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 | .... | 980 | 981 | (Page 982) | 983 | 984 | .... | 1035 | newer

    0 0


    A 22-year-old Toronto man has been arrested following a shooting near Flemingdon Park on Saturday that left one man in serious condition.

    An unidentified man in his early 20s was found by police with a gunshot wound to his abdomen near Linkwood Ln. and St Dennis Dr. shortly before 6:30 p.m.

    Di’on Jahil Wong was arrested Tuesday and is facing 14 charges including attempted murder and firearm related charges.

    On Sunday police searched Wong’s home where they found 2.17 grams of cocaine, a shotgun with a folding stock, homemade ammunition, a bulletproof vest and paraphernalia used to produce illegal drugs.


    0 0


    Three people are in non-life threatening condition after a shooting in North York, Tuesday evening.

    At around 5:15 p.m., police received a call for gunshots heard in the Jane St. and Sheppard Ave. W. area, said Toronto police spokesperson Const. David Hopkinson.

    “We had info that a number of shots were heard and that there were kids in the area,” said Hopkinson.

    Police found shell casings at the scene, a residential area.

    Hospkinson says that police then located three victims in a car — a man and two women — who were suffering from non-life threatening gunshots wounds.

    According to investigators, the victims may have been taking themselves to the hospital when police found them.

    Police say it’s too early in the investigation to determine the circumstances surrounding the incident.

    Investigators are now looking for a black SUV that was seen fleeing the area.


    0 0


    U.S. President Donald Trump has attacked a long list of people and groups, late-night comedians noted Monday in the aftermath of deadly weekend violence in Charlottesville, Va.

    Yet it took him two days to condemn the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and other white supremacy groups who had gathered there.

    “Was that so hard? Why did that take two days?” asked Late Show host Stephen Colbert.

    “It shouldn’t take longer for the president to do the right thing than it takes to get a package from Amazon,” said Seth Meyers of Late Night.

    “He sounds like a kid whose parents made him apologize for egging their neighbour’s house,” said Jimmy Kimmel, host of Jimmy Kimmel Live!

    “The whole thing is such a bummer because Nazis were like the last thing we all agreed on,” Meyers added. “Indiana Jones fought the Nazis and we love Indiana Jones!”

    Read more:

    Trump often has vivid words for victims. Not for the woman killed in Charlottesville: Analysis

    Protesters topple Confederate statue at anti-racism rally in Durham, North Carolina

    Social media helps expose white nationalists at Charlottesville rally

    They rattled off lists of people the president had found easier to criticize.

    Just in the last week, Meyers said, the president “slammed the Senate Majority Leader of his own party and got into a war of words with North Korea.” Trump, he noted, has previously excoriated the likes of former presidential candidate Jeb Bush and even “people who drink Diet Coke.”

    Colbert’s list was longer: “Hillary Clinton, the New York Times, CNN, Joe Scarborough, Kristen Stewart and the cast of Hamilton, Diet Coke, Nordstrom not selling his daughter’s clothes, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the mayor of London Sadiq Khan, me, the state of New Hampshire, Gold Star families, Penn Jillette’s Las Vegas show, the movie Django Unchained, Meryl Streep and Lady Ghostbusters.”

    As Kimmel said, “When Donald Trump is upset . . . he doesn’t keep it bottled up, he lets us know.”

    While the comedians criticized the president as well as voiced their dismay over the weekend events that unfolded, there were elements of humour, too.

    “We went into the weekend wondering about Kim Jong Un starting a war,” Kimmel said. “We came out of it wondering if our president was cutting eyeholes out of his bedsheets.”

    A sombre moment

    Jimmy Fallon gave the most serious of the monologues, saying it was his “responsibility to stand up against intolerance and extremism as a human being.”

    As he watched the news about Charlottesville, with his daughters in the next room, Fallon said he thought, “How can I explain to them that there is so much hatred in this world?”

    He commended “one brave woman,” Heather Heyer, 32, who was killed when a car slammed into a group of counterprotesters.

    Fallon said ignoring the hateful behaviour exhibited at the rally is “just as bad as supporting it.”

    He said all Americans need to “stand against what is wrong” and acknowledge that racism exists, in order “to show the next generation that we haven’t forgotten how hard people have fought for human rights.”

    “We cannot do this,” Fallon said, seemingly on the verge of tears. “We can’t go backward. We can’t go backward.”

    Tiki torches

    The tiki torches used by the white nationalists in a late-night march in Charlottesville caught the comedians’ attention, in part because the maker of the torches issued a statement saying it wasn’t “associated in any way” with the events that took place there.

    “You know it’s bad when the thing you were angrily waving denounces you,” Meyers said. Then, taking aim at Trump, he added: “You didn’t have to rise to the level of FDR or JFK. All you had to do was show the same amount of courage and moral clarity as the people who make tiki torches. And you failed.”

    Colbert echoed that sentiment. “It’s pretty troubling when a backyard decoration comes out swinging stronger against Nazis than the president of the United States,” he said.

    “It’s really hard to come off as intimidating when you got torches from your mom’s patio,” Meyers said.

    ‘Many sides’

    The comedians also poked fun at Trump’s initial public comments Saturday, in which he referred to the violence in Charlottesville as coming from “many sides.” He did not identify the groups he viewed as disruptive.

    “How can you possibly say you condemn this in the strongest possible terms when you don’t even name the groups responsible or say what they did?” Colbert said. “I have seen angrier Yelp reviews. And they weren’t afraid to use the word ‘Nazi’ when describing how long their jalapeño poppers took.”

    “There were two sides, not many sides,” Kimmel said. “And one of those sides had Nazis on it.”

    “Mr. President, Mr. President, this is terrorism, not your order at KFC,” Colbert said to chuckles from the audience. Imitating Trump, he said: “I’d like the 10-piece bucket with potato wedges, fries, mash — you know what? Many sides. Many sides. Coleslaw.”


    0 0


    OTTAWA—A U.S. regional jet, same runways at Pearson — and a quick radio warning from an air traffic controller to prevent a close call.

    Safety officials are probing yet another runway incursion that happened Monday at Canada’s busiest airport, a virtual carbon copy of past incidents that have spurred a review of runway operations by the Transportation Safety Board.

    “Again, very similar to the other incursions,” Ewan Tasker, the safety board’s regional manager for air investigations, said Tuesday.

    In Monday’s incident, an Embraer 175 regional jet operated by Republic Airline, had landed on runway 24 left about 6:35 p.m. after a flight from Newark, N.J. The jet exited on to a taxiway at the end of the runway and a tower controller gave the pilots instructions to hold short of a parallel runway.

    An Air Canada Boeing 787 bound for Zurich was cleared for departure on that parallel runway and began its take-off roll.

    But as has happened many times before, the controller, concerned that the jet was going a “little fast” and wasn’t going to stop as instructed, issued fresh instructions, Tasker said.

    “Brickyard 3553, please stop there,” the controller said, using the airline’s call sign, according to a recording on the website liveatc.net.

    The jet stopped but just past the hold short line that marks the boundary to the protected runway environment. At the time, the Air Canada jet was halfway down the parallel runway, accelerating quickly for take-off, Tasker said.

    Even if the regional jet entered the parallel runway, the Air Canada flight was safely airborne by that point, he said.

    But Tasker said this latest event drives home the concerns around a recent rash of incursions involving the two parallel runways on the airport’s south side that has prompted the safety board to launch a special review of operations.

    During busy periods, aircraft land on the outer runway and then taxi across the inner runway to reach the terminal buildings. But in almost two dozen occasions in recent years, aircraft have failed to stop as instructed on a taxiway.

    “The direct risk of collision on this individual event again, not extremely high, but change the circumstances a bit and that severity changes significantly,” Tasker said.

    The review is looking at a host of factors — pilot and controller procedures, human factors, airport design — to find ways to minimize the high rate of incursions.

    One common factor — underscored by Monday’s incident — is that U.S. regional airlines are overwhelmingly involved in the majority of the incursions.

    “That’s definitely something we need to analyze. Why is that? What are the U.S. crews used to? Are they used to something different?” Tasker said.

    The fact prompted the head of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority to write to regional airlines several years ago to alert them to the problem. The airport also made changes to lighting and pavement markings. “We need to look at how much of an effect that did have. That’s part of the ongoing work,” Tasker said.

    In a statement Tuesday, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, which operates Pearson, said it was taking additional steps to address the potential risks.

    “We are stepping up our efforts with all parties in an attempt to address this situation as quickly as possible,” the statement said.

    That includes reaching out to air carriers “to address the role they play in reducing incursions.”

    The authority also wants a meeting “as soon as possible” with Nav Canada, to discuss their processes and “ways to heighten awareness with pilots crews in order to reduce incursions,” the authority said in a statement to the Star.

    Transport Canada is aware of the incident that prompted the Transportation Safety Board to deploy a team of investigators to Lester B. Pearson International Airport. The department is supporting and cooperating with the Transportation Safety Board in their assessment of the incident and have appointed a minister’s observer who will obtain factual information from the ongoing assessment, identify any issues relevant to the Minister of Transport’s responsibilities, and coordinate the required support during the assessment.

    Tasker said it’s certain that the quick intervention of controllers has prevented other runway incursions from happening.

    Peter Duffey, president of the Canadian Air Traffic Control Association, which represents controllers, said such incidents underscore why controllers remain vigilant to ensure pilots are obeying instructions, especially in the fast-paced environment at Pearson.

    “The controllers are banging stuff off and yet as that guy rolled off the runway, he saw what was happening when he passed the stop line,” Duffey told the Star.

    “That is literally a split second decision and it is because they’re constantly going up and down the runways scanning for that exact sort of thing. It’s just part of what we do,” he said.


    0 0


    Hans Nilsson has spent three years trying to spot an elusive white moose in the town of Eda, in western Sweden. Last week he got lucky and crossed paths with the ghost-coloured herbivore two days in a row.

    When Nilsson saw the moose the first time, he was amazed. On the second day, he was ready.

    He whipped out a camera and shot video of the moose, well, being a moose. It waded into a nearby stream. It shook off water. It nibbled on some plants. Nilsson, of course, described the scene in more majestic terms.

    “When I shot the video everything fell into place: the location, the light and the calmness,” Nilsson told the Local, a Swedish newspaper. “It was an experience to meet such a stately animal up close.”

    According to the newspaper, this is the second white moose sighting that’s gone viral in Sweden this summer. In July, Jessica Hemlin photographed a white moose that regularly visits her garden in Munkeda, which is also in western Sweden.

    Sweden has an estimated 400,000 moose, most of which unabashedly resemble Bullwinkle, the newspaper reported. But about 100 of them are mostly white, according to the BBC. Some of them have albinism, in which the body doesn’t produce a lot of melanin pigment. But many more have a recessive gene that causes mostly white fur interspersed with bits of brown, the Local reported.

    According to National Geographic, the white colouring may be a form of natural selection, as flabbergasted hunters choose to let the white moose live, increasing their numbers. Moose in Sweden have no natural predators except humans.

    “Hunters have chosen to not kill any moose that are light,” Göran Ericsson, a professor of elk and moose for the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, told the magazine. “It is kind of like dog breeding. They choose to select for traits that otherwise wouldn’t have occurred.”

    And although this moose has made international headlines this week, it probably has never taken a moment to appreciate its rare colour.

    Moose are colorblind.


    0 0


    INARAJAN, GUAM—Against the back wall of the command centre at Guam Homeland Security, a nondescript telephone is perched on a shelf. It’s the phone no one in the room wants to hear ringing: It alerts Guam to an incoming ballistic missile.

    A call on this phone would only come from the U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii to inform Guam of the impending strike.

    If it were to ring, a blue light would flash and immediately set into motion a chain of emergency response procedures to alert all of Guam’s roughly 162,000 civilians of the threat within two minutes. The system includes mass notification sirens that are positioned around the island, radio and television emergency broadcasts, and emergency medical workers and village mayors equipped with mobile public address systems.

    Read more:

    Why North Korea is threatening Guam with its ballistic missiles

    North Korean threats aren’t deterring tourists from visiting Guam

    Workers at the Homeland Security office have been on 24-hour duty fielding questions from residents and the media since North Korea warned last week it was preparing a missile test that would create an “enveloping fire” in the waters off Guam.

    “Guam has been through supertyphoons, an 8.2 earthquake, tsunami warnings — just about anything and everything that can threaten this tiny little island — so we’ve been conditioned to stay calm in a situation like this,” said Dee Cruz, the office’s grants manager and senior desk watch officer. “I’m not saying we look danger in the face and dare it to do its worst,” she added, “we just know what to do to prepare.”

    But being ready for a ballistic missile strike is not like preparing for a typhoon. For one thing, tropical storms move at an average speed of about 20 kph, giving people in Guam several days to prepare. A ballistic missile launched from North Korea, however, would take just 17 minutes to hit the waters off the island.

    “From the moment the sirens sound off, everyone should be ready to shelter in place,” Cruz said. “It’s important to make a plan now so that when it’s time for an emergency you’ll know what to do.”

    Cruz detailed the preparations people needed to take.

    “Create a family group chat so you can quickly communicate with each other instead of making individual calls,” Cruz suggested. “Make sure you have an emergency kit with basic supplies — small items like water and a first aid kit can save a life in an emergency situation.”

    For many on the island, which is home to Andersen Air Force Base and Naval Base Guam, being prepared for an emergency is second nature, said Andrew Lee, a local firefighter and former Marine.

    “The nature of my job is to be ready to respond in the capacity that we are able — that’s the way it is in any fire department, not just the Guam Fire Department,” he said. “At home, we have a bug-out bag prepared for an emergency, but we’re always hoping for the best,” he said, referring to the portable survival kits many families here have.

    Despite North Korea’s threat to lob a missile toward Guam, many residents seem to be taking things in stride. Guam’s largest supermarket chain, Pay-Less Supermarkets, has not seen any unusual shopping activity in its eight stores, said Kathy Sgro, the company’s executive vice president.

    “While we haven’t noticed an increase in sales of canned goods, bottled water, or emergency items such as candles and batteries, we have seen a small spike in sales of antacids and milk of magnesia, which makes me wonder if people are experiencing higher levels of anxiety than usual,” Sgro said.

    Regine Biscoe Lee, a senator in Guam’s Legislature, thinks there is a heightened sense of anxiety among the people of Guam but said that her office had not received any calls regarding the North Korean threat.

    “Here on Guam it’s business as usual, but that doesn’t mean we’re turning a blind eye to the situation,” she said. “Faith and family — that’s what people cling to here on Guam. When things get serious, we stick together, and we’re here for one another.”

    Adding to anxieties, a local broadcaster conducted an unscheduled test on Tuesday of the emergency broadcast system and did not realize it went live.

    Anthony Matanona, a baker who runs a traditional hotnu bakery in Inarajan, Guam’s oldest and best-preserved village from the Spanish era, noted that Guam’s history had inured people to coping with outside threats.

    “Guam and our people have been through hell and back — and not just through the destruction of natural elements like typhoons and earthquakes,” Matanoma said as he greeted customers and took orders for coconut bread.

    “We were colonized under Spain for 300 years and occupied by Japan for four years of war before we became Americanized,” he said. “We survived all of that, so I’m not worried. I still have to grate the coconut, I have to make sure I open up in the morning — I have to continue living.”

    Some people on Guam are even seizing on the media’s current obsession with the territory to draw attention to the plight of Guam’s civilians, portraying them as innocent pawns in a fight between two nuclear-armed nations.

    In a Facebook post that went viral, “An Open Letter From Guam to America,” Victoria-Lola M. Leon Guerrero wrote, “This land, this beautiful island everyone wants to bomb because of you, is my land, not yours.”

    “I want to go to sleep peacefully knowing that my family is safe in our home,” she wrote. “So please, stop all this bomb talk. And instead, ask yourself why Guam is still your colony in 2017.”


    0 0


    These are (again) tough days for the Rebel Commander.

    But this time it feels different for Ezra Levant and his Rebel Media because the appalling scene that unfolded in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend, threatens to wash away the house of sand his alternative media site is built upon.

    Levant this week disavowed the alt-right movement following the Charlottesville invasion by neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacists, resulting in the death of a young woman and two state troopers.

    This after his “reporter” on the scene, Faith Goldy, seemed to be cheering on the white supremacists in the moments before a car plowed into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

    The alt-right used to be fun, when he first heard of it a year ago, Levant wrote in a memo posted on The Rebel website Monday. He thought it was a home for “unashamed right-wingedness, with a sense of humour.”

    That sounds a little like an arsonist who used to burn down houses for fun, but now, a year later, has come to realize that matches cause fire.

    Levant is nothing if not resilient. His following is devoted. He has not been slowed by lawsuits, forced apologies or social media attacks. Such controversy is his oxygen; his crack cocaine.

    He was feeding off it again Tuesday: “Being controversial is part of our style — we’re Tabasco and the other guys are vanilla. Not everyone likes Tabasco, but those who like it, like it a lot.”

    He says he is not losing any advertising revenue and, asked if he can survive, he says, “You must acknowledge the irony of being asked that by a legacy newspaper. We have more subscribers than the Star.”

    But if The Rebel is becoming toxic, and there are signs it is, he will not come back this time.

    He lost his co-founder, Brian Lilley, an Ottawa radio host who wrote Monday that if The Rebel’s “lack of editorial and behavioural judgment” is left unchecked it will destroy the site and all those around it.

    “People didn’t just cross the line there,” he told me, “they jumped over the line.”

    On Tuesday, Rebel freelancer Barbara Kay tweeted she too had resigned.

    Conservative politicians, notably Michael Chong and even Chris Alexander of “lock her up” fame in Alberta, have vowed to shun The Rebel.

    Doug Schweitzer, a candidate for the United Conservative Party in Alberta, called for a Rebel boycott and told his two better-known opponents, Jason Kenney and Brian Jean, to stop playing “footsie” with Levant’s website and condemn its coverage of Charlottesville.

    Schweitzer could be playing wedge politics himself — both Jean and Kenney took to social media to condemn the violence and hate on the weekend — but his message garnered a lot of attention.

    The city of Edmonton, Porter Airlines, the ski resort Whistler Blackcomb and Ottawa Tourism have pulled their ads from the site and others have changed their profiles so their automated systems will not follow potential customers there.

    This was all building before Goldy’s live stream from the protest Saturday in which she mocks counter-protesters as she walks with them.

    The supremacists had the permit for the demonstration, but it only takes chants of “Black Lives Matter” to be left alone by police, she says.

    Police were trying to shut down the alt-right while counter-protesters were illegally on the street, she reports.

    “There is freedom of assembly for one group and not the other,” she said. “If you’re the alt-right, you’re not allowed to talk about ideas.”

    Then a woman was murdered.

    Defending herself, Goldy wrote: “I do not bathe in tears of white guilt. That does not make me a white supremacist.

    “I oppose state multiculturalism and affirmative action. That does not make me a racist.

    “I reject cultural relativism. That does not make me a fascist.”

    Gavin McInnes, best known in Canada for his Proud Boys who disrupted an Indigenous protest in Halifax on Canada Day, also disavowed the alt-right on the site.

    He laid blame for the Charlottesville killing on the man behind the wheel of the car, but he had a list of blame and at No. 5 he had . . . feminists.

    “One thing I can’t help but notice,” he tells his viewers, “is how empowered these women feel. Why are women at riots?” he asked.

    This column would be the last place to look for a suggestion that free speech should be stifled.

    But sometimes you forfeit the right to that speech and if the oxygen that keeps this hate and racism alive is extinguished, those who snuff it out should be applauded.

    The Rebel cruise sets sail for the Caribbean in November. If you signed up, better hope it is refundable.

    Tim Harper writes on national affairs. He can be reached at tjharper77@gmail.com , Twitter: @nutgraf1


    0 0


    WASHINGTON—He had said the words everyone told him he needed to say. He had denounced white supremacists.

    The white supremacists kept smiling. They said Donald Trump was clearly insincere about the words he had read from a script.

    The racists were right.

    In an impromptu tirade so astonishing that it left his chief of staff staring at the floor of Trump Tower, the president revealed Tuesday that he did not actually believe white supremacists were solely responsible for the Saturday violence at their rally in Charlottesville, Va.

    Some of the violence, Trump claimed, was initiated by bat-wielding leftist “troublemakers.” Some of the participants in the rally, he insisted, were “very fine people.” And the nominal reason for the event, he suggested, was just: defending “history” and “culture” from people who want to take down statues of Confederate icons.

    Trump’s words were nearly indistinguishable from those of the white supremacists themselves. The rant left former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke ecstatic, Democrats and Republicans slack-jawed and sickened.

    Here was the president passionately defending an extremist event during which an alleged admirer of Adolf Hitler was accused of murdering a peaceful protester and injuring 19 others. Here was the president using weaker words to describe the people bearing swastikas than the people who showed up to oppose them.

    Read more:

    The complete transcript of Donald Trump’s stunning Tuesday remarks on racist violence in Charlottesville

    Is this the beginning of the end for Canada’s Rebel Media?: Tim Harper

    Trump often has vivid words for victims. Not for the woman killed in Charlottesville: Analysis

    “You had a group on one side and you had a group on the other, and they came at each other with clubs and it was vicious and it was horrible. And it was a horrible thing to watch. But there is another side. There was a group on this side, you can call them the left — you’ve just called them the left — that came violently attacking the other group. So you can say what you want, but that’s the way it is,” Trump said.

    “I watched those very closely,” he said, “much more closely than you people watched it.”

    Trump’s Monday speech had quieted the Republican legislators who had joined the national outcry over the Saturday speech in which Trump had pointed to violence “on many sides.” The Tuesday revision — essentially the Saturday statement unleashed — triggered a new round of condemnation from his congressional allies, some of it tinged with resignation.

    “I don’t understand what’s so hard about this,” Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers, chairman of the party’s congressional election committee, said on Twitter. “White supremacists and neo-Nazis are evil and shouldn’t be defended.”

    As always, it was not clear whether Trump’s colleagues would do anything other than offer verbal rebukes. But the president’s latest remarks appeared, at least, to create a more severe crisis of confidence than he has previously faced as president, with even his aides pronouncing themselves “stunned” in anonymous remarks to U.S. reporters.

    In a highly unusual statement, the commandant of the Marine Corps, Robert Neller, took to Twitter to declare there was “no place for racial hatred or extremism” in the service.

    “Just stopped on roadside to read @POTUS remarks. I nearly threw up,” Democratic Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy said on Twitter. “FYI, after today, White House staff have effectively been folded into the white supremacy propaganda operation. Your choice – stay or go.”

    However sincere Trump aides’ professions of shock, his words were unsurprising to critics who have noted his long history of public bigotry, from smearing Mexican migrants as “rapists” to promoting a racist conspiracy about Barack Obama’s birthplace.

    “As Maya Angelou said, when people show you who they are, believe them the first time,” Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said in a Tuesday statement.

    Trump spoke after another round of criticism from corporate leaders. The chief executive of Walmart, Doug McMillon, issued a statement saying Trump’s initial speech had “missed a critical opportunity to help bring our country together by unequivocally rejecting the appalling actions of white supremacists.”

    Among the officials to resign from Trump’s manufacturing advisory council on Tuesday was the leader of the Alliance for American Manufacturing.

    “It’s the right thing for me to do,” Scott Paul said on Twitter.

    Trump’s rant was all the more remarkable for the context: a brief speech, at his home skyscraper in New York, that was supposed to be about infrastructure. Just minutes before his eruption, Trump had held up a flow chart in talking about how he planned to speed up the pace of projects.

    Standing nearby was chief of staff John Kelly, the retired general he hired three weeks prior in an attempt to impose some semblance of discipline on his dysfunctional administration.

    But Trump himself has always chafed at attempts to corral him. Kelly stood helplessly, arms folded and eyes down, as Trump became more and more agitated while taking questions from the media.

    At first, he simply argued that he had not waited too long to condemn the white supremacists. He said he needed to make sure he had “the facts” — though he had been quick to jump to the conclusion that previous incidents were acts of terror, even when they were not.

    Growing angrier, he then told reporters that they did not yet have all the facts themselves. Finally, and at length, he offered his own version of what happened and who was present.

    “Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me,” Trump said. “Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch.”

    The Charlottesville rally featured people waving Nazi flags, members of the white supremacist “alt-right” dressed in casual attire, and heavily armed militiamen in military-style uniforms. Trump argued that some of the participants were not racist.

    Those people were merely opposed, he said, to the removal of a Charlottesville statue of Robert E. Lee, the general who commanded the forces of the pro-slavery Confederate secessionists.

    In his most explicit endorsement of Confederate icons, Trump argued that removing monuments to them would lead the country down a slippery slope to the removal of monuments to beloved founding fathers.

    “George Washington was a slave owner,” he said. “So will George Washington, now, lose his status?” Trump asked. He continued: “How about Thomas Jefferson? What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? You like him?”


    0 0


    WASHINGTON—The last two Republican presidents — George W. Bush and his father, George H.W. Bush — issued an implicit rebuke of the current president Wednesday, as party elders scrambled to limit the fallout from Donald Trump’s stance on neo-Nazis.

    “America must always reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred in all forms,” read the statement issued by Bush aides from Kennebunkport, Maine, site of the Bush family compound.

    The Bushes have largely kept on the sidelines during the Trump presidency. The younger Bush has maintained a strict policy of resisting the urge to inject himself into contemporary politics, deeming that unfair to the current national leader — whether that was Trump or, before him, Barack Obama.

    Read more: Donald Trump defends far-right extremists in astonishing tirade, again blames both sides for Charlottesville violence

    Trump’s council of CEOs is on the verge of disbanding over his defence of far-right extremists

    Charlottesville victim’s mother urges supporters to channel ‘anger into righteous action’

    The elder Bush turned 93 in June.

    But amid the uproar over Trump’s warmth toward neo-Nazis and white supremacists, the father-son presidents apparently could not hold their tongues any longer.

    Also on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., forcefully distanced himself and the party from Trump’s stance.

    “We can have no tolerance for an ideology of racial hatred. There are no good neo-nazis, and those who espouse their views are not supporters of American ideals and freedoms. We all have a responsibility to stand against hate and violence, wherever it raises its evil head,” McConnell said in a statement issued by his office, in part to denounce a rally planned by hate groups in Lexington.

    The Bushes rarely issue joint statements, underscoring the importance they placed on airing their views on this controversy. Their full statement read:

    “America must always reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred in all forms. As we pray for Charlottesville, we are reminded of the fundamental truths recorded by that city’s most prominent citizen in the Declaration of Independence: we are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights. We know these truths to be everlasting because we have seen the decency and greatness of our country.”

    While the Bushes’ rare joint statement didn’t mention Trump, their message was clearly aimed at distancing themselves — and the Republican Party — from the president’s comments about the violence in Virginia. On Saturday, a Nazi sympathizer rammed a car into a crowd of anti-fascist demonstrators, killing one woman and injuring 20 other people.

    The neo-Nazis and white supremacists chanted anti-Semitic slogans and waved swastika flags.

    Trump initially blamed clashes on agitators and bad actors on “many sides,” without mentioning neo-Nazis or the Ku Klux Klan or white supremacists by name. On Monday, after aides had invoked those labels, Trump did, too, in scripted comments that were criticized as belated but welcomed as a signal that Trump had shifted away from describing a moral equivalence between fascists and anti-fascists.

    He then proceeded to undo those efforts at damage control on Tuesday afternoon with a freewheeling news conference in the lobby of his glittering Trump Tower. He insisted that there were “very fine people” on that side of the clashes and accused the “alt-left” of provoking the violence.

    Before the Bushes and McConnell weighed in, House Speaker Paul Ryan was the highest-ranking Republican official to publicly distance himself — and the party — from the president. Trump’s critics, and many of his fellow Republicans, viewed those comments as a wink of approval toward fringe nationalists and white supremacists.

    “We must be clear,” Ryan tweeted. “White supremacy is repulsive . . . There can be no moral ambiguity.”

    Indeed, white supremacist leader Richard Spencer of Dallas, and David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard, had welcomed Trump’s stance as an affirmation of their views and tactics.

    Trump had denounced racism and bigotry as evil and repugnant. But in equating the actions of neo-Nazis chanting Nazi-era slogans such as “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us” to the actions of anti-fascist demonstrators, his critics say, he gave political cover to the worst fringe elements of American society.

    For GOP leaders, that has presented a challenge. Trump, as president, is leader of the party. But the party’s congressional majorities will be at stake in the 2018 elections and Trump’s approval ratings are already at a record low for any president in decades.


    0 0


    The University of Toronto has told a group espousing white nationalist views that it won’t be allowed to hold a rally on campus next month.

    “We reached out to them (Tuesday) to indicate that we’ve been made aware of their Facebook event . . . and that they do not have permission to hold it on our grounds,” said a university spokesperson, Althea Blackburn-Evans.

    The Canadian Nationalist Party, which intends to “discuss the nationalist movement in Canada,” said on a Facebook page this week that it was going to hold a rally Sept. 14 at the university.

    Travis Patron, the party’s founder, told the Star on Tuesday that he will choose an alternative location if his group was denied a permit for its Toronto Nationalist Rally. Patron was not immediately available for comment Wednesday.

    News of the event emerged after the death of a woman when a car rammed into a crowd of counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va.

    In response to the proposed rally on U of T campus, a counter-protest called “Unity Rally to Silence White Supremacy in Toronto” was created, with more than 4,200 people listed as going on Facebook as of Wednesday afternoon compared with 61 people saying that they would be going to the nationalist rally.

    “When I stumbled across the event listing for a Toronto Nationalist Party rally on campus on the heels of Charlottesville (it) made me absolutely sick,” said Shannon McDeez, an organizer of the counter-protest. “I am aware that this type of hate does exist in Canada, regardless of how we are perceived.”

    McDeez said the event will go ahead in light of the university’s decision.

    “I am happy with the news that U of T does not support or condone this type of gathering and propagation of white supremacist messages,” she said. “White supremacists will never exist comfortably in our city as long as we maintain the momentum of individuals who have united against hatred.”

    When a group attempts to book space on campus, the school decides if it is appropriate to host based on whether there are safety issues and the potential for hate speech. The university’s booking policy says “contestable sentiments that are offensive to some will be expressed on a campus populated by passionate and engaged students, staff and faculty.”

    The policy itself does not refer to hate speech, but says that “respect for human rights and liberties” are important values.

    On Wednesday afternoon, Ryerson University announced that it cancelled an event called “The Stifling of Free Speech on University Campuses,” a panel including controversial psychology professor Jordan Peterson and Faith Goldy, a commentator for the Rebel, a right-wing news site.

    Goldy was in Charlottesville on Saturday to report on the rally. She called the Charlottesville Statement, a document written by white nationalist protesters, “robust” and “well thought out.”

    “After a thorough security review, the University has concluded that Ryerson is not equipped to provide the necessary level of public safety for the event to go forward,” said Michael Forbes, a university spokesperson.

    “There is often a tension at universities resulting from our commitment to be a place for free speech and our commitment to be a place that is civil, safe, and welcoming. In light of recent events, Ryerson is prioritizing campus safety.”

    U of T president Meric Gertler released a statement Wednesday, saying that “bigotry, hate, intolerance and violence have no place on our campuses.”

    “Recent tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia, are an important reminder of the need for all of us to speak out against violence and hate,” Gertler said. “We extend our deepest sympathies and heartfelt support to those affected. The academic community must continue to condemn acts of violence, intimidation, and the fostering of hate.

    “As we prepare to welcome students, faculty and staff to our campuses for the start of another academic year, it is important that we reaffirm our collective and unwavering commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. These are among the University of Toronto’s core values.”

    A spokesman for Conservative leader Andrew Scheer says his promise to yank federal funding from universities that fail to uphold free speech wouldn’t apply to U of T’s decision.

    Scheer made the free speech pledge during his bid for leadership of the party this year and repeated it during his victory speech after he was elected in May.

    Last spring, U of T hosted a talk by Ken O’Keefe, who has been described as an anti-Semite and a Holocaust denier. After the talk, the university stated that the event violated its policies.

    Last October, a “rally for free speech” in support of Peterson, who criticized the use of nonbinary gender pronouns in a YouTube video, became confrontational and physical between his supporters and counter-protesters.

    In February, a conference that featured Peterson and Ezra Levant of the Rebel was disrupted by protests after a fire alarm was pulled and attendees evacuated the building.

    Both events had a heavy police presence.

    The Canadian Nationalist Party was created in June, according to Patron, 26, and is not registered with Elections Canada or Elections Ontario.

    Patron’s party, which “plans to be on the ballot for the 2019 election,” includes in its platform the intention to limit immigration, abolish the Indian Act, form a “national citizen militia” to “defend traditional Canadian values” and calls the drop of Canada’s “European” population from 97 per cent in 1971 “the suppression of the founding Canadian people.”

    Patron told the Star that the event was created on Facebook on July 3, weeks before the events in Charlottesville.

    “I want to make clear that we are not connected to the Virginia rallies or the whole white nationalist movement in the States,” Patron said. “We are not a white supremacist movement, we are national identitarian movement. Part of that involves ethnicity and part of ethnicity certainly does involve race. It’s important and we shouldn’t ignore it.”

    The Canadian Nationalist Party has been a topic of discussion on Stormfront, a white supremacist discussion board.

    With files from the Canadian Press


    0 0


    The Ontario Medical Association, which represents 29,000 doctors, may be the most dysfunctional professional group in the entire province, if not all of Canada.

    Since January, the powerful OMA has been torn apart by vicious infighting that saw the sudden resignation of its entire executive team, a nasty campaign of cyberbullying pitting doctors against doctors, the election of a slate of dissident doctors to lead the association and the resignation of nine hardline members of its governing council who claimed the OMA still muzzles dissenting voices.

    And now the OMA is on the verge of damaging its already-tattered reputation even more.

    That’s because the union is expected to launch a major public relations campaign soon aimed at winning the hearts and minds of taxpayers who the OMA fears — rightly — will be angered when they learn how much money some doctors are getting in OHIP fees.

    The OMA is considering such a campaign in the delusional view that it can appease vocal doctors who think the association can “control the narrative” and “minimize the damage” when OHIP billings are made public.

    As revealed by the Toronto Star this week, the OMA could soon voluntarily release the names of its top OHIP billers along with favourable stories about how hard those doctors work, how much they pay in taxes, staff and office overhead, along with their final take-home income. The OMA believes the public is clueless when it comes to understanding such things.

    Under the proposal, first reported by Star reporters Theresa Boyle and Jayme Poisson, the OMA would deliberately leak the information not to the Star, but to another newspaper it believes would provide “more favourable coverage.”

    “Definitely open to the idea. Better for us to control the message,” OMA president Dr. Shawn Whatley wrote last week on a Facebook forum for Ontario doctors. “We are discussing it this week.”

    The OMA issued a statement just before the Star’s story broke saying the union isn’t acting on the program at this time.

    Importantly, the OMA has opposed the Star’s legal efforts over the last two years to force the release of the names and OHIP billings of top-billing doctors. In June, an Ontario court ruled against doctors’ attempt to keep the names secret. The OMA says it will appeal the ruling.

    At stake here is the public’s right to know how its tax dollars are being spent — or misspent.

    Collectively, Ontario doctors bill nearly $12 billion a year. The vast majority of doctors are working flat out, putting in long hours in clinics and hospitals, working in underserved communities and emergency rooms.

    But questions linger about some of the biggest billers. How, for instance, can one doctor bill for 100,000 patients in a single year, as an audit last year by the provincial health ministry revealed. How can the top 12 billing doctors average $4 million a year? How did six claim to have worked for 356 days in a one-year period?

    Not surprisingly, the angry doctors are trying to portray the Star’s efforts to see the billing data released as a deliberate attempt to negatively smear all doctors.

    “Scoop the Star’s story. They spent a fortune fighting for this. Lick their lollipop before they have a chance to enjoy it,” wrote Dr. David Jacobs, vice-president of the Ontario Association of Radiologists, on Facebook.

    But a major flaw in the proposed OMA strategy is that it’s based on the mistaken belief that if it simply gives the data voluntarily to another news outlet then it will gain all sorts of favourable coverage that masks news of possible overbilling.

    The reality is, however, that regardless of where the OMA leaks its own data, taxpayers and politicians are likely to be shocked by the scope of billings. For example the Canadian Institute for Health Information released a report in April that estimates one third of all tests and treatments are potentially unnecessary.

    No amount of public relations “spin” will be able to counteract the possible public outrage to such revelations.

    Ultimately, the public deserves to know if there is fraud and waste, even possible criminal activity, within the OHIP system.

    If it wants to win the public’s trust and respect, the OMA should stop looking at this issue as merely a public relations exercise it can manipulate to their own advantage.

    Instead, it should work cooperatively with provincial authorities to release as much relevant billing information as reasonable. That would help the public in determining for themselves if their health dollars are being spent properly.

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


    0 0


    Don’t expect the Danforth to build a wall and make the Beach pay for it.

    Following social media backlash this week, the Danforth Village Business Improvement Area has apologized and removed references to a “Make Danforth Great Again” slogan it originally posted at the height of the U.S. presidential campaign early last November.

    The slogan was featured in a Facebook video and on a page of the BIA’s website, both of which have been taken down.

    “In a continued effort to ‘Make Danforth Great Again’ the Danforth Village Business Improvement Area (DVBIA) has embarked on a window washing service for all its merchant members. Currently, 170 businesses are participating in the program,” the page read.

    It displayed Photoshopped images of Donald Trump on the Danforth next to a red wagon bearing the slogan. The images were overlaid with Trump quotes like: “Part of the beauty of me is that I am very rich,” and: “Let me tell you, I’m a really smart guy.”

    “This past week, a recent candidate in the US elections heard about the great work being done in Danforth Village and decided to drop in and see what all the hype was about,” the page read.

    The red wagon has been used to carry window-washing supplies, said councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon, who sits on the BIA’s board of directors. McMahon said the slogan will be removed from the wagon.

    Some Danforth residents and shoppers took to the BIA’s Facebook page to express their disgust after a photo of the wagon was posted to social media earlier this week.

    “I think you do a lot for our community, and I am generally a big fan,” one posted. “However your ‘Make Danforth Great Again’ slogan and campaign is in terrible taste and is offensive. You are channeling a racist and a fascist. You are alienating everyone who stands up for civil rights and true equality.”

    Another questioned on Twitter whether the BIA is “tone deaf” or “just like to steal slogans from White Supremacists.”

    In a statement, Louie Dapergolas, chair of the BIA, apologized “to anyone who has been offended or insulted by this,” adding that the video posted in November was meant as “satire.”

    “At the time, many of us believed that the idea that he would be elected President of the United States was outrageous. This video in no way suggests any support of Donald Trump or his beliefs, especially in light of what is currently happening in the United States,” the statement read.

    “Instead, it was made to promote our Window Washing initiative, which is an exciting collaboration between the Danforth Village BIA and Dixon Hall, a shelter on Danforth Avenue. This initiative gives shelter users an opportunity to engage in gainful, meaningful employment.”

    McMahon and councillor Janet Davis, also a member of the board, said they voiced their opposition to using the phrase during a meeting last fall.

    Davis called it “completely inappropriate” in the current political and social context.

    McMahon said the slogan did not reflect the diversity of the community, and of business owners in the area.

    “The BIA is an extension of the city and they should be remaining neutral in any election, let alone a contentious one and in another country,” McMahon said. “We’re trying to make the Danforth great again, like back historically. But obviously people weren’t thinking.”


    0 0


    U.S. Vice President Mike Pence expressed his support for Donald Trump in carefully worded remarks as the administration coped with the fallout over controversial statements from the president on the deadly weekend violence in Virginia.

    “The president has been clear on this, and so have I,” Pence said Wednesday during a news conference in Santiago, Chile. Pence went on to refer to his own forceful condemnation of white supremacists issued on Aug. 13 after the melee, saying, “I stand with the president, and I stand by those words.”

    Pence didn’t directly address a reporter’s question on the vice president’s opinion of Trump’s statement on Tuesday, when the president returned to his controversial position that there was “blame on both sides” for the weekend violence and likened the actions of white supremacists chanting anti-Jewish slogans to those of the people who came out to confront them.

    Read the latest news on U.S. President Donald Trump

    The violence erupted as white nationalists gathered in Charlottesville over the weekend to protest the city’s decision to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, a Confederate general in the Civil War, from a public park.

    One woman was killed and at least 19 others were injured after an Ohio man allegedly rammed a group of counter-demonstrators with a vehicle, and two Virginia state troopers who were observing the demonstrations died in a helicopter crash nearby. Photographs showed a group of whites using long metal poles to beat a black man crouching on his knees.

    Trump has faced intense criticism from business leaders and lawmakers in both parties since saying Aug. 12 that “many sides” bore blame for the melees that erupted in Charlottesville. Several corporate chief executives quit White House business panels in recent days and the president announced right after Pence spoke that he was disbanding business advisory groups on manufacturing and strategic policy.

    Even inside the White House, some staff were deeply dismayed by Trump’s comments Tuesday, according to a person close to the White House.

    Read more:

    Critics slam Trump after he declines to call out Charlottesville white supremacists, some of whom are his supporters

    UN experts say Charlottesville exemplifies rising racism in U.S.

    Former presidents Bush rebuke Trump’s stance on neo-Nazis

    Prominent Republicans continued distancing themselves from Trump on Wednesday, though in most cases without directly criticizing the president.

    “America must always reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred in all forms,” former Presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush said in a joint statement Wednesday without mentioning Trump.

    Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky followed the same course, releasing a statement Wednesday on “hate groups” without mentioning Trump or the president’s remarks.

    “There are no good neo-Nazis, and those who espouse their views are not supporters of American ideals and freedoms,” McConnell said. “We all have a responsibility to stand against hate and violence, wherever it raises its evil head.”

    Trump criticized “alt-left” counter-protesters as “very, very violent.” Facing them, he said, “were people protesting very quietly the taking down the statue of Robert E. Lee. I am sure in that group there were some bad ones.”

    Protesters objecting to Confederate generals could move on next to heroes of the American Revolution, he warned.

    “So this week, it is Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down too,” Trump said. “I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?”

    In a reference to a former Ku Klux Klan leader who has praised Trump’s comments, Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday in a statement, “Many Republicans do not agree and will fight back against the idea that the Party of Lincoln has a welcome mat out for the David Dukes of the world.”


    0 0


    MONTREAL—A Quebec woman is taking legal action against her doctors after she delivered her 13-pound baby naturally in what court documents describe as a “traumatic and chaotic” childbirth.

    Documents filed in Quebec Superior Court on behalf of Anik Bourbeau and Pascal Lessard allege the baby was born with a permanently paralyzed arm and the mother was left with significant tearing and other damage following the 2010 birth.

    The documents allege the couple’s doctors failed to evaluate the size of the baby and recommend a caesarean section before Bourbeau gave birth, despite signs that pointed to the possibility of a large baby.

    They asking for $1.4 million in damages from the defendants, who include five of Bourbeau’s doctors and a hospital in Shawinigan, Que.

    The baby’s birth “took place in the context of a traumatic and chaotic birth that caused numerous damages to the plaintiffs, notably a permanent paralysis to the [baby’s] right arm,” the document reads.

    The amount claimed includes general damages, loss of income for both parents as well as future medical costs for the child.

    None of the claims have been tested in court. The law firm representing the defendants declined to comment, citing confidentiality.

    The documents allege the medical professionals did not do an ultrasound on Bourbeau to check the size of the baby despite her medical history, which included a difficult pregnancy in the past.

    “The defendants omitted to proceed to an evaluation of the child’s size, while the clinical evolution of Madame Bourbeau demanded it,” it reads.

    Doctors “did not obtain free and informed consent” from Bourbeau regarding the method of delivery and did not recommend a C-section despite the fact she had clearly expressed her willingness to have one, the document claims.

    According to the documents, the baby wasn’t breathing and weighed more than 13 pounds when he was delivered in December 2010.

    The case will be heard in Superior Court in May 2018.


    0 0


    The disclaimer is always about a few bad apples.

    That handful of wormy cops who are (rarely) charged with criminal offences, almost uniformly acquitted — second-degree murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, sexual assault and assault among the trials I’ve personally covered over these past few decades which have resulted in not guilty verdicts — or brought up on Police Act disciplinary charges.

    More like a bushel and a peck, I’d say.

    In the past fortnight alone, we’ve had at least 10 officers from Toronto — with drifts to Durham Region — before the courts and police tribunals or charged or acquitted for lack objective evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.

    The doubt, like the tie, invariably goes to cops.

    I choose to believe that most cops are professional in their job and decent human beings in their contacts with the public. Indeed, I’ve experienced it myself as someone charged with assault. It is not an easy vocation and day-after-day exposure to the worst among us doubtless calcifies the heart. But choosing to believe the best of law enforcement gets ever harder when the evidence before my eyes is so discouraging.

    Cops who drink’n’dine out on the perks of their badge.

    Cops who troll, in their off-hours, the underbelly world of vice and sleaze.

    Cops who lie and plant evidence and perjure themselves on the witness stand.

    Cops who allegedly beat up civilians and then lay charges of obstruct police.

    Cops who allegedly mock a young woman with Down syndrome.

    The violations range from the severe to the picayune, although nothing is picayune when the courts exact consequences from those who run afoul of the law. In one instance, which has received no publicity, a police officer charged a 19-year-old boy I know intimately with smoking — smoking— outside a restaurant in a Downsview strip mall. When the youth was unable to identify himself — which he had the right not to do; there was no allegation of a suspect being sought for a crime — he was arrested, taken to the station and subjected to a search which turned up a flick knife and small quantity of marijuana. Charges included possession of a restricted weapon, resulting from what very likely may have been an illegal search under the circumstances. The young man pleaded guilty earlier this month and is now burdened with a criminal record.

    Since when do Toronto cops charge for smoking, unless they’ve got a burr up their butt? That’s a job for bylaw enforcement officers and, thus far this year, they’ve laid precisely two tickets for non-compliance with the municipal regulation.

    Read more:

    Toronto, Durham police accused of covering up Dafonte Miller assault case

    Two police probes into beating of Dafonte Miller fall short: Editorial

    If Toronto police are serious about restoring our faith they need to root out the bad-apple cops: Keenan

    My point is that cops have too much discretional authority and they wield it like the bullies too many of them are.

    Bad apples? When compared proportionately with the civilian population, are they more or less criminal, more or less discreditable, more or less likely to catch a break from colleagues, courts and the justice system?

    Social media has made it more difficult these days for cops to keep their own unruly behaviour off the radar. Every smartphone is a surveillance camera. Yet that evidence, brought into a courtroom or a police tribunal or a coroner’s inquest, can be freeze-frame parsed into incoherency by deft cop lawyers, the kind you and I could probably not afford.

    And what do we, the public, have to shield against police brutality, whether it happens on a deserted street at three o’clock in the morning or in broad daylight on the lawns of the legislature by cops who’ve removed their identifying badge numbers?

    We have the Criminal Code, of course, except police officers are extensions of it because they do the charging and the investigating, even when another police force is brought in. We have the near toothless Special Investigations Unit, generally staffed by ex-cops. We have Internal Affairs and Professional Standards Units that sometimes — as in the case of parking enforcement officer who brought sex assault charges against three Toronto constables — conduct stunningly sloppy investigations.

    We have civilian oversight agencies such as the Office of the Independent Police Review Director which too often tosses complaints back to police chiefs for investigation and determination of charges.

    And we have endless reviews, task forces, internal and external audits, hundreds of recommendations that amount to a hill of beans.

    Cops have learned the lesson well: There are few consequences for brutish behaviour. Chances are you’ll get away with it, even if subjected to the mild unpleasantness of being public identified on a charge sheet. Even then, your salary will continue to be paid and you won’t be fired by your chief because that’s a legal mosh-pit.

    On Wednesday, lawyer Julian Falconer called for both a systematic review by the OIPRD to look at “underlying causes” of the alleged mishandling of a complaint by both Toronto Police Service and Durham Regional Police Service — concealing of an alleged crime to avoid SIU involvement — and a wider probe of how the SIU is being prevented from executing its mandate. Falconer has asked that the matter not be referred back to the TPS, the DRPS or any other police service for investigation. Which leaves I don’t know what, given the current complaint structure.

    Falconer has been down this road before with complainants, a road that has wound its way to the Supreme Court of Canada, which vouchsafed the statutory obligation for police officers to co-operate fully with the SIU in their investigations.

    I’ve lost count of the number of times this was shown not to have happened — and I don’t mean just subject officers, who are constitutionally protected against self-incrimination and therefore aren’t compelled to make a statement or submit to questioning. (A matter which seriously deserves a second-think by the Supremes.)

    “Here I sit in 2017 facing the same issue,” Falconer told a press conference. “Why do police have the power to charge with obstruct justice those who interfere in an investigation but SIU investigators do not. And the answer is that there is every reality that it will be enormously career-limiting for a director of SIU to even contemplate laying an obstruct justice charge. This has to change.”

    Falconer represents a 19-year-old Black male, Dafonte Miller, who was beaten with a metal pipe last December in Whitby — extensive injuries suffered, including permanent loss of vision in one eye, broken orbital bone, broken nose, fractured wrist — allegedly by two brothers, one of whom was an off-duty Toronto cop. And further, Falconer maintains, that their father, himself a Toronto cop with Professional Standards, was complicit in concealing his sons’ alleged crimes by having communication with the Durham investigators. He sets out, in his formally filed complaint, “clear steps that were taken in protecting these two thugs.”

    The investigation, as it unfolded that night, certainly appears shabby, with the brothers’ version of events — that they’d been attacked by Miller, with a pipe — accepted as de facto truth, with no follow-through on how Miller came by all those serious injuries. Nor was the SIU informed of the incident — as is required when a member of the public suffers serious injury or death in an incident involving police — until four months later.

    The interim upshot: All charges against Miller were withdrawn. The SIU has charged Michael and Christian Theriault with aggravated assault, assault with a weapon and public mischief for misleading investigators. Nothing against their father, Det. John Theriault.

    Not good enough, argues Falconer.

    “We have to equip our SIU investigators with the same powers of other police officers. We have to create consequences for the police when they undermine an investigation the way in my opinion this investigation was deliberately undermined. There are no incentives for them to comply with the law.

    “Think of the exposure for John Theriault’s two sons had the right thing been done that night and SIU been brought in right away. All of the incentives operate in the opposite direction. There is no law they’re breaking when they undermine an SIU investigation but if they get nailed they face severe consequences. The incentives go in the wrong direction.

    “It’s high time that we make sure that it’s safe for our SIU directors to lay the appropriate charges. Public mischief won’t do it.”

    With the confluence of so many recent events involving on-duty and off-duty cops, the crisis of confidence in policing has become acute.

    But it’s no longer just a handful of activists and journalists decrying police delinquency and monkey-business.

    The public is demanding: What the hell?

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


    0 0


    The Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal and Halton police are investigating a suspicious fire that heavily damaged a more than 120-year-old church in northeast Burlington.

    Burlington Fire was called to the Trinity Baptist Church at 4372 Appleby Line, just north of No. 2 Sideroad, around 1:20 a.m.

    The first crews on scene saw visible flames in the southwest corner of the building that eventually extended up the wall and got into the attic, destroying the roof, said Deputy Fire Chief Ross Monteith.

    No one was injured, but the original church building, built in 1890, was heavily damaged by the fire. Monteith said it was difficult for firefighters to navigate inside the old, tall building and at a certain point they had to refocus their efforts on saving the newer additions to the church, which escaped unscathed.

    It’s too early to know what caused the blaze. Monteith said damage is likely in excess of $500,000.

    Halton police spokesperson Sgt. Dana Nicholas confirmed the fire is considered suspicious.

    The word “ISIS” is visible in spray paint on the building. Nicholas said police are aware of the graffiti, but added it’s too early in the investigation to know if it’s related to the fire.

    At the height of the fire there were 40 firefighters on scene from 12 trucks. The rural area does not have hydrant access, so other fire crews from Milton and Hamilton shuttled water to the scene.

    Fire crews remained on scene putting out hot spots until about 10 a.m., Monteith said.

    According to the church’s website, the Trinity Baptist congregation moved to the Appleby Line church in 1975.

    Anyone with information is asked to contact Halton police at 905-825-4747 ext. 2316.


    0 0


    The death of an Ontario teenager in Cuba last month has been attributed to natural causes by local authorities, according to her Cuban death certificate.

    Alexandra Sagriff, 18, was found dead in her Varadero hotel room on July 6, while on a graduation trip organized by S-Trip, a private travel company geared toward high school students.

    Sagriff died of heart- and lung-related issues including acute pulmonary edema, acute myocardial infarction and ischemic heart failure, says a death certificate issued by Dr. Sergio Piera, director of Cuba’s Institute of Legal Medicine.

    No alcohol was found in Sagriff’s system, says the certificate, which was provided to the Star by S-Trip.

    Sagriff’s family declined to comment on the findings of the Cuban autopsy, but issued a written statement through S-Trip.

    “It is unfortunate and hurtful that there continue to be individuals who insist on talking about Alexandra in a way that questions her character and dishonours her memory,” her family wrote. “She was a loving and caring young woman who was always well respected and loved by all.”

    S-Trip has been in consistent contact with Sagriff’s family since the death, said Samia Makhlouf, a public relations professional working for S-Trip.

    Sagriff was a recent graduate of St. Theresa Catholic Secondary School in Belleville, and was preparing to attend Loyalist College in the fall, her family said shortly after her death.

    “Alex was an amazing young woman, she had a ton of friends, and has a ton of family who loves her,” her family said at the time.


    0 0


    No one’s laughing at Donald Trump anymore.

    Joke’s over. But why did it take so painfully long — and a civil rights disaster— for a toxic presidency to stop being even remotely funny?

    Trump’s buffoonery provided endless material for mockery on late night TV. But while his critics chortled, he had the last laugh on election night.

    Now, his demagoguery is no laughing matter. And it’s long past time for my American friends to stop snickering from the sidelines.

    In all seriousness, I appreciate political satire. Humour pricks the balloons of powerful politicians who take themselves too seriously.

    But years of TV laugh tracks have turned politics into a gong show. And a reality television star who had been auditioning for the role was waiting in the wings.

    The joke went too far. Will voters continue to laugh at the spectacle, or finally get serious about the tragedy being played out before their eyes?

    Humour exacts a price if it divides people instead of uniting them: When you’re laughing at roughly half the American people, you’re lining up against them — and making enemies of them in a culture war without end.

    All those skits on Saturday Night Live were on point, but ultimately unpersuasive. The Late Show With Stephen Colbert is supposed to be edgy, but tends to drive a wedge. The Daily Show’s humour is acidic, but it’s not activist.

    In the right therapeutic dose, hilarity is an antidote to absurdity. But Americans have overdosed on humour for too long, addicted to an incapacitating drug that anaesthetizes them from the pain of racism, inequality, and alienation.

    Laughing isn’t the answer anymore, because Trumpism isn’t all that funny — as even Jimmy Fallon discovered the other night. Give the Tonight Show host belated credit for his heartfelt monologue about the fallout from Charlottesville (even if he was trying to restore his lost credibility after famously tussling Trump’s hair in mid-campaign).

    Chortling is too easy. The harder challenge is change — winning elections and influencing people.

    More precisely, it’s not about changing presidents but changing the minds (and hopefully hearts) of the very voters who enabled and empowered him. Sitting back and laughing at Trump and his highly motivated base only forges a closer bond between them.

    The danger of mockery is that it suggests superiority over the stupidity of Trump’s supporters: We get it, we’re all in on the joke because we’re on the same wavelength — and so much wiser than the ones we’re laughing at.

    But if the other side is so dumb, why are they the ones in power?

    The answer is that they understand the power of political engagement. Instead of just laughing, highly motivated people of faith, affluence, or anger are too busy praying, fundraising and agitating.

    It’s impossible to spend two weeks in America, as I just did with American friends, without sharing their sense of despair. We’ve been there, which is why we have no right to feel superior.

    Torontonians went through a similar cycle of political chaos when Rob Ford was mayor. He too played buffoon on the Jimmy Kimmel Live show while we laughed about his not so funny addictions and predilections.

    Bad as they both turned out to be, Trump wasn’t a surprise. Unlike Ford — whose weaknesses weren’t widely understood by many voters — Americans knew what they were getting with Trump.

    They watched him in nationally televised prime time debates, they heard his racist and misogynist rhetoric, yet still they made him president. The problem isn’t so much Trump as the American people who put him there, and the opportunistic apparatchiks who keep him there.

    There’s nothing funny to be found in that political divide. Laughter alone isn’t a response, it’s a cop-out — akin to the Facebook fragmentation of online “likes,” or favouriting a Barack Obama tweet of a Nelson Mandela quotation.

    Twitter and Facebook define “engagement” as someone clicking on a link, which must be laughable for serious political activists. Clicking is akin to chortling — makes you feel better, but offers only the illusion of involvement.

    The truth about politics — whether in America or anywhere — is that clicks don’t count as votes, and elections aren’t won with laughs. If politics is just a joke, it will only desensitize and immobilize voters.

    Politics depends on participation. It’s about idealism and activism, not apps and gags.

    That means being informed and getting involved, donating time or money, and above all voting. It’s about tuning into the issues, not just TV skits. And screening the candidates on a ballot, not merely scrolling through a feed on Facebook.

    Yes, levity preserves sanity. But if hilarity serves only to release pent-up frustration, without any relief from a political crisis, it’s not helping anyone.

    And just as tears are not enough, jokes won’t change a thing.

    Martin Regg Cohn's political column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. mcohn@thestar.ca , Twitter: @reggcohn


    0 0


    NEW YORK—With corporate chieftains fleeing, U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly abolished two of his White House business councils on Wednesday — the latest fallout from his combative comments on racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

    In a face-saving effort, he tweeted from Trump Tower in New York: “Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!”

    A growing number of business leaders have been resigning from the advisory panels, openly expressing their displeasure with Trump’s comments, including his insistence that “both sides” were to blame for weekend violence that left one woman dead and led to a helicopter crash that killed two state troopers.

    Read the latest news on U.S. President Donald Trump

    On Wednesday, Denise Morrison, chief executive of Campbell Soup, declared she was leaving Trump’s manufacturing council, saying, “The president should have been — and still needs to be — unambiguous” in denouncing the white supremacists who organized the Charlottesville rally.

    The quick sequence began late Wednesday morning when Stephen A. Schwarzman, the chief executive of the Blackstone Group and one of Trump’s closest confidants in the business community, organized a conference call for members of the president’s Strategic and Policy Forum.

    On the call, the chief executives of some of the largest companies in the country debated how to proceed.

    After a discussion among a dozen prominent CEOs, the decision was made to abandon the group altogether, said people with knowledge of details of the call.

    Read more:

    Donald Trump defends far-right extremists in astonishing tirade, again blames both sides for Charlottesville violence

    Shame the Charlottesville white supremacists on social media: Teitel

    Trump’s presidency a long descent into darkness: Rae

    The council included Laurence Fink of BlackRock, Ginni Rometty of IBM, Rich Lesser of the Boston Consulting Group and Toby Cosgrove of the Cleveland Clinic, among others.

    The first to step down, Kenneth Frazier of Merck, drew a Twitter tongue-lashing from the president. Then, barely 24 hours before disbanding the councils, Trump called those who were leaving “grandstanders” and insisted many others were eager to take their places.

    Members of the advisory group had stood with the president in recent months even as he advanced policies they vehemently opposed, including tough immigration policies and withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate accord.

    But the president’s equivocating in the wake of the outburst of white nationalist violence in Charlottesville was too much for the CEOs to bear.

    “He had put them in a very difficult position,” said Anat Admati, a professor of finance and economics at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. “This has ruined his relationships with some of them.”

    A few fellow Republican leaders are going after Trump, too.

    South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday the president “took a step backward by again suggesting there is moral equivalency” between the marching white supremacists and the people who had been demonstrating against them.

    Former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney tweeted a similar slap shortly after the president’s explosive press conference on Tuesday: “No, not the same. One side is racist, bigoted, Nazi. The other opposes racism and bigotry. Morally different universes.”

    Other leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, made forceful anti-racism statements — but steered clear of mentioning Trump and his comments.

    Under pressure, Trump made his condemnation of the Charlottesville violence more specific on Monday, naming white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis. But he returned to his defiant self on Tuesday, effectively erasing the statement he’d read a day earlier.

    In a raucous press conference in the lobby of his skyscraper, he said there were “some very bad people” among those who gathered to protest Saturday. But he added: “You also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”

    Publicly criticizing the president and resigning from his councils is a significant step for big-name corporate leaders. Though the policy influence of such advisory groups is sometimes questionable, simply meeting with Trump with TV cameras going is valuable face-time for the executives — and for the president.

    After his latest tweets, Trump left New York for his New Jersey golf club where he was scheduled to remain out of public view for the rest of the day.

    As he navigates this latest controversy, the White House on Wednesday said his longtime aide Hope Hicks would temporarily step into the role of communications director. Hicks is White House director of strategic communications, and a near-constant presence at the president’s side.

    She served as spokeswoman for Trump’s presidential campaign and worked for years in public relations for the Trump Organization and his daughter’s fashion and lifestyle brand.

    Trump had no public appearances on Wednesday, yet made his presence felt online.

    In addition to announcing the dissolution of the business councils via tweet, he also congratulated Sen. Luther Strange for advancing to a runoff in the Alabama special election to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ seat.

    He also retweeted someone complimenting him on the stock market’s gains and consumer confidence highs and wrote that Heather Heyer, the woman mowed down by a car during the Charlottesville violence, was “beautiful and incredible.”

    Trump said Tuesday that he had planned to call her family to offer condolences, but the White House did not answer questions Wednesday about whether he’d yet done so.

    With files from the New York Times


    0 0


    A teenager who drowned on a school canoe trip last month was one of 15 students who went on the excursion despite failing a required swim test, the Toronto District School Board said Wednesday.

    Two other students on the trip weren’t tested at all, said TDSB director of education John Malloy.

    “I’m deeply troubled by these findings,” Malloy said. “On behalf of the TDSB, I offer our most sincere apology and regret. I also want to apologize to the families of the other students who went on the trip even though they didn’t pass the required swim test.”

    Jeremiah Perry, a Grade 9 student, slipped under water in a lake in the back country of Algonquin Provincial Park on July 4, prompting a day of rescue efforts and the evacuation of his classmates. The 15-year-old’s body was recovered the next day.

    All participants in the trip were supposed to undergo swim tests, but Jeremiah’s father has said his son didn’t know how to swim. The boy’s brother, Marion, was also on the canoe trip.

    Jeremiah went to C.W. Jeffreys Collegiate Institute in North York. He started at the school in October after immigrating to Canada from Guyana.

    Jeremiah’s father, Joshua Anderson, said he wasn’t surprised by the school board report because Malloy spoke with him earlier in the day. Nonetheless, he said, he appreciated that the TDSB went public with the information.

    “This is information we knew already,” he told the Star in a phone interview. “It is what it is . . . nothing can bring back Jerry.”

    Anderson said the family has no plans to act right away. They’re still awaiting results of the coroner’s office and the police investigations, he added.

    The family is still reeling from Jeremiah’s death, Anderson said.

    “It’s too overwhelming,” he said. “Just watching it on TV, it’s too much.”

    TDSB policy requires that all students going on such trips pass a canoe-specific swim test at a third-party facility on a lake. If they don’t pass that test, they should have had another opportunity to pass, with another test and one-on-one swim coaching at the C.W. Jeffreys pool.

    “It would appear that our procedures weren’t followed,” Malloy said, and no further swim tests or instruction were offered afterward.

    Malloy said the teachers involved are on home assignment and have refused to speak to TDSB. He said they will be disciplined in accordance with board policies, with consideration for the other investigations into the case.

    One of the teachers also brought along their child and a dog, Malloy added, saying the board will investigate that as well.

    He would not comment when asked if the same teachers had organized the canoe trip in previous years.

    The teachers’ union said it wouldn’t comment on this situation.

    All future trips of this type will be approved only after the principal of a school sees documents proving all students have passed swim tests, Malloy said. All participating students and their parents will see the results of the tests before the trips.

    He said outdoor education is still important, but “we will not do this at the expense of student safety.”

    Anderson said the new rules, had they been in place, might have made the difference for his son.

    “I think everything would have changed,” he told reporters outside the family’s home Wednesday.

    Ontario Provincial Police’s Renfrew County Crime Unit also has an ongoing investigation into the drowning, led by Detective Const. Bernie Dikih. The detachment declined to comment Wednesday, saying Dikih could not be reached and other members of the unit couldn’t provide an update.

    When the investigation started, the OPP noted that an updated release would be shared when “confirmed and accurate” information became available. Their own investigation may be waiting for results from the office of the chief coroner, an OPP spokesperson, Chrystal Jones, told the Star.

    “It’s quite frustrating sometimes because we wait for their outcomes,” she said, adding that sometimes the process takes weeks or months to hear back.

    Jones couldn’t provide any information about the scope of the OPP’s investigation or questions being asked.

    After Jeremiah’s death, the TDSB requested information on all upcoming trips for the 2017-18 school year and no issues were found, Malloy said. No trips were cancelled as a result.


older | 1 | .... | 980 | 981 | (Page 982) | 983 | 984 | .... | 1035 | newer