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


Embed this content in your HTML

Search

Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)

More Channels


Channel Catalog


Channel Description:

TOPSTORIES

older | 1 | .... | 966 | 967 | (Page 968) | 969 | 970 | .... | 1035 | newer

    0 0


    At the conclusion of the coroner’s inquest testimony Wednesday of the officers who were at the scene of the police shooting death of Michael MacIsaac, his family’s demand for answers remained unchanged.

    MacIsaac, 47, was shot dead on an Ajax street on Dec. 2, 2013 by Durham region police Const. Brian Taylor, who said a naked MacIsaac was advancing on him with a metal table leg. Taylor was cleared of criminal wrongdoing by Ontario’s police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit.

    On Tuesday, Const. Jeffrey Williams, who was parked behind Taylor on Dring St. that day, said he could not recall if MacIsaac said anything to Taylor before being shot, but that he was “marching” toward the police cruisers. Williams testified he did hear Taylor say something to MacIsaac, however.

    “I don’t know what he said, I know it was his voice, and just after I heard two pops,” Williams testified.

    Then on Wednesday, Const. Mark Brown, a designated “mental health response officer” who was parked behind Williams, testified he heard Taylor identify the men as police officers and that he heard MacIsaac shouting.

    “I did hear him yell something, but didn’t hear what he actually yelled,” Brown testified, saying MacIsaac was “running slightly faster than a jog” down a driveway toward police and holding the table leg like a baseball bat.

    Taylor himself testified last week that he remembered issuing and hearing the police challenge — “Police. Don’t move.” And he testified that MacIsaac was saying to him, “Come on, come on.”

    It has also been previously pointed out at the inquest that Taylor cannot be heard shouting commands and MacIsaac cannot be heard saying anything on a 911 call that was placed by a civilian at the scene of the shooting and that the call was analyzed by a forensic scientist for the family, who found no breaks or alterations in the recording. Taylor has speculated that the call dropped and did not capture everything that was said.

    “I think none of their stories match,” MacIsaac’s sister, Joanne, told reporters Wednesday. “I’d like to say it’s surprising that the SIU didn’t have a lot more questions with this, but it seems to be the way the SIU handles these situations.”

    The SIU does not comment on probes that are the subject of a coroner’s inquest, and it has also never said in the past if it listened to, or even obtained, the 911 call.

    Wednesday was an especially emotional day for the MacIsaac family, sitting in the front rows of the courtroom. Some family members, overcome by emotion, left during parts of Brown’s testimony.

    Like Williams the day before him, Brown testified that his focus after the shooting was on helping MacIsaac. He said that once MacIsaac fell to the ground, he removed the table leg while the other officers remained with their guns drawn.

    “I took control of Mr. MacIsaac, I took hold of his hands and he was actively resisting and not listening,” Brown testified, saying he was trying to administer first aid along with Williams. He said the only word from MacIsaac that he could make out was “pain.”

    The term “actively resisting” sparked a wave of sobbing from the MacIsaac family.

    “Michael was met with such a lack of compassion, empathy and caring by these three men, right after he was shot,” Joanne MacIsaac told reporters. “When he’s naked, and cold and on the ground and you’re pushing in on his abdomen after he’s been shot, to use the phrase that he was still ‘actively resisting,’ my God, what is the matter with these people? What is the matter with each of them?”

    Williams testified Tuesday that he retrieved first aid kits from the police vehicles and attempted to speak to MacIsaac, who was yelling but was incomprehensible.

    “At that point it was my job to save his life,” Williams said. “He did eventually start speaking to me, he told me his name was Michael. I told him ‘I’m trying to help you, we have help on the way’ . . . I asked him what had happened. He told me he was hot.”

    Coroner’s counsel Troy Harrison asked how long it took for an ambulance to arrive.

    “I couldn’t tell you,” Williams said. “It was upsetting and chaotic.”

    Williams said that when the ambulance did arrive, he jumped in the driver’s seat, offering to drive to the hospital so that the two paramedics could focus on MacIsaac. But one of his superiors at the scene had another officer drive and ordered Williams back to the police division because of his involvement in the shooting.

    Under cross-examination by Anita Szigeti, lawyer for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s Empowerment Council, it was pointed out to Williams that the first time an officer tried to calm MacIsaac down by asking his name and talking about help was after he had already been shot.

    On Wednesday, Szigeti questioned Brown on his knowledge of mental health issues and individuals in crisis, suggesting he has stereotyped or negative perceptions of persons with mental health issues, which he denied.

    The officer testified earlier that he received a 40-hour training course in either 2005 or 2006 to be designated a mental health response officer, which consisted largely of meeting the various agencies that can help individuals in crisis. He said he hasn’t taken any refresher courses since then.

    Szigeti listed some of the observations Brown made to the SIU as to why he believed MacIsaac may have mental health issues, including glossy eyes and speaking gibberish.

    “(These observations) could also be consistent with being shot, though,” she said.

    After her cross-examination, Szigeti turned and quietly apologized to the MacIsaac family.

    The inquest continues.


    0 0


    Sure, the real estate market is down. But in 47 per cent of 905-area neighbourhoods and 34 per cent of Toronto neighbourhoods, detached home prices continued to rise in the second quarter of the year.

    A Re/MAX analysis of 65 Toronto region neighbourhoods tells a story of two markets — a blockbuster in the first quarter and a slumped second quarter, following the province’s Fair Housing policy announcement in April — said Christopher Alexander, Ontario-Atlantic region director for Re/MAX Integra.

    Affordability is a big part of the picture, he said.

    “The vast majority of upward-trending markets in the 905 were under $1 million. With interest rates still low, under $1 million is affordable for a lot of households,” said Alexander.

    Read more:

    Toronto housing market downturn will be short-lived, CMHC says

    Average price of a Toronto condo cracks $500,000

    New home sales soar in June, as condos dominate market

    Affordability in the Toronto region often comes with a commute to the city. Brock, near Lake Simcoe, had an 11.73 per cent increase in the average price of a detached home from the first to the second quarter.

    Caledon was up 8.61 per cent and Halton Hills saw a 7.75 per cent average price rise.

    In Toronto, detached home prices south of Bloor St. west to the Humber River dropped about 20 per cent and the Rosedale/Moore Park area saw a 22 per cent price decline.

    But Alexander cautions those area averages could be skewed by the sale of some luxury homes. In the first quarter, the majority of Rosedale sales, for example, were over $5 million, he said.

    More typical would be moderate price increases of 7.59 per cent in the zone that includes Riverdale, Greenwood-Coxwell and Blake-Jones. The Junction-High Park area saw a similar rise of about 7 per cent.

    The Re/MAX analysis is based on the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) map which divides the city into zones — most incorporate multiple neighbourhoods.

    The report is a snapshot of an extraordinary year in Toronto-area house sales, said Alexander. But the real picture is a year-over-year price comparison and, year over year, prices are up, he said.

    The Re/MAX report is based on TREB statistics, which are published monthly. The board reported that the average detached home price rose about 8 per cent year over year in June in the Toronto region.

    Alexander acknowledged there were areas that went down in price between the first and second quarter. But, he said, as a realtor that just means there are opportunities for buyers who have more choices than they did a couple of months ago and can negotiate with conditions on their offers.


    0 0


    When Katie Mohammed turned to Facebook to air concerns about her community — as millions of people do every day — she didn’t think she’d ever be sued for libel, and become the centre of a precedent-setting case in Ontario’s laws protecting speech in the public interest.

    A libel lawsuit against Mohammed was dismissed under relatively new provincial rules targeting “strategic lawsuits against public participation,” known as anti-SLAPP measures. The Stouffville resident was the first defendant to be awarded damages under the legislation.

    “I’m just relieved that it’s over,” Mohammed said Wednesday. “It’s like a weight’s been lifted off my shoulders.”

    Mohammed, a teacher, was asked by United Soils Management Ltd. for a retraction and apology on the first day of school last year after she posted to two Facebook groups, “Stouffville Mommies” and “Stouffville Buy and Sell,” criticizing the company’s plan to deposit fill in an in-town pit.

    She complied with the request two days later, but was still served with a statement of claim for libel totalling $120,000 at the end of that week.

    “As a mom and a teacher to receive something like that it’s just devastating as most people don’t have the means to fight a case like that,” she said.

    Justice Thomas Lederer ruled in a decision Tuesday that the case would be dismissed under the anti-SLAPP legislation, which was passed in October 2015.

    The legislation allows such lawsuits to be dismissed using the faster simplified procedure route, as long as a judge concludes that the case passes certain tests.

    “There is no merit to this action much less ‘substantial merit,’ ” Lederer’s decision reads.

    That ruling, along with the conclusions that Mohammed could have mounted a defence, and that United Soils Management wouldn’t suffer sufficient harm to justify limiting her expression, informedLederer’s decision to dismiss the case.

    He awarded $7,500 in damages to Mohammed, to be paid by United Soils Management.

    Alec Cloke, owner of United Soils Management, was reached by the Star but declined to comment because his lawyer, William A. Chalmers, was on vacation.

    The company’s case focused on Mohammed’s use of the words “poison” and “children” in her Facebook posts, and argued that the choice of words falsely implied that the company was committing a crime, Lederer’s decision summarized.

    Sabrina Callaway, Mohammed’s lawyer, said she is happy that damages were awarded, but not because the amount itself is likely to be seen as a deterrent to corporations considering strategic lawsuits.

    “It just kind of reiterates that my client was doing the right thing by speaking out,” she said of the award.

    Rob De Luca, a spokesperson for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, said that the more likely deterrent to arise from cases like this is companies’ fear of bad publicity.

    “Attempts to silence individuals with frivolous litigation is going to itself be something that’s discussed in the public realm,” he said.

    In addition to being used as a precedent in future anti-SLAPP cases in Ontario, De Luca said that the decision in Mohammed’s case may attract the attention of other jurisdictions considering similar legislation.

    “Other jurisdictions are watching Ontario to see our case law developments on this,” he said. “These kinds of decisions will have a wider influence than simply in Ontario.”

    Mohammed said that she hopes that her case encourages other Canadians that their rights to free speech will be protected in court.

    “I just hope that Canadians realize that it’s important for people to speak up on matters of public interest and that there’s a law to protect them now,” she said.


    0 0


    The first six months of 2017 haven’t been kind to Toronto’s homeless.

    From January through June, 46 homeless people have died across the city, according to new information released Wednesday by Toronto Public Health in an ongoing initiative to monitor these deaths.

    Read more: Mississauga library receives federal funding to help fight homelessness

    Second-quarter data from an expanded tracking program, led by Toronto Public Health and supported by about 200 health and social service agencies, reported that 19 deaths occurred from April 1 through June 30. The median age for the deceased during this period was 48.5.

    “The numbers are shocking and deeply disturbing,” said Councillor Joe Cressy (Trinity-Spadina). “If the test of a city is how well it cares for the most vulnerable, these deaths show we are failing.”

    While the city collects a broad range of information about the deceased, such as gender, unofficial cause of death, and location of death, it only makes public the number of homeless dead and the median age. Advocates for the homeless say more data should be made public so that citizens have a better understanding of who is dying and why.

    “It’s like the city has put this (death tally) up there without fanfare, without any data to help anyone understand it except for the (median) age,” said long-time Toronto street nurse Cathy Crowe, also a distinguished visiting practitioner at Ryerson University’s department of politics and public administration.

    She said she believes sharing other category information with the public “would help put a picture out there of who’s homeless” in Toronto.

    “I don’t think we want names but I think we want gender breakdown, I think we want to know some categories of cause of death; how many opiate overdoses? How many suicides? How many trauma-related? Were any related to weather?” Crowe continued.

    “We know zero.”

    In the initiative’s first-quarter statistics, collected from January to the end of March, 27 homeless deaths were reported via the city-wide data network. The median age during that time was 51.

    The total of 46 deaths — from January through June — produced an average rate of 1.8 deaths per week, with a median age of 50 over the first half of the year.

    “Life expectancy in Toronto is approximately 80 years. While these are early results, the age at death for the homeless population represents a serious health inequity,” said Paul Fleiszer, manager of surveillance and epidemiology at Toronto Public Health.

    He said research and “lived experience” have shown that factors such as unaffordable and poor-quality housing, and housing instability, are associated with a range of poor mental and physical health outcomes, including injuries, and chronic and communicable diseases.

    “As a result, homelessness represents a major contribution to the loss of potential years of life,” Fleiszer said.

    Crowe said that the median age of the deceased “means that some very, very young people died and that’s not normal.”

    “It’s scary,” she said.

    Advocates for the homeless have long protested that previous attempts to accurately count the dead have underreported the extent of the tragic situation.

    Previously, the city has recorded deaths only in city-administered shelters; that number for all of 2016 was 33.

    The new initiative’s third-quarter results are scheduled for release in October, with the 2017 report finalized by January 2018.

    The tracking of homeless deaths across the city, which began on Jan. 1, 2017, was spurred in part by a 2016 Toronto Star investigation that found the province and most Ontario municipalities have no mandate to track homeless deaths comprehensively, if at all.

    Volunteers with the Toronto Homeless Memorial, at the Church of the Holy Trinity, next to the Eaton Centre, have been compiling an unofficial list of homeless people in the GTA who have died since the 1980s. There are now more than 850 names on the memorial. Its highest annual toll was 72 in 2005.

    “These numbers should be a wake-up call to politicians of all stripes,” said Cressy, referring to the new Toronto Public Health data.

    “With increased supports we know that many of these deaths are preventable.”


    0 0


    Ontario’s police watchdog is investigating after a 15-year-old boy was shot by police at a Mississauga shopping plaza early Thursday.

    Paramedics said the boy was rushed to the Hospital for Sick Children in serious condition, with a gunshot wound to his upper torso. He is now in stable condition.

    Special Investigations Unit spokesperson Jason Gennaro confirmed that a Peel Regional Police officer shot the boy while responding to a call for a robbery at a gas station at Credit Valley Town Plaza at Britannia and Creditview Rds. at 1:50 a.m.

    Gennaro said police were told three males were involved in the gas station robbery, but two of them fled in a grey vehicle.

    The third male attempted to rob another business, Gennaro said, then tried unsuccessfully to get into three occupied vehicles that were parked in the plaza.

    “Peel police officers arrived at the scene, there was an interaction with the man and one Peel police officer discharged a firearm,” said Gennaro. “At least one shot was fired.”

    He said the interaction took place near a bank in the plaza.

    Gennaro said he could not confirm if the boy was armed.

    Police are searching for the two males who left the scene, but did not have any information to identify them, he said.

    “We are currently appealing for any witnesses who may have been in the area at the time who may have captured the incident or video or who have seen anything to contact our lead investigator.”

    All businesses in the plaza are closed while SIU completes the investigation. Gennaro said the area will be closed for “most of the day.”

    Six SIU investigators and two forensic investigators have been assigned to the case.

    The SIU investigates cases involving police that result in death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.


    0 0


    More than seven months after the death of his brother, Soleiman, Yusuf Faqiri and his family are still waiting for an answer as to why he died.

    A coroner’s report, released to the family earlier this month, showed that Soleiman, 30, suffered more than 50 injuries before dying in a segregation cell at the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ontario, on Dec. 15, 2016 — after an almost three-hour long confrontation with prison officers.

    According to the report, Soleiman had a bruised laceration on his forehead and multiple bruises and abrasions on his face, torso and limbs — all the result of blunt impact trauma.

    The report also details the final moments of Soleiman’s life. Diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2005, Soleiman had been placed in a segregated cell while he waited for a bed at a mental health facility. The afternoon of his death, he was taken to the shower where he stayed for just under two hours. He resisted the efforts of guards to remove him by spraying them with water and throwing shampoo bottles.

    At 3 p.m., after he calmed down, guards escorted him back to his cell, his wrists and ankles cuffed. He spat on a guard and was hit in return. When he resisted going into his cell, guards used pepper spray on him, twice, and forced him to the ground. An alarm was called to get assistance, after which a large number of correctional officers entered Soleiman’s cell, according to the report.

    The prison guards took shifts and described the ordeal as exhausting. When witnesses saw that Soleiman wasn’t moving, medical personnel were called. Soleiman died at 3:45 p.m., 11 days after he was taken into custody in Lindsay, the report says.

    Some of the incident was recorded on video, which the coroner had access to, but neither the family nor their lawyers have seen. Digital images of the scene after his death show several discarded items outside his cell, including a mattress, a book, white and orange sheets and garbage.

    The coroner’s report did not determine a cause of death, calling it “unascertained.”

    “The fact that the report doesn’t conclude what exactly, from a medical perspective, caused his body to stop functioning, doesn’t diminish the fact that . . . there was no other event prior to his death that could have been material,” said Edward Marrocco, the Faqiri family’s lawyer. “The only thing that happened to him before he became unresponsive was this beating.”

    “My brother was alive before this altercation,” said Faqiri. “He’s dead after.”

    Faqiri and his family met with the coroner to discuss the report, a common procedure, according to Dr. David Eden, Regional Supervising Coroner of inquests. “(Unascertained deaths) are not common, but there are times when it is the best finding to make,” said Eden. In this case, it was “based on the best information (they) have at the moment.”

    This was the second time the Faqiri family had any contact with the government. The first was a letter sent to them four months after Soleiman’s death, by Marie-France Lalonde, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services. The letter offered “heartfelt” and “sincere” condolences, adding that the Ministry “takes the responsibility of individuals in our care very seriously.”

    “It is disgraceful the way my family has been treated,” said Faqiri, “To this day we have no explanation.”

    Because Soleiman’s death is still part of an ongoing police investigation, neither Eden nor the Ministry could provide comment. When asked if there would be an inquest Eden answered “certainly,” but only after consultation with the family and the conclusion of the investigation.

    According to the Ministry of the Attorney General, in Ontario, the investigation and laying of criminal charges is a function of the police.

    However, Marrocco says that based on what he’s been told by police, the investigation by the Kawartha police has concluded and they have reached out to a Crown Attorney’s office “for an opinion on whether and which criminal charges to put forward.”

    Both Marrocco and Faqiri expect criminal charges to be laid, saying that the post-mortem report gives reasonable grounds for this. Kawartha Police said that they could not comment at this time.

    The Faqiri family were refugees from Afghanistan who moved to Canada in the early 1990s, when Soleiman was six years old. They have lived in the Ajax-Pickering area since 1998, where Soleiman is now buried. Yusuf said family was very important to Soleiman and he had a special relationship with everyone, spoke three languages and was pursuing an engineering degree.

    “We’re in 2017, and as Canadians, we have to really, really be alarmed at what happened to Soleiman,” said Yusuf.


    0 0


    WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump has never gone a full week without a false claim, but some weeks are worse than others.

    The past week was his worst yet. From last Thursday, the six-month anniversary of his presidency, to this Wednesday, he made 33 false claims. That’s about five every day. Starting Saturday, when this barrage really began, it’s about seven per day.

    Trump made the false claims in every possible venue: an interview with the Wall Street Journal (11 false claims) to a campaign rally in Ohio (five false claims) to a speech to the National Boy Scout Jamboree (four false claims).

    Over six months in office, Trump has proven uniquely willing to lie, exaggerate and mislead. By all expert accounts, he is more frequently inaccurate than any of his predecessors.

    Read more: How Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale fact-checks Trump

    We are keeping track. Below is a list of every false claim Trump has made since his inauguration on Jan. 20.

    Trump is averaging 2.4 false claims per day.

    Why call them false claims, not lies? We can’t be sure that each and every one was intentional; in some cases, he may have been confused or ignorant. What we know, objectively, is that he was not telling the truth.

    Last updated: July 27, 2017


    0 0


    Deli restaurant owner Zane Caplansky has a message for Markham residents upset about the massive cow statue the city installed in their front yards: I’ll take it!

    “If you’ve got a beef with that statue, you’ve got a beef with me, because I’m all about beef,” he said Thursday, less than 48 hours after Charity Crescent homeowners met with Councillor Alan Ho to express distaste over the cow their street is named after.

    But the donor of the statue, Helen Roman-Barber, who is developing Markham’s Cathedraltown neighbourhood in honour of her family’s deep history in the area, has different plans.

    “Good luck, guy. Good luck, guy,” she said.

    Her father Stephen Roman’s Romandale Farm, the land on top of which Cathedraltown now rests, bought the famed cow named Brookview Tony Charity from a farm in Port Perry in 1985 for a then-record $1.45 million.

    Charity was a nine-time all-Canadian or All-American show cow. Never defeated in her class, she was said to be the most productive milking cow in the world in the 1980s.

    Inside Roman-Barber’s office on King St. hang photos of Charity — and other family heirlooms.

    The tables are covered in magazines from her ancestors’ lineage in Slovakia.

    They’re filled with sticky tags that denote the inspiration for everything found in her Markham development from its massive Cathedral of the Transfiguration to its bells, splash pads, cafés, arboretum, heritage apple orchard and ancient tress.

    Roman-Barber plans to build Cathedraltown a traditional town square, too.

    Many of the streets are named after bulls and cows Roman owned. She glows about the calves her father gave to the papal farm in Castel Gandolfo in Italy.

    “This is not a normal piece of suburb,” she said, proudly.

    “The people who bought the original houses in Cathedraltown were all aware of all this history, because it was in the sales centre: the history of Romandale Farm, the street names, my dad. But people who have bought recently don’t have any of that.”

    She says residents don’t understand the planning that went into Charity’s statue.

    “When people cite safety concerns, that’s been gone into so in depth; there are no safety concerns,” Roman-Barber said. “The city also had to approve what we did to prove it was safe. It was a double tier of approvals.”

    Roman-Barber commissioned artist Ron Baird to recreate Charity in stainless steel in honour of her father.

    Even the direction the statue is facing was designed so that the cow would overlook the 30-year-old trees Roman-Barber had planted in the parquet (instead of planting new trees) to the dome of the Slovak Catholic cathedral.

    Residents have asked Ho to look to move Charity to a nearby pond, where she could still face the cathedral.

    He says council couldn’t persuade Roman-Barber to put the piece elsewhere during the planning process.

    Caplansky won’t give up hope. On Thursday, he met with Luke Robertson, one of Mayor John Tory’s staff, to make clear his interest in the statue for his Yorkville location.

    He says it could be a beacon for beef lovers and an attraction the city would fall in love with.

    “Are you kidding? It’s beautiful. I think the cow, itself, is stunning,” he said.

    Bob Forhan, Roman-Barber’s land-use planning consultant, says Caplansky and residents shouldn’t get their hopes up; Charity isn’t moving.

    “Charity was planned to be in her crescent. It’s called Charity Crescent, and that was 20 years ago,” he said. “There’s no way she’s going to go anywhere else, because she’s in her crescent where she belongs. That was where she was farmed.”

    “To us, history is important, the most important,” Roman-Barber said.


    0 0


    Waterloo Regional Police has been called in by Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders to investigate the circumstances surrounding the assault of Black Whitby teen Dafonte Miller after an off-duty Toronto Police officer was charged.

    That request by Saunders, announced at a police board meeting on Thursday, comes amid criticism of both Toronto and Durham Police for not reporting Miller’s injuries to the police watchdog responsible for investigating cases of serious injury when police officers are involved.

    That criticism caused the meeting to be temporarily halted when journalist and Black activist Desmond Cole demanded to speak to the case publicly before being escorted out of the building, fined and warned not to return.

    “As chief of police, it is my responsibility to ensure that transparency and trust are at the foremost of everything we do as a service,” Saunders said at the start of a public meeting, saying Waterloo Chief Bryan Larkin has agreed to take carriage of the report.

    Last week, Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) charged Toronto police Const. Michael Theriault and his brother, civilian Christian Theriault, with aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, and public mischief in Miller’s beating last December.

    Miller was punched, kicked and hit repeatedly in the face with a metal pipe, says his lawyer, Julian Falconer. One of Miller’s eyes will have to be surgically removed, Falconer added. When Durham Police arrived on scene, it was Miller who was arrested. (All charges have since been dropped.)

    The SIU learned of the incident only when Falconer contacted the panel in April.

    “This case is complicated and there have been serious allegations made, which everyone is taking extremely seriously, especially members of the Toronto Police Services Board,” board chair Andy Pringle said Thursday. He added that the board supports the chief’s decision to seek an outside force to conduct a followup investigation.

    “The chief has advised the board that due to the fact that there are two very different versions of this case in the public domain, it is important to take this opportunity to have another agency that is independent and separate to conduct the Section 11 investigation.”

    An internal report by a police service to the police board investigating matters arising from an SIU investigation — referred to as a Section 11 for the provincial law it that requires it — will look at “procedures, policies and conduct in the handling of this case,” Pringle said.

    Saunders said members of his professional standards unit determined that the case did not meet the threshold to report to the SIU with the information they had “at that time.”

    “Many months later, a very different version of the events of Dec. 28 was presented to the SIU,” Saunders said.

    The SIU’s website states that in the case of an off-duty officer, it typically don’t investigate unless the officer identified themselves, or displayed police equipment during an incident.

    Saunders’ defence of why the incident was not reported to the SIU is contradicted by the account detailed to the Star by Miller’s lawyer, who said Michael Theriault twice identified himself as an officer — to Miller and his friends as they encountered him outside the Whitby home and on a 911 call.

    The Theriaults’ father, John Theriault, is a longtime detective in the Toronto police professional standards unit, Falconer said.

    Durham Police and its board have said very little publicly about the case.

    Roger Anderson, chair of the Durham Police Services Board, was not available to comment on the case Thursday, his staff told the Star.

    Durham police did not respond to multiple requests for an interview with Durham Police Chief Paul Martin on Thursday. All questions were referred to spokesperson David Selby, who repeated an earlier statement to the Star Thursday night that the responsibility to report to the SIU lay solely with Toronto police.

    “We are not at liberty to discuss any details related to the incident as there are active charges before the court,” Selby said in an email.

    When reached by the Star last week, Selby said that multiple Durham officers were at the scene of Miller’s alleged beating.

    “We conducted an investigation and interviewed multiple people. Our investigation resulted in only one person being charged — the injured male party,” Selby said in an email.

    The responsibility to contact the SIU should lie with whichever police force is first notified of an incident, said former SIU director Howard Morton.

    “They might decide to contact the police service that the officer is a member of, to have them contact the SIU, but I was always of the view that, because (police) have to contact us right away, then it’s whatever police service is (initially) notified,” Morton added.

    Mayor John Tory said the report from Waterloo Police will be made public.

    “I think what we have to do is let the Waterloo Police Service do their job. There’s been no suggestion that anybody associated with that police service had any involvement in this or has any prejudice going in,” Tory told reporters. “I trust they will do their job as police officers do, in an honest and thorough manner.”

    After briefly moving on to other business, the meeting was disrupted by Cole, who demanded a forum to speak to the Miller case, noting it was not made part of the public agenda.

    Pringle earlier warned no disruptions would be tolerated, alluding to previous meetings where Cole and members of Black Lives Matter question the board on their oversight of police shootings and racial profiling.

    As Cole continued to speak, board members, including Tory, walked out of the room.

    Cole was eventually escorted outside by a group of officers, with one on each arm, and charged under the Trespass to Property Act for failing to leave when directed. The provincial offence comes with a $65 fine.

    Speaking to reporters outside, Cole said the way Miller was treated “is emblematic to us as Black people about how the system always turns us into the perpetrator even when we are the victim.”

    “As a Black person who knows that this can happen to us and then knows that after it’s revealed that it happened that they will continue to cover it up, I’m terrified,” Cole said. “And I have to act the way that I’m acting now because sitting here calmly and quietly is not going to save my life and it’s not going to save the lives of Black people.”


    0 0


    On a rainy summer night, lit by a palette of yellow streetlights and blue low-beams from passing cars, a young couple danced on the corner of Bloor St. West and Queen’s Park like an animated watercolour.

    The pair was protected overhead by a single black umbrella as they held each other close. Tango music crooned over a speaker tucked under cover of the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal. Onlookers stood quietly to the side, watching.

    The pair aren’t lovers. But they are part of something bigger — a tango community in Toronto that began just before the First World War.

    “This is the third renaissance,” Igor El Espejero, who acted as DJ, told the Star. After tango was born in lower-class regions of Buenos Aires in the mid-to-late 1800s, the intimate dance made its way to Toronto. Booms in tango popularity hit during the First and Second World Wars, he said, then again in the mid-90s.

    “We come to a very safe environment, where you can just hold someone,” he said. “You share your personal space with someone else for ten, twelve minutes, and then it’s just ‘thank you very much’.”

    El Espejero and the pair beneath the umbrella, Desmond Chan and Junko Mita Bodie, are a part of the group that dances on city streets in the summer months. At times, they’ll dance outside for five hours straight.

    El Espejero called the practice “milonga” — simultaneously meaning the place where they dance, a particular musical genre, and one of three styles in a tango repertoire. The tango itself is simple in structure, based on a series of movements divided by either slow or quick beats.

    Ruoyu Yan, who also braved the rain Wednesday night, said that the intimacy of the dance made her nervous at first. “It took me three to four months to have my first close embrace,” she admitted.

    Yan first began dancing the tango as part of a club at the University of Toronto, before finding the larger Toronto tango scene and outdoor milonga.

    “During a twelve-minute tanda, we embrace another person, allowing us to be vulnerable,” she explained. To her, tango is about connecting with another human being — but it also forces dancers to be vulnerable with themselves.

    It’s easy to become so occupied in everyday tasks and career demands in a fast-paced city like Toronto. “We forget about simply being spontaneous,” Yan said. “Tango offers us the beauty of pause.”

    On a typical night of milonga, which takes place every other Wednesday in the summer — typically on that same street corner — El Espejero and Yan say there can be up to fifty dancers locked in rhythmic embraces.

    But, this time, the rain kept most of them at home.

    “Only a few brave souls came,” El Espejero said, taking a seat on a bench outside of the Royal Ontario Museum. Yan smiled, adding that Chan and Bodie dancing beneath their umbrella anyway was romantic to watch.

    For Chan, it means much more.

    As an immigrant to Canada from Hong Kong seven years ago, he said that finding the tango community in Toronto was like finding “a hidden heaven.”

    “It was difficult for me to establish a stable social network in such a big and diverse city like Toronto,” he said. Three years in, he found tango. “Being in a group like this gives me a sense of identity and belonging.”


    0 0


    Calgary police say a woman they’ve been seeking in a quadruple homicide earlier this month has been taken into custody in Toronto.

    Yu Chieh Liao, who goes by Diana Liao, is considered a person of interest in killings police have described as brutal and ruthless.

    Police say Liao is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for fraud.

    Glynnis Fox, her older sister Tiffany Ear and Cody Pfeiffer were found dead in a burned out car at a northwest Calgary construction site on July 10.

    Read more:Calgary police recover three bodies after burning car put out in new subdivision

    Hanock Afowerk, the burned car’s owner and the man police believe was the intended target, was found dead in a rural area west of Calgary two days later.

    Afowerk and Liao knew each other.

    Police say the man Liao was spotted with in the Moose Jaw, Sask., area shortly after the homicides has been identified.

    Tewodros Mutugeta Kebede, who is 25, was arrested in Toronto on unrelated offences last week.

    Police have said Liao has ties to Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto, Regina and Moose Jaw, Sask.


    0 0


    Not sure who is the bigger bozo in this column: Andy Petrowski or Donald Trump.

    Of course Petrowski, as a mere St. Catharines regional councillor, can only be accused of boondocks bozo-ism. Other guy is president of the most powerful nation on Earth.

    And to be perfectly honest, the Tweeter-in-Chief is simply a drive-by blot on Petrowski’s Twitter compulsions.

    The councillor is all the time tweeting to Trump, sometimes four, five times a day. For reasons, he explained to the Star, which should be obvious: “Because everybody following Trump can read my tweets.”

    Yes, it’s a humongous yip canvas and irresistible to this yokel politician, despite being snapped with a Twitter-leash by the Regional administration — forbidden to use his regional email account, indeed, suspended from all government-issued communications devices, after an embedded pornographic image was sent from his email account on May 29.

    Not his doing, Petrowski insisted, of what was but the most recent scandale arising from his social media twitching. Somebody else got their dirty fingers on his left-open government-issued iPad and did the deed. A person Petrowski indicates he can identify, but chooses not to. He did apologize for the mass-mailing of a woman sitting on a stool, legs wide open.

    Last week, about half an hour before Petrowski showed up for a council meeting — his appearance was brief and calculated to stop the clock running on Day 50 of a personal leave — he popped up on his personal Twitter account, posting a fake Trump tweet. “It was a meme,” he emphasizes to the Star, as if such a distinction is relevant.

    In the meme, fake-Trump says: “Regional Council is VERY weak. We need to be STRONG against radical liberal elites. SAD! Petrowski will defend taxpayers.’’

    To which the real Petrowski responds: “Thank you, Mr. President. It’s time for everyone to come together to Make Our Countries Great Again!”

    It can get brain-cramping, sifting out real news from FAKE NEWS, Trump’s most notable contribution to the lexicon of neologism. Well, apart from “covfefe,” which was, at least, amusing.

    “I thought it would be funny,” says Petrowski of his phony Trump thing.

    Such a riot, Petrowski, especially when railing against FAKE NEWS media. Social media, he claims, is his only means for subverting all his enemies in legacy media, the way they twist his words and edit out pertinent quotes. Which is why he’s not doing interviews anymore. Except he can’t help himself and . . . does interviews, such as this one, ranging far afield in his screeds against Liberals, liberals, lefties, “pathetic” fellow councilors, and, most particularly, the Region’s integrity commissioner — a “complete lunatic” — who, a couple of weeks before the notorious porn thing, recommended (it was accepted) that Petrowski apologize for previous code-of-conduct violations and agree not to use his Twitter account in a manner that contravenes that code.

    There were at least three separate incidents investigated by the commissioner. In the past, a text message was sent from his phone to Police Chief Jeff McGuire that read, “hello clown are you a tyrant?” and he has tweeted bilge attacking gays, President Barack Obama, Muslims, refugees and (via website links on re-tweets) Jews.

    So, this is what Petrowski has to say about the reprimand passed against him:

    “I’m not apologizing.”

    “I’m not going to make any retractions on my Twitter account.”

    “I’m not taking any bogus sensitivity training.”

    The sensitivity training is a condition of his return to council.

    Now, I’m no fan of sensitivity bunkum; it is of dubious usefulness when imposed. But council did pass that motion on June 8, voting to suspend Petrowski from all council committees, etc., until he submitted and got his head screwed on right.

    Petrowski counters that council has no jurisdictional right to “pile on” demands — the sensitivity training, the apology — and that the reprimand has already been duly accepted, done, finito.

    “Once you’ve been reprimanded, there are no other options. The integrity commissioner recommended a public reprimand and then he piled on with his own penalties. He’s a complete lunatic. He doesn’t understand the law.

    “They’re just piling on these ridiculous left-wing motions to a complaint where I’ve never even been told who the complainants are. Sensitivity training according to who? Kathleen Wynne? Justin Trudeau? They want me to go somewhere to change the way I think and the way I express myself, my freedom of expression.

    “Why don’t we just add lethal injection?”

    It’s tempting.

    Dropping into council last week, that was strategy. Under the Municipal Act, a councillor can be on leave for a maximum of three months, after which that individual’s seat becomes vacant and council decides how to fill it.

    Aha! Petrowski suspects a plot. Because council takes all of August off, the next meeting is not scheduled until mid-September, by which time Petrowski will be beyond the limit. The cameo appearance last Friday was intended to dodge that possibility.

    Lord knows it’s safe to say council would like to be rid of this chronic embarrassment. Regional chair Alan Caslin had said — before the personal leave was announced — that he would ask Petrowski to resign.

    Petrowski won’t say why he took leave. “I’ve never called it a medical leave.”

    Next tweak of the Petrowski Plan: Showing up for one of the committee meetings on which he sits. “Let’s see what happens. Will the chair ignore me or not?”

    Keeping him away from boards and committees — all part of the plot to remove him from the “rough and tumble” of regional politics. “They are denying my ability to fight for my constituents. It’s a canard, a distraction, using stupid tools to take the public and the media’s attention off of council business.” Like taxes and profligate public works projects and left-wing agendas — the Gospel according to Rob Ford, or Donald Trump, come to that.

    Returning to his FAKE NEWS mock Trump tease. “I mean, really. Would anyone think the president of the United States would waste his time on Niagara?”


    0 0


    Cabbagetown man Andrew Kinsman has been missing for a month.

    “This case has been actively investigated since first being reported,” wrote Detective Sgt. Michael Richmond from Toronto Police division 51 in a statement posted on the “Find Andrew Kinsman” Facebook page on Wednesday.

    This statement is the latest update in Kinsman’s case since he was last seen in the early afternoon on June 26 at 71 Winchester St. as he worked on the property.

    Kinsman, 49, is the superintendant for his building, and his neighbours were alerted to his disappearance when the garbage was not taken out and his cat was left unfed.

    The disappearance is out of character for Kinsman, and, though there is no indication of foul play, police are calling the circumstances suspicious.

    A missing persons investigator is working on the case.

    Those close to Kinsman have been interviewed and the community has provided what information they know to police, the statement said. Police have followed up with what they’ve been told, but “no information has been provided or received which would assist in locating Mr. Kinsman.”

    As part of the investigation, police searched Kinsman’s apartment. They have also looked into dating apps, such as Grindr and Scruff, for anything suspicious.

    Richmond’s statement said a police investigation into cellphone and app communications hasn’t yielded any information yet. He also said looking into social media and cellphone communication is restricted because there needs to be evidence that a criminal offence was or will be committed to get a search warrant.

    The statement also addressed concerns that Kinsman’s disappearance is linked to 11 other missing men.

    Connecting the disappearances is “not factually correct” and is “misleading,” Richmond wrote.

    Five of the men were found alive and a sixth has died.

    The disappearances of three others were investigated and the police searched for them. They did not find the men.

    Although there is no information to link Kinsman to these three cases, police have not excluded the possibility the disappearances are connected, Richmond said.

    He described how 51 division works with the LGBTQ2 community, as the disappearances come from the Church and Wellesley area.

    “I am going to suggest that 51 Division is a model of diversity, and that this is reflected in the service we provide to all the citizens of 51 Division. This includes the investigative efforts made with respect to Andrew Kinsman,” he said.

    A news conference is planned for next week. “There is a balancing act associated with this, because there is a great deal of information which cannot be released in relation to this investigation,” Richmond said.

    Kinsman is about 6’2”, has a medium-to-stocky build, buzz-cut hair, a beard and glasses. He often wears cargo shorts and brown leather Birkenstock sandals. He has vertical scars on both knees from past surgeries.

    He also has two tattoos: an armband-type tattoo with wording on his right bicep and a tattoo with an expletive word on the left side of his chest.

    With files from Alanna Rizza and Jaren Kerr


    0 0


    BARCELONA, SPAIN—A Spanish commuter train crashed into a buffer early Friday at a station in northeastern Barcelona, tossing passengers to the floor and sending 53 people to the hospital, officials said.

    Public Works Minister Inigo de la Serna, who visited the scene, said 56 people in all received medical treatment, with 53 taken to city hospitals. Regional health authorities said one man was seriously injured by a blow to the chest, but his life was not in danger as he recovers at Barcelona’s Clinic Hospital.

    The accident happened at 7:15 a.m. on a train that began at the coastal town of Sant Vicenc de Calders, south of Barcelona.

    “When the train arrived at Francia station it applied the brakes but at the same time it made a noisy crash,” said passenger Said Saharaui.

    “The passengers were thrown to the floor,” he said. “Even though the train did brake, it wasn’t until the crash when it reached a full stop.”

    The impact of the crash smashed the nose of the train and left it hanging off one side. More damage occurred between the train’s first and second cars.

    The accident came as RENFE rail workers staged a one-day strike. The affected train was running as part of minimum services ordered by the Public Works Ministry.

    De la Serna said the train had passed its most recent inspection on July 18. He said officials are investigating data and equipment from the driver’s cabin to try to understand the cause of the accident.

    He said the 31-year-old driver, who was among 19 people slightly injured, had seven years of service on commuter trains.

    Many people in Spain were beginning their summer holidays Friday, with Barcelona and surrounding towns popular destinations.

    Francia is Barcelona’s second main train station after Sants, which handles the bullet train and most intercity services.


    0 0


    Families of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls are pushing the thorny issue of policing to the forefront of the national inquiry.

    The inquiry issued a statement on Thursday saying they “can and will consider the conduct of policing services and policies across Canada in 14 federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions.”

    The move came after an emotional Wednesday evening at the Assembly of First Nations meeting in Regina, where many families took to the microphone to speak directly with inquiry commissioners Michele Audette and Brian Eyolfson, demanding they make police issues more of a priority in the probe. And on Thursday, the last day of the AFN meeting, debate centred on whether the chiefs should call on the current inquiry commissioners to resign — a resolution that failed.

    On the issue of policing, the AFN heard from grieving families, including Delores Stevenson, the aunt of Nadine Machiskinic, who died in 2015 after falling down a laundry chute at the same hotel where the assembly was meeting.

    Stevenson said “we want justice for Nadine and we still don’t have answers.” At an inquest into Machiskinic’s death earlier this year a coroner’s jury“reversed the police conclusions that this was an accident” and changed her cause of death to “undetermined.”

    AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde threw his support behind the families, calling on the inquiry to make sure the terms of reference are broad enough to include policing.

    “As national chief, I would encourage the commissioners to use their powers and push the envelope . . . to ensure that all police services are reviewed, that they (be) questioned, and hopefully some recommendations brought forward to fix what obviously is not working,” Bellegarde said.

    However, the inquiry noted in its statement that it has different powers in different regions. In British Columbia, the commissioners cannot make findings of misconduct, but in Ontario the commissioners can.

    “In all jurisdictions the national inquiry can refer information on specific cases back to authorities for reinvestigation. Currently, there is a forensic team reviewing police files,” the statement said.

    Maggie Cywink, Ontario’s special adviser on the inquiry and sister of Sonya Cywink, who was found slain near London in 1994, said many families are still searching for answers as to what happened to their loved ones and how the police investigations were handled.

    “Justice comes in many forms. Police accountability is number one,” said Cywink, who did not attend the AFN meeting. Sonya’s murder is still unsolved.

    Cywink noted it has been almost 12 months since the inquiry under Chief Commissioner Marion Buller was first announced. She called the inquiry’s statement on policing “a last-ditch effort on the part of the inquiry to push this forward. After 12 months they are figuring this needs to be a priority? That is disturbing.”

    On Thursday, motions were put forward to revamp and bolster the inquiry, including the Manitoba chiefs calling on the commissioners to resign and be replaced.

    Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron implored the chiefs not to lose another two years by removing the commissioners for mistakes made.

    “Things are flawed but we can fix it,” said Cameron. The FSIN represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan.

    But Arlen Dumas, the newly elected Grand Chief of the Manitoba Chiefs, refused to back down on the resolution to replace the commissioners.

    “If I wasn’t able to provide tangible results, I wouldn’t be here today. I cannot back down on my position demanding a reset and the commissioners must be replaced.

    With files from The Canadian Press


    0 0


    WASHINGTON—Senate Republicans suffered a dramatic failure early Friday in their bid to advance a scaled-back plan to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, throwing into question whether they can actually repeal the 2010 health law.

    Their latest effort to redraw the ACA failed after Sen. John McCain’s decision to side with a couple other Republicans against U.S. President Donald Trump and GOP leaders. The Arizona Republican, diagnosed with brain cancer last week, returned to Washington Tuesday and delivered a stirring address calling for a bipartisan approach to overhauling the ACA, a process that may have compelled McCain to cast his rebellious vote.

    The vote was 49 to 51.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had hoped to approve the new, narrower rewrite of the health law at some point Friday, after facing dozens of amendments from Democrats. But the GOP defections left McConnell without a clear bill to push.

    McCain had been seeking an iron-clad guarantee from House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that, if the Senate approved this latest proposal, the House would not move to quickly approve the bill in its current form and instead engage in a broad House-Senate negotiation for a broader rollback of the law. Ryan issued a statement intended to assuage the concerns of McCain and two others, Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Ron Johnson, Wis., but the 2008 presidential nominee deemed the speaker’s statement as insufficient.

    The standoff between the two chambers highlighted the extent to which Republicans have still not reached a consensus on how to rewrite former president Barack Obama’s 2010 health-care law, and the degree to which Republicans are repeating many of the same back-room manoeuvres that Democrats used seven years ago to approve the ACA.

    Read more:

    Donald Trump just had his most dishonest week as president: 7 days, 34 false claims

    In profane rant, Trump’s communications director calls White Hosue chief of staff a ‘paranoid schizophrenic,’ tosses foul insults at top strategist

    Jeff Sessions says he will stay on as U.S. Attorney General as long as Trump sees fit

    McConnell’s draft rattled both moderates — Sens. Susan Collins, Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, Alaska, were the other Republican votes in opposition — and Republicans who wanted a more robust uprooting of the existing law.

    “I’m not going to tell people back in South Carolina that this product actually replaces Obamacare, because it does not, it is a fraud,” Graham said at a Thursday evening news conference with McCain and Johnson at his side.

    And while GOP senators insisted the bill they were considering would not make it into law, if enacted it would make sweeping changes to health coverage as well as medical treatment in the United States.

    It would eliminate enforcement of the ACA’s requirement that Americans obtain insurance or pay a tax penalty, and suspend for eight years enforcing the mandate that companies employing 50 or more workers provide coverage.

    The measure also would eliminate funding for preventive health care provided under the 2010 law and prohibit Medicaid beneficiaries from being reimbursed for Planned Parenthood services for one year. Instead, the federal funding that would have gone to Planned Parenthood would go to community health centers. It would end a 2.3 percent tax on medical device manufacturers for three years.

    And it would empower federal officials under an existing waiver program to give states wide latitude in how they allocate their Medicaid funding, potentially pooling that money with other programs such as one that helps lower-income Americans buy private insurance. It also would increase the limit on contributions to tax-exempt health savings accounts for three years.

    After weeks of secretive negotiations, McConnell unveiled this draft only a couple of hours before what was expected to be a cliffhanger vote early Friday. Even after that critical vote, the legislation was subject to dozens, if not hundreds, of Democratic amendments in the hours ahead, before a final vote later Friday.

    Shortly after it was introduced, the Congressional Budget Office issued an estimate finding that 16 million people would lose coverage and that premiums would rise roughly 20 percent a year between 2018 to 2026 compared to current law if Republicans enacted the pared-down bill.

    Sara Rosenbaum, a health law and policy professor at George Washington University, said the bill would make “enormous” changes to private and public insurance.

    Translating their pledge to repeal what they derisively call Obamacare into a law has proved embarrassingly difficult for Republicans. First, the House took an extra six weeks to pass its version of the bill in early May. Most Republicans agreed that the measure was flawed — Trump later called it “mean” for how it would deny insurance to 23 million people — and hoped that the Senate would craft a better bill.

    But McConnell’s closed-door negotiations ended in gridlock, leaving him to pull together this “skinny” repeal of the ACA, just to keep alive negotiations with the House to come up with a different plan later this summer.

    Many conservatives in both chambers object to the measure because they say it wouldn’t go far enough in repealing the ACA.

    For instance, the expansion of federal funding to use Medicaid to provide insurance to about 14 million Americans is left intact, a major victory for half a dozen Senate Republicans from states that accepted the additional money. Governors, under the new Senate proposal, would have more leeway in how they can spend Medicaid funding overall.

    Major insurers are warning that the proposal could destabilize the individual insurance market. Blue Cross Blue Shield Association criticized it on Wednesday, and on Thursday the industry’s largest trade group suggested it was unacceptable.

    “We would oppose an approach that eliminates the individual coverage requirement, does not offer continuous coverage solutions, and does not include measures to immediately stabilize the individual market,” America’s Health Insurance Plans wrote in a letter to Senate leaders.

    Senate Republicans, however, framed the bill as just a vehicle to keep alive their ACA repeal efforts.

    “My sense is people aren’t so much focused on the substance as they are this being the lifeline to get to a conference and expanding the bill,” said Sen. Bob Corker, Tenn.

    Before Ryan issued his statement, the prospect of an immediate up-or-down vote in the House raised alarms in the Senate. House Republican leaders instructed their members not to leave town for their month-long summer recess just yet.

    Key House conservatives said they would not back a skinny repeal in its current form. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, said that he wouldn’t vote for such a measure and that he didn’t think other conservatives would, either.

    Speaking on the Senate floor Thursday, McConnell emphasized that the votes this week would not reverse the ACA even if they culminate in the passage of a bill.

    “One phase of that process will end when the Senate concludes voting this week, but it will not signal the end of our work. Not yet,” he said.

    In an effort to muster enough votes for a narrow bill, GOP leaders suggested that even some proposals that have died in the Senate could resurface once senators enter negotiations with the House. And some members tried to add a few more provisions to the skinny bill, using their leverage to try to strengthen their negotiating positions in conference.

    While McConnell has led the negotiations over health-care legislation for weeks, Trump has sought to drum up support by pressing wavering Republicans.

    Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke called Sens. Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski, both Alaska Republicans, separately Wednesday to warn them that the administration may change its position on several issues, according to people briefed on the conversations, given Murkowski’s vote against proceeding with health-care legislation this week.

    Since Trump took office, Interior has indicated that it is open to constructing a road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge while expanding energy exploration elsewhere in Alaska. But now these policy shifts may be in jeopardy.

    Speaking to reporters Thursday, Sullivan said the Trump administration has been co-operative on Alaska issues with Murkowski, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

    “From my perspective, the sooner we can get back to that kind of co-operation between the administration and the chairman of the ENR Committee, the better for Alaska and the better for the country,” he said. Sullivan said he is not telling Murkowski how to respond.

    The Alaska Dispatch News first reported the calls; Interior officials did not respond to a request for comment.


    0 0


    About 700 ground crew workers at Canada’s busiest airport went on strike Thursday night after they rejected a contract offer from their employer.

    The members represented by the Teamsters union marched at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport waving picket signs and chanting “respect.”

    “We’re hoping to have little or no impact on the public,” union spokesperson Harjinder Badial told reporters after the membership voted.

    The labour dispute could have an impact on some operations at Pearson, but the Greater Toronto Airports Authority earlier said it had a contingency plan in place in the event of a strike or labour disruption but did not provide details.

    The unionized workers are employed by Swissport, a company that services 30 airlines at the airport including Sunwing, Air Transat, Air France and British Airways.

    The workers include baggage handlers, cargo handlers, cabin cleaners and other ground staff, as well as some employees who tow planes for the airlines Swissport services.

    The members of Teamsters Local 419 rejected a contract proposal from Swissport by a 95 per cent margin, Badial told reporters. He scoffed at the notion that Swissport said it was the final offer.

    “I’ve heard that many times before in my career as a labour unionist and I assure you eventually I will get a call,” he said.

    Workers will be picketing at the airport but Badial said they would not interfere with passengers trying to catch planes.

    “Our fight is not with the general public, it’s with Swissport management and we’re not here to delay any sort of flights or anything like that,” he said.

    Some of the airlines serviced by Swissport also said they were prepared if workers walked off the job.

    Air Transat said it was taking measures to ensure none of its flights would be delayed if a strike occurs. British Airways said it had a contingency plan and would continue to operate all its flights.

    Pierre Payette, Swissport Canada’s vice president of operations, said the company has bargained in good faith throughout contract talks. It also put out a memo to employees Tuesday, asking them to vote in favour of the company’s final offer.

    “We remain hopeful that there will be a positive outcome when employees vote today as our offer is fair to all parties,” Payette said in a statement issued earlier Thursday.

    The union, however, has described Swissport’s contract as unfair to its workers. It has also taken issue with the company’s decision to hire 250 temporary workers last May.

    The union filed a complaint with the Canadian Industrial Relations Board over that matter, alleging the temporary workers are poorly trained and have been involved in multiple accidents over the past few months.

    Swissport said it “categorically denies” those allegations.

    Read more: Region and travellers best served if airport a public asset: Opinion

    Expect a longer wait at Pearson Airport as enhanced security begins for U.S.-bound flights


    0 0


    BERLIN—A man with a knife fatally stabbed one person at a supermarket Friday in the northern German city of Hamburg and wounded four others as he fled, police said. He was then arrested.

    The assailant entered the supermarket in the Barmbek district on Friday afternoon and stabbed one person, who died at the scene, police said. As he fled, he wounded another four people.

    He was overwhelmed by passers-by and slightly injured in the process, police said. Officers then arrested the man.

    Police spokesman Timo Zill said authorities are investigating all options in the attack, which was carried out with a kitchen knife, the news agency dpa reported.

    Police said they don’t yet have any information on the assailant’s motive but there was no indication there was more than one attacker.

    Barmbek is in northeastern Hamburg.


    0 0


    TOKYO—North Korea fired a ballistic missile Friday night that landed in the ocean off Japan, Japanese officials said.

    “I have received information that North Korea once again conducted a missile firing,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said. “We will immediately analyze information and do our utmost to protect the safety of the Japanese people.”

    Abe said he has called a meeting of the National Security Council.

    Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said the missile flew for about 45 minutes and landed off the Japanese coast in waters between Japan and the Korean Peninsula.

    Japanese public broadcaster NHK said the coast guard issued safety warnings to aircraft and ships.

    In Washington, a Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, confirmed that a launch of a ballistic missile from North Korea had been detected.

    “We are assessing and will have more information soon,” he said.


    0 0


    WASHINGTON—It was the most dramatic night in the United States Senate in recent history. Just ask the senators who witnessed it.

    A seven-year quest to undo the Affordable Care Act collapsed — at least for now — as Sen. John McCain, the senior Republican from Arizona, kept his colleagues and the press corps in suspense over a little more than two hours late Thursday into early Friday.

    Not since September 2008, when the House of Representatives rejected the Troubled Asset Relief Program — causing the Dow Jones industrial average to plunge nearly 800 points in a single afternoon — had such an unexpected vote caused such a striking twist.

    The bold move by the nation’s most famous senator stunned his colleagues and possibly put the Senate on the verge of protracted bipartisan talks that McCain is unlikely to witness as he begins treatment for an aggressive form of brain cancer.

    “I’ve stated time and time again that one of the major failures of Obamacare was that it was rammed through Congress by Democrats on a strict party-line basis without a single Republican vote,” he said in a statement explaining his vote. “We should not make the mistakes of the past.”

    Rumours swirled late Thursday that the Arizona Republican, who had captured the nation’s sympathy this week after delaying his cancer treatment in order to return to Washington, might vote against the GOP’s “skinny repeal” plan — a watered-down version of earlier Republican proposals to repeal the 2010 health-care law.

    McCain warned at a hastily arranged news conference Thursday afternoon that he was leaning against supporting the legislation unless House Speaker Paul D. Ryan assured GOP senators that the House would not move to quickly approve the bill in its current form. McCain and Sens. Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, and Ron Johnson, of Wisconsin, wanted Ryan to launch broad House-Senate negotiations for a wider rollback of the law. Two hours later, Ryan issued a statement signalling he would launch negotiations, and Graham and Johnson announced their support.

    But not McCain.

    Reporters spotted him around 11 p.m.

    “Have you decided how you’ll vote?” they asked.

    “Yes,” McCain replied.

    “How?”

    “Wait for the show,” he said.

    McCain headed for the stage — the Senate floor — around midnight, emerging from his office in the Russell Senate Office Building for the subway ride to the U.S. Capitol.

    When he arrived, he held a brief conversation with Democratic Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer an exchange that left the New Yorker smiling.

    “I knew it when he walked on the floor,” Schumer later recounted, explaining that McCain had already called to share his plans.

    But few, if any, of his Republican colleagues realized what was about to transpire.

    Two votes were called just after midnight. The first was on a Democratic proposal to refer the “skinny repeal” bill back to a committee. The second vote was to pass “skinny repeal,” which would have repealed the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate and rolled back a tax on medical devices.

    “Let’s vote against skinny repeal,” Schumer told his colleagues before the votes as he once again derided the rushed nature of the health-care debate.

    McCain stood on the Republican side of the room nodding in agreement.

    With Republican Sens. Susan Collins, of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska, already planning to vote against the plan, Republicans could not afford to lose McCain. Vice-President Mike Pence was already at the Capitol prepared to break a tie. Instead, he launched a last-ditch effort to win McCain’s support.

    As the first vote began, McCain took his seat next to Graham, his closest friend in the Senate. The South Carolinian mostly nodded as McCain gesticulated, and signalled — through his body language — that he was likely to vote no. When Murkowski walked over to join the conversation, McCain winked and gave her a thumbs down — signalling his intentions.

    Collins joined the group as another clutch of Republican senators formed in the well of the Senate Chamber. Sen. Jeff Flake, the junior Arizonan who operates in McCain’s long shadow, stood next to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, Texan Sen. John Cornyn who counts GOP votes, and Pence. Eventually, Flake was dispatched to talk to McCain.

    He obliged, walked over to McCain and asked Graham to move over one seat. But McCain did not acknowledge Flake, focusing instead on Murkowski and Collins.

    That left Flake, one of the most polite members of the Senate, leaning into the conversation uncomfortably with a pained look on his face, as if he had to tell his father that he had run over the family dog with his car.

    Seeing that Flake was not making progress, Pence walked over at 12:44 a.m. McCain smiled, pointed at Collins and Murkowski, said something about “marching orders,” and stood up.

    “Mr. Vice-President,” he said, greeting Pence. For the next 21 minutes, the vice-president cajoled McCain, Collins and Murkowski. Twice during the conversation, a Pence aide came to whisper in the vice-president’s ear — other reporters learned it was the White House calling. Pence finally left to take a call, but later returned to speak with McCain.

    By then, other senators around the room realized what was happening.

    “You could see the body language in the entire chamber change in two hours,” Sen. David Perdue, the junior Georgia Republican, recalled. “One side was kind of ebullient, moving around and talking and the other side was subdued, and all of a sudden it began to change. There was an instinctive reaction that maybe this thing wasn’t going to pass. Nobody knew for sure.”

    “It was pretty sombre,” added Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar, of Minnesota.

    At 1:10 a.m., McCain crossed the Senate Chamber to talk to Schumer, Klobuchar and other Democrats, including SensDick Durbin of Illinois, Dianne Feinstein of California and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. As he approached, McCain told them he worried that reporters watching from the gallery above could read his lips. When he realized that the press was indeed watching, he looked up at the ceiling and shouted, “No!” as senators and reporters laughed. Then, Democrats beamed when McCain shared his news. Feinstein gave him a hug.

    Walking back to the Republican side of the room, McCain was stopped by Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, of Utah, who also offered a hug.

    “I love John McCain. He’s one of the great heroes of this country,” Hatch explained later. “Whether we agree or not, I still love the guy.”

    The vote on “skinny repeal” began at 1:24 a.m., but McCain was out in the lobby once again conferring with Pence. In his absence, Collins and Murkowski cast their “no” votes along with the 48 members of the Democratic caucus.

    McCain returned at 1:29 a.m. without Pence, approached the Senate clerk and gave a thumbs down— the third “no” vote.

    Several people gasped. Others applauded. Reporters dashed out to report the news.

    McCain returned to his seat, walking past Cornyn and Republican Sens. John Thune and Bill Cassidy who stood grim-faced and despondent. Cassidy rubbed his face several times with his hands. Thune’s face contorted. The colour in Cornyn’s face seemed to drain.

    “Certainly Senator McCain knows how to improve the drama,” Cassidy recalled later.

    The vote concluded, and the results were announced — 49 to 51. Just days before, McCain had fired a warning shot with a lengthy floor speech that criticized the rushed, secretive process that led to “skinny repeal.” Early Friday morning, McCain, Collins and Murkowski delivered the fatal blow.

    McConnell, humiliated by the results, stood to address his colleagues. The colour of his face now matched the pink in his necktie.

    “This is clearly a disappointing moment,” he said.


older | 1 | .... | 966 | 967 | (Page 968) | 969 | 970 | .... | 1035 | newer