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 | .... | 975 | 976 | (Page 977) | 978 | 979 | .... | 1035 | newer

    0 0


    MILAN—A British model who says she was kidnapped in Italy broke down when investigators confronted her with a witness statement that she had been seen shopping for shoes with an alleged captor, according to court documents obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press.

    Chloe Ayling initially told Milan police she was held, at times with her hands and feet cuffed to a dresser, at a remote farmhouse for six days and never left the dwelling until one of her kidnappers released her at the British consulate in Milan on July 17.

    But on the second day of questioning, detectives presented the 20-year-old with a statement from a salesperson who said she sold shoes to the model and the main suspect in her abduction the day before Ayling turned up at the consulate, according to Ayling’s court deposition.

    Read more:

    ‘I’ve feared for my life, second by second,’ says British model after kidnapping ordeal in Italy

    Milan police arrest man for allegedly kidnapping British model who thought she was booked for a photo shoot

    In tears, the young woman told investigators she couldn’t give a “reasonable explanation” for why she had omitted the shopping trip, but said she considered the man who accompanied her was her best chance at freedom.

    The arrest of a suspect in Ayling’s abduction, and her account of a startling ordeal, have garnered international media attention since details about the case emerged over the weekend.

    Police released a dramatic narrative about how the woman was allegedly lured to Milan with the promise of a modelling job, then drugged at a supposed photographer’s studio on July 11, zipped inside a canvas bag and transported to a farmhouse near Turin.

    The young woman said when she regained consciousness in the trunk of a station wagon, her jeans and sneakers were missing and she was wearing just her pink body suit and grey socks. She said she was told later she had been photographed so she could be auctioned off online, according to her deposition.

    Milan police, citing Ayling’s description of the events, said her kidnappers also informed her she had been captured by a criminal group called “Black Death” and that she would be held for ransom or sold on the clandestine “dark web.”

    The main suspect, Lukasz Pawel Herba, freed her at the British Consulate in Milan. He has been arrested on charges of kidnapping to extort money and falsifying documents, pending an indictment.

    Police said they are looking for as many as four accomplices.

    Both Ayling’s Italian lawyer and the talent agent who sent her to Italy lashed out Tuesday at skeptics who have expressed doubts about her story. The lawyer and agent said the incredible details have borne out under prosecutorial and investigatory scrutiny.

    “I can assure everybody that it was real and very frightening for all concerned,” agent Phil Green of the Supermodel Agency said.

    The lawyer, Francesco Pesce, said his client had been threatened with death throughout the ordeal and decided it was better to co-operate with Herba.

    “She did testify that she went with her captor to buy shoes and buy groceries, and this does appear to be strange. I understand this and I will continue to respond to this,” Pesce said. “She was told by this man that there were many people of this ‘Black Death’ organization around her, and even if she tried to flee, she was going to die.”

    Ayling is what in Britain is called a “glamour model,” specializing in scantily clad or topless photo shoots. She has appeared in British tabloids and worked around Europe.

    She told Italian police she does about four photo sessions a month, often abroad, and had just returned from Dubai when the Milan job was scheduled.

    Green said the Milan photo shoot seemed legitimate. The person who made the booking had “a website, previous pictures, details of his studio, details of what the shoot was going to be, times, locations, fee — everything,” he said.

    But the day after Ayling was due to return, Green says he received a ransom demand for $380,000.

    Ayling told police she first met Herba, a 30-year-old Polish national, briefly when she was brought to Paris for another modelling job, to promote motorcycles, earlier this year and he came to pay her cab fare at the airport.

    After his arrest in Milan, Herba told police that he cancelled the Paris job when he realized that a group of three Romanians affiliated with the alleged criminal group intended to kidnap Ayling, his official statement says.

    He said he called the model’s hotel, pretending to be the photographer hired to work with her, to say his equipment had been stolen.

    Herba, who has British residency and speaks English, provided an account just as detailed as Ayling’s and more incredible.

    He told investigators that the Romanians hired him to rent properties around Europe to store garments they intended to sell. He said he was drawn into the kidnapping scheme to raise money to treat his leukemia.

    The Milan investigators expressed incredulity at the $650,000 Herba said he was paid to rent the properties. They also said he did not provide the names of doctors or other evidence of his illness.

    The suspect also claimed he did not participate in Ayling’s kidnapping. He told police he came to her aid when he saw her photos posted with an online auction. He said she was free to go once the Romanians had abandoned the farmhouse, but that she stayed.

    Ayling told police that after a couple of days, Herba removed the handcuffs. From that point on, they slept in the same double bed, but he did not assault her or demand sex, she said. She said she did not flee because Herba told her members of the group were watching and she feared for her life.

    Herba told Ayling that higher-ups in Black Death were upset she had been abducted because she is the mother of a small child, according to court documents.

    He also reassured her he would find a way to free her. At one point, he told her he had bid $370,000 for her in the dark web auction, the model told investigators, and that she would have to pay another $74,000 once she was released.

    Her captor also informed her of Black Death’s supposed conditions for her release: publicizing its activities, never speaking ill of the group and getting British police to drop any investigations of it.

    Pesce said the reported ordeal had left Ayling traumatized and that she is co-operating fully with police “not only for her case,” but to help if the group has other victims.

    “She understands that there is a bigger picture,” he said.


    0 0


    Glen Campbell, a guitar prodigy and ballad singer who dominated the polished, string-swelling countrypolitan sound of the late 1960s and 1970s and cultivated a clean-cut image at odds with his once-stormy personal life, died Aug. 8 in Nashville, Tenn. He was 81.

    His publicist confirmed the death to The Associated Press. Campbell announced he had Alzheimer’s disease in 2011 and performed what he called the Glen Campbell Goodbye Tour shortly thereafter. In 2015, he won his sixth and final Grammy Award, honoured for best country song “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” which he co-wrote for a documentary about his life and deteriorating health.

    In a career that spanned six decades, Campbell made dozens of albums, sold more than 40 million records and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

    Read more:

    Glen Campbell’s wife talks about the effects of Alzheimer’s

    Glen Campbell lived the pain of his Oscar-nominated song ‘I’m not Gonna Miss You’

    At a time when the grittier “outlaw” movement of Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson was on the rise, Campbell vaulted to fame as an unabashed sentimentalist whose songs were aimed squarely at the American heartland.

    His best-known recordings included John Hartford’s “Gentle on My Mind” (which became his theme song) and Larry Weiss’s “Rhinestone Cowboy.” His most frequent collaborator was songwriter Jimmy Webb, who provided expressive, wistful hits such as “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Galveston” and “Wichita Lineman.”

    “My approach is simplicity,” Campbell told Time magazine in 1969. “If I can just make a 40-year-old housewife put down her dish towel and say ‘Oh!’ — why then, man, I’ve got it made.”

    Campbell was 4 when an uncle bought him a $5 mail-order guitar from a Sears Roebuck catalogue. He taught himself to play as an escape from sharecropping, explaining, “Picking a guitar was a lot easier than picking cotton.” He grew to admire the Belgian-born jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, whom he called “the most awesome player I ever heard.”

    Without any formal training, Campbell became by the early 1960s part of the so-called Wrecking Crew of Los Angeles, studio musicians who were known for their versatility and skill.

    He played rhythm guitar on more than 500 jazz, pop, rock and country records, backing entertainers such as Frank Sinatra, Nat “King” Cole, Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard and the Beach Boys. When Beach Boy Brian Wilson had a breakdown in 1965, the band asked Campbell to fill in on tour. Singing falsetto and playing bass, he got his first taste of crowd frenzy.

    “Right after one concert,” he told The New York Times, “the Beach Boys ran for the cars like mad, but I didn’t care. I took my time, figuring nobody would pay any attention to me, since I wasn’t really a Beach Boy. Well, I want to tell you, they jumped on me with all four feet — started yankin’ my hair, stole my watch, tore off my shirt. From then on, I was the first one in the car.”

    Campbell broke through as a solo act in 1967 with a flurry of Grammy Awards for “Gentle on My Mind.” Strapping, clean-cut, farm-boy handsome and with an easygoing charisma, he was soon in demand as a television guest star.

    Through a friendship with comedian Tommy Smothers, Campbell co-hosted The Summer Brothers Smothers Show on CBS in 1968. He acquitted himself so smoothly — despite his aversion to the program’s liberal politics — that the network hired Campbell to hosted a variety show, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, which aired from 1969 to 1972.

    He also was cast as a supporting actor in the John Wayne movie True Grit (1969), whose theme song he sang.

    In interviews, he could be quick-witted and charming, tossing off one-liners and country-fried quips.

    On his upbringing in rural Arkansas: “If we grew it, we ate it. If Daddy shot it, Mamma cooked it.” On his vault to movie, TV and record fame in the late 1960s: “Woooowheee! Ah been busier than a three-headed woodpecker!” On his movie role: “True Grit was fun to do, but I wasn’t cut out to be an actor. I made John Wayne look so good, he won his only Oscar.”

    Campbell remained a top country act for many more years. “Rhinestone Cowboy” brought him a No. 1 country and pop hit in 1975, and he duplicating that success in 1977 with the rollicking and infectious “Southern Nights,” written by Allen Toussaint.

    Campbell said the demands of celebrity and a series of troubled marriages led to his prodigious drinking and cocaine use. “I didn’t hold back in those days,” he later told the London Independent, recalling how he trashed hotel suites and got into other messes.

    There was a time, he said, that he boarded a plane, got into a seating dispute with an Indonesian government official and drunkenly told the man he would “call my friend Ronald Reagan and ask him to bomb Jakarta.”

    His most-chronicled escapade was his tumultuous relationship with country and pop singer Tanya Tucker, who projected a wildcat, man-eating persona and, at 22, was half Campbell’s age.

    They performed the national anthem together at the 1980 Republican National Convention. The next year, their tawdry row outside a hotel near Shreveport, Louisiana, attracted the attention of local authorities and then the media. It was not the last time their differences surfaced loudly and publicly.

    In 1982, Campbell wed his fourth wife. He announced he was a born-again Christian and that he had given up drugs and drinking. He had a relapse in 2003, when he was arrested for a hit-and-run incident in Phoenix after plowing his BMW into another car. He later pleaded guilty to drunken driving and was sentenced to 10 days in prison.

    His police mug shot — looking zoned out, craggy and unkempt — became a public sensation on the internet. He vowed never to touch alcohol again. His musical reputation had survived more than intact, and, in 2005, he was named to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

    That year, he joked with a reporter that he couldn’t imagine he was in any hall of fame. “They could never put me in a slot,” he said. “They couldn’t say Glen was ‘country,’ ‘pop’ or ‘rock.’ I’m crock, OK? A cross between country and rock. Call me crock.”

    Glen Travis Campbell was born on April 22, 1936, in Delight, Arkansas, and grew up on a family farm with 11 siblings. He played guitar at church picnics, on local radio shows and at nightclubs in cities as far away as Houston by the time he left school in 10th grade to perform full-time with an uncle’s Albuquerque-based country band.

    In the late 1950s, Campbell started his own Western combo and, encouraged by the positive reaction, decamped for Hollywood in the hope of a major solo career. He wound up as a session player, backing up other stars in the music studio.

    He played on Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night,” the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” album and the Monkees’ “I’m a Believer.”

    He bonded with Presley while recording the Viva Las Vegas soundtrack. “Elvis and I were brought up the same humble way — picking cotton and looking at the north end of a southbound mule,” he once quipped.

    It was profitable work for Campbell, but he felt he was delaying his ambitions. He had a minor hit as a singer with the 1961 pop single “Turn Around, Look At Me.” But he did not fully emerge as a headliner until recording “Gentle on My Mind” in Nashville. Soon came The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, with Steve Martin and Rob Reiner among the writers.

    His marriages to Diane Kirk, Billie Jean Nunley and Sarah Barg Davis — the former wife of singer Mac Davis — ended in divorce. In 1982, he wed Kimberly Woolen, a dancer at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

    Survivors include a daughter from his first marriage; three children from his second marriage; a son from his third marriage; and three children from his fourth marriage. A son from his first marriage died in infancy.

    After his final marriage, he turned out gospel and devotional music while also maintaining a steady outpouring of country music that included Top-10 hits such as “I Have You” (1988) and “She’s Gone, Gone, Gone” (1989). In 1994, he published a memoir, Rhinestone Cowboy, written with Tom Carter.

    The singer drew fresh critical attention for Meet Glen Campbell (2008), a recording session that included covers of songs by such disparate rock bands as Green Day, U2 and the Velvet Underground. He followed with the well-received Ghost on the Canvas in 2011, featuring admirers such as the Smashing Pumpkins guitarist Billy Corgan and Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen.

    The next year, Campbell received a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement, and he continued to record new music despite his failing health.

    “I don’t know if I got it,” he told the Chicago Tribune, referring to Alzheimer’s. “That’s what the doctor said, but I don’t know what it is. I said, ‘I’m going to go on and live my life. And to heck with that.’ ”


    0 0


    Google triggered a social-media backlash with the firing of an employee who had blasted the company’s diversity policies, fuelling tension over an issue roiling Silicon Valley.

    The dismissal of James Damore, a Google engineer, came after he wrote a 10-page manifesto criticizing what he deemed a left-leaning culture at Alphabet Inc.’s web division that he said ignores the differences between the sexes. In an email confirming his firing, Damore said he’s “currently exploring all possible legal remedies.”

    Some right-wing websites lionized Damore and accused the company of censoring conservative views. Firing the engineer could be seen as confirming some of the claims in the memo itself — that the company’s culture makes no room for dissenting political opinions. That outcome could galvanize any backlash against Alphabet’s ongoing efforts to make its workforce more diverse.

    The imbroglio at Google is the latest in a long string of incidents concerning gender bias and diversity in the tech enclave. Uber chief executive officer Travis Kalanick lost his job in June amid scandals over sexual harassment, discrimination and an aggressive culture. Ellen Pao’s gender-discrimination lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in 2015 also brought the issue to light, and more women are speaking up to say they’ve been sidelined in the male-dominated industry, especially in engineering roles.

    In Canada, increasing the number of women in managerial positions especially in science, technology, engineering and math could add as much as $150 billion to annual GDP by 2026, according to a report in June by the McKinsey Global Institute.

    Statistics Canada data show women made up 27 per cent of the national information and communication technology workforce in 2016, a percentage that has hovered between 29 per cent and 25 per cent since 2011. Women hold only 21 per cent of management positions in the sector, says a study released by Canadian Women in Communications and Technology.

    That organization’s executive director, Joanne Stanley, said the “climate is improving,” however, citing the commitment of the federal Liberals to gender diversity and “enlightened” companies in areas such as financial technology.

    “There is more empathy, more understanding,” added Steph Guthrie, a consultant who worked with online hub Techgirls Canada on a guidebook that helps small-to medium-sized businesses take steps toward diversifying their workplaces.

    Still, she said the views espoused in the Google memo are not unique, noting that women in tech workplaces in Canada can face isolation, a lack of female mentors and the absence of a path to advancement, with some regarded by some male peers as merely “diversity hires.”

    Guthrie said it’s a culture that can discourage women from applying for or remaining in engineering and gaming jobs, for example, suggesting that some tech firms have shown a reluctance to disclose the gender and ethnic makeup of their workforces.

    Google CEO Sundar Pichai, meanwhile, sent a note to employees Monday that said portions of the memo “violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace, ” a note that was retweeted by Google Canada.

    But he didn’t say if the company was taking action against the employee. A Google representative, asked about the dismissal, referred to Pichai’s memo. The company’s shares closed on Monday, essentially unchanged.

    Damore’s memorandum argued that biological differences play a role in the shortage of women in tech and leadership positions. It circulated widely inside the company and became public over the weekend, causing a furor that amplified the pressure on Google executives to take a more definitive stand.

    After the controversy swelled, Danielle Brown, Google’s new vice-president for diversity, integrity and governance, sent a statement to staff condemning Damore’s views and reaffirmed the company’s stance on diversity. In internal discussion boards, multiple employees said they supported firing the author, and some said they would not choose to work with him, according to postings viewed by Bloomberg.

    “We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company,” Brown said in the statement. “We’ll continue to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul.”

    The memo and surrounding debate comes as Google fends off a lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Labor alleging the company systemically discriminates against women. Google has denied the charges, arguing that it doesn’t have a gender gap in pay, but has declined to share full salary information with the government. According to the company’s most recent demographic report, 69 per cent of its workforce and 80 per cent of its technical staff are male.

    Following the memo’s publication, multiple executives shared an article from a senior engineer who recently left the company, Yonatan Zunger. In the blog post, Zunger said that based on the context of the memo, he determined that he would “not in good conscience” assign any employees to work with its author. “You have just created a textbook hostile workplace environment,” he wrote. He also said in a email, “Could you imagine having to work with someone who had just publicly questioned your basic competency to do your job?”

    In her initial response to the memo, Brown, who joined from Intel Corp. in June, suggested that Google was open to all hosting “difficult political views,” including those in the memo. However, she left open the possibility that Google could penalize the engineer for violating company policies. “But that discourse needs to work alongside the principles of equal employment found in our Code of Conduct, policies, and anti-discrimination laws,” she wrote.

    But reaction to Damore’s firing in conservative circles was swift and harsh. One meme doing the rounds online reworked Google’s famous logo to read “Goolag,” a reference to Soviet-era forced-labour camps. Breitbart accompanied a news article of his dismissal with a photograph of a woman wearing a gag with the word “silenced” written on it. Eric Weinstein, who runs Peter Thiel’s investment firm, tweeted that Google should stop teaching girls that their “path to financial freedom lies not in coding but in complaining to HR.”

    The subject of Google’s ideological bent came up at the most recent shareholder meeting, in June. A shareholder asked executives whether conservatives would feel welcome at the company. Executives disagreed with the idea that anyone wouldn’t.

    “The company was founded under the principles of freedom of expression, diversity, inclusiveness and science-based thinking,” Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt said at the time. “You’ll also find that all of the other companies in our industry agree with us.”

    With files from Star staff


    0 0


    OTTAWA—The classic romantic date is in danger of disappearing if the federal government reduces the legal alcohol limit for licensed drivers, a spokesperson for Quebec’s restaurant lobby said Tuesday.

    François Meunier said if Ottawa passes such a law, it would be a disaster for the restaurant industry — and for lovers.

    “The (change would) mean a woman can have one drink and a man, in most cases, two,” Meunier said. “Forget about a bottle of wine for two, for a Valentine’s Day dinner — that’s over.”

    In a letter to provincial and territorial justice ministers dated last May, federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould suggested lowering the limit to 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood from the current 80 milligrams.

    The federal minister said the change would “make it easier to fight the danger posed by drivers who have consumed alcohol.”

    Meunier, who works for an association that represents restaurateurs in Quebec, said his members are less worried about losing alcohol sales and more concerned with seeing a significant drop in total revenues, as people choose to stay home.

    “It’s about food sales that go with the alcohol,” he said.

    “When it comes to celebrations, parties, all that will be done at home as people change their behaviour. It’s easy to talk about taking a taxi or public transportation, but in the (outlying) regions it’s not as easy.”

    Wilson-Raybould responded to the reaction to her letter through a spokesperson on Tuesday.

    “I believe that lowering the federal limit to 50mg would better respond to the danger posed by impaired drivers, by sending a strong message through the criminal law and changing drivers’ behaviour,” Wilson-Raybould said.

    “I have therefore sought the input of my provincial counterparts, in order to solicit their views. At this stage, no decision has been made.”

    Wilson-Raybould says the current rules were established after research indicated the risk of being involved in a car crash was twice as likely when a driver has 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood in his or her system.

    “More recent research indicates that this data underestimated the fatal crash risk,” she said Tuesday. “In fact, the risk is almost double at 50mg, almost triple at 80mg, and rises exponentially above that level.”

    In her letter to her provincial and territorial counterparts, Wilson-Raybould cited Ireland as a case study in the dissuasive effect a reduction in blood/alcohol limit levels can have.

    “The reduction to 50 milligrams of alcohol (per 100 millilitres of blood), combined with obligatory testing for alcohol, produced a 50 per cent reduction in deadly road accidents,” she wrote, “and a reduction of about 65 per cent in the number of (criminal) charges.”

    Quebec is the only jurisdiction in Canada that has no sanctions in place for drivers who register a blood/alcohol level of more than 50 milligrams. The province tried twice to impose penalties for such drivers, but failed.

    Last spring, at the same time the federal government tabled legislation to legalize marijuana, it also introduced a bill increasing penalties for drivers caught under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

    Bill C-46 allows police to demand drivers submit to a breathalyzer even if they don’t suspect they are under the influence.

    Peter Sergakis, the head of an association representing bar owners, said the government should focus on stopping repeat drunk drivers, not penalizing responsible adults.

    “Police are only applying the current laws during the holiday season,” he said.

    Sergakis said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not being consistent in his approach.

    “Trudeau wants to legalize marijuana — he wants to get everyone high,” said the bar owner. “It’s a double standard. He wants to get everyone high but prevent them from drinking. Where is the logic?”

    CAA-Quebec called Ottawa’s proposal “commendable,” but said it would be bad timing to introduce such a measure while provinces are preparing for the marijuana legalization bill to become law in 2018.

    “With the reduction of the alcohol limit to 50 milligrams, we think it’ll be too difficult for governments to handle and it’s a pill too big for drivers to swallow,” said CAA-Quebec spokesman Marco Harrison.

    Theresa-Anne Kramer, a spokeswoman for the Montreal branch of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said her organization has been lobbying since 2001 for a reduction in the legal alcohol limit.

    “In Germany, they haven’t stopped their beer festivals,” she said. “And in Ireland, I never heard that they had to close a pub — and both those countries have the 50 milligram limit.”


    0 0


    A Canadian government delegation is in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang to discuss the case of imprisoned Canadian pastor Hyeon Soo Lim, the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed Tuesday.

    The delegation is reportedly led by Daniel Jean, national security adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

    It’s the second time in about nine months that a Canadian envoy has been sent to Pyongyang to discuss the release of the 62-year-old senior pastor of the Light Presbyterian Church in Mississauga. The last delegation travelled to North Korea in late 2016.

    “Pastor Lim’s health and well-being remain of utmost importance to the government of Canada as we continue to engage on this case,” said Cameron Ahmad, media relations manager for the Prime Minister’s Office, in an email.

    “As this is an active case, we will not provide further comment at this time.”

    This government visit comes less than a month after North Koreans arranged a July 14 meeting “in the humanitarian spirit” between the imprisoned Lim and a Swedish Embassy diplomat in Pyongyang, according to state media outlet Korean Central News Agency.

    Lim has high blood pressure and requires medication, which the North Koreans have allowed to be sent to him. Lim is reportedly in failing health and has lost upwards of 60 pounds.

    The pastor, who has made more than 110 humanitarian missions to North Korea on behalf of his church, has been in detention since January 2015. He went missing during a routine visit in a northern region where the Canadian was a familiar face. Local officials had granted him a frequent access visa.

    Weeks after his disappearance, North Korean authorities confirmed they’d arrested Lim, purportedly for scheming to overthrow Kim Jong Un’s authoritarian regime. The pastor was sentenced to life in a hard labour camp in late 2015.

    Read more:

    Trump says North Korea will be met with ‘fire and the fury like the world has never seen’ if it doesn’t stop threatening the U.S.


    0 0


    Two Toronto police officers pleaded not guilty to professional misconduct Tuesday at the first day of the high-profile — and much-delayed — hearing into the 2011 gunpoint arrest of four Black teenagers, a controversial incident known as the Neptune Four case.

    Dressed in a dark blue suit, Const. Adam Lourenco rose from his seat inside the tribunal room at Toronto police headquarters, stating “not guilty” as each of his three Police Services Act charges was read out by hearing officer Insp. Richard Hegedus, the adjudicator at the tribunal.

    Lourenco is accused of one count of unlawfully arresting the four boys and two counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly using unreasonable force — specifically, punching one of the boys and pointing his gun at three of them. Const. Scharnil Pais, in full police uniform, pleaded not guilty to one count of unlawfully arresting the teens.

    None of the allegations against the officers have been proven at the tribunal.

    At long last, the hearing will provide an opportunity to dissect a case with racial dimensions as relevant now as they were at the time of the incident, said Jeff Carolin, the lawyer representing the teens, who are now 20 and 21 years old.

    “The perspective that I’m going to try to bring is that you can’t look at this case without talking about racism, you can’t look at this case without talking about racial profiling,” he said in an interview outside police headquarters Tuesday.

    The hearing stems from a November 2011 incident where four boys, ages 15 and 16, were on their way to an after-school learning program in a Lawrence Heights public housing complex on Neptune Dr. They were stopped by Lourenco and Pais, both officers with the controversial and now-disbanded Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy (TAVIS) unit.

    According to police records, the officers were at the Neptune Dr. buildings to enforce the Trespass to Property Act on behalf of the Toronto Community Housing Corporation.

    When they were approached by police, one of the boys attempted to exercise his constitutional right to walk away, according to Carolin and a previous account of the incident provided to the Star.

    The encounter escalated. According to allegations contained in the written Police Act charges against the officers, Lourenco threw punches and drew his gun.

    The incident was captured by a Toronto Community Housing security camera and first reported by the Star.

    The boys were charged with assaulting police, and the young man who did not want to answer police questions was charged with threatening death and assault with intent to resist arrest. All of the charges were later withdrawn.

    Because the teens faced criminal charges under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the Star is not identifying them.

    The charges against Lourenco and Pais came after an investigation by Ontario’s Office of the Independent Police Review Director, spurred by the four teens lodging complaints with the watchdog. One of the four teens has since withdrawn his complaint and will not be participating in the hearing.

    The three young men going forward with their complaints are eager for closure and an opportunity to share their stories, Carolin said.

    The case has taken a circuitous route to the tribunal in large part due to two rare developments. Last spring, the Ontario Human Rights Commission attempted to gain official status at the hearing in order to ensure the tribunal adequately addressed the role racial profiling may have played in the officers’ alleged misconduct. After a separate hearing, a Toronto police hearing officer denied the rights group’s request, saying the tribunal did not have the legal jurisdiction to allow the OHRC to participate.

    Months later, Lourenco sought to have Hegedus removed as hearing officer on the case. Lourenco alleged that the senior officer had recently committed misconduct himself, and arguing there was a reasonable perception Hegedus may be biased.

    The move prompted an unusual written decision by Hegedus, clearing himself of appearing biased and ruling that he could oversee the disciplinary hearing. Lourenco later sought a judicial review of Hegedus’ decision, but the application was quashed.

    The hearing continues Thursday.

    Wendy Gillis can be reached at wgillis@thestar.ca

    With files from Star archives


    0 0


    WASHINGTON—Even when we were judging only by the excerpts, we knew U.S. President Donald Trump’s interview with the Wall Street Journal was dishonest. But we didn’t know quite how dishonest until last week.

    The Journal released only a partial transcript of its July 25 Oval Office conversation with the president. Those segments included 11 false claims from Trump. When the right-leaning paper refused to release the full text, a rival publication, Politico, obtained and published the full transcript— which included a whopping 15 additional false claims from Trump.

    All in all, the interview with one of America’s leading publications was one of Trump’s most inaccurate of all time. And at the 200-day mark of his presidency, he has made 500 false claims — an average of 2.5 false claims per day.

    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.

    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: August 8, 2017


    0 0


    Donna Vekic of Croatia downed Canadian Eugenie Bouchard 6-3, 6-4 in first-round play at the Rogers Cup on Tuesday.

    The 21-year-old Vekic, ranked 51st in the world, will face third-seed Angelique Kerber in the second round.

    Playing in her main draw debut at the Rogers Cup, Vekic broke the 70th-ranked Bouchard six times and won 17-of-27 first-serve points at Aviva Centre.

    Bouchard started the match on the wrong foot, getting broken in the first game after a lengthy back-and-forth. Vekic held serve then broke Bouchard again for a 3-0 lead.

    Read more:

    Monfils, Kyrgios move on at Rogers Cup in Montreal

    Bouchard sees hope in home away from home

    Next wave of women’s tennis hits Toronto: DiManno

    Bouchard was 2 for 3 on break points during the first set but Vekic broke the Canadian four times, including the deciding game — a 10-minute long affair that saw the opponents hit deuce six times.

    The second set started better for Bouchard, who broke Vekic for a 2-1 lead, but she lost her next serve and responded by bouncing her racket off the ground in frustration. Each held serve over the next five games before Bouchard hit the net down 40-30 to give Vekic the match at 6-4.

    Bouchard, from Westmount, Que., remains Canada’s top women’s singles player despite dwindling down from a career-high No. 5 ranking in 2014 to her current No. 70.

    The 23-year-old Bouchard, who made a name for herself when she reached the Wimbledon final in 2014 after two straight Grand Slam semifinal appearances, has failed to make it past the second round in six straight tournaments. She was a wild-card entry this week.

    Vekic won her spot in the main draw via a two-round qualifying tournament over the weekend. Bouchard won their only previous match against each other, a three-set victory in Shenzen last year.

    Bouchard’s best showing at a Rogers Cup came last year in Montreal, where she lost to Slovakia’s Kristina Kucova in the third round.

    She was scheduled to play her first-round doubles match with World No. 1 Karolina Pliskova later Tuesday against Dominika Cibulkova and Kirsten Flipkens.

    Earlier Tuesday, 18-year-old American Catherine Bellis rallied from down a set to defeat Julia Goerges of Germany 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, and move on to face eighth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in the second round.

    Bellis recovered from six double faults to break Goerges five times. Goerges had six aces but managed to convert on just 3 of 9 break point opportunities.

    In other first-round play Tuesday, Oceane Dodin of France had to retire in the first set, giving Australia’s Ashleigh Barty a 5-0 victory. And Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova downed Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia 7-5, 6-0.

    Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Ont., made her Rogers Cup debut in Tuesday’s night draw against Hungary’s Timea Babos. She’s the last remaining Canadian in the women’s draw after Montreal’s Francoise Abanda was dropped in straight sets by Lucie Safarova.


    0 0


    WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday issued a stern warning to North Korea, saying that if its threats to the United States continue, the outcast nation will be “met with the fire and the fury like the world has never seen.”

    Trump comments came as North Korea spurned a new round of sanctions approved by the United Nations Security Council and pledged to continue to press forward with development of nuclear weapons that could reach the U.S. mainland. Earlier Tuesday, news broke that North Korea has successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles, crossing a key threshold on the path to becoming a full-fledged nuclear power, according to a confidential assessment by U.S. intelligence officials.

    Trump was speaking at a briefing on opioid addiction at his golf course in Bedminster, N.J., where Trump is on a 17-day “working vacation,” he said that “North Korea best not make any more threats of the United States.”

    “They will be met with the fire and fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before,” Trump said.

    The Washington Post on Tuesday reported that North Korea has successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles, crossing a key threshold on the path to becoming a full-fledged nuclear power, according to a confidential assessment by U.S. intelligence officials.

    The new analysis of North Korea’s new capabilities, completed last month by the Defense Intelligence Agency, comes on the heels of another intelligence assessment that sharply raises the official estimate for the total number of bombs in the communist country’s atomic arsenal. The U.S. calculated last month that up to 60 nuclear weapons are now controlled by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Some independent experts believe the number of bombs is much smaller.

    The findings are likely to deepen concerns about an evolving North Korean military threat that appears to be advancing far more rapidly than many experts had predicted. U.S. officials last month concluded that Pyongyang is also outpacing expectations in its effort to build an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking cities on the American mainland.

    While more than a decade has passed since North Korea’s first nuclear detonation, many analysts believed it would be years before the country’s weapons scientists could design a compact warhead that could be delivered by missile to distant targets. But the new assessment, a summary document dated July 28, concludes that this critical milestone has already been reached.

    “The IC (intelligence community) assesses North Korea has produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, to include delivery by ICBM-class missiles,” the assessment states, in an excerpt read to the Post. The assessment’s broad conclusions were verified by two U.S. officials familiar with the document. It is not yet known whether the reclusive regime has successfully tested the smaller design, although North Korean officially last year claimed to have done so.

    The DIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment.

    An assessment this week by the Japanese Ministry of Defense also concludes there is evidence to suggest that North Korea has achieved miniaturization.

    Kim Jong Un is becoming increasingly confident in the reliability of his nuclear arsenal, analysts have concluded, explaining perhaps the dictator’s willingness to engage in defiant behaviour, including missile tests that have drawn criticism even from North Korea’s closest ally, China. On Saturday, both China and Russia joined other members of the U.N. Security Council in approving punishing new economic sanctions, including a ban on exports that supply up to a third of North Korea’s annual $3 billion (U.S.) earnings.

    The nuclear progress further raises the stakes for Trump, who has vowed that North Korea will never be allowed to threaten the United States with nuclear weapons. In an interview broadcast Saturday on MSNBC’s Hugh Hewitt Show, national security adviser H.R. McMaster said the prospect of a North Korea armed with nuclear-tipped ICBMs would be “intolerable, from the president’s perspective.”

    “We have to provide all options ... and that includes a military option,” he said. But McMaster said the administration would do everything short of war to “pressure Kim Jong Un and those around him, such that they conclude it is in their interest to denuclearize.” The options said to be under discussion ranged from new multilateral negotiations to reintroducing U.S. battlefield nuclear weapons to the Korean Peninsula, officials familiar with internal discussions said.

    Determining the precise makeup of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal has long been a difficult challenge for intelligence professionals because of the regime’s culture of extreme secrecy and insularity. The country’s weapons scientists have conducted five nuclear tests since 2006, the latest being a 20- to 30-kiloton detonation on Sept. 9, 2016, that produced a blast estimated to be up to twice that of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945.

    But producing a compact nuclear warhead that can fit inside a missile is a technically demanding feat, one that many analysts believed was still beyond North Korea’s grasp. Last year, state-run media in Pyongyang displayed a spherical device that government spokesmen described as a miniaturized nuclear warhead, but whether it was a real bomb remained unclear. North Korean officials described the September detonation as a successful test of a small warhead designed to fit on a missile, though many experts were skeptical of the claim.

    Kim has repeatedly proclaimed his intention to field a fleet of nuclear-tipped ICBMs as a guarantor of his regime’s survival. His regime took a major step toward that goal last month with the first successful tests of a missile with intercontinental range. Video analysis of the latest test revealed that the missile caught fire and apparently disintegrated as it plunged back toward Earth’s surface, suggesting North Korea’s engineers are not yet capable of building a re-entry vehicle that can carry the warhead safely through the upper atmosphere. But U.S. analysts and many independent experts believe that this hurdle will be overcome by late next year.

    “What initially looked like a slow-motion Cuban missile crisis is now looking more like the Manhattan Project, just barrelling along,” said Robert Litwak, a non-proliferation expert at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and author of Preventing North Korea’s Nuclear Breakout, published by the centre this year. “There’s a sense of urgency behind the program that is new to the Kim Jong Un era.”

    While few discount North Korea’s progress, some prominent U.S. experts warned against the danger of overestimating the threat. Siegfried Hecker, director emeritus of the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the last known U.S. official to personally inspect North Korea’s nuclear facilities, has calculated the size of North Korea’s arsenal at no more than 20 to 25 bombs. Hecker warned of potential risks that can come from making Kim into a bigger menace than he actually is.

    “Overselling is particularly dangerous,” said Hecker, who visited North Korea seven times between 2004 and 2010 and met with key leaders of the country’s weapons programs. “Some like to depict Kim as being crazy — a madman — and that makes the public believe that the guy is undeterrable. He’s not crazy and he’s not suicidal. And he’s not even unpredictable.”

    “The real threat,” Hecker said, “is we’re going to stumble into a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula.”

    In the past, U.S. intelligence agencies have occasionally overestimated the North Korean threat. In the early 2000s, the George W. Bush administration assessed that Pyongyang was close to developing an ICBM that could strike the U.S. mainland — a prediction that missed the mark by more than a decade. More recently, however, analysts and policy-makers have been taken repeatedly by surprise as North Korea achieved key milestones months or years ahead of schedule, noted Jeffrey Lewis, director of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies’ East Asia Nonproliferation Program. There was similar skepticism about China’s capabilities in the early 1960s, said Lewis, who has studied that country’s pathway to a successful nuclear test in 1964.

    “There is no reason to think that the North Koreans aren’t making the same progress after so many successful nuclear explosions,” Lewis said. “The big question is why do we hold the North Koreans to a different standard than we held (Joseph) Stalin’s Soviet Union or Mao Zedong’s China? North Korea is testing underground, so we’re always going to lack a lot of details. But it seems to me a lot of people are insisting on impossible levels of proof because they simply don’t want to accept what should be pretty obvious.”

    With files from The Associated Press


    0 0


    A Florida toddler was found dead late Monday in a hot daycare van after police said the driver failed to conduct a head count and notice that the boy had been forgotten.

    Orlando Police Chief John Mina said during a news conference Tuesday that Myles K. Hill, who would have turned 4 later this month, died after he was apparently left all day in a hot vehicle parked outside Little Miracles Academy on Plymouth Avenue in Orlando.

    “This is an absolute tragedy, which could have been prevented,” Mina said, urging caregivers to always check their vehicles for children, according to CBS affiliate WKMG.

    Mina said criminal charges are pending against the daycare worker, who he noted was “extremely distraught,” although authorities are still awaiting the autopsy results.

    The police chief said when Myles was not dropped off at home at the end of the day, his grandmother and legal guardian called Little Miracles Academy and police to report that he was missing. A daycare worker checked the van, Mina said, and police received a call from the daycare about an unresponsive child in a vehicle. Temperatures in Orlando reached nearly 34 C that day.

    “I was on the phone with her and she started to scream, ‘He’s in the van, dead!’” Barbara Livingston, Myles’s aunt, told the Orlando Sentinel about the boy’s grandmother.

    When officers arrived about 8:30 p.m., they found the 3-year-old on the floor in the back seat of the vehicle, Mina said. He was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

    “If you leave your child with someone, that person has the responsibility of taking care of them,” Livingston told the newspaper. “He had to lose his life because of someone’s neglect. It’s not right. It’s not right at all. If you have six kids get in the van, you make sure six kids get out of the van.”

    An initial investigation revealed that the daycare worker, who has not been identified by police, transported Myles and other children Monday morning from one Little Miracles Academy to another location, police said.

    The worker returned to the daycare centre on Plymouth Avenue about 9 a.m., police said, and did not realize that Myles was still in the van. The van was parked outside the centre the entire day, with Myles in it, police said.

    Livingston, 71, Myles’s aunt, told WKMG that she had asked a daycare worker where the toddler was and she was told that he was “gone.”

    When Livingston asked, “Gone where?” she said the employee pointed to the van. “I’m numb. I don’t know how to feel,” she told WKMG.

    On Tuesday night, Myles’s family members, friends and neighbours gathered around a makeshift memorial that had been created for the boy outside the daycare centre.

    Corey Esters, Myles’s grandfather, told the newspaper the daycare centre’s owners, Audrey and Bryant Thornton, had not reached out to them, which he said was upsetting because he has known Audrey for many years.

    “We know her; we went to school together. It would’ve been different if she had come out,” Esters said.

    “The fact that we know her personally and that she hasn’t come out … it would’ve been easier to forgive.”

    So far in 2017, 32 children have died from heatstroke after being left in hot cars, according to a national database. Data shows that since 1998, 732 children have died that way.

    Earlier this year, the owner of an unlicensed Vaughan daycare pleaded guilty to criminal negligence causing death in a case that bears striking similarities to Myles’ death. On the morning of July 8, 2013, Olena Panfilova left 2-year-old Eva Ravikovich inside a minivan parked outside the daycare, still buckled in her car seat. Panfilova found Eva dead shortly after 5 p.m. that evening. The heat inside the minivan reached at least 50 C around midday, according to an agreed statement of facts.

    Panfilova was sentenced to 22 months in jail.

    Authorities said the Florida Department of Children and Families will conduct an institutional investigation.

    State records dating to 2015 show that Little Miracles Academy has been cited for lax practices regarding personnel records, supervision and transportation, according to CNN. In July, the centre was cited for failing to log destination and arrival times and location when transporting the children, according to an inspection report.

    Little Miracles did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Local news media reported that the facility was closed. A Facebook page for the centre appeared to be deactivated and the website was down.

    With files from Ellen Brait


    0 0

    A 44-year-old high school teacher from Brampton is facing sexual assault charges after he allegedly had inappropriate relationships with two of his students for more than a year.

    Police allege Gavin McAnally, a teacher at St. Francis Xavier Secondary School in Mississauga, was in a relationship with the teenagers from January of last year to May 2017.

    Peel police were notified of the alleged relationships from one of the victims, Const. Mark Fischer said.

    “One victim was 15 and the other could have been 17 when the incident happened,” Fischer said. “There’s of course the relationship of student-teacher which is appropriate, however, the (alleged) actions that commenced from the relationship became inappropriate.”

    McAnally, who has been a teacher for the Catholic District School Board for approximately 15 years, has been charged with sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching, sexual exploitation and sexual assault.

    He was held for a bail hearing Wednesday.

    Police say they are concerned there may be other victims and are asking anyone with information to contact investigators at the Special Victims Unit at 905-453-2121, ext. 3460.


    0 0


    OTTAWA—For the second time this year, a U.S. airline has been involved in a close call at Pearson International Airport.

    Federal investigators are looking into a possible runway incursion involving an Envoy Air flight, almost a carbon copy of an incident that happened in April.

    The Embraer 170 jet, operated by a subsidiary of American Airlines, had just arrived on runway 24 left Tuesday at about 5:30 p.m. after a flight from Chicago’s O’Hare airport. As the jet exited the runway after landing, the controller issued instructions to the crew to stop on a taxiway, short of a parallel runway that was being used for departures.

    The controller then cleared a Westjet Boeing 737 bound for St. John’s to depart on that parallel runway.

    But the controller apparently became concerned that the American jet wasn’t going to stop and might taxi into the path of the departing Boeing. He issued firm instructions to the pilots. “Envoy 3765, stop, stop,” according to a recording on the website LiveATC.net.

    The Transportation Safety Board of Canada said Wednesday that it had dispatched investigators to Pearson to assess the occurrence and determine whether a full investigation was warranted.

    Several other runway incursions at Pearson, Canada’s busiest airport, are already under investigation by the safety board.


    0 0


    A disillusioned Progressive Conservative is abandoning a bid for the Tory nomination in Guelph over concerns with the party’s leadership.

    Thomas Mooney took to social media this week to announce his withdrawal from the race to carry the PC banner in next June’s provincial election.

    “From what I’ve been seeing during my campaign, I no longer have the faith with the current leadership to continue in good conscience to run as a candidate for the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario,” Mooney said in a letter to supporters posted on Twitter.

    “There have been very unsettling occurrences across the province in various PCPO riding associations,” he said, referring to spate of controversies in ridings like Newmarket-Aurora, Ottawa West-Nepean, and Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas.

    Mooney, a respected trucking-safety expert who did not return messages from the Star, said he was initially “skeptical of the validity of those claims,” including allegations of ballot-stuffing now being investigated by Hamilton police.

    “But when faced with seeing one riding association after another going as far as going public with complaints of perceived improprieties within the PCPC nomination process, I had to stop and take another look,” he said.

    “Lately, there have been a whole lot of warning flags flying across the PCPO landscape.”

    In a video posted to Facebook on Tuesday, Mooney said he would be making a decision on whether to run for another conservative party “within the next couple of weeks.

    “I hope you can hear the frustration that’s in my voice, because Ontario deserves a lot better,” he said.

    Mooney took to LinkedIn in the spring to urge voters to help PC Leader Patrick Brown topple Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals.

    “Ontario will be heading to the polls in June 2018. There’s going to be a lot of Wynne dollars flying around to try to schmooze voters. Mark my words, it’s already begun,” he wrote in a piece that maintained Brown“stands for financial responsibility” at Queen’s Park.

    “But we all need to remember to where those Wynne dollars come. Not from a bank account. But rather from a very deep and increasing line of credit that Ontario can’t afford. Wynne’s plan is to burden our children with it. Ontario needs a responsible plan.”

    Rick Dykstra, the PC Party president, played down Mooney’s departure, emphasizing the Tories are “attracting exceptional individuals to run,” such as Caroline Mulroney in York-Simcoe.

    “There is incredible momentum because there’s such a desire for change at Queen’s Park, and we’re seeing this across the province, including in Guelph. We will have an outstanding candidate from the riding,” Dykstra said Wednesday.

    Robert Coole, the Guelph PC riding association president, said he was “very shocked” at Mooney’s decision to withdraw.

    “He was a very credible candidate. He’s a very conscientious man. He was just worried about things that were going on in different ridings,” said Coole, who, as chair of the local nomination committee, is remaining neutral.

    There are three other potential PC candidates, whose names have not yet been made public.

    With files From The Canadian Press


    0 0


    Halton police say they are looking for a elderly woman after an eight-year-old girl was slapped while she was shopping with her mother at a grocery store in Oakville on Tuesday.

    Just after 11 a.m., police say a mother was shopping at a No Frills located at 125 Cross Ave. with four children when an unknown woman slapped one of the children.

    The woman then fled the scene, police say.

    The suspect had brown, shoulder-length hair, and was wearing a white t-shirt and black pants and was approximately 70 years old, investigators say.

    They are asking anyone with information regarding on this incident to contact the Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905-825-4747 ext. 2215.


    0 0


    CAUTION: This story contains graphic content that may disturb some readers.

    LETHBRIDGE, ALTA.—An Alberta man who butchered a father, his two-year-old daughter and a woman will be approaching his 100th birthday before he is eligible to apply for parole after being sentenced to life in prison.

    Derek Saretzky, 24, was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder in June for the 2015 deaths of Terry Blanchette, Blanchette’s daughter Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette and 69-year-old Hanne Meketech.

    A conviction of first-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.

    But Justice William Tilleman was asked by the Crown to make the periods of parole ineligibility consecutive, meaning Saretzky couldn’t apply for freedom for 75 years.

    Tilleman agreed with the request noting that means the Saretzky will likely spend the rest of his life in jail.

    Saretzky was also sentenced to five years for causing an indignity to the little girl’s body, which is to be served concurrently.

    “I’m satisfied he is dangerous,” Tilleman told a Lethbridge court Wednesday.

    Read more:

    Jury finds Alberta’s Derek Saretzky guilty of three counts of first-degree murder

    'He told you that he did it:' Jury hears final arguments in Alberta triple-murder trial

    Aunt says triple-murder suspect visited firepit where girl’s remains were later found

    Tilleman said each murder was a separate and deliberate event causing heartbreak for the Crowsnest Pass community, where the killings happened.

    The judge noted five days passed between Meketech’s killing and the murders of Blanchette and his daughter.

    “As he carried out these three murders, Mr. Saretzky gained momentum,” the judge said, adding Saretzky would have been surrounded by the grief and terror of his community.

    During the trial, court heard videotaped confessions from Saretzky, who told police he killed Meketech — a friend of his grandparents — on the spur of the moment and because he didn’t think anybody cared about her.

    Five days later, Blanchette was beaten before his throat was cut in the home where he lived with Hailey.

    The little girl was taken from her crib to a campsite, which was partially owned by Saretzky’s family, where he choked her to death with a shoelace. He said “a little prayer” over the girl before he drank her blood, ate part of her heart and burned her body in a firepit.

    Blanchette’s body was found by his father and authorities launched a massive search for Hailey, but it was called off after Saretzky confessed to police.

    Six months later, he confessed to the murder of Meketech.

    Saretzky knew all three victims and Hailey’s mother testified that she, Blanchette and Saretzky even hung out together for a brief period of time. But no real motive for the killings emerged during the trial. Saretzky told police the devil taunted him “to do all kinds of stupid stuff,” but he was found mentally fit to face the charges.

    Members of the Saretzky family and most of the Blanchette family declined to speak to reporters following the sentencing.

    “It’s the best we could have hoped for,” was all Terry Blanchette’s father, Bill, would say.

    Crown prosecutor Photini Papadatou said it’s time for the community “put themselves back together again.”

    “What options do we have other than to move forward? This community came together to address a horrendous act,” she said outside court.

    “It has restored my faith in both justice and the community in how they dealt with possibly one of the worst cases that this province has ever seen.”

    Saretzky’s lawyer said the sentence wasn’t a surprise but it’s too soon to discuss whether the decision will be appealed. Patrick Edgerton said his client is still processing what happened.

    “He didn’t have a great deal to say about it. He has some reflection to deal with over the next few days,” Edgerton said. “It’s never a pleasant experience to send someone to a penitentiary and to do so for the rest of their life is difficult.”

    Saretzky showed no remorse for his actions which were “simply abominable” and caused “grave injury to his entire community,” Tilleman said.

    The judge said he hoped Saretzky gains some insight and an understanding of the value of human life.

    “A sentence of jail is not a sentence of vengeance,” Tilleman said. “There is next to no chance he will ever be free. This chapter is closed.”


    0 0


    CHAMPLAIN, N.Y.—They have come from all over the United States, piling out of taxis, pushing strollers and pulling luggage, to the end of a country road in the north woods.

    Where the pavement stops, they pick up small children and lead older ones wearing Mickey Mouse backpacks around a “road closed” sign, threading bushes, crossing a ditch, and filing past another sign in French and English that says “No pedestrians.” Then they are arrested.

    Seven days a week, 24 hours a day, migrants who came to the U.S. from across the globe — Syria, Congo, Haiti, elsewhere — arrive here where Roxham Rd. dead-ends so they can walk into Canada, hoping its policies will give them the security they believe the political climate in the United States does not.

    “In Trump’s country, they want to put us back to our country,” said Lena Gunja, a 10-year-old from Congo, who until this week had been living in Portland, Maine. She was travelling with her mother, father and younger sister. “So we don’t want that to happen to us, so we want a good life for us. My mother, she wants a good life for us.”

    Read more: Montreal’s Olympic Stadium becomes shelter as Haitian refugees from the U.S. seek home in Canada

    The passage has become so crowded this summer that Canadian police set up a reception centre on their side of the border in the Quebec community of Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, about 50 kilometres south of Montreal, or almost 480 kilometres north of New York City.

    It includes tents that have popped up in the past few weeks, where migrants are processed before they are turned over to the Canada Border Services Agency, which handles their applications for refuge.

    The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are adding electricity and portable toilets. A Canadian flag stands just inside the first tent, where the Mounties search the immigrants they've just arrested and check their travel documents. They are also offered food. Then shuttle buses take the processed migrants to their next destination. Trucks carry their luggage separately.

    The Canadian military said Wednesday that about 100 soldiers began arriving to prepare a site for tents to accommodate almost 500 people. The soldiers will also install lighting and heating equipment.

    How this spot, not even an official border crossing, became the favoured place to cross into Canada is anyone’s guess. But once migrants started going there, word spread on social media.

    Under the 2002 Safe Country Agreement between the United States and Canada, migrants seeking asylum must apply to the first country they arrive in. If they were to go to a legal port of entry, they would be returned to the United States and told to apply there.

    But, in a quirk in the application of the law, if migrants arrive in Canada at a location other than a port of entry, such as Roxham Rd., they are allowed to request refugee status there.

    Many take buses to Plattsburgh, New York, about 32 kilometres south. Some fly there, and others take Amtrak. Sometimes taxis carry people right up to the border. Others are let off up the road and have to walk, pulling their luggage behind them.

    Used bus tickets litter the pavement, their points of origin mostly blurred by rain that fell on nights previous. One read “Jacksonville.”

    One Syrian family said they flew into New York City on tourist visas and then went to Plattsburgh, where they took a taxi to the border.

    The migrants say they are driven by the perception that the age of Republican President Donald Trump, with his calls for bans on people from certain majority-Muslim countries, means the United States is no longer the destination of the world’s dispossessed. Taking its place in their minds is the Canada of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a member of his country’s Liberal Party.

    Most of the people making the crossing now are originally from Haiti. The Trump administration said this year it planned to end in January a special humanitarian program enacted after the 2010 earthquake that gave about 58,000 Haitians permission to stay temporarily in the U.S.

    Walking toward the border in a group on Monday, Medyne Milord, 47, originally of Haiti, said she needs work to support her family.

    “If I return to Haiti, the problem will double,” she said. “What I hope is to have a better life in Canada.”

    Jean Rigaud Liberal, 38, said he had been in the United States for seven months and lived in Florida after he left Haiti. He learned about Roxham Rd. from Facebook and said he thinks “Canada will be better than America.”

    “We are not comfortable in America,” Liberal said. “We are seeking a better life; we don’t want to go back to Haiti.”

    On the New York side, U.S. Border Patrol agents sometimes check to be sure the migrants are in the United States legally, but they said they don’t have the resources to do it all the time.

    Besides, said Brad Brant, a special operations supervisor for the U.S. Border Patrol, “our mission isn’t to prevent people from leaving.”

    Small numbers continue to cross into Canada elsewhere, but the vast majority take Roxham Rd. U.S. officials said they began to notice last fall, around the time of the U.S. presidential election, that more people were crossing there.

    Francine Dupuis, the head of a Quebec government-funded program that helps asylum seekers, said her organization estimates 1,174 people overall crossed into Quebec last month, compared with 180 in July 2016. U.S. and Canadian officials estimated that on Sunday alone, about 400 people crossed the border at Roxham Rd.

    “All they have to do is cross the border,” Dupuis said. “We can’t control it. They come in by the hundreds, and it seems to be increasing every day.”

    Canada said last week it planned to house some migrants in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium. It could hold thousands, but current plans call for only 450.

    In most cases, once the migrants are in Canada they are released and can live freely while their claims for refugee status are processed, which can take years. Meanwhile, they are eligible for public assistance.

    Brenda Shanahan, the Liberal Party member of Parliament who represents the area, visited the site Monday. She is proud of her country for being willing to take in the dispossessed, she said, but there is no guarantee they will be able to stay in Canada.

    “It’s not a free ticket for refugee status, not at all,” Shanahan said.

    Opposition Conservative lawmaker Michelle Rempel said the Trudeau government lacks a plan to deal with the illegal crossings, even though a summer spike had been anticipated.

    “All that we have heard is that we are monitoring the situation,” she said. “The government needs to come up with a plan right away to deal with this.”

    It will further backlog a system in which some refugees are already waiting 11 years for hearings, Rempel said. Canadians will question the integrity of the immigration system if the “dangerous trend” of illegal crossings continues, she said.

    Trudeau himself recently said his country has border checkpoints and controls that need to be respected.

    “We have an open compassionate country, but we have a strong system that we follow,” he said. “Protecting Canadian confidence in the integrity of our system allows us to continue to be open, and that’s exactly what we need to continue to do.”

    Inancieu Merilien, originally of Haiti, moved to the United States in 2000 but crossed into Canada late last month. U.S. authorities, he said, are trying to scare Haitians by refusing to guarantee they’ll be able to stay.

    “There’s a big difference here. They welcomed us very well,” he said after leaving the Olympic Stadium to begin looking for a home in Montreal’s large Haitian community. “They’re going to give us housing in apartments. I hope everything goes well.”


    0 0


    JOHANNESBURG—Up to 50 migrants from Somalia and Ethiopia were “deliberately drowned” when a smuggler forced them into the sea off Yemen’s coast, the U.N. migration agency said Wednesday, calling the drownings “shocking and inhumane.”

    International Organization for Migration staffers found the shallow graves of 29 of the migrants on a beach in Shabwa during a routine patrol, the agency’s statement said. The dead were buried by those who survived.

    At least 22 migrants remained missing, the IOM said. The passengers’ average age was around 16, the agency said.

    The narrow waters between the Horn of Africa and Yemen have been a popular migration route despite Yemen’s ongoing conflict. Migrants try to make their way to the oil-rich Gulf countries.

    The smuggler forced more than 120 migrants into the sea Wednesday morning as they approached Yemen’s coast, the IOM statement said.

    “The survivors told our colleagues on the beach that the smuggler pushed them to the sea when he saw some ‘authority types’ near the coast,” said Laurent de Boeck, the IOM’s chief of mission in Yemen. “They also told us that the smuggler has already returned to Somalia to continue his business and pick up more migrants to bring to Yemen on the same route.”

    IOM staffers provided aid for 27 surviving migrants who remained on the beach, while other migrants left.

    De Boeck called the suffering of migrants on the route enormous, especially during the current windy season on the Indian Ocean. “Too many young people pay smugglers with the false hope of a better future,” he said.

    The IOM says about 55,000 migrants have left Horn of Africa nations for Yemen since January, with most from Somalia and Ethiopia. A third of them are estimated to be women.

    Despite the fighting in Yemen, African migrants continue to arrive in the war-torn country where there is no central authority to prevent them from travelling onward. The migrants are vulnerable to abuse by armed trafficking rings, many of them believed to be connected to the armed groups involved in the war.

    The conflict itself is a deadly risk. In March, Somalia’s government blamed the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen for an attack on a boat that killed at least 42 Somali refugees off Yemen’s coast.

    Some Somalis are desperate to avoid years of chaos at home with attacks by homegrown extremist group al-Shabab and deadly drought. Some Ethiopians have left home after months of deadly anti-government protests and a 10-month state of emergency.

    More than 111,500 migrants landed on Yemen’s shores last year, up from around 100,000 the year before, according to the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat, a grouping of international agencies that monitors migration in the area.


    0 0


    Sarah Robichaud waited anxiously in the school gymnasium late one afternoon last spring to see if anyone would show up for the first workshop of an innovative dance project she was launching for students in Pikangikum, a troubled community in remote Northwestern Ontario.

    Robichaud was prepared for as few as two students — and she’d heard that maybe no one would come.

    A few minutes before the start of the workshop, though, a few students cautiously entered the gym. By the time the session began, some 30 students from grades 6 to 12 had joined in.

    Robichaud, who had spent months preparing for that first day, was overjoyed that so many students, some of whom were so shy they would barely say their name, came to listen to a woman from Toronto talk about dance, movement, personal expression — and having fun.

    The Pikangikum Intergenerational Dance Project that Robichaud designed was aimed at promoting connection, creation and expression between the youth and adults in the community. “We didn’t go there to teach them dance,” she says. “Rather, we wanted to empower the youth to tell their stories through movement.”

    The task was difficult, though, given the hardships faced by many of the students. It was also hard given that some observers might question the worthwhileness of outsiders coming to Northern Ontario with their “little projects” that fail to address the massive underlying problems such isolated communities face.

    Pikangikum has received international attention over the last 20 years because of its high rate of suicide, especially among youths, and of mental health issues. The problems are so bad that the fly-in community of 2,500 residents was once called “the suicide capital of the world.”

    An estimated 75 per cent of the residents are under the age of 25, unemployment runs at 75 per cent and 80 per cent of homes have no running water or toilets. Alcoholism and drug abuse are widespread, as is gasoline sniffing.

    Just last month Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins announced $1.6 million in new funding for 20 full-time mental health workers for Pikangikum after four more young people committed suicide this summer.

    Robichaud had heard about the community’s problems from her partner, Michael Ouellette, a physician who has worked in Pikangikum for the last four years. “I was deeply moved by the problems and wanted to help in some way.”

    Several years ago Robichaud, a classically trainer dancer, had designed Dancing with Parkinson’s, a program for those living with the disease to increase awareness of the body through motion and artistic connection. “What if I did a similar program with students in Pikangikum?” she asked herself. With that, the project was born.

    Robichaud received approval from the local band council and school authorities for the program and raised money to purchase costumes and supplies.

    In the workshops, students were asked about their personal stories, experiences and understanding on these themes and they created gestures and dance phrases to express their stories, which Robichaud then pieced together into a full program.

    After only 12 two-hour workshops and rehearsals, the 20 students who remained with the program created out of their own experiences an evening of dance that they performed before nearly 300 parents, friends and community leaders.

    Each section of the program was based on the Ojibwe seven grandfather teachings of truth, courage, humility, wisdom, respect, love and honesty.

    When the program ended, the applause was loud and sustained. Tears flowed and hugs and high-fives were exchanged throughout the room.

    Tess McLean, one of the volunteers recruited by Robichaud and who has been involved in dance initiatives for years, says she believes the project has had a positive impact for the students. “It was one of the best experiences of my life,” she says, adding she hopes the program will be expanded in the coming school year.

    Robichaud is currently working with school and band leaders to expand the project this fall to all grades. She also hopes local residents will assume leadership for the program.

    Clearly, it’s easy for critics to dismiss such small projects as insignificant and for failing to tackle the larger issues facing such troubled communities. But such criticism overlooks the importance these initiatives can play a role in helping participants make new friends and gain confidence and pride from having developed a major event from scratch.

    It worked in Pikangikum, where every student who took part in the final performance plans to join again next season.

    Such an endorsement is reason enough to make it a continuing, year-round program and extend it to other remote communities where hope and joy is in short supply.

    Bob Hepburn's column appears Thursday. bhepburn@thestar.ca


    0 0


    It can cause third-degree burns and even permanent blindness – and it’s spreading.

    Giant hogweed is cutting a wider swath in B.C. and Ontario, and the Nature Conservancy of Canada is urging people across the country to document sightings of the­ towering, three-metre green plant with large umbels of white flowers.

    Dan Kraus, a biologist with the conservancy, said the invasive Asian species likely arrived in Canada in the 1940s and can now be found in areas of the Atlantic provinces and Quebec, and has been spreading in southern Ontario and southern B.C.

    “Nobody’s really sure when it arrived here. It was probably introduced as an ornamental plant and it is starting to slowly spread,” said Kraus from Guelph, Ont.

    “It’s possible people are moving it from garden to garden. They see it in their aunt’s garden and they think it’s this wonderful plant, and they’re collecting seeds and moving it to another location, which is something we definitely don’t want people to do.”

    In 2015, five children in England were reportedly burned in two separate incidents after coming into contact with giant hogweed in public parks.

    Often mistaken for the similar-looking cow parsnip, it can be seen growing in gardens, along roadsides, in ditches and on the shores of rivers and streams. Its clear sap can cause blistering third-degree burns and even permanent blindness if it touches the body and is then exposed to the sun, through a phototoxic reaction.

    “It’s very nasty. It can cause huge water blisters — almost like boils — that erupt on your skin,” said Todd Boland, a research horticulturist at Memorial University’s Botanical Garden in St. John’s, N.L.

    “It may be the next day before you start to see the effects. That’s the funny thing about this. It’s not like it’s an instant thing. It takes awhile and you have to have repeated exposure to the sun.”

    But simply touching the plant is not dangerous, Boland stressed. It’s the sap that is problematic and washing your body and clothes after exposure can prevent the phototoxic reaction.

    “If you get it in your eye, it can lead to permanent blindness, but that’s pretty rare. You’d be hard-pressed to get it in your eye unless you were rolling around in the plant,” said Boland, adding that giant hogweed can be found in the St. John’s area.

    The plant has prompted communities across Canada to issue warnings to residents in recent years.

    Guelph, Ont., has been dealing with giant hogweed for about two years and although it is now contained in two locations, eradicating the plant has proven difficult.

    “In 2015 we removed some plants from one location and the next year we returned to the site and there were no plants, but this year we returned to find plants,” said Timea Filer, an urban forester with the city. “So there appears to be a seed bank and we’ll have to monitor it continually.”

    Kraus said there is also a concern about a loss of native biodiversity, as giant hogweed is an aggressive plant that can outcompete native plants and spread — especially when it grows near waterways and its seeds are carried downstream. One plant can produce thousands of seeds and they can stay in the ground for years before germinating.

    The conservancy is asking people to document sightings of the invasive plant through apps such as iNaturalist, which helps scientists understand how the plants are spreading and identifies areas in which they need to be eradicated, he said.

    “We also want to make people aware that they may have a plant in their garden which at some point could spread into a natural area and impact on biodiversity... or have public health impacts,” said Kraus.

    “Ideally you want to keep invasive plants out, but the next best thing is to detect them early and to remove them before they take over large areas.”

    Kraus said Canadians who spot giant hogweed should contact local parks officials.


    0 0


    BRIDGEWATER, N.J.—U.S. President Donald Trump delivered his “fire and fury” threat to North Korea on Tuesday with arms folded, jaw set and eyes flitting on what appeared to be a single page of talking points set before him on the conference table at his New Jersey golf resort.

    The piece of paper, as it turned out, was a fact sheet on the opioid crisis he had come to talk about, and his ominous warning to Pyongyang in was entirely improvised, according to several people with direct knowledge of what unfolded. In discussions with advisers beforehand, he had not run the specific language by them.

    Read more:

    Did Donald Trump accidentally threaten nuclear war out of a penchant for hyperbole?: Analysis

    Trump lauds nuclear strength as Tillerson urges calm on North Korea crisis

    Why North Korea is threatening Guam with its ballistic missiles

    The inflammatory words quickly escalated the confrontation with North Korea to a new, alarming level and were followed shortly by a new threat from North Korea to obliterate an American airbase on Guam. In the hours since, the president’s advisers have sought to calm the situation, with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson assuring Americans that they “should sleep at night” without worrying about an imminent war.

    But the president’s ad-libbed threat reflected an evolving and still unsettled approach to one of the most dangerous hot spots in the world as Trump and his team debate diplomatic, economic and military options.

    The president’s aides are divided on North Korea, as on other issues, with national security veterans like Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, on one side and Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, and his allies on the other.

    While General McMaster and others consider North Korea a pre-eminent threat that requires a tough response, Bannon and others in the nationalist wing argue that it is really just a subset of the administration’s conflict with China and that Trump should not give more prominence to an unstable rogue operator like Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s leader.

    Bannon’s allies in far-right media outlets and activist groups have been waging a ferocious public attack against General McMaster, characterizing him as soft on issues like Iran, Israel and terrorism and promoting a hashtag #FireMcMaster. They are angry that General McMaster has pushed out several hard-liners associated with Bannon from the National Security Council staff. Trump came to General McMaster’s defence last week with a statement expressing confidence in him.

    But in the North Korea debate, like a similar one over Afghanistan, Bannon has been arguing against what his side considers the excessively militant approach of the “war party” of General McMaster. While Bannon has his own channel to the president, he has been shut out of most formal discussions of North Korea by the national security team.

    Neither camp advocated language like “fire and fury,” according to the people involved. Among those taken by surprise, they said, was John F. Kelly, the retired four-star marine general who has just taken over as White House chief of staff and has been with the president at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., for his working vacation.

    The president had been told about a Washington Post story on North Korea’s progress in miniaturizing nuclear warheads so that they could fit on top of a ballistic missile, and was in a bellicose mood, according to a person who spoke with him before he made the statement. His team assumed that he would be asked about North Korea during a scheduled media appearance tied to his opioid meeting, but Trump had not mentioned his comment during a conference call beforehand that focused on North Korea.


older | 1 | .... | 975 | 976 | (Page 977) | 978 | 979 | .... | 1035 | newer