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    As Toronto’s increasingly young anti-abortion movement ramps up its graphic on-street displays, at least one city councillor is fighting back.

    On Saturday, Councillor Sarah Doucette (Ward 13, Parkdale-High Park) joined concerned families in her neighbourhood of Swansea to counter-protest against what she calls “vulgar” signs imposed on people in her community against their will.

    After neighbourhood residents filed complaints with Toronto police about those carrying graphic billboards in their busiest intersections, they were told protesters weren’t breaking any laws.

    So long as they don’t block traffic or harass people, the posters aren’t technically illegal.

    Now Doucette, after talking to police several times, is taking her cause to city council to pass a bylaw that ban these types of signs.

    The group calls itself the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform. With an office in Mississauga, it hired 19 high school and university “interns” this summer to spend four months spreading its message on street corners.

    In Calgary (home to the group’s other office), bylaws like the one Doucette hopes this city will pass have already been enacted.

    “We’re not stopping them from standing on the street, talking to people or handing out flyers, but we’re just stopping them being in people’s faces. You really cannot get away from them. That’s where people are feeling it is harassment,” said Doucette, who insists they are a distraction to drivers.

    Parents in the Swansea area use a Facebook group to warn each other about the whereabouts of the signs.

    Sometimes, police will visit the protesters to tell them not to harass people. But that’s difficult when they frequently change intersections.

    “I don’t think anyone is against freedom of speech,” Doucette said. “Women find them very upsetting if you have lost a baby, this is very hard to see these sorts of images. Residents are just saying to me, ‘We don’t want to be going about our day-to-day lives and be confronted with these giant images.’ ”

    The protests target busy intersections during Toronto’s lunch-hour rush, leaning over their chest-high posters as crowds of people — and children — impatiently wait to cross the street.

    On Wednesday, nearly a dozen of the group’s interns stood on both of the south corners at Yonge St. and St. Clair Ave.

    Many stopped to argue with the protesters. Others shielded their children’s eyes or shut the front of their strollers. Some yelled at them to turn their boards around, or stopped their cars at red lights to yell profanities about the vulgarity of the images. While most bypassed them or ignored their handouts, some stopped to talk to them.

    “If you’re going to argue that this is a person, you can’t treat them like an object in the image,” said Sarah Hamilton, who is anti-abortion but still stopped to argue with the protesters over their tactics.

    “Using their image to display is objectifying them.”

    The protesters call abortion a human rights violation and claim “300 children are dismembered, decapitated and disemboweled” every day in Canada. They are ultra-polite in the face of anger and tell passersbys that if the images offend them, that they should be offended by abortion — not the signs.

    “I think it’s a lot worse to bring a child into the world that’s going to be unloved than to not bring it into the world,” said Shoshana Abramovitz, who stopped for nearly half an hour to talk with one of the protesters. “You should have the right to choose. It’s pretty hard (to look at).”

    On Wednesday, 22-year-old Oriyana Hrychyshyn was in charge of the interns and stood behind a sign of her own. The night before, on a phone call, her boss Devorah Gilman was reciting the same lines.

    “We want to put an end to abortion in our country,” Hrychyshyn said. “They’ve been trained to go out day-in-day-out on the street and expose the realty of abortion and what it does to pre-born children.”

    They are backed by Westminster Chapel at High Park’s senior pastor Rev. Joseph Boot, who calls the group one of Canada’s “most important educational organizations” and says they are re-educating the country on “the true nature of this hidden atrocity.”

    But Kathi Ziolkowski said the group doesn’t represent Christian values. She is a 47-year-old mother of two who grew up in a deeply religious family, and has tried to explain to the protesters the impact of their images on her community.

    “If they did want people to understand the sanctity of life, that might not be the way that’s going to win people over,” she said. “Maybe if there were other ways, rather than trying to use shock and sensationalism, they might be more successful.”


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    School boards across Ontario should collect comprehensive data on their students’ race, ethnicity, religion and gender identity, a new report by York University urges.

    This demographic data could help educators make learning more inclusive, from tackling systemic racism to designing lessons relevant to all students’ experiences, says the report, commissioned by the Ontario Ministry of Education.

    “If you want to be able to work with particular groups of students, you should know who they are, otherwise you might be putting (resources) where they’re not addressing the issues directly, and that doesn’t help,” said Carl James, a York University education professor and co-author of the report.

    The Toronto District School Boards collects information on student backgrounds through a census produced every five years.

    Data collected in those surveys has helped show that Black students are twice as likely to be suspended from school and twice as likely to be enrolled in “non-academic” courses compared with other students.

    The Peel District School Board has said it plans to collect race-based data through its own student census, expected to launch in 2018.

    The York report’s call for improved data collection falls in line with the province’s three-year plan to battle systemic racism, unveiled in March.

    Legislation expected to be tabled as part of this plan would make race-based data collection mandatory in Ontario’s education, child welfare, health and justice systems.

    School boards across the province can improve upon the data they already have by requesting demographic information on students’ registration forms, James said.

    “Right now, the long-form census does collect race data, so it’s not something that’s beyond what we collect in Canada,” he added.

    The York report called for school boards to improve their demographic data collection no later than 2018-2019.

    The tracking of racial, religious or ethnic information has garnered criticism in the past, from people concerned it can be used to profile or single out a particular race, particularly if the information is collected by police.

    But race-based data can be an extremely positive step, as long as it is collected and used responsibly, said Anthony Morgan, a lawyer who specializes in issues of racial justice.

    “(Data) has immense potential to be positive, but it has immense potential to be negative depending on who has access to the information, how it’s reported, who it’s reported to and what’s done to manipulate it — and that should be a valid concern,” Morgan said. “If the proper infrastructure is set up for the data to be collected that is fair, that is transparent . . . that is supported with parental involvement, I think we’re moving in the right direction.”

    James acknowledged that the topic of race-based data could cause discomfort in some people. But race and other elements of a person’s background are an important part of who they are, he said.

    “There’s a sense that we don’t see race, but, at the same time, we do see race,” James added. “Sometimes people think to see race is to be racist (but) to see race is . . . just to understand that it’s part of the person.”


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    Metrolinx has appointed as its new CEO the former managing director of a Scottish rail firm who resigned his post earlier this year under public pressure, the Star has learned.

    The provincial transit agency is expected to announce its new boss at a 1 p.m. news conference at Union Station. A source with knowledge of the appointment confirmed that Metrolinx has selected Phil Verster to fill the role.

    British news reports describe Verster as a respected figure in the rail industry. However, in January he resigned from the ScotRail Alliance after just 18 months, after coming under fire for its poor performance.

    According to the BBC, during his tenure ScotRail was criticized for its “failure to meet targets on punctuality and reliability.”

    Verster, who is in his early 50s, subsequently took a job overseeing the East West Rail project linking Oxford and Cambridge.

    Prior to taking the job at ScotRail Verster served as managing director of Network Rail’s London North East service, according to his LinkedIn profile. Before that he worked at Irish Rail.

    Verster is replacing Bruce McCuaig, who stepped down in April after nearly seven years at Metrolinx to take an advisory role at the federal government’s Canada infrastructure bank.


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    A one-year-old boy has life-threatening injuries after a two-vehicle crash on Highway 404.

    The collision occurred north of Aurora Rd. at 12:09 a.m. when the vehicle with the two boys was rear ended by another car, said Ontario Provincial Police Const. Lauren Ball.

    A four-year old boy suffered a broken leg.

    Ball said the two adults in the front of the car with the children were not injured, and the male driver that rear ended them was also not injured. The four-year-old has since been released from hospital.

    “Preliminary investigation has found that the car with the two kids was stopped either on the side of the road or in a lane when it was rear ended,” said Ball.

    It is unknown why the car was stopped.

    Ball also said no charges have been laid but the investigation is ongoing.

    The roadway was closed for several hours but has since reopened.


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    OTTAWA— Judy Foote, a strong female voice in Justin Trudeau’s cabinet, stepped down as public works minister Thursday and will leave politics altogether this fall as her family faces cancer in their midst.

    Foote revealed publicly that she is now cancer-free but as a carrier of BRAC-2, the breast cancer gene, her children have been “impacted”—inherited the gene that makes one susceptible to other cancers as well.

    “I continue to be as far as I know cancer-free,” Foote said at an emotional news conference in St. John’s, but she said it was now time to come home “to stay close to my family.”

    “The jobs that I’ve had have required me to be on the road and I’ve done that despite having cancer twice,” she said. “When it hits your children it’s a totally different ball game.”

    Foote did not reveal which of her children are affected directly, but said for now, “all is well, my children are well. But it is an eye opener and puts things in perspective.”

    Her family never suggested “that I should give up jobs I love, the life that I love. But you know more than the jobs and the life, I love my family. So this decision is ours. It’s my decision to be with them, where I need to be and where they need me to be.”

    Foote, who took leave of absence in April, said her absence from the cabinet table can’t continue. “The province needs representation in cabinet and to serve effectively requires being at the table.”

    She will step down as MP for Bonavista-Burin-Trinity later this fall, which will trigger a by-election in what is a Liberal stronghold.

    Foote was first diagnosed with breast cancer 20 years ago. She had a second bout three years ago, before the 2015 election.

    “The reality is when something happens to you, you’re able to deal with it and you just keep going, and that’s what I did.”

    She said after 28 years in politics, 11 as an elected provincial politician, and nine at the federal level, “I have not spent a lot of time at home with those I love.”

    Since the spring, her ministerial duties had been covered off by cabinet colleague Jim Carr, who is natural resources minister, but Foote had recently returned to work at a number of appearances at events in her constituency.

    Trudeau may use the occasion to re-set a number of other cabinet portfolios. He shuffled the cabinet more extensively than expected in January. He has committed himself to gender parity in his government’s executive ranks.

    The MP for Bonavista-Burin-Trinity, Foote entered federal politics in 2008 after several years as a provincial cabinet minister and a past senior aide to former Newfoundland premier Clyde Wells. She was Trudeau’s caucus whip and deputy House leader when the Liberals were the third party on the opposition benches. Foote moved to Trudeau’s front bench and sat at his right hand in the Commons when the Liberals won the October 2015 election.

    Although not unexpected, the timing of Foote’s announcement leaves Trudeau time to shuffle portfolios and bring in a new face or two, a refresh of his cabinet files nearly two years after taking power just before a cabinet retreat where the fall parliamentary agenda will be discussed. Another source suggested the shuffle will be a tweak, not a major changeup.

    Two other Newfoundlanders have been the subject of much speculation as likely candidates for a promotion into cabinet: Gudie Hutchings, MP for Long Range Mountains, on Newfoundland’s west coast, parliamentary secretary for small business and tourism, and a woman; or Seamus O’Reagan, a former broadcaster and friend of Trudeau’s and his top aide, Gerry Butts. Shortly after winning his first election in the Liberal sweep, O’Reagan admitted he had an alcohol problem and went into a recovery program. He continued to have Trudeau’s trust and went to the Aga Khan’s island in the Bahamas with Trudeau and his family last Christmas.


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    Jasmin Sheba had already sold her furniture in anticipation of moving this week when she learned the buyer of her house wanted $20,000 off the selling price to close the deal.

    He threatened to sue for the $10,000 deposit if he didn’t get the reduction, she said.

    But the stay-at-home mother was defiant.

    Read more:

    Home sellers struggling with closing complications after big chill hits market

    Six-figure income is needed to buy almost any GTA home: report

    Year-over-year, average price for homes fell in July: CREA

    “I have a 2-year-old and, after all the house showings, the craziness, you’re going to try to back out? That’s not happening,” said Sheba.

    The real estate world is awash in buyer-beware warnings. But some homeowners and realtors are making a case for stronger seller protections — specifically, who gets to keep the deposit when a buyer backs out of an agreement.

    Until recently, it was rare for a buyer to try and exit a home transaction.

    But a recent drop in Toronto region home prices — after months of frenzied buying — has caused a spike in buyers looking to exit or renegotiate purchase agreements. It’s widely considered to be part of the fallout from the Ontario Liberal government’s housing market cooling policies launched on April 20.

    The Toronto Star could not confirm that Sheba’s condo townhouse sale was among those cases. She refused to name the buyer for fear of endangering a successful resolution to the transaction.

    But, she said, she understands how a buyer’s attempt to renegotiate the terms of a sale can derail a seller’s finances and moving plans.

    “It feels like I’m in the passenger seat and they’re in the driver’s seat,” she said.

    In an unconditional agreement to purchase, the presumption is that the deposit goes to the seller if the deal goes south, said Toronto lawyer Neal Roth.

    But it’s not automatic. Both parties have to agree to that. If the seller wants the deposit and the buyer balks, the funds remain frozen in a real estate brokerage trust, sometimes for years.

    In the absence of an agreement, the deposit can only be released by a court order.

    The court will favour the seller for the deposit in a clean, unconditional agreement to purchase, said Roth.

    But if it’s a large deposit — and many deposits during heated bidding were unusually large — the judge can decide that the amount constitutes a penalty to the purchaser.

    “The question becomes: when is the loss of the deposit so large it effectively becomes a penalty rather than compensation for the vendor. That’s a tough question. We know when it’s really a penalty — 10 to 12 per cent of the purchase price. Something where it’s 3 or 4 per cent, it’s very unlikely it’s going to be regarded as a penalty,” he said.

    But Roth acknowledged that the court process can take months and money. Although the seller is presumably awarded damages, they have to consider whether they will realistically be able to collect from a buyer who couldn’t close a sale.

    Most agents recognize the legal process is “draining and expensive,” said Royal LePage agent Desmond Brown. They will encourage an agreement and get the seller’s house back on the market as soon as possible.

    In normal market conditions, these cases are disappointing but rare, said Brown.

    But soaring housing prices earlier this year, and the ensuing correction, has been anything but normal. The result, said Brown, is agents and sellers caught on the steep slope of the market.

    Raised in North York and Aurora, Sheba said she didn’t enjoy the Scarborough neighbourhood condo townhome her family bought for about $326,000 two years ago. When houses in the neighbourhood started selling for $550,000 in March, they saw an opportunity to move.

    They listed for $499,900 at the end of March. At the beginning of April there was an offer for $460,000. Sheba thought they could do better. But as the spring market fell, even a vastly reduced price of $399,000 failed to elicit any offers.

    Finally, about three weeks ago — long after Toronto’s slumping housing market was news — there were two offers. They took the higher bid, an unconditional offer of $420,000 with an Aug. 25 closing.

    It would be a scramble to move that quickly but the family hadn’t purchased another home. Because they plan to stay in a hotel in the short-term, Sheba says she sold most of their furniture rather than store it.

    Last week, Sheba claims the buyer contacted her requesting a price reduction in light of an issue he identified as the parking that went with the home.

    He said there should be two separate parking spaces, instead of one spot with enough room for two cars, she says.

    Sheba claims the parking was identified in a status certificate the buyer had in hand before he signed off on the agreement to purchase.

    The Star had no way of identifying and reaching the buyer for comment.

    After a week of negotiation, Sheba said she agreed to a $5,000 price reduction because the expense of going to court would have meant remortgaging the house. On Tuesday, she said she expected the sale would close Friday.

    While she was relieved the matter was settled, the experience was discouraging, she said.

    “I sold all my furniture. We’re sitting on the floor. We have nothing,” said Sheba.

    Purchase agreements on residential sales don’t generally contain a stipulation that the deposit is non-refundable or that it automatically reverts to the seller if the buyer backs out from an unconditional offer.

    That’s because agreements to purchase are predicated on a presumption of good faith by a motivated buyer and a motivated seller, said Kelvin Kucey of the Real Estate Council of Ontario.

    There is nothing preventing sellers from including that kind of contract language as long as the brokerages are signing on. But, he said, it’s not advisable.

    “The difficulty is that whenever one party introduces new controversial language to protect one interest, that sours the trade,” said Kucey.

    Still, he added, “It’s certainly a potential means through which sellers give themselves some comfort that at least the deposit will be paid to them if in fact the buyer with a firm agreement for whatever reason decides to renege.”

    The real estate council has seen a “small spike” in calls from buyers looking to get out of their purchase agreements, said Kucey.

    “These are difficult conversations because contractually they need to close the trade. If you step away from it you are potentially opening yourself up to a lawsuit,” he said.

    The province doesn’t know how many sellers have been stranded or vexed by the fallout from the changing market in the wake of its housing plan.

    “Transactions between buyers and sellers are considered private transactions and as such are not required to be reported into government,” said a spokesperson for Housing Minister Peter Milczyn.

    “The housing market always fluctuates — that’s the nature of all investments. The reality is that earlier this year, prices in Toronto were increasing 33 per cent year over year and in the surrounding regions by 43 per cent. We knew that this was not sustainable, which is why we took action,” said Myriam Denis.

    The opposition says it’s another outcome of the government’s failure to research the effects of its new housing policies.

    As speculation grew in the spring that the government planned to act, people decided on short notice to sell, said Tory MPP and housing critic Ernie Hardeman (Oxford).

    “They weren’t ready to move out so they would be looking for a longer closing time. It’s that length of closing time that turned out to be the driver for the challenge they’re facing today,” he said.

    The problem with most contracts, said Kucey of the real estate council, is that they don’t necessarily give enough consideration to the potential negative impacts.

    “It’s not unlike marriage,” he said. “There’s no discussion of what happens when it falls apart.”


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    About a year ago, Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders, decided without much “deep thought” that the city’s white, red and blue patrol cars should be replaced with all-grey cruisers.

    A public backlash followed. Critics said the “stealth grey” was too militaristic and sent the wrong message to the public. Design and safety experts questioned why police would choose a color lacking visibility.

    After being scolded by city council and the civilian oversight board, which, unlike previous boards, wasn’t consulted on the design change — Saunders agreed to put the conversion on hold, clarify the reason for change, consult with the public and report back to the board.

    He is set to report to the board Thursday on a design and colour that’s already been decided.

    On Monday, Saunders rolled up to a press conference behind the wheel of a Ford Interceptor with a grey base and white doors, and its lights flashing. “Toronto Police Service unveils new police vehicle, listening to the community, listening to our members,” announced the TPS in a news release.

    An order has already been placed for 70 new grey and whites, in addition to the 74 all-grey cars ordered in 2016.

    Read more:

    Speeders beware: More cop cars getting the ‘panda’ paint scheme across North America

    Toronto police chief says ‘no deep thought’ went into switch to grey cruisers

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    But Councillor Shelley Carroll, a member of the Toronto Police Services Board who first flagged public concern about all-grey cars, says Saunders and the service jumped the gun, and in so doing failed the public.

    The public wanted visibility, the police wanted “stealth,” and that’s what they got — without any input from the board, she said.

    “This is a simple matter. Release the design and bring it to the board for approval,” Carroll said this week at city hall. “We didn’t get a picture of the new design. We got a new car with the design already on it.”

    Nor did the board receive the answers to the questions it asked.

    The board also fell down on its oversight duties, she added.

    Board chair Andy Pringle, Mayor John Tory and other members should have “done better” and given clearer direction to the chief that the board first needed to sign off on a new design and color, she said.

    “If we’re not crystal clear, we’re leaving things open to interpretation, and we have a service that really just wants to do its own thing,” she said. “That’s disappointing. Nowhere else in municipal operations is there more trust in jeopardy than in the police service.”

    While the design of the police car is “not a life and death controversy… this is the place where we really could have demonstrated the fact that we’ve gone the extra mile. So I’m frustrated,” Carroll said.

    TPS spokeswoman Meaghan Gray responded Wednesday that the chief’s report to the board “clearly responds to the direction that was given to us, as noted in previous board minutes. We consulted with the community and chose a design that achieves a balance between the wishes of the public and our members.”

    Pringle did not respond to a request for comment.

    Mayor Tory is pleased Saunders sought feedback from the public and police service and worked with students “for this new visible and professional design,” his spokeswoman, Keerthana Kamalavasan, wrote in email.

    In the report, the police say the new design is based on the results of a 14-question survey which received 17,121 responses from the external community and 1,438 internal police staff — more than any other survey conducted by the service.

    Although the public agreed on 80 per cent of the design elements, the survey also showed “notable differences” on two key questions: the choice of base color and image, the report notes.

    Forty two per cent of the general public thought visibility was of paramount importance, while 15 per cent picked “authority.” Those respondents also favored a base color of white by a wide margin, 47 per cent compared with 16 for grey.

    In contrast, 37 per cent of police service employees thought authority more important than visibility, picked by 22 per cent, and 34 per cent preferred grey to white as the base color, chosen by 16 per cent.

    The online survey, which only offered five base color options: white, silver, dark blue, grey and black, essentially allowed the force to engineer the outcome, Carroll said.

    She’s also critical of the service for not providing any “real analysis” of the survey results, nor did the board get a chance to discuss why the service didn’t consider painting its fleet the bright colors seen on European emergency vehicles.

    “This was an opportunity to look at these things… especially in this age of terrorism. Don’t you want police cars that everyone can recognize and run to in that type of incident?”

    While Carroll said the moment for such a debate has likely passed — some social media commentators are still questioning the process and why grey remains the dominant color.

    “Seems a little low on the visibility scale. Why not yellow like Europe?” said one tweet.

    This week, Saunders said visibility was considered in the redesign and pointed to the involvement of the Ryerson School of Media, which he said took that into consideration.

    John Girardo, the Ryerson instructor who lead the redesign project, told the Star students prepared about two dozen photo-shopped mockups based on the results of the survey.

    No research was undertaken into emergency vehicle safety and which colors would improve visibility and reduce accidents.

    “We were only asked to execute based on the research that was done,” Girardo said. “If somebody wants a lime green vehicle, we would show them what that would look like.”

    Girardo said he likes the new design, which he thinks has a “strong” look and “retro” feel, while the stark contrast of grey and white makes the cars more visible on city streets.

    “Anytime you start dealing with a design or a look, it’s a subjective call, there are going to be people who have different opinions.”


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    The union representing Ontario’s public elementary school teachers wants the name of Canada’s first prime minister to be removed from schools in the province.

    The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario passed a motion at its annual meeting last week calling on all school districts in Ontario to rename schools and buildings named after Sir John A. Macdonald.

    The union says it wants the name change because of what it calls Macdonald’s role as the “architect of genocide against Indigenous Peoples.”

    Macdonald was prime minister during the time the federal government approved the first residential schools in the country.

    The ETFO’s call comes after a student-led campaign at Toronto’s Ryerson University last month pushed for the school to change its name out of respect for residential school survivors.

    The downtown university is named for Egerton Ryerson, a pioneer of public education in Ontario who is widely believed to have helped shape residential school policy through his ideas on education for Indigenous children.

    And in June, the name of founding father Hector-Louis Langevin was stripped from the building that houses the Prime Minister’s Office on Parliament Hill. Langevin argued for a separate school system with a specific mandate to assimilate Indigenous children.

    Read more:

    Halifax rally at controversial Cornwallis statue denounces rise of white supremacist movement

    University of Texas removes Robert E. Lee, other Confederate statues from campus

    Charlottesville workers cover Confederate statues after white nationalist rally


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    CHARLESTON, S.C.—The mayor says a hostage situation in a Charleston, South Carolina, restaurant has ended with the gunman being shot by police.

    A fired dishwasher shot a chef and held a “small number” of people hostage at a crowded restaurant in a tourist-heavy area of downtown Charleston, South Carolina, on Thursday, authorities and one of the restaurant’s owners said.

    Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said the restaurant employee shot by the gunman Thursday has died.

    Interim Charleston Police Chief Jerome Taylor says all the hostages at Virginia’s restaurant were rescued safely. He didn’t say how many there were.

    Tecklenburg says the man who took the hostages is in critical condition.

    “This is not an act of terrorism. This is not a hate crime. It is a disgruntled employee,” he said.

    Authorities did not release the names of the gunman or the man killed.

    The shooting was reported shortly after noon Thursday.

    Peter Siegert, 73, and his son Peter Siegert IV, 45, were quoted by The Post and Courier of Charleston as saying that just after several waitresses and kitchen workers walked out the door without saying a word, a man in an apron with a gun came out of the kitchen and locked the front door.

    He said, “’I am the new king of Charleston,’” the Siegerts said.

    The man told diners to get on the floor and move to the back of the restaurant. The Siegerts said they escaped out a back door and didn’t know how many people were left behind.

    One of the restaurant’s owners, John Aquino, told WCSC-TV that a dishwasher who had been fired came back to the restaurant and shot a chef to get revenge.

    The first officers to arrive were able to get the injured man to safety, Francis said.

    Charleston Police sent SWAT teams and a bomb disposal unit to the area. Authorities instructed people inside to stay inside and those outside to leave the area.

    The site is a few blocks away from Emanuel AME church, where nine black members of a church were killed by a white man during a June 2015 Bible study. Dylann Roof was sentenced to death in the case.

    It is also just several blocks from where more than 100 cruise ships dock in Charleston each year.


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    The welcome home party for a Toronto resident this past weekend included an unexpected guest: a two-metre, red-tailed boa constrictor.

    The animal made the space its new habitat for at least two days, said Jack Rodrigues, who lives in the Yonge St. and St. Clair Ave. area.

    “I’m washing the patio and all of a sudden, I move this one pot and there’s this massive, bloody snake,” he said. “When I saw it I knew it wasn’t a typical garter snake.”

    It was initially found Saturday by a housekeeper who was tending the residence while Rodrigues and his wife were out of the city — she called “screaming and sobbing,” scared so much that she thought she was having a heart attack, he said.

    Rodrigues, 63, scanned his patio with a flashlight, but found nothing. On Monday, around 7:30 a.m., he made the discovery.

    Rodrigues approached firemen outside a station near his home, who whisked the snake away, containing it in a plastic bin until Animal Services arrived, he said.

    The snake belongs to Olivia Beckershoff, 25, who lives in a neighbouring apartment building. She said “Bourbon” escaped through a narrow gap between an AC unit and the window jamb then made its way down three storeys and about 15 metres to Rodrigues’s house. All of this happened while she was at work, she said.

    “I was shocked that he got out,” Beckershoff said. “I was pretty hysterical, bawling my eyes out. It was a simple error. Something I missed.”

    People have the propensity to hate snakes for no reason, she said, which caused her undue stress after she learned her pet was missing.

    “There’s so much misunderstanding and stigma against them. It’s socially ingrained to fear them,” Beckershoff said, adding that they’re not as dangerous as people think.

    “I love my snake. He’s never bitten anyone. I watch movies and listen to music with him. I try to educate people.”

    The animal was returned later Monday and no fees were required to get it back, city spokesperson Tammy Robbinson said in a written statement.

    A $240 fine is attached to owning prohibited animals, according to the city’s website.

    Snakes longer than three metres are prohibited, making Beckershoff’s boa constrictor perfectly legal.

    “I told the young lady that this better not happen again,” said Rodrigues, adding that his wife and daughter aren’t fans of the reptiles.

    The story doesn’t end there, though: Rodrigues said he spotted an iguana nestled in a tree Monday afternoon during the lunar eclipse.

    Beckershoff confirmed the iguana belongs to her and she said it’s still loose on the property somewhere, as of Thursday morning. She said she has since closed the gap that both animals escaped from.

    “Follow the leader happened,” she said. “It’s still running around. I’m really concerned.”


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    Canadian lawyers acting for the widow of an American special forces soldier have filed an application in Alberta — essentially duplicating one filed earlier in Ontario — seeking enforcement of a massive U.S. damages award against former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr.

    The claim calls on the Court of Queen’s Bench to recognize the judgment from Utah, and to issue a “corresponding” judgment in the amount of $173.88 million — the Canadian value of the $132.1-million American award made in June 2015.

    “Given that Canada has substantially similar legislation in relation to civil actions for victims of terrorism, it is entirely consistent with the fundamental public policy of Canada to enforce the U.S. judgment,” the notice states. “There are no defences to enforcement and recognition that operate in favour of the defendant in this case.”

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    According to the notice, bringing the Alberta action in parallel with the Ontario case is proper “given the territorial limitations of the respective judgment-enforcement regimes.”

    Calgary-based lawyer Dan Gilborn refused to discuss the proceedings on Thursday, saying his office was not authorized to comment.

    While the Alberta action was filed in early July amid word that the federal government was paying Khadr $10.5 million to settle a civil lawsuit, the lawyers acting for the Americans said they were having trouble serving notice on him.

    “We have thus far been unable to locate Mr. Khadr for personal service, although we are aware that he has been residing in Edmonton, Alta., for much of the past two years,” Gilborn wrote Aug. 14 in a letter to Khadr’s lawyers, a copy of which was obtained by The Canadian Press.

    One of Khadr’s Edmonton-based lawyers, Nate Whitling, said on Thursday that it would be a waste of time and money to try two identical actions at once.

    “It’s two duplicative actions and there’s no point in proceeding with both of them,” Whitling said from Edmonton.

    He also said the Alberta action had been filed too late.

    Both actions — the Ontario one was filed June 8 — are on behalf of relatives of U.S. special forces Sgt. Chris Speer, who was killed in Afghanistan in July 2002.

    Speer had been part of a massive American assault on an insurgent compound, where Khadr, then 15 years old, was captured badly wounded. Retired U.S. sergeant Layne Morris, who was blinded in one eye during the same operation, is a co-applicant.

    The applications — like the uncontested civil suit in Utah — lean heavily on Khadr’s guilty plea before a widely discredited military commission in Guantanamo Bay in 2010 to having thrown the grenades that killed Speer and blinded Morris. Khadr later said his confession to five purported war crimes was his only way out of the infamous prison and to return to Canada.

    Khadr, 30, who recently got married, has been on bail in Edmonton for the past two years pending his appeal in the U.S. of his commission convictions.

    The Americans failed last month to get an injunction freezing Khadr’s assets — including the $10.5-million sources said the federal government paid him — pending outcome of the Ontario enforcement action.

    However, in previous Ontario filings, Whitling argued against enforcement of the Utah judgment given its reliance on the military commission. Canadian courts are statute barred from enforcing foreign judgments that offend Canada’s public policy, he noted, and the Supreme Court has found the Guantanamo system contrary to Canadians’ concept of justice.

    “Officials at the highest levels of the Canadian government have already stated . . . that (Khadr’s) detention and prosecution in GTMO offended our most basic values and principles,” Whitling said in court filings.


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    OTTAWA—Sen. Mike Duffy is suing the Senate and the RCMP for the way they handled accusations about his expenses, seeking more than $7.8 million for loss of income and benefits and damage to his reputation.

    Duffy filed a claim in Ontario Superior Court on Thursday that alleges his 2013 suspension by the Senate was unconstitutional and that the RCMP were negligent in their investigation.

    In a statement, Duffy said he and his family suffered stress and serious financial damage and that his lawsuit is as much about the future as it is about the past.

    “My civil action raises questions which go to the heart of our democracy,” he said.

    “If this action succeeds in bringing charter protections to all who work on Parliament Hill, this will be my greatest contribution to public life.”

    The Prince Edward Island senator landed in trouble with the Senate in late 2012 when questions were first raised about housing expenses claimed against a home he had lived in for years before he was appointed to the Senate.

    The senators suspended him without pay for almost two years and in 2014 the RCMP filed 31 charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery against him.

    In April of last year, Duffy was acquitted on all counts.

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    Ontario Court Justice Charles Vaillancourt said Duffy’s actions weren’t criminal, even if they raised eyebrows.

    Soon after, Duffy returned to Parliament Hill.

    Duffy’s lawyer, Lawrence Greenspon, said the Senate overstepped its bounds when it took the unprecedented step to suspend Duffy. Greenspon said the decision was tantamount to an expulsion.

    The claim alleges the RCMP failed to give Duffy a fair chance to respond to the allegations he faced and appeared to ignore evidence that would have proved his innocence.

    The Senate must now file a statement of defence to respond to Duffy’s claims as part of a legal process that could take from two to five years, depending on whether the case goes to trial or settles out of court.

    The Senate’s interim law clerk Jacqueline Kuehl said the upper chamber will not be commenting on the case until it is appropriate to do so.

    “As this is a matter before the courts, we will respect the process,” she said.


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    A man in his 20s is dead following a shooting at an apartment complex in Mississauga Saturday morning as police continue to hunt for two suspects.

    Peel Regional officers responded to the scene near The Collegeway and Ridgeway Dr. shortly before 8 a.m. with several units, including police dogs, where they found one victim suffering from gunshot wounds.

    He was pronounced dead at the scene by Emergency Medical Services.

    Const. Bancroft Wright said police are now looking for two suspects — a man and a woman — last seen in a white SUV heading east on The Collegeway.

    The victim was not the only one in the immediate area when the man was shot, but no one else was hurt, said Wright. Those witnesses are being interviewed.

    Officers are working on contacting the victim’s next-of-kin before releasing his name.

    Wright said it is “tough to say,” if the shooting was targeted, or if the victim and suspects knew each other, but “it doesn’t appear to be a random-type act.”

    Incidents like these are “something that shakes the community deeply,” said Wright, adding he is very familiar with the area and has personally attended back-to-school festivities they hold around this time of year in the complex.

    Despite the shooting, he said improvements are being made in the community to “make the environment better for everyone.”

    “It’s been a 10-fold increase as far as residents coming out and sharing information with the community and with the police,” Wright said. “I can speak from my own testimony that I’ve seen the difference in the community the last, say, six to seven years.”

    Homicide officers are now investigating the fatal shooting. Anyone with information is asked to contact police.


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    Naum Shagas doesn’t have much.

    His studio apartment in North York, no more than 20-by-18 feet, is where he spends most of his time alone. It’s furnished entirely through donations and he sometimes has to put up with cockroaches.

    Four hot meals are delivered to the 82-year-old’s door throughout the week and he picks up three additional meals, prepared for him free of charge, at the Bernard Betel Centre, a non-profit community centre for the elderly. Sometimes he’ll eat a slice of bread he bought on his own or drink a cup of tea to supplement his diet.

    His wardrobe consists mainly of clothing he purchased decades ago in Minsk, where he worked as a physician for 36 years. But with no pension, he lives on just $400 a month.

    It’s not the first time Shagas has had to struggle survive.

    “I still have flashbacks, especially coming back now, of how my mother and older sister were running away and trying to escape the Germans,” Shagas said through a translator in his native Russian.

    Shagas is a Holocaust survivor who lives in poverty in Toronto.

    And while his situation is far from unique in Canada, it’s a problem few have heard about, even in the Jewish community.

    Of roughly 17,000 Holocaust survivors living in Canada, about one quarter live in poverty, including more than 2,000 in Toronto. Survivors are twice as likely as other Canadian seniors to be poor, according to a 2016 study.

    “These people have suffered,” said Pinchas Gutter, a Holocaust survivor and chair of Jewish Family and Child Service’s Holocaust Advisory Committee, which looks after “needy survivors” in the community.

    “Now in their later years, they have to come and put their hands out and say ‘please.’ It hurts me.”

    Shagas moved to Canada in 2009 when he was 74. Born in the former Soviet Union, he was six years old in 1941 when the Nazis came for the Jews in his hometown of Klintsy, which is today located in western Russia. His father was drafted to the army just before the war began and he never saw him again.

    The Nazis forced Shagas, his mother and older sister onto a packed cattle car that took them to a Shadrinsk, a village where they spent the rest of the war. His mother fell ill during those years and Shagas and his sister lived in an orphanage, where they and other children were always starving.

    He recalled a woman once giving him a cup of milk and piece of bread, “the most delicious food I ever had.”

    Today, Shagas’s living conditions remind him of his suffering as a child. He says he’s getting used to life in poverty, but never imagined he’d have to relive that hunger.

    “I didn’t think it would come to it,” Shagas said. “It’s actually really painful to go through this. I often think about the past when we were starving.”

    His family moved back home after the war ended and Shagas overcame lingering anti-Semitism to get into a medical school. He married, had a daughter and became head of his department at a local hospital.

    Shagas settled in Israel in 1997 when he was 62, two years after his wife died of cancer. He spent 12 years there working as a personal support worker.

    He then joined his daughter in Canada, who sponsored him, and lived with her family. But wanting to live independently, Shagas moved out three years later, and was accepted into Toronto Community Housing.

    Now he survives on $400 a month from his daughter. His rent is $150, and the rest goes to over-the-counter medications, internet, the occasional TTC trip to see his doctor and whatever remaining groceries he can afford.

    Shagas won’t be eligible for Old Age Security benefits until he reaches the 10-year mark in Canada, which is still two years away. He received social assistance in Israel, but his part-time job didn’t earn him a pension. Despite his 36 years of work as a physician, he says he gets nothing from Belarus.

    “In the same way that poverty is multi-factorial and very complex, so have been the lives of Holocaust survivors who have suffered incredible trauma,” said Sandi Pelly, United Jewish Appeal Federation of Greater Toronto’s director of capacity building for the social services.

    “Many of them have immigrated two, three or more times and they face many challenges. While some Holocaust survivors fared very well if they immigrated early, others not so well, and have varying health challenges, physical challenges, emotional challenges.”

    In other countries, like Israel, about 25 per cent of survivors also live in poverty. In the U.S., that number is about one-third.

    “When the survivors came to Canada, we were about 45,000,” said Hank Rosenbaum, co-president of Canadian Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants. “Some Holocaust survivors were affected badly from the war. They came here, a strange country, they went to work and they were not successful. They’re hardworking people, however they did not accumulate any wealth for their senior years.”

    It’s an issue that’s only come to the attention of some Jewish organizations in the last few years, according to Nancy Singer, executive director of the Kehilla Residential Programme, the UJA Federation’s housing agency.

    “We were in shock. We didn’t know that,” Singer said. “Our first reaction was ‘we have to do something, now, immediately, because the clock is ticking.’”

    Kehilla, which operates a rent-assistance program for the Jewish community, launched a new program earlier this year specifically catered to survivors. Backed by an $800,000 donation by the Azrieli Foundation for three years, Kehilla will provide up to $300 per month in rent assistance for 100 survivors.

    “Survivors are precious, they are the keepers of memories that will be lost forever when they’re gone,” said Naomi Azrieli, chair and CEO of the foundation. “After the experiences they’ve had, they deserve to be treated with dignity.”

    Azrieli said her foundation is working with community organizations across the country to help to offset funding shortfalls, and cover expenses like dental and medical fees, rent and food. The foundation donated close to $400,000 last year to cover these services for survivors in Toronto and Montreal alone.

    Some survivors receive aid through a fund known as the “Claims Conference,” which helps agencies serving aging Holocaust survivors around the world. The German government is the main source of funding.

    Shagas, for instance, receives meals-on-wheels, which are funded by the grant. He’s eligible for medical assistance once a year for costs not covered by OHIP, such as dental fees.

    “If it weren’t for the Claims Conference support, I wouldn’t be able to make it,” he said.

    A grant of $18,000 was allocated for Toronto’s survivor community in 1996. This year, that allocation is more than $12.5 million.

    The fund is divided among various local agencies, including Circle of Care, which provides kosher food, homecare support and transportation to 1,500 survivors.

    “The most difficult thing for some of the concentration camp survivors is they relied on their ability to be independent and their health in order to survive,” said Arnold Foss, the agency’s director of Holocaust Survivor Services Funds. “As they age and they’re losing some of this independence and they’re losing their good health, it’s very difficult for them to accept that, and in turn accept having any care.”

    For many, the prospect of living in any kind of institution, such as a retirement home, is too daunting.

    “It’s very reminiscent of the camps and being told when to eat and sleep,” Foss said.

    UJA provides matching funds to agencies funded by the Claims Conference. Last year, it also raised $1.5 million to support Jewish seniors in poverty.

    “It’s never going to be enough funding in terms of the number of hours that survivors will need as they age,” Pelly said.

    Through the Claims Conference grant, Jewish Family and Child Service provides emergency funding to 650 low-income survivors in Toronto to cover medical and dental expenses, and prevent rent shortfalls or utility shutoff.

    “Some of them suffered losses that left them without family to surround them as they got older,” said Brian Prousky, executive director of the agency. “A number live in isolation, without familial support that other seniors might not just enjoy but require.”

    About 20-30 applications for assistance come in each month from the GTA alone, according to Gutter, whose committee processes each request.

    “One gentleman came to me and said the money he gets, it’s either going to eating, or he’s going to buy diapers for his wife,” Gutter said. “It was heartbreaking for me to hear that.”

    While the organization tries to help everyone it can, so many still fall between the cracks, according to Gutter.

    “Very few people like asking for charity,” he said. “A lot of people are hidden, are too shy to ask, so you don’t see them and they just slowly wither away and you never know what happens until they pass away.”

    For Shagas, his isolation is often agonizing.

    “It gets very lonely. Sometimes I just want to bang my head against the wall,” he said.

    More like Shagas are learning to cope with similar conditions, due in part to an “unusual” trend, according to UJA. Unlike most cities, where the survivor population is on the decline, Toronto’s has been growing due to immigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union.

    “It’s obvious that it would be great if we get more help, but at the same time I understand that why should anyone help us? We don’t deserve it,” said Shagas.

    “It’s just really painful. I deal with the cards I have.”


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    PHOENIX—U.S. President Donald Trump spared former Sheriff Joe Arpaio a possible jail sentence on Friday by pardoning the recent federal conviction stemming from his immigration patrols, reversing what critics saw as a long-awaited comeuppance for a lawman who escaped accountability for headline-grabbing tactics during his tenure as metropolitan Phoenix’s top law enforcer.

    The White House said the 85-year-old ex-sheriff was a “worthy candidate” for a presidential pardon. It was Trump’s first pardon as president.

    “Throughout his time as Sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration,” the White House statement said.

    The announcement to pardon Arpaio came three days after a rally in Phoenix at which the president signalled his willingness to absolve the misdemeanour contempt-of-court conviction.

    Arpaio was in a celebratory mood after the pardon, eating dinner at an Italian restaurant as someone in his party ordered champagne. He told The Associated Press he’s thankful for the pardon.

    “I appreciate what the president did,” he said. “I have to put it out there: Pardon, no pardon — I’ll be with him as long as he’s president.”

    The pardon drew a swift and harsh denunciation from Latinos and political leaders in Arizona and beyond. They said the action amounted to an endorsement of racism by wiping away the conviction of a man who has been found by the courts to have racially profiled Latinos in his immigration patrols.

    “Pardoning Joe Arpaio is a slap in the face to the people of Maricopa County, especially the Latino community and those he victimized as he systematically and illegally violated their civil rights,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said.

    The White House announced the pardon late Friday after Trump fleshed out the details of his ban on transgender individuals serving in the military, a policy that will cheer his conservative base, and as a powerful Category 4 hurricane threatened to batter Texas with heavy winds and severe flooding.

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    Arpaio became a nationally known political figure over the past dozen years as he took aggressive action to arrest immigrants in the country illegally. But years of legal issues and costs stemming from his immigration efforts began to take a toll on his political power at home, and he was handily defeated by a Democrat in the 2016 election.

    It coincided with Trump winning the White House based in large part on his immigration rhetoric, with Arpaio campaigning for him around the country.

    Trump has been plagued by poor job approval ratings that currently stand at 34 per cent, the lowest mark ever for a president in his first year. His decision on the former sheriff may serve to energize Trump supporters dispirited over the president’s decision a week ago to dismiss chief strategist Steve Bannon, a favourite on the far right wing of the Republican Party. But it has angered his opponents even more.

    The pardon contradicts a key theme in the movement for tougher immigration enforcement — that all people, no matter who they are, aren’t above the law. Arizona politicians have invoked the “rule of law” for more than a decade as the guiding principle in pushing for tougher immigration laws.

    The pardon also marked a devastating defeat for critics who believed the lawman sowed divisions by making hundreds of arrests in crackdowns that separated immigrant families and promoted a culture of cruelty by housing inmates in outdoor tents during triple-digit heat and forcing them to wear pink underwear.

    They say it removed the last chance at holding Arpaio legally accountable for what they say is a long history of misconduct, including a 2013 civil verdict in which the sheriff’s officers were found to have racially profiled Latinos in his immigration patrols.

    Arpaio was accused of prolonging the patrols for 17 months after a judge had ordered them stopped so that he could promote his immigration enforcement efforts in a bid to boost his successful 2012 re-election campaign.

    Arpaio acknowledged extending the patrols, but insisted it wasn’t intentional, blaming one of his former attorneys for not properly explaining the importance of the court order and brushing off the conviction as a “petty crime.”

    He accused then-president Barack Obama of trying to influence the 2016 sheriff’s race by announcing in court weeks before Election Day that it was willing to prosecute Arpaio.

    But the charge itself wasn’t filed by prosecutors. It was recommended by the judge who presided over the profiling case. Lawyers in Trump’s Justice Department prosecuted the case at a five-day trial in late June and early July.

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    The TV interviews and news releases that media-savvy lawman used over the years to help promote his immigration crackdowns and win re-election came back to bite him when the judge who found him guilty cited comments the sheriff made about keeping up the patrols, even though he knew he wasn’t allowed.

    The criminal case sprang from the profiling lawsuit that ultimately discredited Arpaio’s immigration patrols and is expected to cost taxpayers $92 million by next summer.

    Arpaio’s office was accused in other instances of wrongdoing in the profiling case, though none led to criminal charges.

    The alliance between Trump and Arpaio centres heavily on immigration enforcement, such as getting local police officers to take part in immigration enforcement. They also have questioned the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate and have a similar history in sparring with judges.

    During the presidential campaign, Arpaio showered Trump with support. He appeared for Trump at rallies in Iowa, Nevada and Arizona, including a huge gathering in the affluent Phoenix suburb where the sheriff lives. Arpaio also gave a speech at the Republican National Convention.

    “So Sheriff Joe was convicted for doing his job?” Trump asked supporters at Tuesday’s rally. “I’ll make a prediction. I think he’s going to be just fine, OK.”

    Trump issued the pardon seven months after taking office, though it is not unprecedented for a president to issue a pardon in their first year in office.

    The most recent president to issue a pardon so early in his term was George H.W. Bush, who granted clemency after seven months as president, said Jeffrey Crouch, a professor of politics at American University who has written a book on presidential pardons.

    Arpaio said he’ll discuss more about his case next week, but says he’ll remain active politically now that he’s no longer facing jail time.

    “I don’t fish,” Arpaio said. “I’ll be very active.”


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    SEOUL—Three North Korea short-range ballistic missiles failed on Saturday, U.S. military officials said, which, if true, would be a temporary setback to Pyongyang’s rapid nuclear and missile expansion.

    The U.S. Pacific Command said in a statement that two of the North’s missiles failed in flight after an unspecified distance, and another appeared to have blown up immediately. It added that the missile posed no threat to the U.S. territory of Guam, which the North had previously warned it would fire missiles toward.

    Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said that the projectiles fired from the North’s eastern coast flew about 250 kilometres, though it did not mention any failures. It said South Korea and U.S. militaries were analyzing the launch and didn’t immediately provide more details.

    South Korea’s presidential office said the U.S. and South Korean militaries will proceed with their ongoing war games “even more thoroughly” in response to the latest launch. They are the first known missile firings since July, when the North successfully flight tested a pair of intercontinental ballistic missiles that analysts say could reach deep into the U.S. mainland when perfected.

    The White House said that U.S. President Donald Trump— who has warned that he would unleash “fire and fury” if the North continued its threats — was briefed on the latest North Korean activity and “we are monitoring the situation.”

    The rival Koreas recently saw their always testy relationship get worse after Trump traded warlike threats. Saturday’s launch comes during an annual joint military exercise between the United States and South Korea that the North condemns as an invasion rehearsal, and weeks after Pyongyang threatened to lob missiles toward Guam.

    North Korea had walked back from the threat to lob missiles toward Guam, but there had been concerns that hostility will flare up again during the Ulchi-Freedom Guardian drills between the allies that run through Aug. 31.

    However, some experts say North Korea is now mainly focused on the bigger picture of testing its bargaining power against the United States with its new long-range missiles and likely has no interest in letting things get too tense during the drills. They say the North may limit its reactions to low-level provocations like artillery and short-range missile launches.

    Early assessments from the U.S. and South Korean militaries suggest that the North Korean launches could be short-range Scud-B or solid-fuel KN-02 missiles, said Kim Dong-yub, a former South Korean military official who is now an analyst at Seoul’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies.

    While the missile that supposedly blew up immediately after launch was clearly a failure, Kim said it’s too early to judge the flights of the other two missiles, since the North could have been experimenting with developmental technologies or deliberately detonated the warheads at certain heights and locations.

    North Korea’s state media earlier Saturday said that leader Kim Jong Un inspected a special operation forces training of the country’s army that simulated attacks on South Korean islands along the countries’ western sea border in what appeared to be in response to the ongoing U.S.-South Korea war games.

    Kim reportedly told his troops that they “should think of mercilessly wiping out the enemy with arms only and occupying Seoul at one go and the southern half of Korea.”

    The Korean Central News Agency said that the “target striking contest” involved war planes, multiple-rocket launchers and self-propelled guns that attacked targets meant to represent South Korea’s Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong islands before special operation combatants “landed by surprise” on rubber boats.

    The border islands have occasionally seen military skirmishes between the rivals, including a North Korean artillery barrage on Yeonpyeong in 2010 that left two South Korean marines and two civilians dead.

    In response to North Korea’s expanding nuclear weapons program, South Korea has been moving to strengthen its own capabilities, planning talks with the United States on raising the warhead limits on its missiles and taking steps to place additional launchers to a U.S. anti-missile defence system in the country’s southeast.

    South Korea has also been testing new missiles of its own, including the 800-kilometre-range Hyunmoo-2. Although the missile has not been operationally deployed yet, it is considered a key component to the so-called “kill chain” pre-emptive strike capability the South is pursuing to cope with the North’s growing nuclear and missile threat.

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    General Electric Peterborough, which employed tens of thousands of workers over its 125-year history and once made some of the world’s biggest motors, is slated to close.

    More than 350 employees of the factory, founded in 1892 by Thomas Edison, the inventor of electric lightbulbs, will lose their jobs by the fall of 2018.

    “We grew up there. Our parents worked there. Those memories are huge,” said Sue James, who worked at the plant for 30 years, as did her father before her.

    James’s father Gord died of lung and spinal cancer, diseases his family believes were caused by the toxic substances he worked with.

    A Star investigation last year highlighted the plight of former employees who say years of exposure to chemicals in the factory led to hundreds of cases of cancer or other illnesses.

    GE maintains that health and safety have always been its “number one priority” and that the company has “always followed the best health and safety practices based on the best knowledge available to us at the time.”

    It was reduced demand for products that drove the decision to close the Peterborough plant, according to Kim Warburton, vice-president of communications and public affairs for GE Canada. The plant will cease manufacturing, but will retain about 50 engineers onsite, she added.

    “It’s really about global demand,” she said. “In the last four years, volume at this plant has been down 60 per cent.”

    Peterborough Mayor Daryl Bennett said his “immediate concern is for the workers and the families” affected by the closure.

    “It will be a difficult time for many residents who are connected with GE or who have historical ties to this company,” Bennett said in a statement.

    He vowed to meet with the area’s MP and MPP to discuss government assistance to secure the community’s economic foundation.

    Once the city’s single largest employer, GE Peterborough made everything from diesel locomotive engines to turbines to hydro generators. The plant was the major economic driver in a region where more than half the population once worked in manufacturing. Now about 10 per cent of the city’s workforce is in manufacturing.

    “That is the last of manufacturing in Peterborough of any size,” James said. “GE was sort of the last one standing … It’s devastating news for the community and Peterborough, there’s no doubt about it.”

    Since 2004, workers at the plant made some 660 compensation claims to Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board for a range of occupational diseases. Some 280 were accepted, but more than half were withdrawn, abandoned or rejected because of apparently insufficient evidence that the conditions were work-related.

    A comprehensive report conducted by private-sector union Unifor later concluded that working conditions at the factory between 1945 and 2000 played a significant role in an “epidemic” of work-related illnesses among employees and retirees.

    The Ontario government has since vowed to do the “right thing” for former workers, including additional funding for the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers, which is helping GE retirees compile compensation claims. The details of that funding have not yet been announced.

    James says retirees are growing frustrated by the wait.

    “People are getting to the point where they can’t take the stress anymore,” said James. “It’s just been such a long fight and a long struggle.”

    Warburton said the decision to close is unrelated to compensation claims.

    “These are two completely unrelated matters,” she told the Star. “The decision on the plant today is based on volumes and not having the work.”

    “(It’s) an ongoing process with the health claims and legacy issues,” she added. “We’ve participated in that process for a number of years with WSIB and other agencies we will continue to do that.”

    In line with manufacturing plants across Ontario, GE’s Peterborough operations have slimmed down significantly in recent years. In January, the company announced it was laying off 150 employees as a result of a drop in volume orders.

    “I am saddened and disappointed to learn that GE will be ceasing manufacturing at its Peterborough facility. My thoughts are with the affected workers, their families and our community, and I am determined to work with GE to ensure employees are supported,” said MPP Jeff Leal, whose father worked at the plant for 40 years.

    Warburton said the company does not currently have plans to sell its Peterborough site, which occupies several acres in the city.

    The plant will operate for another year so the company can honour existing orders, she added, and will provide transitional support to departing employees such as skills, job training and retirement planning.

    “Manufacturing has taken quite a hit in today’s day and age with robots and precarious work,” said James. “It’s just a changing world.”


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    A bail decision is expected next week following a two-day hearing for Mohmmed Shamji, a Toronto neurosurgeon charged with first-degree murder.

    Shamji is accused of killing his wife and mother of their three children, Elana Fric-Shamji, after her body was found inside a suitcase next to the West Humber River in Vaughan.

    Her body was discovered on Dec. 1, and police said around that time they believed Fric-Shamji had been strangled and had suffered from blunt force trauma.

    A Superior Court judge will decide Wednesday whether the accused awaits his trial, expected to begin in the fall of 2018, out on bail or behind bars.

    As the handcuffed Shamji was ushered into a 361 University Ave. courthouse prisoner’s box Friday morning, the former Toronto Western Hospital neurosurgeon wore a fitted charcoal-coloured suit and white dress shirt. He had a shadow of barely-there facial hair, and several people, who appeared to be family members, were in the courtroom.

    Shamji smiled and mouthed a few words to them at the end of the day, but kept his gaze forward while Justice Michael Brown heard submissions from the Crown and his lawyers, Lisa Pomerant and Liam O’Connor.

    The couple was married for 12 years, and Fric-Shamji, 40, had filed for divorce just days before she was reported missing, according to her friends.

    As reported by the Star in December, Shamji was charged with uttering threats and assaulting Fric-Shamji in 2005, when the couple was newly married.

    The charges were withdrawn after Shamji signed a peace bond.

    Shamji is currently being held at Maplehurst Correctional Complex in Milton.


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    A news story went viral this week about a young Toronto family living the life of Cheech and Chong against their will.

    According to the CBC, Toronto condo resident Paul Bradshaw, along with his wife and 7-year-old son, have had to put up with pot smoke seeping into their condo from their next-door neighbour’s unit for nearly five years. Bradshaw told the CBC the smoke seeps into the family’s condo unit not only through the front door, but also through windows and electrical sockets, and into his kid’s room.

    “It wakes him up from a dead sleep,” Bradshaw said in an interview with the national broadcaster. “We have an air purifier but it has very little effect. It’s potent. It hits you.”

    Unfortunately, little can be done to legally stop the stoner next door. Repairs to the condo unit’s walls haven’t prevented smoke from seeping into Bradshaw’s son’s room. The Smoke-Free Ontario Act prohibits smoking in common areas of condominiums, but not in individual units themselves. (Condos can create rules around smoking in individual units, but according to the CBC, Bradshaw’s has not.)

    A terminal cynic might suggest, by way of consolation for the Bradshaws, that their son’s early exposure to pot smoke, as a companion bedtime ritual to brushing his teeth and putting on his pyjamas, might immunize him against marijuana’s cool factor. When he gets to high school and somebody passes him a joint, he can honestly say, “no thanks, I had my fill in the second grade.”

    Joking aside, the Bradshaws’ dilemma brings to mind two major issues facing our city.

    The first is the nation-wide legalization of marijuana. We are now less than a year away from legal pot, and it’s not unlikely, come July 1, 2018, that people who smoke up in their apartments may feel more entitled when neighbours complain about the telltale odour wafting in from next door. Why not? Legalization will validate their pot use and erode the social stigma around it.

    But the Bradshaws’ problem impinges on an issue that’s far more mainstream than the legalization of marijuana: affordable housing.

    Moving forward, I wouldn’t be surprised if complaints like Paul Bradshaw’s become more commonplace precisely because we’re facing an affordable housing crisis.

    As things stand now, many young families can’t afford to buy homes, so they rent living accommodation instead. This means the apartments or condos in which they partied their twenties away now have to serve as starter family homes, especially if they choose to have kids. This would be OK (albeit a little cramped) if everyone in the city was the same age, or matured at the same rate, but obviously this isn’t the case.

    Which means that many couples with new babies who can’t find afford to move, will end up staying put in downtown rental buildings, where few people go to bed before 10 o’clock, and where it isn’t uncommon for some residents to drink and crank up Spotify playlists with titles like “Songs for Drunk White Girls” on a Tuesday night. And, of course, smoke marijuana.

    My wife and I are in this situation right now.

    We live in a condo building that’s relatively young (most residents appear to be between 25 and 40). We moved into our unit when we were 24 and received regular noise complaints in response to our own weeknight partying. Now, on the cusp of 30, we’re the ones making the noise complaints.

    Where our smoke used to seep out into the hallway, now our younger neighbour’s does. This may simply be the great circle of urban life, but it’s bound to become greater and more circular as the accelerating lack of affordable housing suited to families, and the increasing number of urban millennials with young children collide.

    The question is, what can those of us who’d like to lead a quiet family life (in a city where only the rich can afford houses) do about it?

    I propose a Toronto Condo Party Registry. Not unlike the Bed Bug registry, an online database of Toronto apartment buildings and hotels potentially infected with bed bugs, the Party Registry would inform Torontonians about apartment and condo buildings prone to weeknight bacchanals.

    What’s more, it would alert you to the ambience of revelry specific to the rental accommodation being considered, from the type of tunes blasting within its walls, to the substances consumed.

    If you were looking at a building close to the financial district, for instance, the registry might let you know you’d better get used to the smell of stale beer, discarded bounce tubes, and the eternal bro chant “Ole! Ole! Ole!”

    If you were looking at a building in the hipper west, the registry might warn you about the e-cigarette smoke hazard. And if you were moving north, Avenue Road-ish say, you’d be alerted to the possibility of being woken up in the middle of the night by the voice of Mariska Hargitay of Law and Order SVU, the result of an elderly neighbour who’d left the TV on again at maximum volume, because they’re asleep, hard of hearing, or worse.

    Marijuana to Mariska — as a renter and/or new parent, all you can do is to pick your poison.


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    Vicki Keith was about five kilometres from the shore on the first leg of her double crossing of Lake Ontario when her swimming goggles started filling up with water. Salt water.

    She’d had an exhausting start — four hours battling three-metre waves that pushed her back and threatened to turn her body into a pretzel, as Keith describes it — and she was now battling through the outgoing current of the Niagara River.

    “I was so emotionally frustrated that my goggles were filling up with my tears,” says Keith, who is on the phone from the Kingston pool where she coaches her swim team.

    “And I realized at that point that I had to stop where my brain was going,” says Keith of that day in August 1987. She overcame her mental exhaustion by focusing on her strokes, one at a time.

    When she hit the far side, she says no one expected her to keep going. But she ate a Big Mac in the water and turned around. Quitting didn’t enter her mind.

    Keith has a quality that open-water swimmers need: determination. Some swimmers say, laughing, they have also been called stubborn and pigheaded.

    Marilyn Bell had it at age 16, when she became the first person to make the 52-kilometre crossing in 1954. She was driven by her goal that a Canadian should beat the American swimmer who had been contracted by the CNE to attempt the swim, in a bid to drive up attendance.

    Trinity Arsenault had it. Arsenault set the record in 2014 as the youngest by a couple of months to cross Lake Ontario, at 14. The St. Catharines native trained for two years, perfecting her stroke with the help of her mother, Christine, who inspired her daughter with her own crossing in 2011.

    And Marilyn Korzekwa also possessed the drive when she became the first person to make the Lake Ontario crossing both ways, swimming south to north in 1983 and in the other direction a year later.

    The Hamilton psychiatrist says any athlete can be trained physically to swim the lake. But finishing is 70 to 80 per cent due to mental toughness, “stubbornness and wanting to get across that lake at all costs,” she says.

    When asked if she would describe Keith as stubborn, Korzekwa says she is the definition of the word.

    After Keith’s double crossing, which experts thought was physically impossible, her friends jokingly suggested that she swim across all the Great Lakes the following year.

    Instead of dismissing the idea, Keith bought a map, got a magic marker, drew lines across each lake and put the map up on her living room wall. She found newspaper clippings with motivational sayings and photos of things that inspired her and put them up around it.

    Every time Keith went by the map, she would look at it and murmur, “I can do it.”

    “I started to believe it was possible because of that,” she says. “And once you believe it’s possible, you start to break your goal down into smaller and smaller steps.”

    She would need those small steps when her arms ground to a halt in Lake Huron the following summer.

    For a moment Keith wondered what to do, but then she turned and looked at her right arm and said out loud, “you just have to go around once.” And then she looked at her left arm and said the same thing.

    Keith kept talking to herself for the next hour, until she looked up and saw the shore.

    Suddenly she felt great. She finished the crossing doing butterfly.


    The open-water swimmers have experienced moments of beatific calm, but they’ve also battled currents that keep them hopelessly swimming in place and waves that feel like a slap across the face.

    And yet they all say the lake is where they feel at home.

    “I felt like I was exactly where I wanted and needed to be,” says Trinity Arsenault. Arsenault did a lot of research beforehand and says many competitors describe it as a “beautiful, aha moment.”

    Women have done well in the water. The group Solo Swims has documented 51 people who conquered Lake Ontario. Twenty-eight have been female, some crossing multiple times. Keith believes that as the distances increase, women and men become more equal in their ability to complete the challenge.

    Marilyn Korzekwa — who raced in high school and at U of T — says she feels like a fish out of water in the summer if she’s not in the lake every couple of days.

    She is president of Solo Swims, which was formed after a coroner’s inquest into the death of 17-year-old Neil MacNeil, who drowned in 1974 trying to cross Lake Ontario. The safety organization is the official record keeper for Lake Ontario and other swims within the province’s borders.

    After an attempt by Korzekwa in 1981, which she had to abandon because of heavy fog, she says it was such a huge disappointment that “every time I looked at the lake it just hurt in my heart. That did not go away until I conquered it in 1983.”

    And at 79, Marilyn Bell Di Lascio, as she is now known, still remembers the first time she floated as a child. On the phone from her retirement home in New Paltz, N.Y., she describes the sensation of being held up by the water as “wonderful.”

    “From then on it became my happy place.”


    Early on, no one realized Bell Di Lascio’s potential.

    When she was a rambunctious child, she says, her parents enrolled her in one sport, only to try another when she failed. “They had made the decision that there had to be something I had to be good at,” says the Toronto native.

    She tried ballet. Gymnastics. Tap.

    A music teacher told her father he was wasting his money and that Bell Di Lascio was never going to be a dancer.

    Bell Di Lascio tried ice skating.

    And then her father bought her 10 lessons at an open-air pool at Oakwood and St. Clair Aves. in Toronto. Her first coach was Alex Duff, who created an early form of synchronized swimming. He also founded the Dolphinet swimming club and was head coach at the 1934 British Empire Games. Duff taught her the basics and invited her to swim in the winter with his team at Jarvis Collegiate.

    Bell Di Lascio loved being part of the team, but she was too slow to win, and “not much of a competitor,” she says. Her second coach, the legendary Gus Ryder, said later that she wasn’t hungry enough to beat her friends.

    When her parents wanted to pull her from training at age 13 because of her lack of success, and the expense, Ryder convinced them to let her stay and train. In exchange, Bell Di Lascio would work in the pool office of the Lakeshore Swim Club, which Ryder founded in 1930.

    She trained for the 1952 Olympics in Finland but didn’t make it and was crushed that she would never swim for Canada. “I wanted to go to the Olympics and represent my country,” says Bell Di Lascio.

    But Ryder noticed she would often do an extra quarter-mile during training in the Credit River, or that she was the last to get out of the lake, and he could see she had the makings of a distance swimmer.

    “I was definitely getting stronger and a little more mature,” says Bell Di Lascio, who kept swimming longer and longer distances.

    “My dad would always say to me, why do you have to be so pigheaded? Or why do you have to be so stubborn?” she says, and he mentioned these qualities to Ryder.

    “And Gus said, I’ve never really thought of her as being stubborn. I see determination. And she doesn’t know how to quit.”

    When Bell Di Lascio dove into the pitch-black water that night in 1954 after scrambling to follow American swimmer Florence Chadwick’s 11 p.m. start, it was with blind faith that Ryder and her escort boat would meet her somewhere up ahead in the Niagara River. The only light was the one fading as Chadwick’s entourage got farther and farther away.

    Korzekwa’s mother, sick in bed, turned the radio on the next day, excited about the story and waiting for every update.

    Three years later, when she was pregnant with Korzekwa, she decided the name Marilyn symbolized endurance and strength and named her daughter after Bell Di Lascio.

    “Being an immigrant from war-torn Poland, post-war, endurance and strength were something she wanted her daughter to have,” says Marilyn Korzekwa.


    Most swimmers start on the south side because the current from the Niagara River gives them a northward push that can be felt up to 10 kilometres out, says Korzekwa.

    But once they’re in the lake, anything can happen.

    A wind from either direction can push away the warm surface water and drive up the cold from below, resulting in temperature decreases of about 17 degrees C in a single crossing, says Keith.

    The lake gets warmer in August, but thunderstorms are always a risk and can end a swim unless the athlete can outpace them.

    When the water is rough, a swimmer can get so seasick that they throw up for hours.

    And sometimes the combination of high winds and white-capped waves at the start of a swim can cause agonizing tendinitis, which forced Korzekwa to battle through pain the entire way.

    “I discovered on my first crossing how much it hurt,” she says.

    The swimmer hit a wall every three hours, when her brain told her she had to stop. “My lungs hurt. I didn’t feel like I could move my arms one more stroke,” says Korzekwa.

    But she kept going, swimming slowly for an hour until the thoughts passed and she devised a strategy to deal with them when they came again.

    Like most swimmers, she relied on her crew to help get her across.

    At one point when Korzekwa thought she couldn’t go any further, her pacer Libby Brown, a pool swimmer, told her she would accompany her the rest of the way.

    “I thought, well, if she could do it, then I could do it,” says Korzekwa, who went on to outsprint Brown. Brown was pulled from the water because she was slowing Korzekwa down.

    Bell Di Lascio, too, wanted to quit, but it wasn’t the lamprey eels that bothered her.

    She’d encountered them in the Credit River and although she hated the feel of their long snake-like forms curling around her legs, she knew to smack them in the head before their teeth could latch onto her body.

    But she was sleep-deprived after staying awake during the day of the swim, ready to follow Chadwick into the water but not knowing when the American would leave.

    Her coach accompanied her in a lifeboat from the downed passenger ship the Noronic. The lifeboat was lent to them by a private owner, she recalls Ryder telling her. She herself remembers the smell of the fumes when the luxury ship burned in Toronto’s harbour in 1949, killing 119 people.

    To keep her going, Ryder wrote inspirational messages on a chalkboard that she could read without stopping. Messages such as “ ‘Nobody made you do this. You wanted to do this for Canada. You wanted to beat the American,’ ” says Bell Di Lascio. “He was really practising psychology without certification. He knew me better than I knew myself.”

    She hummed and sang her way through the night, every stroke taking her closer, she says, to a sunrise she’d never seen.

    When dawn broke, she wasn’t even sure at first what it was.

    “That was a wonderful experience,” says Bell Di Lascio. “The water had flattened out. It was so beautiful. It reminded me of the story of the resurrection,” she says. “It was almost a type of resurrection on the water for me because I had made it through the night and that was my biggest fear.”

    Sunrise had an effect on Keith, too.

    On the way back to Toronto she started hallucinating around the 36-hour mark, something she had learned to expect after a record-setting continuous swim of five and half days in a pool.

    When Keith looked down she saw patio stones in the shape of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and little stone alligators and crocodiles that moved across them. She’d already given her crew permission to pull her if she ever headed under water to explore.

    Then, around 3 a.m. on her third day in the lake, she saw a great big wall right in front of her. She tried to swim faster to close the gap and slower to see if it would get bigger. But the wall was always in the same spot ahead of her.

    When Keith complained to her crew that she couldn’t get through it, one member realized what was happening and said he’d pull the boat through and make a hole for her. But as soon as everyone went through, the wall closed up behind them, she says.

    It was only when the sun rose that the wall disappeared.

    “The sun came up and I could see the CN Tower — the SkyDome wasn’t there yet. And I started to pick up my pace from there,” says Keith, although she remembers struggling in those last few hours, doing sidestroke and barely able to lift her arms out of the water.

    As she got closer to shore, though, she realized that she was going to make it and changed to butterfly, which later became her signature stroke, “just to prove that I had something left,” says Keith.

    Of course, the finish is different for everyone.

    Trinity Arsenault made it through the night singing camp songs with her crew, which included her mother and Keith — who together set off a confetti bomb at sunrise — as well as Korzekwa.

    But the next day, it started to rain and a chop that started in the middle of the night grew into three- to-four-metre waves. Arsenault had to outrun a thunderstorm.

    “At one point, I was moving three kilometres an hour and the storm was moving behind me at two kilometres,” says Arsenault. “So I was literally sprinting all the way to the finish.”


    In the summer of 2016, Trinity Arsenault became the youngest Canadian to cross the English Channel, a shorter swim by a third but another brutal challenge.

    Cuts in her mouth, caused by her braces, swelled 10 times more than she expected because of the salt water. The jellyfish that typically congregate in a calm zone in the middle of the channel had floated much closer to shore. Arsenault says she wasn’t mentally prepared to be surrounded as soon as she stepped into the water. And the sea is colder and swimmers battle strong tides.

    The distance is 32 kilometres from coast to coast but swimmers often go further because the current pushes them from side to side.

    Arsenault made it across in 12.5 hours.

    “I’m a competitive person by nature,” explains Arsenault about why she takes on challenges. “I really enjoy setting goals, striving to achieve them and I really appreciate hard work.”

    Distance swimming also allows her to raise money for Jumpstart, a charity that helps financially disadvantaged kids participate in organized sports.

    “Growing up in a single-parent family, I knew how hard my mom had worked to give us our opportunities,” says Arsenault. Her sister Michaela is also a Great Lakes swimmer and swam across Lake Erie in 2016.

    “I wanted to do it for an organization that would help kids who were having the same financial barriers or in many cases, much worse than I was,” she says. Arsenault is now training to become an elite rower.

    Vicki Keith has raised more than a million dollars for charity.

    Keith continues to coach her swim team, the Kingston Y Penguins, a club for kids with physical disabilities as well as their able-bodied siblings. Keith was chosen as head coach for Team Ontario, which recently competed at the Canada Games in Winnipeg.

    She’s also been a motivational speaker and in one TED Talk appearance, tells a story similar to Bell Di Lascio’s, about an instructor who told Keith’s parents that their daughter danced like a horse.

    Keith was so determined to be good at something that she bought her own trophy when she was 10.

    “It was my way of saying I have value, I have something wonderful and unique about me,” says Keith. She still has the trophy.

    Marilyn Korzekwa quit the sport to work and raise a family but came out of retirement nearly 30 years later. She was the first Canadian to complete the Triple Crown of Marathon swimming which includes crossing the English Channel and the Catalina channel off California (2011, 2013) as well as a course around Manhattan Island (2014).

    On Monday, the 60-year-old became the first Canadian to swim across Lake Tahoe, raising money for the Sashbear Foundation, a mental health organization.

    Bell Di Lascio went on to set records as the youngest person to swim the English Channel and the Strait of Juan de Fuca in B.C. But like Korzekwa she quit swimming when she married and moved to the States, where she worked as a teacher.

    She continued to mentor swimmers though, and as technology progressed, has been able to track their movements in real time online because of GPS. She says she thinks of many of the swimmers as family.

    “Over the years I’ve developed a real close bond with just about everybody,” says Bell Di Lascio. “There are very few that I haven’t met.”

    When she was 30, Bell Di Lascio was diagnosed with a deteriorating spinal condition called scoliosis that has made it painful for her in recent years to swim front crawl. She still swims, but on her back, kicking her feet.

    But she started swimming front crawl again last year after a local instructor came to her retirement home and taught her a new technique that allowed her to swim for hours without any pain.

    Her condition worsened though, and the scoliosis is “now causing my chest cavity to be compressed,” says Bell Di Lascio, who has developed restrictive lung disease that makes it difficult to breathe at times.

    She just got back in the pool after several months.

    “My life has been like a marathon swim, because there’s so much in life that we’re not in control of,” she says. There’s “the tide that’s going to take you where you wish to go and the flood tide that’s going to push you back where you have been.

    “It’s always been a metaphor for me,” says Bell Di Lascio, who has imparted the message to her students and others as a motivational speaker.

    “The good news is, and the message I always try to leave with people, is that if we’re patient and determined, we know that the tide will change,” she says. “Cause it always does.”

    At a glance

    VICKI KEITH, 56, born in Winnipeg

    She is the only swimmer to complete the 104-kilometre double crossing of Lake Ontario and the first person to swim across all five Great Lakes. Keith has 18 world records, including pool swims. Her swims include:

    Lake Ontario, 1986 (attempted double crossing but pulled after first crossing because of storm); 1987, 1989 (butterfly)

    Lake Ontario, Lake Superior,Lake Michigan,Lake Huron, Lake Erie: 1988

    Catalina Channel: 1989, world record for butterfly

    English Channel: 1989, world record for butterfly

    Strait of Juan de Fuca: 1989, world record for butterfly

    Tandem crossing of eastern Lake Ontario with husband John Munro: 2001

    Lake Ontario, 2005: 80.2-km butterfly to raise $260,000 for the Kingston Family YMCA

    MARILYN BELL DI LASCIO, 79, born in Toronto

    At 16, she became the first person to cross Lake Ontario.

    Lake Ontario: 1954

    English Channel: 1955 (Second Canadian, after Winnie Roach in 1951, to cross)

    Strait of Juan de Fuca: 1956 (Fifth swimmer and second woman to swim the strait. She was the fastest on the strait’s long course — a record that held until this month, when Susan Simmons of B.C. beat it)

    MARILYN KORZEKWA, 60, born in Toronto

    The first person to cross Lake Ontario south to north and north to south in separate swims. The second person, after American Diana Nyad, to make the north-south crossing.

    Lake Ontario: 1983, south to north; 1984, north to south

    English Channel: 2011

    Catalina Channel: 2013

    Manhattan Island: 2014, first Canadian to complete Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming

    Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, P.E.I.: 2016

    Cook Strait: 2016

    Cape Cod Bay: 2016

    Lake Tahoe: 2017, first Canadian

    TRINITY ARSENAULT, 17, born in St. Catharines

    At 14 years and 71 days old, she became the youngest person to swim the lake, beating out fellow Canadian Annaleise Carr, who held the record after crossing in 2012.

    Lake Ontario: 2014

    Lake Erie: 2014

    English Channel: 2016, youngest Canadian


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