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TOPSTORIES

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    Emergency services are reminding the public of the dangers of the Scarborough Bluffs after two siblings got stranded there while trying to take a selfie.

    Crews needed five fire trucks and 20 firefighters to rescue the 21-year-old man and his 20-year-old sister at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

    The pair were lowered with harnesses and ropes one at a time, and reached safety at around 8:30 p.m., officials said. Neither was injured.

    They were both charged with trespassing bylaw offences. The maximum fine is $5,000.

    Toronto police Const. Victor Kwong said the pair climbed the Bluffs despite multiple warning signs about the dangers of the site.

    Kwong said police have received numerous calls about people getting into dangerous spots to take photos, or just for a thrill, and it wastes police resources.

    Toronto fire Capt. Michael Westwood said rescues involving heights put both both those being rescued and firefighters in danger.

    “It is dangerous for emergency services because the Bluffs are very steep and it has rough terrain,” said Westwood.

    In the past three years, Toronto fire crews have received 42 calls for rescue in the area, with at least 31 people being saved — three so far in 2017.

    Kim McKinnon of Toronto paramedics said they will respond when members of the public are in trouble, and specifically when they are suffering a medical emergency.

    “All we ask is that the public do their best to prevent injury when they can,” McKinnon said. “We want everyone to get home safety from whatever fun they are having this summer, including at the Scarborough Bluffs.”

    Earlier this year, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority warned residents and tourists to avoid the area due to landslides caused by heavy rainfall.

    Another rescue that drew attention was that of Marisa Lazo, a 23-year-old who got stuck after climbing a crane in downtown Toronto in April. She faces six criminal charges.

    There were also several incidents last month where young people entered closed construction sites at night and climbed cranes in York Region, spurring a warning from police.

    With files from Emily Fearon


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    LONDON—How many people died in the Grenfell Tower blaze?

    More than three weeks after London’s deadliest fire since the Second World War, survivors and their advocates are convinced that the authorities have yet to publicly acknowledge the true death toll.

    Officially, the police say that at least 80 people either died or are missing and presumed dead. On Monday, after weeks of criticism, the police for the first time offered an estimate of the number of people who should have been in the building that night — 350 — and said that of that figure, 255 had survived and 14 were not at home, which would imply that 81 people had died.

    But the death toll has been challenged by skeptics, including three volunteer researchers who have been trying to fill the information vacuum: an Iranian biomedical engineering student who lived on the third floor (he estimated at least 123 dead), a demographer who came out of retirement to bring professional techniques to bear and a software engineer in Brussels whose website has emerged as the most credible source (both the demographer and the engineer place the toll in the 90s).

    Read more:

    'Grenfell is everybody,' posters say, but everybody is not Grenfell: DiManno

    Britain’s May demands ‘major national’ probe into cladding after deadly fire

    Why Grenfell Tower burned: Regulators put cost before safety

    The tragedy has come to symbolize not only official negligence, but also rising inequality, particularly given that the fire occurred in a London borough, Kensington and Chelsea Council, which is one of the wealthiest local governments in Britain.

    The Metropolitan Police, which serves Greater London, says that it had made efforts to provide information, but that it is painstaking work, hindered in some cases by inaccurate and unreliable official records. But the paucity of official information about the fire dominated a series of meetings last week between residents and the authorities.

    “If this was a terrorist attack, they would have had the numbers out here already,” said Beinazir Lasharie, a Labour member of the Kensington and Chelsea Council who represents the neighbourhood that includes the tower. “They need to tell us the truth, because the people are angry and they’re getting angrier.”

    From the day of the fire, June 14, when the death toll was initially announced as only six and later 12, people began to complain that the police were giving low estimates. It was clear that flames had engulfed the entire building in a very short time, forcing some — no one has divulged how many — to jump out of higher floors and others to flee down the single, smoke-choked staircase.

    The death toll was raised to 17 on June 15, to 30 on June 16, to 58 on June 17, to 79 on June 19, finally reaching 80 on June 28, where it has stayed since. On July 5, the police added that they had recovered 87 sets of human remains, but could not say for sure how many people that represented.

    “We are many months from being able to provide a number that we believe accurately represents the total loss of life inside Grenfell Tower,” Detective Chief Superintendent Fiona McCormack said on June 28. “Only after we have completed the search and recovery operation — which will take until the end of the year — and then months afterwards, when experts have carried out the identification process, will we be in a position to tell you who has died.”

    She added, “I do not want there to be any hidden victims of this tragedy.”

    Many in the neighbourhood are unconvinced.

    Ahmed Palekar, who has lived near Grenfell for many years and said he knew countless people who have not showed up since the fire, was one of many locals who said he thought several hundred had died. “They’re afraid of what will happen if that comes out.”

    Abdurahman Sayed, who runs the community centre that includes the mosque where most of the residents prayed, predicted that hundreds had died in the fire. “I don’t know what purpose it serves to hide the number, but this is the most surveilled society anywhere,” he said. “There are CCTV cameras everywhere. Surely they knew who was in that building.”

    The London police said they had not heard from anyone who lived in or was inside 23 apartments — nearly a fifth of the total, all on the upper floors where the fire became much more intense.

    Based on the latest census, from 2011, the tower had an average occupancy of 2.35 people per household. The tower had 129 apartments, and it is not known how many were vacant.

    But many experts think the census undercounted people in poor immigrant neighbourhoods like this one, as people were reluctant or frightened to reveal how many people lived in their apartments. Many of the families were religious Muslims, who community leaders say tend to have large families; but there were also some apartments with only single, elderly residents. (The 350 estimate provided on Monday implied 2.7 people per household; the police said that figure was based on government records and other sources, including school registers, but did not provide a detailed methodology.)

    The fire broke out around 1 a.m., when most people were at home, and during Ramadan, when many people were visiting from abroad.

    Moreover, there are many accounts of people fleeing upstairs in an attempt to escape the fire, and congregating in upper floor apartments.

    “I personally knew a lot of people who did not come out of that tower,” said Lasharie, who was elected to the council in 2014. Based on political canvassing, she said she believed the residents numbered “400 to 500 minimum,” compared with the 2011 census figure of 259 people in the building and the police estimate of 350.

    The Grenfell Fire Response Team said through a spokeswoman that 117 families of survivors from the tower were receiving assistance, but it declined to say how many people that represented.

    The volunteer researchers have used different methods to arrive at their own estimates.

    The software engineer, Joshua Vantard, has been using crowdsourcing techniques on a website, Gathrer, to amass information on those who had been found or were missing. With two volunteer editors, he began poring through public sources to compile the information. He says the data remains too incomplete to allow scientific judgments, but his figure of 93 remains the most complete accounting in the public domain. (Vantard took data identifying the victims by name offline on Monday, citing privacy concerns raised by people claiming to represent the survivors.)

    Sajad Jamalvatan, the Iranian student, who was out the night of the fire and whose mother survived the blaze, said he had his own count of 123 dead, but did not supply the raw data to back up his assertion. “It cannot be 80, it’s double that,” he said of the police estimate. “They don’t want to give out three-digit numbers.”


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    Blame the leggings and the yoga pants.

    Americans are buying fewer pairs of jeans these days — and when they are, they’re not spending as much as they once did.

    Exhibit A: True Religion, which after years of declining sales, filed for bankruptcy protection this week and announced it would be closing at least 27 stores. A decade ago, the brand was riding high, commanding hundreds of dollars a pair for jeans with the company’s signature horseshoes embroidered onto the back pockets. Business nearly tripled between 2007 and 2012, and by 2013, True Religion had annual revenue of $490 million.

    But that growth has reversed in recent years. Sales of super premium jeans — brands like 7 For All Mankind, True Religion, Joe’s Jeans and Hudson — fell 8 per cent last year, according to market research firm Euromonitor International. Overall, jeans sales grew slightly in 2016 after two years of declines, as Americans traded down to lower-priced brands like Levi’s, H&M and Forever 21.

    “The premium denim market has been in decline over the last several years,” Dalibor Snyder, True Religion’s chief financial officer, wrote in a document filed Wednesday with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. “Competition has also increased from emerging and established fast fashion and low-priced apparel retailers.”

    Instead, buys are increasingly filling their closets with yoga pants and leggings, which they’re wearing not just to the gym, but also to run errands and meet up with friends. True Religion’s $319 skinny jeans have been replaced by Lululemon’s $98 yoga pants.

    Designer denim took off in the early 2000s, during an era marked by large, flashy logos. True Religion, founded in 2002 in Manhattan Beach, Calif., was among the first to cash in on the wave of premium jeans, with its lineup of funky designs and washes. (Rock & Republic, which filed for bankruptcy in 2010, and Hudson Jeans were founded the same year.)

    “Back then, $100 for a pair of jeans seemed exorbitant,” said Camilo Lyon, a retail analyst for Canaccord Genuity. “But all of a sudden people were paying $150, then $250 and $350. There was a rapid escalation in pricing, and consumers were willing to pay.”

    True Religion continued to grow during the recession, thanks in part to celebrities like Britney Spears, Kanye West and Mariah Carey, who were routinely photographed wearing the brand’s jeans.

    But by late 2012, the outlook had begun to sour. Competition was up and demand was down. True Religion put itself up for sale, and found a buyer in TowerBrook Capital Partners, a private-equity firm that paid $835 million for the company. Sales have continued to slip. Last year, True Religion reported revenue of $370 million, a 25 per cent drop from 2013, and a loss of $78.5 million.

    Today, shoppers are more likely to favour low- or moderately-priced jeans without large logos and decals, according to Euromonitor. A move away from obvious logos also means it’s becoming more difficult to distinguish between the high-end jeans and inexpensive ones.

    Levi’s — where jeans generally range from about $45 to $90 — continues to be the most popular jeans brand among male consumers, while women tend to favour denim from “economy” brands like H&M, Old Navy and Forever 21, as well as private label brands from Walmart and Target, according to Euromonitor. (Economy jeans made up 39 per cent of women’s denim purchases last year, compared to 9 per cent for super premium jeans, Euromonitor found.)

    “I don’t think this one is rocket science: The luxury jeans market is getting smaller and will continue to do so,” said Paula Rosenblum, managing partner of Retail Systems Research in Miami. “Why would you spend $300 on ripped jeans, especially if you can get the same thing for $60?”


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    The government’s proposed minimum wage hike is too much too fast and could lead to job losses, warns a coalition of Ontario business associations as province-wide hearings on employment changes kicked off Monday in Thunder Bay.

    “Notwithstanding the intent of the legislation, the pace of the changes is very difficult to absorb,” said Karl Baldauf, vice-president of policy and government relations at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, who is also the spokesperson for the Keep Ontario Working Coalition.

    “If you look at other jurisdictions that have implemented minimum wage increases, California took five years, Seattle four years to implement. In Ontario, it’s a 32 per cent increase in 18 months.”

    Over the past seven years, minimum wage has gone up 12 per cent, he said, so with the coming jump in pay “any logical person could look at the viability of (businesses’) ability to absorb this,” along with other changes.

    In January, the province’s minimum wage will go from the current $11.40 to $14, then to $15 in January 2019. After that, the formula will return to the current one, where the rate is tied to the consumer price index.

    “We want every family to benefit fairly from Ontario's growing economy,” said a statement from Labour Minister Kevin Flynn. “But while business is expanding and creating wealth, not everyone is sharing in the benefits. We need to address the concerns of those who worry about falling behind, even as they work so hard to get ahead.”

    He said experts agree that such changes are “good for workers and can be good for business, too.”

    The coalition has hired a firm to study how the changes will affect businesses, and is saying the government shouldn’t act so hastily.

    They have also sent an open letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne, “with a call for fairness and restraint” saying Bill 148 will “create tremendous uncertainty for Ontario businesses. Realistic legislative timelines can only be proposed following a full economic impact analysis.”

    The group — which includes the chamber of commerce, Retail Council of Canada and Food and Beverage Ontario — also points to a recent study out of Seattle, where workers are said to have lost jobs and hours because of the pay changes.

    In Thunder Bay on Monday, some 19 groups were scheduled to speak at the public hearing, including the local chamber of commerce and Poverty Free Thunder Bay. The local labour council also held a “solidarity breakfast” in support of the government’s move.

    Earlier this month, some 53 economic experts from across Canada sent an open letter to Premier Kathleen arguing boosting the minimum wage “makes good economic sense” and could generate “substantial benefit to low-wage workers, their families and the economy as a whole.”

    Under Bill 148, the province is also “mandating equal pay for equal work, and enabling at least three weeks’ vacation after five years with the same employer. With these changes, living standards will rise and reliance on benefits will fall as businesses pay more fairly. Higher wages will also lead to greater job satisfaction and productivity, less turnover and more spending power for lower-income earners,” Flynn said.

    With files from Sara Mojtehedzadeh


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    Toronto officials say water levels near the Toronto Islands are receding slower than expected and some parts will be closed for the entire summer.

    In a statement issued Monday, the city says sections of the islands are on schedule to open July 31 but the date could be moved depending on weather conditions.

    The Toronto Islands have been closed to visitors all summer after high water levels caused massive flooding throughout the park.

    City council also voted to stop collecting rent and licence fees from island residents and licence holders until the full scale of the flood’s financial impact is known.

    Restaurants and other businesses on the island rely on the busy summer season for most of their income.

    The city says that businesses are missing out on as many 20,000 daily visitors during the summer closure.

    Read more:

    As water encroaches, Toronto Islands are haunting

    Photos: Toronto Islands virtually a ghost town as flooding persists


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    Donald Trump needs to stare Don Jr. in the eyes and say it loudly: “Son, you’re fired.”

    If we learned anything from The Apprentice, this should be the next plot twist in The Trump Show, which is now sputtering along as it twists in the headwinds of a Russian election-meddling scandal that got a new gust of “Say what?” this weekend courtesy of the president’s eldest son.

    As the New York Times reported, Don Jr. “was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton before agreeing to meet with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign.”

    At any other time, in any other America, he’d now be in custody.

    And, amazingly, it gets worse.

    When asked for comment on the explosive story, it seems Don Jr. made a bold decision to extinguish the flames by dousing them with kerosene.

    “After pleasantries were exchanged,” he told the paper, “the woman (lawyer) stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Mrs. Clinton. Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information.”

    Meaningful information?

    The woman’s real motivation, he continued, was to discuss the adoption of Russian children and a 2012 U.S. law aimed at human-rights abusers: “It became clear to me that this was the true agenda all along and that the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting.”

    Helpful information?

    Oh, man. Even if you’re the biggest Trump fan, even if you believe in deep-state conspiracies and fake-news plots and shadowy liberal cabals that are hell-bent on derailing this noble presidency, I suspect you may now be fighting a strong urge to slap Don Jr. upside his greasy head. When it comes to conspiracies and the charge of collusion, he just chucked a few live grenades at his father’s feet.

    Put another way, here’s what Don Jr. told the Times: “Hang on a second! The person I agreed to meet claimed to have crystal meth. But when I got to the dark alley, the person wanted to sell me Advil. So it was a total waste of time. Although my associates and I have denied any knowledge or interest in crystal meth, the key is we didn’t get any crystal meth during this meeting, even though crystal meth is what we were seeking when we agreed to meet.”

    Does anyone in Trump’s orbit realize you don’t have to succeed to commit certain high-level crimes, especially when the cover-up is the crime? Obstruction of justice is not the same as a bylaw infraction over the height of your hedges.

    Treason is not the same as jaywalking.

    What Trump does understand, better than most, is marketing, which is why he now has no choice but to fire his eldest son based on the damage inflicted this weekend. Firing Don Jr. might be the only way to change the subject this time.

    Blame everything on the kid and hope for the best in the months ahead.

    I’m not saying it will be easy. Cutting ties with family, especially your first born, is always fraught with heartache. It gets even harder when you realize the adult child has no real prospects beyond coasting on the family name.

    If everything else were equal, but Don Jr. was not a Trump, it’s not clear he’d be able to land a gig folding chinos at Banana Republic. Beyond having the hairstyle of a third-tier Miami Vice villain, the only thing Don Jr. can really boast in the last two years is a string of gaffes that have hampered his dad’s bumpy political odyssey.

    But even blood loyalty has a boiling point, another lesson gleaned from The Apprentice. Don Jr. has retweeted white nationalists and dropped regrettable “gas chamber” analogies into partisan quotes. He’s compared displaced refugees to poisonous Skittles, a remarkable charge coming from a human wad of chewed-up Hubba Bubba. Don Jr. is needlessly combative and reckless on social media, which is the last thing his embattled father needs given his own capacity for the same.

    Don Jr. is a watered-down Don Sr.

    And that’s too many Dons, as multiple investigations continue.

    This weekend, the son did real harm to the White House, which in turn could do real harm to the father. If this really were an episode of The Apprentice, there’s no question Don Jr. would be singled out by Camera 1 in the climactic boardroom scene and read the riot act before getting kicked to the curb.

    In Trumpville, he just committed the biggest sin: helping the other team.

    vmenon@thestar.ca


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    The Liberal government wants the story to go away.

    Conservative parliamentarians, past and present, want to keep the news cycle going.

    The lawyers have gone silent.

    And social media has gone into hyper drive.

    The saga of Omar Khadr, and all the political baggage his case drags with it, has been going on long enough that Canada has had four different prime ministers: Jean Chretien, Paul Martin, Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau. July 27th will mark the 15-year anniversary of the firefight in Afghanistan during which Khadr, at the age of 15, was shot and captured and U.S. Delta Force soldier Sgt. First Class Christopher Speer was fatally wounded.

    Read more: Omar Khadr fact check paints a clearer picture of the case and the incident underlying it

    But last week’s news of a $10.5-million settlement and the Canadian government’s apology sparked unprecedented debate across the country.

    Some questions remain unanswered. Many of the purported facts fueling arguments either in support of the settlement or against it have been wrong.

    Here’s what we know and what we don’t:

    Khadr’s status in Canada: Khadr was born in Canada on Sept. 19, 1986, at Scarborough’s Centenary Hospital. Both his parents were Canadian citizens. His mother was born in Egypt to Palestinian parents and moved to Mississauga as a teenager. Khadr’s father grew up in Cairo and moved to Ottawa to attend university.

    Liberal MP Ken Hardie tweeted last week: “(T)he U.S. was invading his country. He was pressed into service at 15, improperly treated medically and legally; Canada was complicit.” Khadr was brought by his parents to Afghanistan and Pakistan at the age of eight, but is not Afghan. Hardie later issued a correction.

    The Charter rights of Canadians do not extend to foreign countries; citizens must comply with the laws of the country where they travel.

    However, the main claim in Khadr’s $20-million civil suit is that Canadian officials violated his rights when they interrogated him in Guantanamo in 2003 and 2004, knowing he was a minor, without legal representation and had been subjected to torture.

    A unanimous Supreme Court ruling in 2010 said they had.

    Details of the firefight: The claim in Khadr’s civil suit is narrow: Canadian officials had breached his rights as a citizen. That means details of the firefight and what may or may not have happened in Afghanistan 15 years ago are not at issue.

    However, this has been one of the political talking points. “Khadr confessed to murdering Christopher Speer, a medic who rushed to his aid,” tweeted Jason Kenney, leader of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta.

    That is incorrect according to testimony from the American soldiers who were there.

    “I just remember being dumbstruck that there was someone being alive in there,” a Delta Force soldier told the Star during an interview for the CBC documentary Guantanamo’s Child. “After all that bombing, after all the ordinance we dropped in there, somebody was still alive.”

    As the soldiers cleared the compound, their weapons were drawn. They did not expect any survivors.

    A Pentagon report written after the firefight interviewing the soldier who shot Khadr, identified only as OC-1, raises the possibility that someone else was alive in the compound when the grenade that ultimately killed Speer was thrown. “He heard moaning coming from the back of the compound. The dust rose up from the ground and began to clear. He then saw a man facing him lying on his right side,” the report states. “The man had an AK-47 on the ground beside him and the man was moving. OC-1 fired one round striking the man in the head and the movement ceased. Dust was again stirred by this rifle shot. When the dust rose, he saw a second man sitting up facing away from him leaning against the brush. This man, later identified as Khadr, was moving . . . . OC-1 fired two rounds both of which struck Khadr in the back.”

    Randy Watt, the commander who wrote that report after the action, later revised it to state that only one person was alive when the grenade was thrown. In an interview, he attributed the confusion to the “fog of battle.” He changed the report, he said, because he thought Khadr had been killed due to the severity of his injuries.

    The report, and testimony from Watt and OC-1, would have been key evidence at Khadr’s Guantanamo trial, which was halted when the Pentagon offered him a plea deal.

    A condition of the deal was that Khadr confess to killing Speer, which he did during an emotional 2010 hearing at Guantanamo where Speer’s widow Tabitha was present. Once released, Khadr did not deny throwing the grenade as his lawyers have insisted.

    He said he simply does not know and hopes he didn’t.

    Speer as a medic: Speer was a decorated soldier and the medic on his elite Delta Force team. According to fellow soldiers, weeks before his death, he saved the lives of two wounded Afghan children lying in a minefield. His wife, Tabitha, told me he wanted to be a doctor and joining the military would pay for his education and provide him with basic medical training.

    Medics (unarmed civilians) have always been considered “protected persons” in conflict. Since the drafting of the Geneva Conventions, killing a medic is punishable as a war crime. But that is not what the Pentagon considered Speer. And it was not what Khadr was prosecuted for.

    Khadr was charged under the Military Commissions Act, drafted by the U.S. after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, which introduced an offence called “murder in violation of the laws of war.” Despite the deaths of thousands of U.S. service members in Iraq and Afghanistan, Khadr remains the only captive charged with killing a soldier.

    His conviction is under appeal in Washington, D.C. There have been eight Guantanamo convictions and the D.C courts have so far overturned four.

    Utah wrongful death suit: On June 8, a Toronto lawyer for Speer’s family and the family of retired Sgt. Layne Morris, who lost sight in one of his eyes during the 2002 firefight, filed an application to the Ontario Superior Court to enforce a $134-million Utah wrongful death claim against Khadr. It was a default claim, which means Khadr did not offer a defence. He was still in custody when the case was heard.

    The claim does not mention the Canadian government; it is between Khadr and the plaintiffs. However, the application also asks that, if required, the court order Khadr’s assets frozen.

    Neither Khadr, nor his lawyers, were served notice of the application when it was filed.

    On June 22, lawyers for Khadr and Canada’s Department of Justice concluded their court mediation and reached a deal: the government would apologize and compensation would be $10.5 million. But the government did not immediately issue the funds, nor announce the deal.

    The evening of July 3, media reported the deal. Sources say the settlement money was given to Khadr and his lawyers July 5.

    David Winer, who represents Speer and Morris, told a court July 7 that he did not reach Khadr’s lawyer Nathan Whitling by email until Thursday, after earlier attempts to contact Khadr’s lawyers by fax failed.

    The case continues in a Toronto court July 13.

    Settlement amount: In 2007, Canadian Maher Arar was given $10.5 million in compensation, plus legal fees. Then-prime minister Stephen Harper formally apologized to Arar for the actions of Canadian officials, which contributed to his detention and torture in Syria.

    The Khadr and Arar cases are very different, but some lawyers argue the precedent of the settlement amount is significant for Khadr’s case and his lawyers would not settle for less.

    Speaking from Germany this weekend, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would not confirm the amount, but defended the settlement, saying the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects all Canadians, “even when it’s uncomfortable.”

    Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale noted that the government had spent nearly $5 million in legal fees unsuccessfully fighting three Khadr cases all the way to the Supreme Court and this cost to taxpayers would continue with “virtually no chance of success,” and the possibility of an even larger payout.

    Conservative MP and lawyer Erin O’Toole, among others, has argued that a payout was not inevitable and government lawyers should have continued to fight the lawsuit.

    Treason: There were calls last week to retroactively charge Khadr, now 30, with treason or other crimes punishable in Canada.

    In 2008, Ottawa law students, under the supervision of Professor Craig Forcese, wrote a 153-page report given to a Senate Committee on Human Rights outlying the law. They later testified before a House of Commons committee.

    The report concluded: “There is good reason to believe that Omar could be prosecuted under Canadian law. Repatriation, therefore, is not tantamount to impunity.”

    Had Canada demanded Khadr’s repatriation after his capture, rather than deferring to the U.S., there was a greater possibility he could have been successfully prosecuted here.

    Now that is likely impossible due to protections against double jeopardy and the fact that Canada’s courts have denounced the illegality of Guantanamo.

    Michelle Shephard is the author of a 2008 book on Omar Khadr’s case and co-directed and produced the Emmy-nominated documentary Guantanamo’s Child, which premiered at TIFF in 2015. Follow her on Twitter @shephardm.


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    LIMA, PERU—Peruvian officials say a double-decker tour bus went out of control and rolled over on a narrow road in the hills in the country’s capital, killing nine people and injuring 48 others, including two Canadians.

    The Ministry of Health says the rollover happened Sunday night about two kilometres from the presidential palace in Lima.

    The agency says eight foreigners — two Canadians and six Chileans — were among the injured being treated in local hospitals.

    Prosecutor Luz Pena said the bus was driving on San Cristobal hill to give the passengers a panoramic view of the city and appeared to have been moving at excessive speed.

    Global Affairs Canada says it is following the situation in Lima and is providing consular assistance to the Canadian citizens been affected by the accident.

    With files from The Canadian Press


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    Comedian Patton Oswalt, who has publicly wrestled with grief over the sudden death of his wife last year, announced over the weekend that he was engaged to be married to actress Meredith Salenger.

    That news was met with messages of support from many others who have recently lost a spouse, including Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg, as well as some predictable online grousing from what Oswalt called “bitter grub worms.”

    Salenger, who may be best known for her role in the 1980s Disney movie The Journey of Natty Gann, announced their engagement on Twitter last week, and representatives for the pair later confirmed the news to The Hollywood Reporter.

    Oswalt, 48, said Saturday that he had planned to ignore online commenters who accused him of moving on too soon from the death of his first wife, Michelle McNamara, a 46-year-old true-crime writer who died in her sleep in April 2016. Oswalt said in February that she had died from a combination of an undiagnosed heart condition and a mix of prescription medications, including Adderall, Xanax and fentanyl.

    But Oswalt changed course over the weekend to share an angry blog post— title: “A Widow’s Rage Defense of Patton Oswalt’s Engagement” — written in his defense by Erica Roman, a writer who said she lost her husband three days before the death of McNamara. “I felt this rage,” he wrote on Facebook. “And Erica articulated it better than I could have ever hoped.”

    Salenger, 47, soon did the same, sharing Roman’s piece and then posting a statement of her own on Twitter in response to critics. Salenger focused on the happiness and well-being of Oswalt and McNamara’s 8-year-old daughter, Alice.

    “Who gave you the position to judge when it’s ‘too soon’ for a person who has suffered the worst to be able to find happiness and companionship again?” Roman wrote in her blog post. “How long should a widow sit in isolation before you are comfortable enough to release them from their solitary confinement?”

    Roman congratulated the couple on their engagement and said she was glad to see that Oswalt’s heart “had expanded.”

    “I used that word intentionally,” she wrote. “I say expanded because that’s what widowed hearts do. They expand. One love isn’t moved out to make room for someone new. An addition is built.”

    Sandberg, who has spoken often of her grief over the unexpected death of her husband, Dave Goldberg, in May 2015, also weighed in with a message of support for Oswalt and Salenger and praise for Roman’s piece.

    “I laughed and cried a bit because what you are saying is so true,” she wrote on Facebook. “No one should judge another’s path — and everyone deserves to find love again.”

    Oswalt, a stand-up comedian known for a string of roles on film and television, including the sitcom The King of Queens, has been very public about his struggle with grief after the death of his wife. In an interview with The New York Times last October, Oswalt said he would “never be at 100 percent again.”

    He described finding McNamara’s body in bed, watching in horror as paramedics swarmed their bedroom, the pain of telling his daughter the next day, and then the months of anguish that followed.

    “Grief is an attack on life,” he told The Times at the time. “It’s not a seducer. It’s an ambush or worse. It stands right out there and says: ‘The minute you try something, I’m waiting for you.’”


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    The Ontario Municipal Board has approved two controversial condo developments that will add around 1,000 new residential units to the Distillery District.

    The decision, issued July 6, gives the final green light to two projects: a 12-storey renovation of the heritage-protected Rack House D, at 60 Mill Street and a 47-storey condo tower and five-storey “ribbon building” at 31A Parliament Street.

    Both projects had originally been rejected by city staff over concerns they were too tall and — in the case of 31A Parliament — cast too much shadow over Trinity Square.

    The municipal board approval upholds a city council decision from March to support shorter versions of both projects, with a $3.2 million contribution to the city from the developers. That money will go toward improvements to public space around the Distillery District as well as supporting the city’s planned Toronto Aboriginal Hub in the West Don Lands.

    “Our clients, who are the Distillery District owners, are happy with the decision,” said Mark Noskiewicz, one of the lawyers representing Dream Distillery District Commercial Inc. and Cityscape Holdings Inc.

    “They think the projects will be good for the distillery and good for the surrounding area,” Noskiewicz said.

    But local residents are not pleased, saying the projects threaten the district’s heritage character.

    “It’s a disappointing decision,” said Gooderham and Worts Neighbourhood Association president Michael Brewer, who fought against the proposals.

    One of the most contentious elements of the proposal for 31A Parliament is the shadow it will cast over the district’s marquee Trinity Square.

    A shadow study presented at an Ontario Municipal Board hearing on May 15th showed that at 2 p.m. on June 21, the tower will cast a shadow over about half of Trinity Square. At that time on that day of the year, the sun is near its highest in the sky — the further from that day the calendar gets, the longer the shadow cast will be.

    Noskiewicz said the shadows cast by the reduced 47-storey tower at 31A Parliament won’t be significantly worse than those created by a previously-approved version of the ribbon building along the district’s southern edge.

    “That was one of the issues that the city looked at, and I think at the end with the modifications to the proposal … the city was satisfied that there really wasn’t a material shadow impact,” Noskiewicz said.

    The ribbon building itself will add significant mixed-used retail and office space to the district. It will also convert one level of street parking into three levels of underground parking, two things that Brewer and the neighbourhood association support.

    But they’ve been down this road before. The ribbon building was first proposed and approved in 2013, but never built.

    Brewer said this time the municipal board ruled that Cityscape must build the entire three-storey underground parking structure as part of the condo tower at 31A Parliament, which should encourage the developers to build the five above-ground storeys all at the same time.

    “It’s not 100 per cent guaranteed. We wanted to see them have to build everything as one parcel, but getting the below-grade piece, at least, is something,” Brewer said.


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    Dan Schaumann appreciates a good toilet.

    In fact, he’s on a mission to photograph the most unique, absurd and downright beautiful bathrooms in the world.

    “I go through this project thinking of toilets as being works of art,” said Schaumann, who runs a photography blog and Instagram account called Toilography.

    “I’m trying to find something interesting or beautiful about a part of everyday life that people don’t normally see as beautiful.”

    The 32-year-old Toronto resident has photographed hundreds of bathrooms over the past few years, everywhere from Ecuador to Antigonish, N.S.

    Whether it’s a one-way mirror above the urinals, a“cheer squad” on the bathroom floor, or a washroom wallpapered with pigs, Schaumann has documented a bounty of captivating cans.

    Toilography started out as a joke. When Schaumann first got on Instagram in 2011, he couldn’t believe how many banal or bad photos would still get hundreds of “likes.” In jest, he posted a picture of a toilet to see what kind of response it’d get.

    But the more Schaumann captured toilets, the more he realized they could actually be quite photogenic — even beautiful.

    He’s found gorgeous artwork on bathroom walls, urinals shaped like lips, and one loo with a ridiculous number of toilet paper rolls.

    “When I started, a toilet was a toilet,” said Schaumann, sitting in the Poop Café at Bloor St. W. and Christie St. The washroom-themed restaurant, where patrons sit on toilets instead of chairs, is one of his favourite places in the city.

    “Then when I started to discover people actually did interesting things with them, my attitude towards them changed.”

    In Toronto, there’s a bar called Swan Dive, which has a creepy doll head mounted next to the urinal. And in the bathroom at Otto’s Berlin Doner, a disco ball lights up and music starts playing.

    Schaumann, who makes his living as a logistics specialist, makes a point of seeking out interesting toilets wherever he travels, usually by asking for suggestions on Reddit. He likes going on “toilet crawls” of new cities, where he’ll hop from place to place checking out the recommended loos.

    He’s found a cafe in Massachusetts, where the bathroom doubles as a soothing zen garden, complete with lush plants and inspirational messages.

    A large sculpture of a Viking encircles the toilet at a restaurant in Chile.

    And a few weeks ago, Schaumann found the “holy grail of toilets” at the Guggenheim Museum in New York: it’s made of 18-karat solid gold and is fully functional.


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    Guests at 14 Trump properties, including the Trump hotel in Toronto, have had their credit card information exposed, marking the third time in as many years that a months-long security breach has affected customers of the chain of luxury hotels.

    The latest instance occurred between August 2016 and March 2017, according to a notice on the company’s website, and included guest names, addresses and phone numbers, as well as credit card numbers and expiration dates. The breach took place on the systems of Sabre Hospitality Solutions, a reservation booking service used by Trump Hotels, but did not compromise the Trump Hotels’ systems.

    The breach also included hotels in Washington, New York and Vancouver. The relevant booking dates of affected reservations in Toronto were from Nov. 18 to Nov. 21 of last year, according to the notice.

    “The privacy and protection of our guests’ information is a matter we take very seriously,” the notice said, adding that Trump Hotels was notified of the breach on June 5. Trump Hotels declined to comment beyond what was posted in the notice.

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    The news of the latest cybersecurity attack comes less than a year after Trump International Hotels Management paid $50,000 (U.S.) in penalties to New York state for failing to notify customers immediately after data breaches in 2015 led to the exposure of more than 70,000 credit card numbers and 300 U.S. Social Security numbers. The company also agreed to update its security practices as a result of the settlement.

    Security analysts say hotel chains — which have lagged behind many other businesses in protecting their networks — have been particularly hard hit by cyber attacks in recent years because they tend to have massive swaths of personal data and credit card information across multiple properties. Earlier this year, InterContinental Hotel Group said customer credit card data had been compromised at more than 1,200 of its properties, including Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza hotels, over a three-month period.

    “Why are hackers targeting hotels? Well, because they’re a good target,” said Peter Singer, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, a centrist think tank. “Then you look at Trump’s hotels, and they’re obviously a highly symbolic target.”

    The hotel chain has likely become even more appealing to hackers in recent months, Singer said, because it has attracted a steady stream of Republican lawmakers, industry lobbyists and foreign dignitaries seeking to conduct business with the president.

    “If more people are staying there in an attempt to curry favour with the government, the fishing pool of targets is certainly greater than it was prior to November,” he said.

    Attackers first infiltrated Trump hotels’ payment processing system in May 2014, and installed malware on the hotel’s networks to mine customers’ credit card information, according to an investigation cited by Eric Schneiderman, New York’s attorney general. Trump Hotels was informed of the breach in June 2015, but did not post a notice on its website until four months later, according to Schneiderman.

    A second breach took place beginning in November 2015, when an attacker installed malware on 39 systems affecting five Trump hotels, according to investigators. Four months later, in March, an attacker tapped into a legacy payment system that included personal information of Trump hotel property owners, including the names and Social Security numbers of more than 300 people.

    “It seems very negligent that this could happen a number of times,” said Justin Cappos, a systems and security professor at New York University. “These patterns of oversight are a huge problem.”

    In the most recent breach, less than 15 per cent of daily bookings on the reservation system during the seven-month period were compromised, according to a Sabre spokesman. Other affected hotels include 11 Hard Rock Hotel & Casino properties and 21 Loews Hotels. It is not uncommon, analysts said, for breaches like these to span many months.

    “These things can go undetected for several months to over a year,” said John Christly, chief information security officer for Netsurion, a network security provider. “We’re not seeing a lot of hotels focus on security the way we’d like them to, but with the proper technology, hacks like this can be stopped before they even happen.”

    In May, ProPublica and Gizmodo found that a number of Trump properties, including the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, where the president regularly spends his weekends, had less-than-secure wireless networks. “We could have hacked them in less than five minutes,” reporters at those sites wrote, “but we refrained.”

    That same month, President Trump signed an executive order on cybersecurity that holds federal agency heads accountable for cybersecurity risks and breaches in their networks. “The executive branch has for too long accepted antiquated and difficult-to-defend IT,” the order said.

    “We’ve seen increasing attacks from allies, adversaries, primarily nation-states, but also non-nation-state actors,” Thomas Bossert, Trump’s Homeland Security adviser, said in a White House briefing at the time. “Sitting by and doing nothing is no longer an option.”


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    A third court appearance has failed to become a bail hearing in the case of Michael Storms — who, while facing charges of forcible confinement and uttering threats related to a hostage-taking, still hasn’t retained a lawyer.

    Storms, 35, entered the courtroom on Tuesday after adjourned appearances on June 29 and July 4.

    Duty counsel John Bailles requested to speak with Storms before the hearing began, with heated whispers audible through the room. Bailles cautioned Storms he was facing “serious charges” and needed to choose a lawyer.

    “You give me a name. I’m not going to call up a swath of lawyers for you,” Bailles said, to which Storms repeated that he didn’t just want to pick someone off a list at random.

    Turning to address Justice of the Peace Mary A. Ross Hendriks, Bailles said that Storms had been provided a list of lawyers, but says it was taken away when he arrived at the jail. Storms confirmed he does have the list now.

    Bailles suggested to the court that Storms be noted for medical attention. Storms asked both Ross Hendrik and Bailles what he would need medical attention for.

    “I’m simply going to say he’s disclosed some underlying mental health issues,” Bailles said, adding that it was in Storms’ best interest for the request to be noted, in the event that he required any support.

    Bailles asked if he understood, and the accused snapped back.

    “Just relax please,” Storms said.

    The accused then detailed speaking to several psychiatrists at the jail, though he called their questions ‘stupid.’ He said he’d also been speaking with the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health.

    Ross Hendriks asked if he’d like to continue having conversations about his mental health in jail, to which Storms replied that yes, he would. After thanking Ross Hendriks, Storms exited the courtroom.

    A new date was set for July 18.


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    ISTANBUL—A group that monitors the war in Syria said Tuesday it has “confirmed information” about the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Daesh leader, citing information received from the militants in eastern Syria.

    Baghdadi’s death has been rumoured numerous times in the past, and it was not immediately possible to independently verify the claim. There also were no immediate announcements from Daesh’s news channels.

    The U.S. Central Command said in a statement: “We cannot confirm this report, but hope it is true.”

    “We strongly advise ISIS to implement a strong line of succession. It will be needed,” the statement said, using an acronym for Daesh, also known as ISIL.

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    The death of Baghdadi — if true — would mark another blow to the extremist group days after it was finally driven from the northern Iraqi city of Mosul by Iraqi-led forces. The militants are also under siege in the Syrian city of Raqqa, Daesh’s self-declared capital, where a U.S.-backed force of mainly Kurdish fighters has been advancing for weeks.

    The monitoring group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, is based in Britain and relies on a network of activists in Syria for its reporting. The group’s director, who goes by the pseudonym Rami Abdulrahman, told the Washington Post that Daesh leaders had confirmed Baghdadi’s death to the observatory’s activists in the Syrian province of Deir al-Zour.

    “We don’t know when. We don’t know how,” Abdulrahman said.

    A post on the Syrian Observatory’s website said it “confirmed information . . . about the death” of Baghdadi, whose real name is Awwad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai.

    Baghdadi’s apparent death or capture has been asserted several times over the past decade as his breakaway Al Qaeda faction gradually formed into Daesh. But the various reports later proved false or could not be substantiated.

    Last month, Russia said it was looking into claims that one of its airstrikes in late May, outside Raqqa, killed Baghdadi. The Russian military later said it could find no clear evidence of Baghdadi’s death.

    In a video conference with reporters on Tuesday, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said he had received reports since May “that suggested he was not killed there by the Russians, but I don’t know.”

    “We’ve heard all kinds of reporting that he’s alive, that he’s dead,” Townsend said. “I hope he’s deader than a doornail. If he’s not, as soon as we find out where he is, he will be.”

    As far back as December 2012, Iraqi officials claimed that they had captured Baghdadi in Baghdad. Iraqi commanders later said the person held was not Baghdadi.


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    A quarter-point hike in the Bank of Canada’s overnight lending rate expected Wednesday will translate immediately into increased payments on variable rate mortgages and lines of credit, but the added cost will likely be below the discomfort threshold for the majority of households.

    “It’s not going to be a huge dislocation for most,” said Paul Taylor, chief executive of Mortgage Professionals Canada. Taylor suggested that even a full percentage point increase wouldn’t necessary lead to significant stress or a major spike in payment delinquencies.

    “Canadians on mass are phenomenally responsible in managing mortgage debt.”

    The Bank of Canada has strongly hinted it could hike the key interest rate Wednesday to 0.75 per cent, which would be the first increase in nearly seven years.

    Taylor said the payment on a $500,000, five-year variable mortgage amortized over 25 years would rise by $104 per month with a 25-basis-point hike, adding that the average mortgage balance in Toronto and surrounding areas is between roughly $300,000 and $400,000.

    Variable loans represent roughly 30 per cent of the mortgage market in Canada, said Dan Eisner, founder and CEO of Calgary-based True North Mortgage.

    He said the average variable mortgage payment across the country would increase by about $25 per month with a quarter-point hike in the rate.

    Some mortgage brokers contacted by the Star suggested any hike may not be followed by steady increases over the rest of the year and into 2018, with the Bank of Canada needing to justify further moves with real evidence of mounting inflation.

    But some foresee the central bank gradually lifting rates by a full percentage point by the end of 2018.

    Others say the bank may not even raise rates Wednesday, holding off until its next scheduled rate fixing meeting in the fall amid the uncertainty over oil price futures.

    Eisner noted that five-year bond yields, which determine five-year mortgage rates, have jumped 0.4 per cent in the last few days to a level not seen since late 2014, before the oil price crash forced the Bank of Canada to drop rates in 2015 to 0.5 per cent.

    While those with a fixed mortgage won't be immediately affected by rising interest rates, some experts say those nearing the end of a five-year term may want to lock in for another five years, even if that may incur penalties

    RBC has already boosted interest rates on some of its mortgages ahead of the Bank’s announcement. Their fixed-term mortgage rates have gone up by 20 basis points each – the two-year rate is now 2.54 per cent, three-year rate is 2.64 per cent, and five-year rate moves up to 2.84 per cent.

    Janine White of RateSupermarket.ca said a rate hike is probably due because of such factors as GDP growth averaging 3.5 per cent over the past three quarters, although inflation is running at just 1.5 per cent

    “The difference between variable and fixed rates will grow larger – homeowners with variable rates will want to consider moving to a fixed interest rate mortgage and homeowners with fixed rates up for renewal will want to nail down the rates before the hike,” she said in a note to clients.

    She said home buyers will be impacted, noting that RBC’s 20-basis point increase to 2.84 per cent for five-year mortgages would cost a buyer an additional $93.00 monthly — $1,116 annually — based on the average GTA home price of $921,000.

    Recent studies, she added, show that nearly three-quarters of Canadian homeowners say they would have difficulty paying their mortgage if their payments were to increase by more than 10 per cent.

    “The last time the Bank made a rate change was in July 2015, cutting it from 0.75 per to 0.50 per cent and all of the big banks eventually reacted with a 0.15 per cent decrease in rates,” said mortgage comparison website RateHub.ca in a commentary.

    “With an increase, however, it’s most likely the full amount will be passed along to consumers. This will impact variable rate consumers immediately."

    As for what happens next, "It's going to be very important to listen to the language the Bank uses on Wednesday regarding future moves,” RateHub.ca noted.

    “Since their comments in early June, Canadian bond yields . . . thus fixed rates have already gone up across the board. The (potential) rate increase has already been priced in for fixed rate consumers.

    “Any additional comments for future increases will be the real trigger for more fixed rate increases following the announcement, rather than the rate change itself."


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    The North American Free Trade Agreement may have dramatically changed the Canadian diet by boosting consumption of high-fructose corn syrup, a new study suggests.

    That boost arrested a years-long decline in total sugar consumption. And it shifted Canadians away from liquid sweeteners such as maltose and molasses toward high-fructose corn syrup, a sweetener that has been linked to the obesity epidemic.

    The peer-reviewed study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, found that as tariffs on high-fructose corn syrup dropped over a four-year period, consumption grew: from 21.2 calories of corn syrup per day in 1994, to 62.9 calories per day by 1998.

    NAFTA may thus have contributed to growing obesity and diabetes rates over that time, its authors say.

    “There are free-trade deals being negotiated all over the world, and NAFTA has been used as a blueprint for many of them,” said Pepita Barlow, a doctoral student at Oxford University and the lead researcher on the paper. “In some ways, this is an opportunity to think about who benefits from these deals, and who loses — and how we can craft them to better promote health and wellness.”

    The connection between free-trade agreements and health has not been well-studied, Barlow said. To date, most research on globalization and nutrition has examined the effects of foreign direct investment: how consumption patterns change when multinational food companies, such as Coca-Cola or the global snack food maker Mondelez, begin producing and advertising in new markets.

    Joseph Glauber, a senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute and the former chief economist at the USDA, said he would expect that sort of investment to have a larger impact on consumption, relative trade. But the research, he acknowledged, is in its early days.

    “This connection between trade and nutrition is getting to be a very big question,” Glauber said. “I think the effect is probably pretty minor, on the tariff side. But there’s a huge issue with foreign direct investment and advertising, which has become very aggressive. And that’s all a part of trade liberalization.”

    Tariff reductions do make food ingredients cheaper, irrespective of their nutritional qualities. Lower prices encourage manufacturers to use more of those ingredients.

    Before NAFTA was adopted in 1994, Canada had a tariff of 5 per cent on high-fructose corn syrup. Under NAFTA, Canada agreed to phase out that tariff, while maintaining protections on sugar- and beet-based syrups such as fructose, maltose, glucose and molasses.

    As a result, researchers found, consumption stayed flat on those protected sweeteners, but spiked for high-fructose corn syrup. Countries that are economically similar to Canada, but that did not join NAFTA — such as Australia and the U.K. — did not see a similar effect.

    At the same time, obesity rates increased from 13.4 per cent in 1994 to 14.8 per cent in 1998. According to Canada’s national statistics agency, 14.2 million people — roughly 38 per cent of all Canadians — are currently obese.

    This cannot be credited entirely, or even predominantly, to NAFTA, Barlow cautioned: Obesity rates were trending up anyway. And obesity has continued to climb, even as Canadian consumption of soft drinks (a major source of high-fructose corn syrup) has decreased.

    But Barlow and her co-authors believe the correlation is strong enough to suggest that the trade agreement did likely contribute to obesity by increasing access at a critical time to a sweetener that some researchers consider uniquely likely to cause weight gain.

    In a commentary accompanying the paper, epidemiologists Ashley Schram and Ronald Labonté, who study public health and trade at the University of Ottawa, argue that the paper should give trade negotiators pause as they work on future agreements.

    Corn refiners vehemently deny that assertion — as well as any suggestion that HFCS may have contributed to Canadian obesity rates.

    John White, a nutritional biochemist who consults for the Corn Refiners Association, disputed Barlow’s claim that HFCS is somehow “riskier” or more fattening than sugar, citing studies that show it is nutritionally similar to sugar, and challenged her to prove the growth of HFCS during the ‘90s was not caused by something besides NAFTA.

    U.S. soda-makers began transitioning from liquid sugar to high-fructose corn syrup in the early ‘80s, and it’s possible that the Canadian industry took some time to catch up.

    White also argued that the study fails to account for Canadians’ reduction in sweetener consumption throughout the aughts — although obesity continued to climb during that time.

    “This paper may best be considered a historical study with limited contemporary relevance, given the aged nature of the data set and the significant reduction in sweetener consumption in the intervening years,” he said. “ ... This is nothing more than a theory based on 17-year-old data and biased references.”

    However, there is growing evidence that people consume more junk food after their countries ink free-trade agreements, particularly with the U.S.

    The U.S. is a major producer of processed foods and their ingredients. Exports of prepared foods, beverages, and processed fruits, vegetables and dairy have all grown significantly since NAFTA’s adoption, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    That’s largely because, as previous analyses of trade data have shown, the foods most affected by liberalization are those that are most protected: among them, high-value, high-margin products, such as soft drinks, frozen French fries and snacks.

    In Mexico, soda consumption increased by 37 per cent between 1998 and 1999, the years NAFTA was negotiated and put into effect.

    In Peru, sales of juice, sports and energy drinks surged in the 10 years since the 2006 free trade agreement with the U.S. — an effect not seen in neighbouring Bolivia, which has not inked an agreement.

    One global study, which analyzed food, tobacco and alcohol habits in 80 countries after they joined U.S. free trade agreements, found that those which had signed deals sold 63.4 per cent more soft drinks per capita than those which had not, even after correcting for GDP and other economic factors.

    Some, like the tiny Pacific nation of Vanuatu, have announced plans to address the problem by banning imported foods all together.

    “At the moment we have an infiltration of junk food from overseas,” a community leader in Vanuatu recently told The Guardian.

    It’s unclear if Vanuatu, or any member country of the World Trade Organization, can pass such a ban without being sanctioned. Glauber and Barlow are in favour of solutions that don’t necessarily disrupt trade. Glauber advocates for excise taxes to discourage consumption, rather than tariffs — a tax on soda instead of a tariff on imported HFCS, for instance.

    Barlow, the Oxford researcher, would like to see more public health groups involved in negotiating trade deals.

    “It’s an important issue to think about,” she said. “A large number of free-trade agreements are currently being negotiated around the world. We need to know how those actually impact people’s daily lives — their well-being and health.”

    For now, however, such collaboration may be a long way off. The Canadian Medical Association, whose journal published Barlow’s study, said it had no plans to add trade policy to its advocacy work. The Canadian Health Coalition, another leading public health group, said that while it has “concerns about public health care and the NAFTA renegotiation,” nutrition isn’t one of them.

    “Everyone recognizes that diets are changing because of globalization,” Glauber said. “(But) it’s still hard to address this.”


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    The union representing Toronto police is alleging that staffing cuts have reached a “crisis point,” leaving officers burnt out and the public at risk.

    The Toronto Police Association launched a website Monday, saying the force has nearly 500 fewer officers than it did in 2010 and may cut another 400 by 2019.

    “Our members are trying to make a bad situation work by trying to do more with less,” said union president Mike McCormack.

    “It is causing some concerns around the potential to public safety and officer safety.”

    The Toronto Police Service is currently under a three-year freeze on hiring and promotions. The move was one of a series of recommendations in a report released by the police board’s “Transformational Task Force” in January — a group of civilians and officers that’s part of a larger effort to modernize the force and cut police spending.

    “The days of more money, resources, staff, etc. are gone,” said Toronto Police Service spokesperson Mark Pugash. “We have to find a way to do what we do with fewer people, which means we have to be more intelligent, more enterprising, more economical.”

    Pugash also said police Chief Mark Saunders recently visited every police unit in the city to answer questions and respond to concerns. When they asked for more front-line officers, Pugash said, Saunders delivered.

    The police service has also ensured officers have access to support services to help them cope with a job that’s difficult in the best of times, said Pugash.

    “Change makes people anxious,” he said. “So we’re doing it carefully and patiently.”

    The Star’s attempts to reach police board members were unsuccessful.

    McCormack has previously said the task force’s recommendations are a cost-cutting exercise that would endanger public safety.

    In an interview Tuesday, he said the union has tried to reach out to Saunders and the Toronto Police Services board, which oversees the force, about the concerns, but those requests have gone nowhere.

    This has led to an increase in crime in 10 of 17 police districts, said McCormack. Though key indicators like homicides are down, McCormack said officers are trying to police an ever-increasing population with fewer staff and time constraints from management.

    The effects of that are trickling down to Toronto streets every day, McCormack said. In the city’s northwest Sunday night, for example, police received six reports of gunshots but were too busy to respond right away, he said.

    When those delays happen, the public takes out their frustration on whoever eventually arrives, said McCormack.

    “It’s the front-line officers who are suffering,” he said.

    McCormack said a recent union survey found that 93 per cent of members feel the force is underresourced. Now, the association is telling its officers to spend extra time on self-care by not sacrificing breaks and vacations, though management is sometimes telling them to deal with calls in 45 minutes or less.

    “They’re feeling pressure about clearing calls because there are so many calls pending,” he said. “There just aren’t sufficient numbers on the street or the support staff to back it up.”


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    WASHINGTON—Donald Trump’s eldest son revealed Tuesday that he was eager to hear damaging information about Hillary Clinton from the Russian government, disclosing a series of emails that marked the clearest sign to date that Trump’s campaign was willing to consider election help from a longtime U.S. adversary.

    The email exchange posted to Twitter by Donald Trump Jr. showed him conversing with a music publicist who wanted him to meet with a “Russian government attorney” who supposedly had dirt on Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” The messages reveal that Trump Jr. was told the Russian government had information that could “incriminate” Clinton and her dealings with Russia.

    “I love it,” Trump Jr. said in one email response.

    As the emails reverberated across the political world, Trump Jr. defended his actions in an interview with Fox News, blaming the decision to take the meeting on the “million miles per hour” pace of a presidential campaign and his suspicion that the lawyer might have information about “under-reported” scandals involving Clinton. Trump Jr. said the meeting “really went nowhere” and that he never told his father about it because there was “nothing to tell.”

    “In retrospect I probably would have done things a little differently,” Trump Jr. said.

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    Democrats in Congress voiced outrage and insisted the messages showed clear collusion, with California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, declaring that “all of the campaign’s previous denials obviously now have to be viewed in a different context.”

    Yet Republicans — who stand the most to lose politically from Trump’s Russia ordeal — did not join in the condemnation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he was confident Senate investigators would “get to the bottom of whatever happened.” And Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican on the intelligence committee, cautioned that the emails were “only part of the picture.”

    Trump Jr., who was deeply involved in his father’s presidential campaign, portrayed his decision to release the emails as an effort “to be totally transparent.” In fact, they had already been obtained by the New York Times.

    Hours after the son posted the emails, the father rose to his defence.

    “My son is a high quality person and I applaud his transparency,” the U.S. president said in a statement read to reporters by White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Although Sanders declined to answer questions about the emails, she stood by the White House’s long-standing insistence that no one in Trump’s campaign colluded to influence the election.

    The messages were the latest disclosure to roil the ongoing investigation into Russia’s interference in the election and potential collusion with Trump’s campaign. U.S. intelligence agencies have said the Russian government meddled in the election through hacking to aid Trump.

    As congressional committees and Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigate, the emails will almost certainly be reviewed for any signs of co-ordination with the Kremlin, which the White House and Trump Jr. have repeatedly said did not take place. A spokesman for Mueller, the former FBI director, declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

    In the emails — dated early June 2016, soon after Trump secured the GOP nomination — music publicist Rob Goldstone wrote to Trump Jr. to connect him to Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya. Goldstone wrote that the information “would be very useful to your father.”

    “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer,” Trump Jr. replied in one of the emails. Days later, Veselnitskaya met with Trump Jr. on June 9 at Trump Tower in New York. Veselnitskaya has denied ever working for the Russian government.

    The emails show Goldstone telling Trump that singer Emin Agalarov and his father, Moscow-based developer Aras Agalarov, had “helped along” the Russian government’s support for Trump. The elder Agalarov was involved with Trump in hosting the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. The two men once also had preliminary discussions about building a Trump Tower in Moscow, but they fell through. Trump also appeared in a music video with the younger Agalarov.

    In his email, Goldstone said that the “Crown prosecutor of Russia” offered to provide the information on Clinton to the Trump campaign in a meeting with Aras Agalarov. There is no such royal title in the Russian Federation, but Goldstone — who is British — may have been referring to the title given to state prosecutors in the United Kingdom.

    In Russia, the top justice official is Prosecutor General Yury Chaika, the equivalent of the attorney general in the United States. Chaika is longtime confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin and was directly appointed by him.

    Representatives for the Agalarovs didn’t respond to requests for comment on Tuesday. Attempts to reach Chaika at his office were unsuccessful.

    In one email, Goldstone said he could send the information about Clinton to Trump’s father first directly “via Rhona” — an apparent reference to Rhona Graff, the elder Trump’s longtime assistant from his days at the helm of the Trump Organization.

    Though the emails weren’t posted in full until Tuesday, word of their existence had emerged in the days prior. In an interview with The Associated Press on Monday, Goldstone described the information as purported evidence of illegal campaign contributions to the Democratic National Committee. It’s unclear what proof, if any, Veselnitskaya provided during the meeting.

    Trump Jr.’s account of the meeting, its nature and purpose has evolved over the past several days, giving further fuel to critics who say the president and those around him have not been forthcoming as the Russia saga has unfolded.

    On Saturday, in his initial description of the encounter, Trump Jr. said it was a “short introductory meeting” focused on the disbanded program that had allowed American adoptions of Russian children. Moscow ended the adoptions in response to Magnitsky Act sanctions created in response to alleged human rights violations in Russia.

    A day later, Trump Jr. changed his account, acknowledging that he was told beforehand that Veselnitskaya might have information “helpful” to the Trump campaign, and was told by her during the meeting that she had something about Clinton.

    In his most recent description of what occurred, on Tuesday, Trump Jr. said he had believed the information he would hear about Clinton would be political opposition research.

    “The woman, as she has said publicly, was not a government official,” Trump Jr. said in the Tuesday statement. “And, as we have said, she had no information to provide and wanted to talk about adoption policy and the Magnitsky Act.”


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    The Immigration and Refugee Board has again refused to release a West African man who has spent more than four years in maximum-security jail without charge because the government has been unable to deport him.

    Ebrahim Toure, a 46-year-old failed refugee claimant who was profiled earlier this year as part of a Star investigation into immigration detention, has been locked up at Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ont., since February, 2013.

    He says he was born in The Gambia, but he doesn’t have any documentation to prove his citizenship so the country will not take him back. Toure is not considered a danger to the public. He is being detained solely on the grounds that the government believes he is unlikely to show up if they can ever arrange his deportation.

    Immigration officials accuse Toure of not co-operating, but he says he would like to be deported and he has given the government all the information he has.

    In a written decision delivered three weeks after Toure’s June 15 detention review, presiding board member Suzy Kim — a government appointee who acts as a kind of judge in the quasi-judicial hearing — said Toure “generally lacks credibility” and has largely contributed to his own lengthy detention.

    Citing his use of a fake passport to gain entry to Canada, his past history of aliases in the U.S. and the fact that he once claimed to be from Guinea, Kim said Toure is “unreliable” and “cannot be trusted” to appear if his deportation were ever to be arranged.

    “I do not believe that anything (Toure) says can be taken at face value,” she wrote.

    In response to Kim’s decision, Toure’s lawyer, Jared Will, said he will take the case to Superior Court, where earlier this year he secured the release of seven-year immigration detainee Kashif Ali in a ruling that was sharply critical of the government’s practice of indefinite detention.

    Will had argued at last month’s hearing that Toure’s detention violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms because it is indefinite and arbitrary. He said there was no reasonable prospect of Toure’s deportation, so his detention was detached from its purpose.

    On Tuesday, Will said he wasn’t surprised Kim disagreed.

    “The various members of the Immigration Division have made it clear that they don’t take constitutional rights to liberty very seriously, and I did not expect a different outcome on this particular occasion.”

    Kim is known for being particularly resistant to release immigration detainees. She had the third-lowest release rate of any Immigration Division member from 2013 to 2016, according to data obtained by the Star through an access to information request. She ordered release in 8.2 per cent of her cases, well below the 17.9 per cent national average.

    An Immigration and Refugee Board spokeswoman declined to make Kim available for an interview or take questions on her behalf.

    Toure has no criminal record in Canada, but he has spent the entirety of his 53-month detention in a maximum-security jail because of a 12-year-old conviction for selling pirated CDs and DVDs in Atlanta, an offence for which he pled guilty and served no jail time.

    He theoretically could have spent the last four years in the less-restrictive Immigration Holding Centre, which is run by the federal government specifically to hold immigration detainees. The Immigration Holding Centre, which is on Rexdale Blvd. in Etobicoke, is not full.

    But the Star found that the insurance contract held by the private company that provides housekeeping and food services requires it to be a “low-risk” facility. As such, immigration detainees with any criminal record whatsoever — even non-violent offences for which no jail time was served — are considered ineligible and are sent to maximum-security jail instead.

    Will said he is looking forward to having Toure’s case heard in an actual court, where disclosure is mandatory and hearsay evidence is not permitted.

    “It will be refreshing to know the actual basis of the allegations that are being made against Mr. Toure and have the opportunity to contest them,” he said. “We’re also looking forward to being in a forum where we hope and expect that his Charter rights will be taken seriously.”


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    Late Monday morning, passersby stopped to nervously inspect a small residential stretch of Cole St. in Regent Park that had been blocked off. A police officer stood at the intersection of Cole and Regent St., redirecting car and foot traffic.

    The pedestrians’ apprehension at the sight was understandable — only one week previously, police officers gathered at the same intersection to investigate the fatal shooting of 30-year-old Lemard Champagnie.

    Curious neighbours quickly discovered, however, that the cause of Monday’s road closure was not another tragedy, but the filming of an upcoming Hollywood movie Code 8.

    The movie, starring Sung Kang (of the The Fast and The Furious franchise), Stephen Amell (Green Arrow) and his cousin Robbie Amell (Flash), is about a clash between a militarized police force and a young man who commits a petty crime to pay for his mother’s medical treatment.

    A small memorial for Champagnie, fixed to a pole across the street, was the only visible sign of recent violence in the vicinity.

    Residents said that the recent shooting may have left some in the neighbourhood feeling uneasy at the sight of a police presence in the area once more.

    “When they see the police, at that time people become a little concerned about that . . . What’s going on here?” said Mohammed Rahim, a resident of the area that was sectioned off for the filming.

    Once his neighbours realized what was actually going on, however, “there was no problem.”

    Rahim said that the general sentiments about the filming in the neighbourhood were cooperation and pride — both welcome for an area that is recovering from loss.

    “They are asking people to give them space for filming,” he said, and “it’s good — like, excellent. People are helping them.”

    It helps, Rahim said, that it seems the neighbourhood will be pictured in a positive light.

    “It’s a nice area now,” he said. “It’s good, because in the film we can see our neighbourhood . . . and that’s wonderful.”

    Not all residents were initially pleased to hear about the filming. Some felt that it was inappropriate for a movie about a police officer to be filmed in a location where the police had so recently been called to the scene.

    A Facebook post in the public Regent Park Neighbourhood Association group read “this is seriously not the time or place right now in my opinion.” The poster later followed up clarifying that the scene to be filmed would not include any guns or police action.

    Mary Anne Waterhouse, a production manager on the film, said Monday that she wasn’t aware that a fatal shooting took place on the set until the previous evening, when a resident of the area raised a concern about the appropriateness of the filming location.

    “I explained the nature of the scene we’re filming today,” Waterhouse said, which involved Kang’s character picking up his daughter from his ex-wife’s house.

    Once it became clear that the filming would not include scenes about police action or violence, Waterhouse said, the resident’s concerns dissipated.

    “So that’s why we’re out here,” Waterhouse said, adding that all of the neighbours had been cooperative and helpful.

    Stephanie Beattie, another resident of the area, said that she heard some “positive buzz about celebrity sightings and the fun of having a production” in the neighbourhood.

    “We’ve had a couple of instances of filming here in the last month or so, and the crews have been great, in my experience,” she said.

    Beattie added though, that she understood why some neighbours might have felt a filming about a police officer in the area hit too close to home.

    “I think the concern expressed earlier was about the type of scenes to be filmed here,” she said. “I certainly wouldn’t dismiss any of my neighbours’ sensitivities around that.”

    Code 8 will finish shooting in Toronto on Friday.


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