with whiteness. But narratives around sexual assault of, say, a Muslim woman by a Muslim man are framed as a problem with Islam; that of a Black woman by a Black man as a problem of Black criminality, that of an Indigenous woman by an Indigenous man as a problem of backwardness and substance abuse.

    If minority women speak up, not only are they disbelieved, they are criticized by their own people and left alone by people from other communities who see it as an internal problem. The isolation is acute.

    “Me Too is about the response to sexual violence,” said Burke. “And it’s also about the journey towards healing.”

    In the past week, the actions of six Indigenous female authors shone a spotlight on that healing process. Their work was scheduled to appear in an anthology by the University of Regina Press until they learned that the anthology would also include the work of Neal McLeod, the award-winning poet from James Smith First Nation, Sask. In 2014, McLeod, who is Cree and Swedish, had pled guilty to domestic assault.

    The writers asked the publisher to remove McLeod’s work from Kisiskâciwan: Indigenous Voices from Where the River Flows Swiftly. “We cannot consent to publish our work alongside Neal McLeod, whom to the best of our knowledge has not made amends to those that he has harmed,” they said in an open letter.

    McLeod had already resigned from his job at University of Trent where he was an associate professor in Indigenous Studies. He had already pled guilty. Was that adequate?

    “I believe there can be redemption for violent men, just as there can be for anyone,” said U of R Press publisher Bruce Walsh, who refused the women’s request to pull McLeod’s work.

    From the First Nations authors’ perspective, though, McLeod may have been penalized by a colonial code of justice, but their understanding was he had not made amends with the communities he hurt.

    “Every Indigenous person is accountable to their community, and . . . if you’re not making amends to the community you are accountable to then . . . prepare to have your wrongdoings named,” one of the people involved said, on condition of anonymity because they needed time to reflect on developments that took place after they first spoke to me.

    What happened after was the author himself withdrew his contribution to the anthology, “I do not want others to leave so I can stay,” he said in a public statement where he offered his regrets to his communities. “I attended ceremonies, went through intensive counselling, and also used my poetry as a way to process my feelings,” he said. “I sought the advice and teachings of elders about how to be a better man going forward.”

    The episode triggered anguished but respectful debate and disagreement among community members, but there is no right way to call out abuse, no guide books to show marginalized women how to deal with the dual challenge of patriarchy within and bigotry without.

    The anthology will still be published next year, now without the words of either the poet or the six authors. At first blush, it appears as if the women lost a platform for their stories, but in naming the abuse and seeking accountability, they gained a voice.

    In the long run, that is progress.

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

    #MeToo opens door to voices of women of colour: Paradkar#MeToo opens door to voices of women of colour: Paradkar

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    WASHINGTON—Unwilling to put the tussling behind, U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday jabbed back at the Democratic lawmaker who has slammed him for his words of condolence to a military widow, calling Rep. Frederica Wilson “wacky” and contending her antics are “killing” her party.

    Trump’s broadside came a day after the White House defended chief of staff John Kelly after he mischaracterized Wilson’s remarks and called her an “empty barrel” making noise. A Trump spokeswoman said it was “inappropriate” to question Kelly in light of his stature as a retired four-star general.

    The fight between Trump and the Miami-area Democrat began Tuesday when Trump told the pregnant widow of a service member killed in the African nation of Niger that her 25-year-old husband “knew what he signed up for.” Wilson was riding with the family of family of Sgt. La David Johnson to meet the body and heard the call on speakerphone.

    Read more:‘Somebody screwed up here’: Why did Trump take 12 days to address the deaths of four soldiers, and why did he attack Obama?

    Trump offered a grieving military father $25,000 in a call, but didn’t follow through

    Former U.S. president George W. Bush slams Trump’s ‘America first’ policy in scathing speech

    The administration has attempted to insist that it’s long past time to end the political squabbling over Trump’s compassion for America’s war dead.

    But Trump added to the volley of insults with his tweet on Saturday morning: “I hope the Fake News Media keeps talking about Wacky Congresswoman Wilson in that she, as a representative, is killing the Democrat Party!” That came after she had added a new element by suggesting a racial context.

    Kelly asserted that the congresswoman had delivered a 2015 speech at an FBI field office dedication in which she “talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building,” rather than keeping the focus on the fallen agents for which it was named. Video of the speech contradicted his recollection.

    Wilson, in an interview Friday with The New York Times, brought race into the dispute.

    “The White House itself is full of white supremacists,” said Wilson, who is black, as is the Florida family Trump had called in a condolence effort this week that led to the back-and-forth name calling.

    Trump, in an interview with Fox Business Network, then called Wilson’s criticism of Kelly “sickening.” He also said he had had a “very nice call,” with the late sergeant’s family.

    The spat started when Wilson told reporters that Trump had insulted the family of Johnson, who was killed two weeks ago in Niger. She was fabricating that, Trump said. The soldier’s widow and aunt said no, it was the president who was fibbing.

    Then Kelly strode out in the White House briefing room on Thursday, backing up the president and suggesting Wilson was just grandstanding — as he said she had at the FBI dedication in 2015.

    After news accounts took issue with part of that last accusation, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders chastised reporters for questioning the account of a decorated general.

    “If you want to go after General Kelly, that’s up to you,” she said. “But I think that if you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that that’s something highly inappropriate.”

    Video of the FBI office dedication in Miami, from the archives of South Florida’s Sun-Sentinel, shows that Wilson never mentioned the building’s funding, though she did recount at length her efforts to help name the building in honour of the special agents.

    That did nothing to deter Sanders, who said “If you’re able to make a sacred act like honouring American heroes about yourself, you’re an empty barrel.”

    Sanders also used a dismissive Southwest rancher’s term, calling Wilson, who often wears elaborate hats, “all hat and no cattle.”

    Wilson was in the car with the family of Johnson, who died in an Oct. 4 ambush that killed four American soldiers in Niger, when Trump called to express his condolences on Tuesday. She said in an interview that Trump had told Johnson’s widow that “you know that this could happen when you signed up for it . . . but it still hurts.” Johnson’s aunt, who raised the soldier from a young age, said the family took that remark to be disrespectful.

    The Defence Department is investigating the details of the Niger ambush, in which Islamic militants on motorcycles brought rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine-guns, killing the four and wounding others. The FBI said it is assisting, as it has in the past when American citizens are killed overseas.

    Sanders said Friday that if the “spirit” in which Trump’s comments “were intended were misunderstood, that’s very unfortunate.”

    Trump jabs back at ‘wacky’ congresswoman as spat over condolence call continuesTrump jabs back at ‘wacky’ congresswoman as spat over condolence call continues

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    PARIS—The forces fighting the remnants of Daesh, also known as ISIS, in Syria have tacit instructions on dealing with the foreigners who joined the extremist group by the thousands: Kill them on the battlefield.

    As they made their last stand in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, an estimated 300 extremists holed up in and around a sports stadium and a hospital argued among themselves about whether to surrender, according to Kurdish commanders leading the forces that closed in. The final days were brutal — 75 coalition airstrikes in 48 hours and a flurry of desperate Daesh car bombs that were easily spotted in the sliver of devastated landscape still under militant control.

    No government publicly expressed concern about the fate of its citizens who left and joined the Daesh fighters plotting attacks at home and abroad. In France, which has suffered repeated violence claimed by the Daesh — including the Nov. 13, 2015, attacks in Paris — Defence Minister Florence Parly was among the few to say it aloud.

    “If the jihadis perish in this fight, I would say that’s for the best,” Parly told Europe 1 radio last week.

    Read more: Drone video shows devastation in Raqqa, Syria after weeks of clashes with Daesh

    Daesh may be on the run, but experts say group is ‘not finished’

    Those were the orders, according to the U.S.

    “Our mission is to make sure that any foreign fighter who is here, who joined [Daesh] from a foreign country and came into Syria, they will die here in Syria,” said Brett McGurk, the top U.S. envoy for the anti-Daesh coalition, in an interview with Dubai-based Al-Aan television.

    “So if they’re in Raqqa, they’re going to die in Raqqa,” he said.

    The coalition has given names and photos to the Kurdish fighters to identify the foreign jihadis, who are seen as a threat back home and a burden on their justice systems, according to a commander with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. The commander said his U.S.-backed fighters are checking for wanted men among the dead or the few foreigners among the captured.

    An official with the powerful YPG, the backbone of the SDF that also runs the local security and intelligence branches, said foreigners who decided to fight until the end will be “eliminated.” For the few prisoners, the Kurds try to reach out to the home countries, “and we try to hand them in. But many would not want to take their (detainees),” he said. Both men spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the sensitive issue with reporters.

    No country will admit to refusing to take back citizens who joined Daesh, including women and their children. But few are making much of an effort to recover them.

    In Iraq, hundreds of Daesh fighters have surrendered or have been taken into custody, and their families have been rounded up into detention camps. The men are put on trial and face the death penalty if convicted of terrorism charges — even if they are foreigners. One Russian fighter has already been hanged.

    France, which routinely intervenes when citizens abroad face capital punishment, has said nothing about its jihadis in Iraq. More French joined the group than any other European country.

    Foreigners captured by Kurdish forces are in a more precarious position because the SDF doesn’t answer to Syria’s government and has no state of its own. A Syrian woman whose French husband surrendered to Kurdish authorities in June said she had no access to him and didn’t know where he was 50 days after they separated. She denied her husband was a Daesh fighter.

    The camps for displaced civilians from Raqqa contain only foreign women and children. As for the fate of any French citizens there, France’s Foreign Ministry had a short response: “Our priority today is to achieve a complete victory over Daesh.” German diplomats say all of the country’s citizens are entitled to consular assistance.

    As the final battle in Raqqa drew to a close, Parly estimated a few hundred French fighters were still in the war zone. For Germany, about 600 men were unaccounted for.

    Britain has not said how many of its former citizens are believed still fighting, but at least one holdout posted a furious 72-minute monologue earlier this month from Raqqa as airstrikes and artillery fire boomed behind him. He said Muslims around the world should be outraged at the treatment of Daesh’s followers.

    “This is not me being an extremist. I’m a very moderate, mild person, hamdullah (thanks to God), and I find [Daesh] to be very moderate and mild,” said the man, who called himself as Abu Adam al-Britani and was identified by British media as Yasser Iqbal, a Porsche-driving lawyer who defended Daesh’s brutal practices as ordained by God, including killing non-Muslims and dissenting Muslims. He did not mention the group’s routine public beheadings, enslavement of women or brainwashing of children to become hardened killers.

    At its height, between 27,000 and 31,000 may have travelled to Syria and Iraq to join Daesh, according to an analysis by the Soufan Group. Of those, about 6,000 were from Europe, with most from France, Germany and Britain. A majority had immigrant backgrounds and was heavily targeted by the group’s propaganda, which highlighted the injustices they faced at home. One study found that fewer than 10 per cent of the Western fighters were converts to Islam.

    As many as a third of the Europeans may have returned home. Many are jailed immediately and awaiting trial in backlogged courts, but others are freed and under surveillance.

    Raqqa’s foreign holdouts are generally acknowledged to be midlevel Daesh recruits, and most are believed to have little information about the group’s inner workings. U.S. Col. Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the coalition, said he had no information about any “high-value targets” among approximately 350 fighters who surrendered in Raqqa in the last days, including a few foreigners.

    But for their home countries, they pose a risk.

    “The general sentiment in northern Europe is we don’t want these people back, but I don’t think anyone has thought about the alternatives,” said Pieter Van Ostaeyen, an expert on the Belgian jihadis.

    Among the complications are how to prosecute any returnees and how to track them if and when they leave custody.

    “You can see why almost the preferred resolution is that they don’t return,” said Bruce Hoffman, head of Georgetown University’s security studies program and author of Inside Terrorism.

    “What worries me is I think it’s wishful thinking that they’re all going to be killed off,” he added.

    Wishful thinking or not, Parly said it’s the best outcome.

    “We cannot do anything to prevent their return besides neutralize the maximum number of jihadis in this combat,” she said.

    Foreigners who joined Daesh faced almost certain death in fight for RaqqaForeigners who joined Daesh faced almost certain death in fight for Raqqa

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    GENEVA—After widespread shock and condemnation, the head of the World Health Organization said Saturday he is “rethinking” his appointment of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe as a “goodwill ambassador.”

    In a new tweet, WHO director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus said that “I’m listening. I hear your concerns. Rethinking the approach in light of WHO values. I will issue a statement as soon as possible.”

    The 93-year-old Mugabe, the world’s oldest head of state, has long been criticized at home for going overseas for medical treatment as Zimbabwe’s once-prosperous economy falls apart. Mugabe also faces U.S. sanctions over his government’s human rights abuses.

    The United States called the appointment of Mugabe by WHO’s first African leader “disappointing.”

    “This appointment clearly contradicts the United Nations ideals of respect for human rights and human dignity,” the State Department said.

    Health and human rights leaders chimed in. “The decision to appoint Robert Mugabe as a WHO goodwill ambassador is deeply disappointing and wrong,” said Dr. Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, a major British charitable foundation. “Robert Mugabe fails in every way to represent the values WHO should stand for.”

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in Edmonton on Saturday when he first heard of the appointment he thought it was a “bad April Fool’s joke.”

    Trudeau says the appointment is unacceptable and Canadian officials are making Canada’s dismay known to the international community.

    Ireland’s health minister, Simon Harris, called the appointment “offensive, bizarre.” “Mugabe corruption decimates Zimbabwe health care,” tweeted the head of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth.

    With Mugabe on hand, Tedros announced the appointment at a conference in Uruguay this week on non-communicable diseases.

    Tedros, a former Ethiopian official who became WHO’s first African director-general this year, said Mugabe could use the role “to influence his peers in his region” on the issue. He described Zimbabwe as “a country that places universal health coverage and health promotion at the centre of its policies.” A WHO spokeswoman confirmed the comments to The Associated Press.

    Two dozen organizations — including the World Heart Federation and Cancer Research U.K. — released a statement slamming the appointment, saying health officials were “shocked and deeply concerned” and citing his “long track record of human rights violations.”

    The groups said they had raised their concerns with Tedros on the sidelines of the conference, to no avail.

    The heads of UN agencies and the U.S. secretary-general typically choose celebrities and other prominent people as ambassadors to draw attention to global issues of concern, such as refugees (Angelina Jolie) and education (Malala Yousafzai). The choices are not subject to approval.

    The ambassadors hold little actual power. They also can be fired. The comic book heroine Wonder Woman was removed from her honorary UN ambassador job in December following protests that a white, skimpily dressed American prone to violence wasn’t the best role model for girls.

    Zimbabwe’s government has not commented on Mugabe’s appointment, but a state-run Zimbabwe Herald newspaper headline called it a “new feather in president’s cap.”

    The southern African nation once was known as the region’s prosperous breadbasket. But in 2008, the charity Physicians for Human Rights released a report documenting failures in Zimbabwe’s health system, saying Mugabe’s policies had led to a man-made crisis.

    “The government of Robert Mugabe presided over the dramatic reversal of its population’s access to food, clean water, basic sanitation and health care,” the group concluded. Mugabe’s policies led directly to “the shuttering of hospitals and clinics, the closing of its medical school and the beatings of health workers.”

    The 93-year-old Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, has come under criticism at home for his frequent overseas travels that have cost impoverished Zimbabwe millions of dollars. His repeated visits to Singapore have heightened concerns over his health, even as he pursues re-election next year.

    The U.S. in 2003 imposed targeted sanctions, a travel ban and an asset freeze against Mugabe and close associates, citing his government’s rights abuses and evidence of electoral fraud.

    WHO chief now ‘rethinking’ Mugabe ‘goodwill ambassador’ appointment after outcryWHO chief now ‘rethinking’ Mugabe ‘goodwill ambassador’ appointment after outcry

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    Three teenage boys stabbed during a fight near a Scarborough high school Friday are all in stable condition, Toronto police said Saturday.

    One had critical injuries, while the other two were originally listed in serious condition. The incident happened at 3:30 p.m. Friday in the area of Lawrence Ave. E. and Brimley Rd., on and near the grounds of David and Mary Thomson Collegiate Institute.

    On Friday, witness 23-year-old Armad Mouyed told the Star the fight started outside a McDonald’s. He said he initially tried to break it up.

    “I don’t know what happened,” he said. “This guy took a knife, stabbed my friend, stabbed the other friend, stabbed the other friend. And the other people, they came, all of them.”

    Others speaking to the Star described a bloody, chaotic scene.

    On Saturday, Toronto police Const. David Hopkinson said investigators had identified two suspects, both with brown skin, who fled on a motorcycle.

    The Toronto District School Board has said a 17-year-old student of David and Mary Thomson Collegiate was one of the victims, but was unclear Friday if the other two teens attend the school.

    With files from Victoria Gibson and Alina Bykova

    Teens stabbed near Scarborough school in stable condition: policeTeens stabbed near Scarborough school in stable condition: police

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    Peel police have charged a Mississauga woman with fraud for an alleged immigration scam targeting victims from the Middle East wishing to bring loved ones to Canada.

    The 61-year-old was charged in late August after several victims reported paying large amounts of money to Afghan Refugee Relief, an organization started and led by the accused.

    Investigators allege the woman didn’t process the promised paperwork with the Canada Border Services Agency and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and didn’t return the money. Police said the woman isn’t authorized to file such paperwork.

    The victims have lost about $40,000 altogether, police said.

    Sakia Mojadiddi faces three counts of fraud over $5,000 and three counts of possession of proceeds obtained by crime.

    Investigators said they’re concerned there may be other victims, and are asking anyone with information to contact police.

    Mississauga woman charged in immigration scamMississauga woman charged in immigration scam

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    You can almost hear the TV announcer’s voice booming through the speakers: “There’s $5 billion on the line and 50,000 new jobs. Do you have what it takes to be Amazon’s next HQ2?”

    The contestants cheer. They’re all big city mayors — John Tory and Naheed Nenshi among them — vying for the grand prize: a red rose from Jeff Bezos.

    But this is not a reality TV show; this is Amazon’s offer to the city that hosts its new HQ2 development — a replica of their home base in Seattle.

    Read more:

    There’s no begging in Toronto’s Amazon bid: Keenan

    Bidding for Amazon HQ2 could become a ‘race to the bottom’

    The winning proposal has to be located near an urban centre, an airport, and must be close to the highway. The development is slated to start at 500,000 sq. ft., but is expected to reach up to 8,000,000 sq. ft. as the project continues.

    More than 100 cities have put forward bids to woo Bezos and Amazon.

    To win over the heart and mind of the tech giant, however, applicants are going to have to be memorable.

    With the final HQ2 bids submitted Thursday, the Star takes a look at the craziest gimmicks cities have come up with in order to score top prize, and a place in Bezos heart.

    Tucson, Arizona

    Sun Corridor Inc., an economic development group based out of Arizona, packed a 6.5-metre cactus into a truck and delivered it direct to Bezos in Seattle.

    Amazon had to turn down the spiky specimen, however, telling the city in a tweet that they could not accept gifts — “even really cool ones.”

    Amazon donated the cactus to a desert museum.

    New York City

    Light me up, baby.

    New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday that the city would go “Amazon Orange” in an attempt to appeal to Bezos sensibilities.

    Several of the city’s landmarks, including the Empire State Building and One World Trade Center, were outfitted in bright orange for the duration of Wednesday evening.


    Working the Canadian Way, Ottawa finalized their pledge with a chorus of hockey fans.

    Attendees of a hockey game between the Vancouver Canucks and the Ottawa Senators were asked to cheer for Amazon at the game’s intermission— in both French and English.

    Birmingham, Alabama

    Taking a flirty approach to winning Bezos heart, Birmingham set up giant imitation Dash Buttons throughout the city. The buttons were programmed to tweet one of 600 pickup lines at Amazon when pressed.

    One such tweet professed Birmingham’s hunger for Amazon’s affection, reading: “We are Chipotle and these other cities are Taco Bell, Amazon.”


    Some lovers might catch a grenade for you, but Nenshi would fight a bear.

    Calgary infiltrated Seattle with persuasive graffiti, and hung a 60-metre long banner across from Amazon’s current HQ proclaiming its willingness to take down a bear in Bezos honour.

    Denver, Colorado

    Capitalizing on the dreary weather in Amazon’s Seattle home base, Denver offered a reprieve from the cold and damp, telling the company they had “300 days of sunshine” and “bluer and prettier” skies than the Seattle HQ, according to the Associated Press.

    (Albuquerque, New Mexico, on the other hand, has counter offered 310 cloudless days.)

    In addition to their appeal to nature, Denver also touted the opportunity for Amazonians to eat, drink, and be merry. The city referred to the large number of breweries in Colorado — six per every 100,000 residents — as a reason for Amazon to set up shop in Denver.

    Stonecrest, Georgia

    In perhaps the most outrageous stunt to take home the grand prize, Stonecrest is offering to change its name to Amazon.

    Yes, seriously.

    The new city, incorporated in 2016,has offered to dedicate 139 hectares of the city for use by the company, and has offered to install Bezos as the de-facto mayor of Amazon.

    Who wants Amazon’s HQ2 the most? Take a look at bids from other citiesWho wants Amazon’s HQ2 the most? Take a look at bids from other cities

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    Quen Chow Lee, one of three immigrant litigants who led a class-action lawsuit against Ottawa over its discriminatory Chinese head tax, has died. She was 105.

    Born in China in October 18, 1911, Lee was nicknamed “Nooey Quen” — meaning women’s rights in English.

    Her toughness helped her overcome war, poverty, a 14-year separation from her husband, and the drawn-out legal battle for government redress, said her son Yew Lee.

    “She was a tough lady, determined, committed and stubborn, someone who had a strong sense of justice,” said Lee. “Yet, she was a very loving mother and grandmother.”

    A native of Taishan, Chow Lee married to Guang Foo Lee in 1930, when he returned to China from Canada to find a wife. He was born in 1892, also in Taishan, and paid a $500 head tax in 1913 to come to Canada.

    After the marriage, Lee only stayed two years in China because Canadian laws then made Chinese people pay another $500 head tax if they were out of the country for too long. He left behind his wife, pregnant with a third child, and two kids.

    Between 1885 and 1923, the Canadian government collected a total of $23 million from some 81,000 people under the various forms of the Chinese Immigration Act.

    Because of the Second World War and the civil war in China, Chow Lee and her children lost touch with her husband for almost 14 years.

    Chow Lee raised the children on her own until after the repeal in 1947 of the Chinese Immigration Act, which had effectively banned Chinese immigration to Canada for more than two decades. Although Chinese wives could now join their husbands in Canada, most had to wait patiently before the family saved enough money for the fares.

    “I’ve endured so many years of hardship. We had no money and nothing to eat,” Chow Lee said in the 2004 documentary, In the Shadow of Gold Mountain, by Karen Cho. “Some women remarried farmers from faraway just to survive . . . but I didn’t want to because of my children.”

    Chow Lee arrived in Canada with her three children after Christmas in 1950 and settled in Sudbury, Ont. where the family ran a number of restaurants: the Capitol Café, the Star Restaurant, the China House Restaurant, the Empress Tavern and Lee’s Palace.

    After her husband passed away in 1967, Chow Lee once again was left to raise her children on her own — now five of them, with the two youngest ones born in Canada.

    Growing up, Yew Lee said his mother would pull out a piece of paper from a leather-and-brass box and just looked at it. It was his father’s head tax certificate.

    “She kept it in a steamer trunk above the restaurant. She would pull it out many many times. We knew something was wrong and the paper was significant,” Yew Lee recalled. “She always felt the injustice had to be righted.”

    Chow Lee was already retired in her late 80s when the family got in touch with the Chinese Canadian National Council, which had spearheaded the redress campaign. She immediately volunteered to be one of the lead claimants of the class-action lawsuit representing the head-tax-payers’ widows.

    Chow Lee would travel in her wheelchair to fundraising events and rallies between Toronto and Ottawa to raise public awareness about Canada’s racist past against the Chinese.

    “We approached many head-tax-payers and families to sue the government, but many turned down because they were ashamed of it and didn’t want to talk about it. But Mrs. Lee needed no convincing,” said Avvy Go, one of the lawyers involved in the lawsuit. “She was a true inspiration for all of us.”

    Although the lawsuit was ultimately dismissed and subsequent appeals were denied, it set into motion talks with the government that ended in an official apology at the House of Commons on June 22, 2006.

    Chow Lee was in the audience when then prime minister Stephen Harper apologized in Cantonese to the Chinese-Canadian community.

    “Even though we didn’t win the lawsuit, Mrs. Lee never gave up hope. She never had any regret,” said Go. “She used her suffering to propel her to fight injustice and challenge the government head on for its treatment of the Chinese. She was a model not only for the Chinese, but all Canadians.”

    Quen Chow Lee, lead plaintiff in lawsuit over Chinese head tax, dies at 105Quen Chow Lee, lead plaintiff in lawsuit over Chinese head tax, dies at 105Quen Chow Lee, lead plaintiff in lawsuit over Chinese head tax, dies at 105Quen Chow Lee, lead plaintiff in lawsuit over Chinese head tax, dies at 105

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