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- 09/23/17--18:33: _RCMP to return item...
- 09/23/17--07:36: _New 6.1-magnitude e...
- 09/24/17--03:00: _Women should pop a ...
- 09/24/17--04:00: _Meet the researcher...
- 09/24/17--14:37: _Marijuana debate le...
- 09/24/17--19:44: _Milo Yiannopoulos a...
- 09/24/17--17:58: _Jared Kushner used ...
- 09/24/17--14:47: _From refugee to uni...
- 09/24/17--15:48: _Top-of-the-line pro...
- 09/24/17--09:36: _Angela Merkel wins ...
- 09/24/17--14:20: _Heat-seekers head f...
- 09/24/17--11:31: _Joey Bats makes gra...
- 09/24/17--15:51: _Canada’s top NAFTA ...
- 09/24/17--10:44: _Trump announces new...
- 09/24/17--17:00: _Sports is part of t...
- 09/24/17--15:03: _This woman was just...
- 09/25/17--08:08: _Anthony Weiner sent...
- 09/25/17--09:07: _Chelsea Manning den...
- 09/25/17--08:28: _Donald Trump’s twee...
- 09/25/17--16:40: _More than $2 billio...
- 09/23/17--18:33: RCMP to return items that belonged to Louis Riels to Métis people
- 09/23/17--07:36: New 6.1-magnitude earthquake shakes already jittery Mexico
- 09/24/17--03:00: Women should pop a squat for equality: Teitel
- 09/24/17--04:00: Meet the researcher uncovering the mysteries of ancient hurricanes
- 09/24/17--14:37: Marijuana debate leaves First Nations weighing pros and cons
- 09/24/17--19:44: Milo Yiannopoulos appearance at UC Berkeley sparks clash of extremes
- 09/24/17--15:48: Top-of-the-line prosthetic devices have improved by leaps and bounds
- 09/24/17--09:36: Angela Merkel wins fourth term in German election
- 09/24/17--14:20: Heat-seekers head for shore as Toronto makes most of record high
- 09/24/17--11:31: Joey Bats makes graceful exit from Jays’ home base: DiManno
- 09/24/17--10:44: Trump announces new restrictions as 90-day travel ban expires
- 09/25/17--09:07: Chelsea Manning denied entry to Canada
- 09/25/17--08:28: Donald Trump’s tweet is ‘a declaration of war,’ North Korea says
- 09/25/17--16:40: More than $2 billion in capital projects unfunded: TTC
WINNIPEG—Three items, including a crucifix, that belonged to North-West Rebellion leader Louis Riel, which have been held by the RCMP for decades, will soon return to Métis possession.
RCMP Deputy Commissioner Kevin Brosseau and Manitoba Métis Federation president David Chartrand signed a memorandum of understanding on Saturday that will see the items transferred to a Métis heritage centre in Winnipeg, once it is built.
The items, which also include knife and a book of poetry Riel wrote, are currently on display at the RCMP Heritage Centre in Regina.
Riel was convicted of treason in 1885 for his role in the rebellion and was hanged.
Brosseau, who is of Métis heritage himself, says Riel is believed to have handed the crucifix to a member of the North-West Mounted Police prior to his execution.
He says the RCMP have had it since 1959.
“It’s important to me, certainly on a number of levels, but absolutely being a person of Métis descent that those items be returned,” Brosseau said Saturday.
Chartrand said the items belong with the Métis, not the Mounties.
“They’re not trophies. They’re actually very important artifacts that have a direct connection to our great leader,” Chartrand said.
Brosseau said the agreement to return the items follows news stories about them earlier this year. Discussions were then launched between the RCMP and Métis groups over what to do with them, he said, and it was determined there was an interest by Métis groups to have them.
Chartrand said Métis groups have asked RCMP to hang on to the items until the planned Métis centre is finished.
He said construction is hoped to begin next year.
Brosseau said the poetry book was donated to RCMP in 1943. The hunting knife was given to RCMP in 1947.
While the items can be viewed by the public at the RCMP museum in Regina, Brosseau said it’s not the same.
“People have seen them and been exposed to them, but in the context of an RCMP heritage museum as opposed to, in this case, a museum which will ultimately be built by the Métis nation,” Brosseau said.
RCMP to return items that belonged to Louis Riels to Métis people
MEXICO CITY—A strong new earthquake shook Mexico on Saturday, killing at least one person, toppling already damaged homes and a highway bridge, and causing new alarm in a country reeling from two even more powerful quakes that together have killed more than 400 people.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the new, magnitude 6.1 temblor was centered about 18 kilometres south-southeast of Matias Romero in the state of Oaxaca, which was the region most battered by a magnitude 8.1 quake on Sept. 7.
It was among thousands of aftershocks recorded in the wake of that earlier quake, which was the most powerful to hit Mexico in 32 years and killed at least 96 people.
The government of Oaxaca state reported that some homes collapsed and one woman died when a wall of her home fell on her in Asuncion Ixtaltepec.
Four people were injured in Juchitan and three in Tlacotepec, but none of their lives were in danger. Another person suffered a broken clavicle in the town of Xadani. Three hotels and two churches were damaged and a highway bridge collapsed. The Federal Police agency said the bridge already was closed because of damage after the Sept. 7 quake.
Bettina Cruz, a resident of Juchitan, Oaxaca, said by phone with her voice still shaking that the new quake felt “horrible.”
“Homes that were still standing just fell down,” Cruz said. “It’s hard. We are all in the streets.”
Cruz belongs to a social collective and said that when the shaking began, she was riding in a truck carrying supplies to victims of the earlier quake.
Nataniel Hernandez said by phone from Tonala, in the southern state of Chiapas, which was also hit hard by the earlier quake, that it was one of the strongest aftershocks he has felt.
“Since Sept. 7 it has not stopped shaking,” Hernandez said.
U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Paul Caruso said the new temblor was an aftershock of the 8.1 quake. After a jolt of that size, even buildings left standing can be more vulnerable.
“So a smaller earthquake can cause the damaged buildings to fail,” Caruso said.
“At the moment, the greatest damage has been to the Ixtaltepec bridge, which should be rebuilt, and structures with previous damage that collapsed,” President Enrique Pena Nieto tweeted. He said government workers were fanning out in Juchitan to provide help to anyone who needs it.
Jaime Hernandez, director of the Federal Electrical Commission, said the quake knocked out power to 327,000 homes and businesses in Oaxaca but service had been restored to 72 per cent of customers within a few hours.
Buildings swayed in Mexico City, where nerves are still raw from Tuesday’s magnitude 7.1 temblor, which killed at least 305 across the region. Many residents and visitors fled homes, hotels and businesses, some in tears.
And the Popocatepetl volcano near Mexico City spewed a cloud of vapor with some ash about 2 km into the air Saturday, but experts said it was not related to the quakes. The 5,426-metre volcano has erupted periodically since 1994.
At Mexico City’s Xoco General Hospital, which is treating the largest number of quake victims, workers ordered visitors to evacuate when seismic alarms began to blare.
That included Syntia Pereda, 43, who was reluctant to leave the bedside of her sleeping boyfriend. Jesus Gonzalez, 49, fell from a third-storey balcony of a building where he was working during Tuesday’s quake and was awaiting surgery.
But she controlled her emotions, went outside and came back when the trembling was over.
“We are getting used to this,” Pereda said. “Every so often we hear the alarm ... you say, well, it is God’s will.”
Alejandra Castellanos was on the second floor of a hotel in a central neighborhood of Mexico City and ran down the stairs and outside with her husband.
“I was frightened because I thought, not again!” Castellanos said.
Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said there were no reports of significant new damage in the capital, and rescue efforts related to Tuesday’s quake were continuing. He reported that two people died of apparent heart attacks during the new temblor.
At the site of an office building that collapsed Tuesday and where an around-the-clock search for survivors was still ongoing, rescuers briefly evacuated from atop the pile of rubble after the morning quake before returning to work removing cement, tiles and other debris.
As rescue operations stretched into Day 5, residents throughout the capital have held out hope that dozens still missing might be found alive. More than half the dead — 167 — perished in the capital, while 73 more died in the state of Morelos, 45 in Puebla, 13 in Mexico State, six in Guerrero and one in Oaxaca.
Along a 18-metre stretch of a bike lane in Mexico City, families huddled under tarps and donated blankets, awaiting word of loved ones trapped in the four-storey-high pile of rubble behind them.
Lidia Albarran, whose niece was buried in the collapse of an office building a block away, heard the alarm and worried that the latest quake could endanger those under the pile of rubble.
“You feel fear. Before, earthquakes did not make me afraid, but now ... thinking about all that could have happened in the building,” Albarran said.
In a city still on edge, many residents have spoken of lingering anxiety: imagining the ground is moving when it isn’t, hearing a police siren wail and thinking it’s a quake alarm, breaking into sobs at unexpected moments.
“There is collective panic. I feel afraid even when a car passes by,” said Dulce Bueno, who came Saturday morning with her husband and daughter to the hard-hit Condesa neighbourhood. They brought suitcases to collect the belongings of their daughter, who lived in a damaged building beside one that collapsed and who is now moving in with them.
“They have told us it is well constructed, that it’s a bunker,” Bueno said of her own home. “But if the tremors continue, will it hold up?”
Vicente Aparicio, 76, gazed at the building where he lived in southern Mexico City as his wife listened to an engineer explaining the damage it had suffered. He vowed never to return; his family is fortunate enough to have another apartment to go to and the means to go on with their lives.
“But what about those who do not?” Aparicio wondered.
He added: “How does a city recover from a shock like this?”
New 6.1-magnitude earthquake shakes already jittery Mexico
There is a feminist revolution brewing in Amsterdam right now that has nothing to do with gender parity in the workforce but something arguably far more important: public toilet parity in the city square. That is, a woman’s right to relive herself as quickly and as comfortably as any member of the male gender when she is outside her own home. (After all, you can’t exactly beat a man for a promotion at work if you’re forever waiting in line for the can.)
It turns out that going to the bathroom in the Netherlands’ capital isn’t always an easy thing to do for women, because while the city is home to 35 public urinals for men, it boasts only three public toilets designated for women. According to a story in the Guardian this week, Amsterdam’s loo-dearth led to the recent punishment of 23-year-old Geerte Piening, who was out one night with her friends when she had to pee. Unable to locate a nearby women’s bathroom, Piening did what thousands of men do every day: she relieved herself on a side street.
Her friends acted as lookouts for her, but to no avail: Piening was caught popping a squat in public and fined by police. The judge in her case is reported to have criticized Piening for failing to use a men’s urinal if she wasn’t within reach of one of the city’s few women’s restrooms. “It would not be pleasant but it can be done,” the judge told her.
Needless to say, the toilet-deprived women of Amsterdam were not pleased with this verdict and have since launched a series of social media protests (that some have vowed to bring to the streets) demanding that the city build more public restrooms for women.
But Amsterdam women aren’t the only women in the world who have reason to complain about John injustice. We all do.
While ladies’ lavatories are particularly scarce in Amsterdam, this kind of scarcity is by no means unique to that city. Women’s restrooms are in short supply all over the world; a reality known to pretty much every woman who has ever been to a professional sports game or a concert.
This isn’t a theory I came up with after waiting in line to pee for 25 minutes at the Air Canada Centre. It’s a documented fact. According to a paper published in 2007 by planning researchers Kathryn H. Anthony and Meghan Dufresne, called Potty Parity in Perspective: Gender and Family Issues in Planning and Designing Public Restrooms,“The lack of potty parity can be readily seen at places of assembly such as sports and entertainment arenas, musical amphitheaters, theaters, stadiums, airports, bus terminals, convention halls, amusement facilities, fairgrounds, zoos, institutions of higher education, and specialty events at public parks.”
While men appear to walk into public restrooms and exit them practically in a single breath, women’s bathrooms are notoriously crowded and the waits to enter them interminably long.
And no woman is immune to this experience, no matter how high and mighty she appears to be. Take former U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who was late to the podium after a commercial break during one of the 2016 debates because the women’s bathroom was located farther from the stage than the men’s one, and was occupied at the precise moment she needed it.
The reason for the women’s bathroom shortage is usually patriarchal hangover: most of the people who designed the public spaces we frequent today were men, who did not consider or even possess basic facts about how women function.
For example, it takes women longer to go to the bathroom. According to the paper by Anthony and Dufresne, a graduate student named Sandra K. Rawls at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University stood outside public restrooms in the 1980s and “timed those who entered and exited, and surveyed users about their restroom habits. Her research painstakingly documented the obvious: women take about twice as much time as men to use restroom facilities. Whereas men took a mere 83.6 seconds, women took almost three minutes.”
We take almost three minutes not because we love gossiping in the ladies’ room as the stereotype goes, but for other less fun reasons. Some of us are menstruating, which may involve frantically searching through a purse for a tampon; others are accompanied by crying kids.
But overall, perhaps the greatest contributing factor to our taking longer to pee is the simple fact that we generally like to sit down, which involves removing clothing. And if there are no hooks or shelves present in the bathroom stall, we balance our belongings (purse, shopping bags, toddlers, etc.) on our laps while we do our business, which can be a difficult task with often disappointing results.
It would be nice, then, not only in Amsterdam but everywhere, if urban planners allocated more restrooms for women, not less. This isn’t merely a feminist argument. Last I checked, women go places with men and men have to wait for women when they’re walking far away or waiting in line to use the facilities. The women’s washroom shortage is an equal-opportunity discriminator: it inconveniences people of both genders.
But city planners shouldn’t just double or even triple the number of female public restrooms in any given neighbourhood; they should supply every facility with adequate hooks, recessed shelves and reliable and affordable tampon and sanitary napkin machines to dramatically cut down on wait times.
In the absence of these changes, we — womankind that is — should take our bloated bladders to the streets and do in unison as Geerte Piening did. We should pop a squat for equality.
Emma Teitel is a national affairs columnist.
Women should pop a squat for equality: Teitel
It was 1996. Florida was still recovering from hurricane Andrew, then the costliest storm ever to batter the United States. A consortium of reinsurers — the insurance companies for the insurance companies — had a question for Jeffrey Donnelly, a coastal geologist.
How often have intense hurricanes occurred throughout history?
That may sound like a simple question, but it isn’t. The first century of records from the Atlantic is a hodgepodge of ship logs and newspaper stories. Consistent cataloguing of tropical cyclones — hurricanes and typhoons — only began with the advent of satellites, around 1970.
But Donnelly had different resources at his disposal: sediment cores, the metres-long plugs of compressed organic material extracted from coastal marshes, or what scientists call the “paleo record.”
Trapped inside those sediment cores was evidence of the chaos wrought by major storms.
The historical record — those logs and newspaper articles — “is far too small,” said Donnelly, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. “What the paleo record allows us to do is extend that back centuries and even millennia.”
The reinsurers have since moved on. But 20 years later, Donnelly is still trying to reconstruct the ancient history of hurricanes, collecting sediment cores from Newfoundland to Brazil. This research — known as paleotempestology — is useful to scientists who want to understand why some years and decades are thrashed by frequent, destructive storms while others are quiet.
Surprising insights about today’s hurricane patterns have already emerged. But one of the most critical questions is how those patterns might change, especially as the climate warms.
“The biggest challenge is using what we know of just the past 100 years to say very much because it’s a very limited sampling of not only hurricanes but climate itself,” Donnelly said.
The gold-standard database of Atlantic hurricanes is maintained by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The database starts with information from 1851 and comes with a warning: “It is far from being complete and accurate for the entire century and a half.”
“It’s really a poor record,” said Kerry Emanuel, a professor of atmospheric science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Before 1943 —
“the first year we flew an aircraft into a hurricane” — the record consists of the hurricanes that lucky ships survived and reported, that happened to make landfall in populated areas, or, very rarely, that passed over a research station without destroying all the instruments.
After the Second World War, aircraft began undertaking routine reconnaissance of storms in the Atlantic. For more than a decade, however, those aircraft couldn’t measure wind speed.
“You would be, I think, shocked at what was being done,” Emanuel said.
Aside from the danger of flying directly into hurricanes, “the pilot would look at the sea surface and say, ‘Oh, I think it’s 100-mile-an-hour winds.’ I mean it was very, very rough — just looking at the waves. And they were trying to impress their girlfriends back home and God knows whatever other biases were creeping in.”
Consistent global cataloguing of cyclones began in roughly 1970, when the development of satellite technology made it possible to account for the hurricanes that formed and died in the middle of the ocean. Instruments to estimate a storm’s intensity were developed in the 1980s and are still selectively deployed — usually in storms that threaten the U.S. coastline. “Everywhere else, it’s by guess and by golly,” Emanuel said.
So when the consortium of reinsurers wanted to know how often storms as destructive as hurricane Andrew occur, it didn’t have much data to work with. At the time, Donnelly was using sediment cores to study rising sea levels — and in those cores, he said, “we were coming across sand layers.”
These sand layers, they believed, were episodes when huge storm surges lifted material from the beach and the sea floor and deposited it into the marshes, where they were buried by more organic sediments until another storm occurred. Donnelly told the reinsurers he could try to analyze the sediment cores for the occurrence of major storms. But coasts are dynamic systems and he wasn’t sure that these environments were stable enough to record ancient history.
After some “hit and miss” at different sites, Donnelly identified a salt marsh in Rhode Island, extracted cores, and began mapping and dating the sand layers.
The top bands of sand corresponded with known hurricanes from the 20th century. But the cores extended the storm record back 700 years. Subsequent research has shown that only significantly large storms, typically a Category 2 hurricane or higher, would be energetic enough to leave an impact.
The reinsurers got their numbers and went on their way. Donnelly and his team continue to extract cores from across the North Atlantic basin and beyond, hoping to reconstruct more ancient hurricane history.
Other than salt marshes, they have extracted cores from coastal sink holes and “blue holes,” or marine caverns. Most are about 2,000 years old, but one from Vieques, a small island off Puerto Rico that was devastated by hurricane Maria last week, represented 5,500 years of history.
The historical hurricane record shows a lull between the 1960s and the ’80s. Researchers are still arguing about whether it represents a reoccurring cycle or an anomaly. To tell the difference, “you need a lot of data,” said Gabriel Vecchi, a professor at Princeton University who studies climate science and extreme weather events.
“So we either have to commit ourselves to not knowing the answer until we make hundreds of years of observations in the future, or we can go back in time. Those are really the only two options.”
But one of the most surprising findings that has emerged from the field is that we are living in centennial, rather than decadal, hurricane lull. The first millennium, to 1000 AD, was an incredibly active period for hurricanes. The next millennium saw major regional variability, with the Caribbean and the eastern North American seaboard firing up in different centuries.
All of this evidence helps tease apart natural cycles from variability caused by climate change. “Being able to go back hundreds of years allows us to better quantify these natural cycles, and it gives us a working range of how much things can vary without human contributions. Then if things fall out of that range in the modern era, we have more confidence that it’s not all natural,” said Jim Kossin, an atmospheric research scientist at NOAA.
Another way that this deep history can help us understand hurricane patterns in the era of human-caused climate change is by testing models that predict hurricane variability. By seeing how well they can predict hurricanes we now know occurred in the past, we can be more confident about their performance in the future. It can also help us understand what climate and ocean conditions are drivers for hurricane activity.
“We’re invested in actually making that one of our top priorities: to look at the last few 2,000 years, understand why the hurricanes have changed the way the paleo record suggests they have changed, and then interpret what that means for the coming century,” Vecchi said.
“As we’re getting more and more records, I think we’ll be able to ask tougher and tougher questions.”
Kate Allen was a 2017 Ocean Science Journalism Fellow at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. WHOI paid for airfare, room and board for the one-week residency, which is designed to introduce science journalists to the fields of oceanography and ocean engineering.
Meet the researcher uncovering the mysteries of ancient hurricanes
MONTREAL—Is it a cash crop to lift struggling First Nations out of poverty, or a vice posing a particular risk for a vulnerable population?
As Canada forges ahead with the legalization of marijuana, slated for July 2018, Indigenous people are split about what to do on their territory.
A number of First Nations have signed investment deals with marijuana producers, lured by the promise of profits and other benefits. Others have slammed on the brakes until they can draw up their own rules for growing and selling what is, for a few more months, an illegal drug.
“What the communities are obviously going to be looking at is how far we go with this. Do we accept it fully? Do we accept it in part? Or do we just say ‘Absolutely not’?” said Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Isadore Day, who represents Ontario.
The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake, south of Montreal, issued a moratorium earlier this month on the production, distribution and sale of cannabis on its territory until such time as it can adopt its own regulations.
Summer consultations revealed there is support for establishing marijuana-related businesses in the community and an appreciation of the therapeutic uses of the drug. But there are also significant health and public safety concerns, said Kahnawake Council Chief Gina Deer.
“We’re a vulnerable population and due to that there’s concern about legalization and the abuse of (marijuana), because we’ve also seen the abuse of alcohol,” she said. “Yes, it’s a good tool for certain things and it is used in the medical industry, but it can’t become a crutch and that’s the fear being a vulnerable population.”
Deer said the marijuana moratorium in Kahnawake became an urgent matter for the community only after a recent trip west along Highway 401 to visit the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, near Belleville, Ont., where cannabis capitalism has run amok.
There are currently 16 marijuana dispensaries—some run out of storefront operations, others run out of peoples’ homes.
None are registered businesses with the band council and all are technically illegal, the Tyendinaga council said in a statement this summer. But there is little impetus or urgency by police or prosecutors to shut the unlicensed pot shops down and lay charges.
“The council did meet with the federal Crown attorney, who advised us that the judges in the Belleville court do not want to hear these cases, that it’s not a good use of court resources and time, and the police believe that it’s a grey area, so there’s really no law enforcement,” Tyendinaga Chief Don Maracle said in an interview.
Everyone is looking for direction. First Nations representatives from both Quebec and Ontario are meeting with their respective provincial government officials this week to discuss the matter, though many Indigenous communities don’t know themselves what direction to take.
“There are some communities who are saying that Canada can do what it wants but in terms of our community we’re the sole entity who will decide,” said AFN Regional Chief Ghislain Picard, who represents Quebec and Labrador.
“At the same time some chiefs are saying that it’s going to happen so let’s be ready for it and if there are economic spinoffs from it, it’s for the benefit of the community.”
Chief Day said the AFN wants to ensure that provincial taxes collected on marijuana sales and federal excise taxes paid by marijuana producers come back to Indigenous communities.
“If there is an uptake of, say, $300-million in excise tax from a facility that goes to the federal government, why wouldn’t that excise tax be placed in First Nations to ensure our health systems can become much more able to deal with the health issues and impacts of addiction?” he asked.
The Wahgoshig First Nation, with a registered population of about 230 people, is far ahead of the others. Located about 100 kilometres north of Kirkland Lake, Ont., near the border with Quebec, it was the first Indigenous community in the country to sign an investment and benefits deal with a medicinal marijuana producer.
In return for a $3-million investment in Delshen Therapeutics in November 2015, which operates its cannabis facility out of a former Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources tree nursery on Wahgoshig territory, the company was offering a seat on its board, employment guarantees and funding for a drug and alcohol treatment centre, said Mylon Ollila, Wahgoshig’s executive director.
At first there was debate about the ethics of investing in cannabis. But it was not so difficult to rationalize involvement in marijuana cultivation in a community that is otherwise reliant on non-renewable industries like mining.
“First Nations have been harvesting traditional medicines and plant medicines for generations. This is something that already was much more aligned with First Nations’ values,” Ollila said, adding that marijuana’s medicinal attributes could also help deal with the community’s prescription painkiller problems.
“We kind of see it as replacing something that has been harmful to our community.”
Since that deal was signed, 48 other First Nations communities have also invested in Delshen Therapeutics. That has been the work of Jacob Taylor and Jonathan Araujo, the Indigenous advisers for the cannabis company and founders of the Pontiac Group, which work on First Nations economic development.
Araujo said there have been a range of reactions to the idea of partnering with a medicinal marijuana company.
“Some people who morally object to it still see the economic impact and the inevitability of its arrival,” he said. “Other people object on moral grounds and still have no interest in it.”
“On the flip side,” said Taylor, “this is a plant and it is in line with our Indigenous values. We’ve consulted elders and traditional healers and they’ve advised us that this is a plant that they used for medicine.”
Marijuana debate leaves First Nations weighing pros and cons
BERKELEY, CALIF.—It was 30 minutes until Milo Yiannopoulos’ planned Sunday rally at the University of California at Berkeley, and already the south side of campus was buzzing with the cross-currents of mutually directed rage.
“We’re standing up today to push these Nazis off our campus!” a woman was yelling through a bullhorn, as a cluster of men wearing American flags as capes tried to drown her out with chants of “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”
Yiannopoulos, the former Breitbart editor and self-described “troll” best known for railing against women and minorities online, had announced months earlier that he would sponsor a “Free Speech Week” on this campus known for its leftist activism.
He had tried to speak here before but had been thwarted; he said it was a product of this town’s virulently liberal opposition, and campus officials said it had been because he was bad at organizing.
And here it was on Sunday: the same thing all over again. A long-planned four days of speeches to criticize Muslims, feminists, leftists and liberals called off barely a day before it was to begin. Yiannopoulos said the university again was standing in the way of free speech, and the university said Yiannopoulos and his student group counterparts had failed to fill out the necessary paperwork.
Sunday’s gathering happened because Yiannopoulos vowed to hold an unofficial rally anyway, and because his opponents were already so angry that they likely would have protested regardless.
Some observers said it was also never really about a clash of ideas so much as a clash of extremes, anyway. No one on Sunday seemed to be debating or conversing, and most appeared more concerned with who was allowed into the plaza where Yiannopoulos planned to speak, and who wasn’t.
“It was a showdown of different, competing powers and who physically controls a given space,” said Amanda Jo Goldstein, a Berkeley English professor, who came to peacefully protest what she views as Yiannopoulos’s exclusionary politics. “There’s an illusion that the ability to express ideas occurs in a vacuum of physical power.”
The police were there, their visors tipped up and batons ready.
Berkeley, with its history of protest and argument and politics, has become a central battlefield for the extremes, a place were the alt-right has chosen to poke at the liberals, and where some liberals have tried to silence them, in turn. The militants on both sides have chosen to rumble here before, making it a magnet for Antifa and neo-Nazis. And campus police estimated they had spent around $800,000 for the extra security.
The contest started, as police had anticipated, before Yiannopoulos even arrived. A few dozen people stood shouting in each other’s faces, waving signs as a seemingly larger crowd of bystanders with cameras filmed them, and an even larger crowd of helmeted police clutched their riot gear and lurched into new phalanxes with each new shift of the crowd.
“Trump! Trump! Trump!” shouted the American flag-draped group. “No Trump! No KKK! No fascist U.S.A.!” shouted their rivals.
“They’re just yelling at each other,” a young woman remarked to her friend, as they stood off to the side.
Hundreds of UC Berkeley police, with help from other local departments, had erected large orange barriers to surround Sproul Plaza, where Yiannopoulos planned to speak. They formed a narrow corridor, through which fans and protesters jostled in an effort to gain entry. Police officers manning a metal detector there turned most of them away.
There were no weapons allowed — no knives, no sticks, no bats. But also no helmets. No cameras. No backpacks, purses, snacks or water bottles.
“Regardless of what side they were on, we just wanted to make sure that everybody was being safe,” said Sabrina Reich, a spokesperson for the UC Berkeley campus police department.
When Yiannopoulos finally did appear, on the steps of Sproul Hall, wearing an American flag hoodie and a denim jacket, he had no microphone — police wouldn’t allow it — and only a small handful of listeners in a largely empty plaza. Some were chanting.
He said later that “hundreds of people were waiting to get in” and that “the press wasn’t showing the lines.” The police, he said, were “nuking” phone signals; he wasn’t able to give the speech he had prepared; he’ll “keep coming” back.
“Rich, famous celebrities are on their knees disrespecting your flag,” came one of his only audible comments, a reference to the dust-up over President Trump and the NFL and the national anthem, a drama that played out coast-to-coast on Sunday.
Most of what Yiannopoulos said was drowned out by chants, even after he climbed onto a concrete wall, flanked by the anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller, right-wing commentator Mike Cernovich, known for railing against feminists, and another man wearing a T-shirt that read: “Hillary Clinton killed my friends.”
“Our ideas are better!” came Geller’s hoarse voice above the shouts and laughter. “That is why they must silence us!”
Both sides appeared to comprise fewer students than they did middle-aged adults.
“Let’s get a selfie!” Yiannopoulos declared, leaning toward a few fans. Someone else asked for an autograph. He beamed.
And then, in less time than it had taken police to set up the barricades, he was done.
“It’s not about the numbers. It’s about making sure that we’re here,” Yiannopoulos said to a reporter as he and his entourage quickly began moving across the grass toward a barricade, trailed by fans and protesters, shouts and chants. He was never expecting a big crowd at Berkeley, he added.
The group hoisted themselves, one by one, over the orange blocks, joined on the other side by more supporters and more protesters, more TV cameras and reporters, and more police. Then he was in a car that was waiting. The door closed. The police told the crowd to move back.
And then he was gone.
“Wait,” a woman protester said, lowering her sign as a brief silence took hold. “Did he just leave?”
A few hours later, Yiannopoulos sent a statement via text: “I didn’t get to say much. But I’ll be back.” He’ll keep coming “until the university starts treating its conservative students fairly,” he said. “Look forward to two decades of MILO talks and rallies at UC Berkeley.”
Milo Yiannopoulos appearance at UC Berkeley sparks clash of extremes
U.S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has used a private email account to conduct and discuss official White House business dozens of times, his lawyer confirmed Sunday.
Kushner used the private account through his first nine months in government service, even as the president continued to criticize his opponent in the 2016 presidential election, Democrat Hillary Clinton, for her use of a private email account for government business. Kushner several times used his account to exchange news stories and minor reactions or updates with other administration officials.
Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, set up the private account before Donald Trump moved into the White House and Kushner was named a senior adviser to the president in January. Once in the White House, Kushner used his private account for convenience from time to time — especially when he was travelling or using a personal laptop, according to two people familiar with his practice. A person who has reviewed the emails said many were quickly forwarded to his government account and none appear to contain classified information.
Clinton offered a similar explanation in 2015 when it was revealed that she set up a private email account as her exclusive means of email communication when she was secretary of state. Clinton also said she opted for private email “as a matter of convenience.” She insisted that she never shared classified information on her private account or tried to sidestep the federal law that requires that official government communications are preserved. She said nearly all of her communication was stored by the government because she was communicating with other officials on their government accounts.
Kushner’s use of a private account was first reported Sunday by Politico.
Trump repeatedly blasted Clinton during the 2016 campaign for her email practices — and has continued to do so for many months after defeating her in the race to the White House.
“What the prosecutors should be looking at are Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 deleted emails,” Trump said in West Virginia in early August. He made the comment just hours after news broke that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was using a grand jury to investigate the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia.
The president had a similar refrain in mid-July, when his son Donald Trump Jr. faced questions about a meeting he had with a Russian lawyer during the campaign after he was offered incriminating information about Clinton.
“Hillary Clinton can illegally get the questions to the Debate & delete 33,000 emails but my son Don is being scorned by the Fake News Media?” Trump tweeted on July 13.
Kushner’s use of a private account, however, does appear to differ in degree from the former secretary of state and Democratic nominee, according to the descriptions provided Sunday. Kushner and his wife didn’t set up a private server, two people familiar with their email account said. Kushner’s lawyer said his client used official White House email to conduct much of his official government business, and the private email was incidental.
“Fewer than a hundred emails from January through August were either sent to or returned by Mr. Kushner to colleagues in the White House from his personal email account,” Kushner’s lawyer Abbe Lowell said Sunday. “These usually forwarded news articles or political commentary and most often occurred when someone initiated the exchange by sending an email to his personal, rather than his White House, address. All non-personal emails were forwarded to his official address and all have been preserved in any event.”
These dozens of emails typically discussed media stories about the Trump White House, planning for coming events and some reactions and logistics. A person who has reviewed the emails said several contained nothing more than links to news stories.
Lowell declined to answer questions about how it was determined that none of the emails contained classified information. Clinton also claimed none of her emails contained classified information, but later reviews founds hundreds contained secret information and a small handful contained top secret material.
Lowell declined to specify if Kushner routinely forwarded all of his private emails to his government account, but said that all have since been forwarded for preservation.
Kushner’s use of a private account mirrors a broader trend within the Trump White House. He is not alone in communicating about official business over private channels.
Many senior White House officials and others in the administration regularly correspond with journalists about government business on their personal cellphones, as opposed to using their official lines. People familiar with his communications said former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and former senior adviser Stephen Bannon also used private email accounts from time to time, including in their exchanges with Kushner. It’s unclear if these officials forwarded emails to their White House accounts, said one White House official.
Bannon could not be reached for comment Sunday.
William Burck, an attorney for Priebus, declined to comment.
A person familiar with Priebus’ email use said his general practice was to use his White House account but confirmed he used a personal account from time to time, particularly to respond when other people emailed him using the account. This person said such exchanges were rare, but more common at the start of Trump’s term, particularly since Priebus had been using the account during the presidential transition. The account was one he had held for a number of years.
Clinton was the subject of a massive FBI investigation last year that focused on whether she or her aides had mishandled classified information when she set up a private server to handle all of her work discussions on email. Clinton has since blamed her loss of the presidential race on the flawed explanations and hyperbolic reaction to her use of a private email account. She said that then-FBI Director James Comey’s decision to publicly announce he was reviving the investigation in the final days of her campaign battle tipped the election to Trump.
Clinton’s choice to entirely sidestep government emails during her tenure while also using a private server was unprecedented. But Congress has lambasted other government officials who appeared to be trying to shroud their communications from public view. Republicans criticized former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson for using a dummy account name — “Richard Windsor” — on an EPA government email account for some of her personal communications.
They also criticized Jonathan Silver, a Barack Obama appointee to the Energy Department, when one of his emails showed him warning his subordinates amid a discussion of government business: “Don’t ever send an email on doe email with private email addresses. That makes them supoenable.”
The Federal Records Act requires government officials and agencies to create systems and practices so that they preserve all records, memos, correspondence and other documents that detail their government work.
The use of personal email to conduct government business potentially puts those messages beyond the reach of congressional investigators and the media requesting public information. Private accounts can also open security risks if the email service used is lax on password security or doesn’t regularly patch its software — weaknesses that hackers can exploit to gain access.
Jared Kushner used private email account for some White House business, his lawyer admits
Perched on the back of an outward-bound truck in his small African village, then 12-year-old James Madhier wailed as his uncle tried to pull him down, begging the boy not to leave.
Madhier cried tears of frustration at his family members, who could not see a world beyond their farm in what was once the south of Sudan following generations of civil war, who did not understand “the magic of reading.”
“I was looking for a way to actually go to any place where there is school,” he said.
For Madhier and 1,700 other young refugees in the World University Service of Canada’s (WUSC) Student Refugee Program, that place was Canada.
Since its 1978 beginnings, the program has recruited student refugees from 39 countries of origin, promising an opportunity to pursue a post-secondary education at one of 80 partner campuses in Canada and eventually even sponsor their families.
Looking back, the 28-year-old Madhier credits his childhood naiveté for helping him get to where he is today, a fourth-year student at the University of Toronto. But though he’d lived under the ever-present threat of bombings, famine, or being swept up by militiamen, this naiveté also exposed him to unforeseen danger.
The truck Madhier fought his family to travel away on was headed to a camp for demobilizing and rehabilitating child soldiers.
Madhier understood it to be a place of potential, where he may be able to get an education.
However, he then spent about 11 months with thousands of boys affected by war, working to reintegrate into society. Violence was inevitable.
“Some kids ended up being killed in the process. A lot of us contracted diseases, and it became really, really chaotic,” Madhier said. “Most of us where traumatized, and many of us actually joined, officially, the militia groups after that.”
Madhier returned home, and his journey to education eventually led him to Kakuma Refugee Camp in northwestern Kenya.
That’s where he volunteered for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and heard about WUSC.
To qualify, students must be registered refugees and are required to have completed secondary school. Thousands of applicants are processed each year at refugee camps in Kenya, Malawi, Lebanon, and Jordan, the four countries where WUSC currently administers the program.
The non-profit organization selects candidates through a combination of high school grades, a TOEFL English-language test scores, and a panel interview.
This year, 129 students were chosen.
It’s a significant number considering less than one per cent of the world’s refugees have access to higher education, said Jean-Nicolas Beuze, UNHCR Representative in Canada.
“You can see that 130 students being given this chance in Canada is absolutely critical, and it’s something we really hope can be expanded,” Beuze said.
Michelle Manks, the program’s senior manager, said WUSC hopes to accept 300 students per year in the next five years — but WUSC relies on participation from post-secondary institutions to keep its program alive.
For most universities, this money comes out of student fees, and can be as little as 25 cents per student on campus. Students receiving the program’s support are eligible to apply for OSAP to continue funding their education after 12 months.
Back at the refugee camps, program winners are posted on a list for all to see, a tense wait of about two months for Madhier and 92 others in the final round at Kakuma.
“I was nervous, but life has taught me over the years to avoid any heartbreaks, to avoid any hopelessness. You’ve got to create options, even where there are none,” he said. “Even if the option that you will create for yourself is how you will accept the loss.”
After being accepted into the program in 2012, students like Madhier receive a year of language training and classes on Canadian culture. He will graduate from the peace, conflict and justice studies program at U of T’s Munk School of Global Affairs in 2018.
Madhier is also the founder of Rainmaker Enterprise, a non-profit development organization that will bring solar-powered irrigation infrastructure to 20 acres of land in the now-independent South Sudan in January.
He says it’s the first time in history for that area to do any farming during a dry period, and the project has the potential to help rural food security during times of erratic rainfall.
WUSC now trying to expand into more colleges and CEGEP program.
Joseline Nicholas obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics at McMaster and Wilfrid Laurier universities, and now works as an economist for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Her family fled the Rwandan genocide, taking asylum in Malawi’s Dzaleka Refugee Camp in 2000.
“Let me tell you, there are a lot of smart kids in the camp,” the 25-year-old said. “They have what it takes to succeed. They just don’t have the opportunity.”
From refugee to university degree: How a Canadian program is giving refugee students a way out
Steve Murgatroyd can walk up stairs normally, run in the rain and, soon, he’ll be able to ride his motorbike again with his prosthetic leg.
He has an Ottobock X3, an advanced microprocessor leg that uses high-tech sensors to mimic what his nerves and muscles used to do naturally, and it’s the leg he thinks will let him return to frontline service in the Canadian infantry.
For now, he’ll use it to compete in Toronto at the Invictus Games, an eight-day sporting competition for ill and injured armed forces members and veterans from 17 countries.
With 550 athletes competing in 12 sports as diverse as running, swimming, powerlifting and wheelchair rugby, it’s an inspiring display of athleticism and the human drive to overcome adversity.
But, in reality, the hardest thing that Murgatroyd and many of the competitors will do this week is walk to their competition venues.
Regular life, with all its variables — tripping over kids’ toys in the living room, walking on an uneven sidewalk or running to catch the bus — demands much more from a prosthetic leg than sprinting 100 metres down the track.
“It looks fine, minute to minute, but any distance of walking is extremely difficult,” says Murgatroyd, who competes in archery and the precision driving challenge.
It’s a similar story for the co-captain of Canada’s team, Maj. Simon Mailloux, who will swap out his X3 for a running blade when he competes on the track, or plays sitting volleyball without a prosthetic.
That just walking can be hard with a leg that costs $100,000 and looks strong enough to kick a car across the parking lot is not what many people expect to hear.
Top-of-the-line prosthetic devices have come so far — the materials they’re made of and the sophisticated technology embedded within them — that people raised on action movies and science fiction easily leap to the conclusion that they’re as good as, or perhaps even better, than what most of us are born with.
“Kids, especially, they see my leg and they think I’m Iron Man and I can fly and things like that and part of me wants to let them believe that,” Mailloux says with a chuckle.
“Technology will come to a point, I truly believe in my lifetime, where we exceed our capacity, but we’re not there yet. Now, my leg almost does what it used to.”
Prosthetics have come light years from the days of Terry Fox, who used an awkward skip-hop stride during his 1980 run across Canada because of the limitations of his prosthetic leg and old-style mechanical knee.
But the misconception that prosthetics are so advanced that they’re nearing the scenarios played out in Hollywood is something that Gary Sjonnesen deals with all the time. He’s the director of clinical services at the Canadian headquarters of Ottobock, the German-based company that manufactures the X3 and provides technical services at this week’s Invictus Games.
He remembers the controversy around whether South African double amputee Oscar Pistorius had a superhuman advantage because of his carbon-fibre running blades and so shouldn’t have been allowed to run with able-bodied athletes in the 400-metre event at the 2012 London Olympics.
He shakes his head and goes on to explain that a sprinter’s natural foot and leg is far more efficient at storing and transferring energy than any mechanical spring currently in production.
“If we could develop a machine that could give back 250 per cent over what we put in, we’d be millionaires,” Sjonnesen says.
And, closer to home, he overheard his young son telling his friends it didn’t matter if he lost a leg or an arm because his dad could just make him a new one.
At Ottobock’s Burlington facility, with the cupboards and shelves full of titanium and carbon-fibre prosthetic devices that would look at home on the set of a Terminator movie and a lab designing silicone overlays that can match real skin right down to freckles and scars, it’s easy to see why people expect so much.
Sjonnesen picks up a bebionic hand that looks like it could crush steel just by making a fist. It can’t. It also can’t be used to write normally with independent finger movement.
But it’s an enormous advance in prosthetics because, among other things, it can grasp keys to unlock a door and when holding a glass, it knows to tighten the grip as the glass fills and gets heavier.
Those are the sorts of everyday life challenges that upper limb amputees actually face and getting a hand like this one can be life transforming.
It’s the same thing with the X3.
It’s so advanced compared with the mechanical knee that Murgatroyd was first fitted with when he lost his leg two summers ago after a car crashed into his motorcycle that he remembers exactly when he got it: Oct. 26, 2016.
“That’s a day I won’t forget. It makes such a huge difference in everything,” says the infantryman, who works in recruiting in Truro, N.S.
“It makes me feel a bit normal again. I know that leg won’t let me fall down.”
The X3, thanks to its five sensors including a gyroscope and accelerometer, knows exactly where Murgatroyd’s leg is in space and how fast it’s moving. It’s constantly assessing and computing every hundredth of a second so it doesn’t just know where the leg is now, it knows where it should be going and what to do if something goes wrong.
“If something happens that is not anticipated like a stumble then it reacts really quickly to change its function,” Sjonnesen says.
The knee can lock down the hydraulics to increase resistance just like a quad muscle would do to stop a fall.
Murgatroyd hopes to return to frontline service with his prosthetic leg — something that Mailloux has already done.
He lost his leg in Afghanistan in 2007 when his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device. In 2009 he returned there for another tour of duty, becoming the first Canadian soldier with a prosthetic leg to return to frontline service.
It wasn’t easy. Ask Mailloux what is the hardest thing he does with his prosthetic leg and the answer has nothing to do with sport.
“Anything I do in the infantry: walking on uneven ground, walking over a branch or rocks requires my foot not being stuck and trusting that my knee will understand what I’m doing,” says Mailloux, who commands a company of 110 soldiers and 15 armoured vehicles.
“I did the same job, I wasn’t as fast as or as strong as I used to be but the job was done for sure and I had a better understanding of the consequences of our actions and our decisions.”
The X3, the original version of which was developed in collaboration with the U.S. military, is waterproof and comes with programmable modes for activities such as running, biking and golf.
But, overall, the biggest advance with microprocessor knees and the reason they were designed in the first place is that they reduce falls — the biggest problem for amputees.
In a 12-month period, about 4 per cent of able-bodied people will fall; it’s 66 per cent for amputees, Sjonnesen says.
That’s a big deal because the vast majority of amputees bare little resemblance to the competitors at the Invictus Games or the even more elite athletes who compete in the Paralympics.
“They’re the ones that get the press and it’s good to expose people to it,” Sjonnesen says of the educational benefit of para sport.
“It does create some misconceptions mind you (because) 80 per cent of amputees are diabetics and they’re just trying to live day-to-day in their house,” he says.
“The other thing that really drives me nuts is when I’m talking to funding agencies or even lay people and they talk about X3 and say, ‘Well, that’s a Cadillac or Mercedes,’ No. it’s not. It might be a bicycle compared to what they lost.”
Top-of-the-line prosthetic devices have improved by leaps and bounds
BERLIN—German Chancellor Angela Merkel won a fourth term Sunday, but now faces the tricky prospect of forming a coalition with two disparate new partners after voters weakened her conservatives and a nationalist, anti-migrant party surged into parliament.
Merkel’s centre-left challenger, Martin Schulz, conceded that his Social Democrats had suffered a “crushing election defeat,” with projections showing the party’s worst performance in post-Second World War Germany.
He vowed to take his party, the junior partner in Merkel’s outgoing “grand coalition” of Germany’s traditionally dominant parties, into opposition.
“We have a mandate to form a new government, and no government can be formed against us,” Merkel told cheering supporters. She added that it wasn’t a “matter of course” to finish first after 12 years in power, and that the past four years were “extremely challenging.”
Stressing that “we live in stormy times” internationally, she declared: “I have the intention of achieving a stable government in Germany.”
The biggest winner was the four-year-old Alternative for Germany, or AfD. It finished third after a campaign that centred on shrill criticism of Merkel and her decision in 2015 to allow large numbers of migrants into Germany, but also harnessed wider discontent with established politicians.
One of AfD’s leaders, Alice Weidel, said it will provide “constructive opposition.” But co-leader Alexander Gauland struck a harsher tone, vowing that “we will take our country back” and promising to “chase” Merkel.
Final results released shortly before 10 p.m. Eastern Time on Sunday showed Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and their Bavaria-only allies, the Christian Social Union, winning 33 per cent of the vote — down from 41.5 per cent four years ago. It was one of their weakest postwar showings.
Schulz’s Social Democrats were trailing far behind, with 20.5 per cent support, down from 25.7 per cent in 2013 and undercutting their previous postwar low of 23 per cent eight years ago.
AfD won 12.6 per cent of the vote. It was followed by the election’s other big winner — the pro-business Free Democratic Party, which returned to parliament after a four-year break with 10.7 per cent.
The Free Democrats were Merkel’s coalition partners in her second-term government from 2009-2013, but lost all their seats four years ago.
“In a country that is big on schadenfreude, our comeback is an encouraging message — after failure, a new beginning is possible,” party leader Christian Lindner told supporters.
The Left Party and the traditionally left-leaning Greens won about 9 per cent support each, completing a parliament that now has six caucuses rather than the previous four.
All mainstream parties have ruled out working with AfD and Merkel’s conservatives won’t form a coalition with the Left Party.
That means two politically plausible governments are mathematically feasible: continuing the “grand coalition” or a combination of Merkel’s Union bloc, the Free Democrats and Greens.
That alliance is known as a “Jamaica” coalition because the parties’ colours match those of the Caribbean nation’s flag. It has been tried, with mixed results, in state governments but never in a national government.
The Social Democrats were adamant Sunday night that they wouldn’t continue to serve under Merkel.
“It is completely clear that the role the voters have given us is as the opposition,” Schulz said.
Referring to AfD’s third-place finish, he said “there cannot be a far-right party leading the opposition in Germany.”
Cobbling together a “Jamaica” coalition is likely to be time-consuming. The Free Democrats and Greens are traditional rivals. Four years ago, Merkel’s conservatives and the Greens held exploratory talks on a two-party coalition but they came to nothing.
The underwhelming result also looks set to reignite pressure within Merkel’s bloc for a tougher conservative image. Bavarian Governor Horst Seehofer, who feuded with Merkel over the migrant influx before putting aside their differences this year, said the outcome showed that the conservatives need to close “an open flank to the right.”
“We can’t just ignore these 13 per cent or more for AfD in a national parliament with international significance,” said Reiner Haseloff, the conservative governor of eastern Saxony-Anhalt state, where AfD is strong.
“We need an answer — there must be no democratic alternative to our right,” he added. “As long as it is there, we haven’t completely done our homework.”
AfD is the first party to the right of the conservatives to enter parliament in 60 years.
Merkel pledged a “thorough analysis, because we want to win back AfD voters by solving problems, by taking account of their concerns and fears, and above all with good policies.”
Outside AfD’s election party in Berlin after the results were announced, at least 500 protesters shouted “all Berlin hates the AfD,” “Nazi pigs,” and other slogans, while several protesters threw bottles as police kept them away from the building.
Similar protests broke out in Cologne, Hamburg and Frankfurt but police said they were mostly peaceful.
Major Jewish groups expressed dismay at the AfD’s showing, with the World Jewish Congress calling the party “a disgraceful reactionary movement which recalls the worst of Germany’s past.”
Mainstream parties’ leaders vowed a robust response to AfD’s entry into parliament. Greens co-leader Katrin Goering-Eckardt told supporters: “there will again be Nazis sitting in parliament.”
“We will not let one single attack on German democracy stand,” she said, to applause.
AfD leaders dismissed such talk. Asked by The Associated Press what signal the vote sends internationally, chairman Joerg Meuthen said: “That there is conservative politics in Germany again. And that there are patriots in the German parliament again.”
“I want to emphasize that there is absolutely no risk of extreme right politics in the German parliament,” he said.
Fellow European right-wing populists hailed AfD’s performance. The Netherlands’ Geert Wilders wrote on Twitter: “The message is clear. We are no Islamic nations.”
“Bravo to our allies from AfD for this historic score!” tweeted Marine Le Pen, the runner-up in France’s presidential election. “It’s a new symbol of the awakening of the peoples of Europe.”
Angela Merkel wins fourth term in German election
It looked like Florida at spring break on Sunday as hundreds took to the water or basked in the sun at Woodbine Beach, enjoying record-breaking fall temperatures.
The eastern Toronto beach was crowded with people and umbrellas and on the boardwalk, to entertain them all, was soprano sax player Bernie Blue, who said he was enjoying the weather despite being a bit overdressed for the day, in a shirt and long pants held up by red suspenders.
“I love being by the lake,” said Blue, a semi-professional musician. “It’s the most pleasant place to play.”
By 3 p.m., the mercury hit 32C at Pearson airport, beating the record high for September 24 of 30.8 C set in 2010. (Further north at Buttonville Airport the temperature had already reached 33C.)
The normal high for this time of the year is 19 or 20C, but a slow-moving high-pressure system over Southern Ontario is causing the warmth, says Weiqing Zhang, a severe weather meteorologist with Environment Canada.
A heat warning was in effect for a swath of Ontario from Ottawa across the GTA and down to Windsor thanks to the system, which is expected to move out by Thursday and be replaced by more seasonal temperatures. And while the heat can be oppressive or even dangerous for some, on the waterfront downtown, it wasn’t deterring book lovers from attending the annual Word on the Street festival at Harbourfront Centre.
All the chairs were filled in the Toronto Star tent, where Linda Barnard and Peter Howell were dishing on what can happen at TIFF, with Barnard recalling Nick Nolte walking down Bay St. in his bathrobe. Author and restaurateur Jen Agg, who wrote the autobiography I Hear She’s a Real Bitch, was addressing a full audience in the Toronto Book Awards tent.
“There seems to be a lot more people out today than in the last two years,” said Rupert McNally, who was sweating in the shade of the tent for Ben McNally Books, the Yonge St. bookstore founded by his father Ben. Meanwhile, a block east of Harbourfront, Kim Crossley handed out flyers for Toronto Harbour Water Taxi, which already had a long queue of people willing to pay $10 to go across to the island.
“It’s like summer all over again,” she said.
Heat-seekers head for shore as Toronto makes most of record high
Go on, twist his arm.
Wrench it up nice and tight, where the emotional scapula lies.
Make Jose Bautista’s eyes leak.
And they did, oh yes, because those weren’t just sweat beads on his lashes after the game Sunday, once finally he’d removed the wraparound shades.
It was the crescendo, the climax, of a heartfelt week, after Bautista had steadfastly refused to go with the sentimental flow. Because he’s still a Blue Jay, for at least six more games, and maybe come next Sunday we’ll be doing this all again. But not at the ballpark the swaggering slugger has called home for the past decade.
So it was time for the fans to say goodbye, those who sold out the Rogers Centre Sunday for a team 18.5 games back of the American League East-leading Red Sox, a club that has never been out of last place in 2017.
Even before the first pitch was thrown it became clear this was going to be Joey Bats Day, with small poignancies and larger public displays of affection.
The way his teammates had connived to let him take the field alone, rest of the Blue Jays holding back on the steps of the dugout as Bautista trotted unknowingly to his regular spot in right field.
“I wasn’t initially (aware) but then I kind of took a peek back and I noticed,” No. 19 would say later. “But I just kept going because I didn’t know what else to do.’’
We wanted our chunk of soulful exhibitionism, for Bautista to expose his inner self. And we, they — his teammates most especially — wanted to show that they honoured him.
From starter Marcus Stroman donning Bautista’s predominantly black 2010 jersey to play catch in the outfield before warming up in the ’pen — a historical article, plucked from a display cabinet.
“I had seen a highlight of him hitting his 50th homer off of Felix (Hernandez) back when they used to wear the black jerseys,” Stroman — who, by the by, racked up his career-high 13th W in Sunday’s 9-5 thumping of the Yankees — explained. “I wanted to warm up in it. I told one of the clubbies, Moose, to go hunt it.
“It’s authenticated. They took it out of a showcase and let me wear it,” added the pitching ace, who also took the mound to Bautista’s walk-up music, “Trophies.”
Just a small grace note. And there were many.
Bautista, not entirely comfortable with the adulation that came raining down around his head, doffed his cap to the crowd, for the first time on this afternoon, but not the last.
Every time he stood in the batter’s box, the cheering cranked up and the audience rose to its feet, the familiar JOSE cheer sweeping around the park, like an auditory wave.
Not a bad day at the plate either, which likely counts the most for Bautista, snapping out of an 0-for-18 slump with a pair of singles, a walk, a run, an RBI and a disputed out at the dish when he was sent home in the fourth inning. Video review confirmed he’d been tagged. But a bit of controversy was fitting in what was likely — everybody says so — Bautista’s final home game in a Blue Jays uniform.
We wanted more, of course. We’ve always wanted more from Bautista — something memorable, evoking the game-changer he once was before this season of discontent for himself and for the club. A bases-loaded jack over the left-field wall — that would have been perfect. But a single had to suffice.
Manager John Gibbons appreciated the sense of occasion. So he removed Bautista with one out in the bottom of the ninth, replacing him with Ezequiel Carrera, precisely to give him that exit montage in the sun.
On his way in, Bautista hugged just about every teammate as Roberto Osuna stepped away from the bump. Another doff of the cap, a modest gesture for the crowd. But the skipper pushed him out again for a curtain call.
When the lovely Hazel Mae from Sportsnet corralled Bautista for a live interview immediately after the game, urged him to say something from the heart, he lost his composure briefly, ducking his head and mumbling he just couldn’t, not yet. A man who has always worn his heart on his sleeve, eschewing robotics even when it might have been wiser to still his tongue, seemed frozen by emotional stage fright. Or maybe, more accurately, he didn’t want to rip himself open for the camera.
Later still — much later, because that’s his M.O. — Bautista kept the media waiting and waiting in the clubhouse, until nearly all his teammates had finished packing up their dolls and dishes, since most will not be heading back this way when the season is over.
Good, this reporter thought. Be prickly. Be high-handed. Don’t let the pith of you be mutated by cheap sentimentality. Don’t give a bloody inch. Be Bautista.
He was gracious. And, from this corner of the media universe, he always has been.
“A lot of good emotions,” he said, when asked to articulate the torrent of feelings he’d experienced on this day. “It’s good to be recognized and it’s good to feel the love. So I appreciate everything that happened today.”
For the first time, he directly addressed the reality of his situation, that his days as a Jay are drawing to a close. “It is a possibility that I might not be coming back. I guess those decisions will be made when they are and we’ll see what happens.”
Yet on an afternoon when Bautista lifted his batting average out of a franchise-low nether region — though it should be noted his 22 home runs equal last year’s production; he’s no long-ball sad-sack even amidst these terrible offensive numbers — it was so palpably apparent how much he longs to return, if the Jays would pick up his option.
“I know that I want to come back. I’ve always been clear about that. That’s not going to change. I’ve said it before — I’d be stupid not to. But other than that I can’t really control anything else. Time will tell.”
We continued to prod and poke. Come on Jose, give it up, with pathos preferably.
Except Bautista, a proud Latin male, doesn’t do pathos.
“A lot of feelings. It’s hard to narrow it down. A lot of things that go through your head quickly, at that moment,” he acknowledged of the stirring homage from the fans. “I don’t quite remember all the things that I was thinking. It was kind of a blur to me, but I enjoyed it.”
The moments. His moments.
“Today, yeah, they kind of crept in and out of my mind. It was, I guess, fitting given the environment that was at the stadium today.”
Here’s another moment which for many passed unnoticed. In that eighth inning, as the Jays took the field, Bautista stopped to have a few private words with Teoscar Hernandez, the 24-year-old who might replace him in right field next year. Hernandez, a fellow Dominican, had blasted his third home run in three consecutive days. But he’d struck out to end the seventh with Russell Martin standing on third.
“He just told me that it’s okay after I struck out. That there was nothing to worry about.”
That too is Bautista, a player who would want to set a young teammate’s mind at ease.
And what Hernandez accomplished over the weekend — three jacks, three games in a row — Bautista has done 10 times.
Hernandez, who was 14 years old when he first saw Bautista play winter ball in Santo Domingo, smiled: “He’s done a lot of things in a row.”
Bautista would probably like to say goodbye just the once, if ever. But however reluctantly, even awkwardly, he did step out of the dugout for that bittersweet farewell.
“I think the fans were expecting it. And you’ve got to give them what they want.”
Joey Bats makes graceful exit from Jays’ home base: DiManno
OTTAWA—Canada’s lead NAFTA negotiator doesn’t expect the United States to make demands for the dairy sector during the third round of talks this week, and said American officials still haven’t proposed changes to some of the thorniest issues of the agreement, including on car manufacturing and dispute resolution mechanisms.
Steve Verheul, chief trade negotiator with Global Affairs, said there is still “plenty to work with for the time being” but stopped short of expressing confidence that the shared goal of a new deal by the end of the year can be met.
“We’ll make good progress for the next few rounds, I think. But the endgame is always the hardest part, and impossible to predict,” he told reporters Sunday afternoon, as Ottawa hosted the third round of talks on the 23-year-old trade deal between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.
“As in any negotiation, there are moments when things get a little heated, but for the most part, I’d say it’s quite constructive,” Verheul said. “We’re making good, solid progress.”
The U.S. government signalled this week that one of its top priorities in the agreement is to increase the rules-of-origin for auto parts — essentially pushing to get more American content in the components of cars made in North America. U.S. President Donald Trump has also criticized Canada’s supply management system that protects its domestic dairy industry, which Ottawa has vowed to support, while the American government stated this summer that one of its goals is to ditch the Chapter 19 dispute panel from NAFTA.
Yet so far, U.S. negotiators have not made specific demands in those areas at the negotiating table, Verheul said.
“We have made a detailed proposal on Chapter 19; we have not seen a U.S. proposal,” Verheul said. One of Canada’s priorities is to preserve that chapter, which dictates how disputes between the trading partners are resolved.
Verheul added that of the 28 negotiating groups working on areas of the agreement, there are a “couple” that could be resolved before the third round of negotiations wraps up on Wednesday, but he would not specify which ones.
The lack of specificity from the U.S. in key areas for Canada had union leaders on the sidelines of the talks accusing the Americans of not taking the renegotiations seriously. For the second day in a row, Jerry Dias, the president of Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, predicted the talks would fall apart in the coming weeks, with Canada and Mexico walking away from an intransigent American administration.
“It looks as if the tactics (for the U.S.) are: We’re the big player and we’re going to force the agenda and if you don’t like it, too bad. So my guess is that everybody walks away,” Dias said.
“You can go through the charade and see how this thing unfolds, and I believe everybody has to do that, but I’m not expecting anything meaningful by any stretch of the imagination.
“This is a political discussion, not an economic discussion.”
Christopher Monette, director of public affairs for Teamsters Canada, called on the U.S. to engage more seriously with Ottawa’s proposals to bring tougher labour standards into the 23-year-old trade deal.
“The Canadian government is not kidding around in terms of their labour proposals. This is strong stuff that our union both in Canada and the United States strongly supports. We think this needs to be taken more seriously by American negotiators,” Monette said.
Trump has repeatedly threatened to drop out of NAFTA, citing concern about American trade deficits and the loss of manufacturing jobs in his country. Trump has also predicted the renegotiation will fail to produce a new deal, while officials from Canada and Mexico have stated that it is still early in the process that continues in Ottawa until Wednesday, before returning to the U.S. for a scheduled fourth round of talks.
“We’re just starting,” Kenneth Smith Ramos, the lead Mexican negotiator, told reporters here on Saturday.
The agenda for the third round of negotiations, which was obtained by the Star this week, showed that negotiators were scheduled to talk about customs, digital trade, the environment, government procurement, state-owned enterprises and other issues on Sunday.
Key points surrounding the Ottawa round of negotiations include the American demand to change NAFTA’s rules-of-origin component, which dictates how much of certain products must be made in North America to qualify for free trade under the deal. The U.S. has signalled that it wants more American-made content in auto parts, though it has yet to say exactly by how much.
The current North American content rules for auto parts under NAFTA is 62.5 per cent.
Dias, whose union represents autoworkers in Canada, said Sunday that he’s not against raising rules-of-origin in that industry, but cautioned that doing so without bringing tougher labour standards into a new NAFTA could simply mean more manufacturing jobs leave Canada for lower-wage jurisdictions in the U.S. and Mexico.
“There won’t be a trade deal unless Mexico takes Canada’s proposals on elevating the standard of living for Mexican workers in a very serious way,” he said.
He added that despite his doomsaying on the prospects of the renegotiation, he has faith in Canada’s negotiating team and said he’s more hopeful that a deal can be reached sometime next spring, once the U.S. begins to put proposals on the table and is willing to compromise with its NAFTA partners ahead of elections in Mexico and the U.S. next year.
“Ultimately, the U.S. business community is going to need what Canada has to offer. We’re in a very good position, so we should make sure that we carve a deal that’s in the best interest of Canadians,” Dias said.
Canada’s Liberal government has proposed bringing labour and environmental agreements between the three countries, which are currently side deals to NAFTA, into the main body of the accord. Ottawa has also called for an updated NAFTA to be a “progressive” deal with chapters on Indigenous Peoples and gender rights, while reserving the right to pass regulations “in the public interest.”
That last bit is why Rob Cunningham, a lawyer for the Canadian Cancer Society, was on hand Sunday to tout his demand that tobacco products be exempted from the trade deal. That would prevent cigarette companies from using NAFTA to challenge Canada’s health laws as a barrier to fair competition, he said — something that was first threatened in 1994 when Ottawa floated the idea of plain cigarette packaging.
He said Canada should push hard to drop tobacco products from the deal, to protect the government’s ability to pass health regulations for cigarettes and other tobacco goods.
“There’s a very strong case to do this exemption,” he said, pointing out that Canada, the U.S. and Mexico agreed to cut tobacco out of the now-stalled Trans Pacific Partnership agreement.
“It’s not like this is an economic protection measure. It’s an absolutely pure health measure.”
With files from Tonda MacCharles
Canada’s top NAFTA negotiator says U.S. hasn’t proposed changes to thorny issues
WASHINGTON—Citizens of eight countries, including North Korea and Venezuela, will face new restrictions on entry to the U.S. under a proclamation signed by President Donald Trump on Sunday that will replace his expiring travel ban.
The new rules, which will impact the citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen, will go into effect on Oct. 18.
The restrictions range from an indefinite ban on visas for citizens of countries like Syria to more targeted restrictions. A suspension of non-immigrant visas to citizens for Venezuela, for instance, will apply only to certain government officials and their immediate families.
The announcement comes the same day as Trump’s temporary ban on visitors from six Muslim-majority countries was set to expire 90 days after it went into effect. That ban had barred citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen who lack a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” from entering the U.S. Only one of those countries, Sudan, will no longer be subject to travel restrictions.
“Making America Safe is my number one priority. We will not admit those into our country we cannot safely vet,” Trump tweeted late Sunday after the new policy was announced.
Unlike the first iteration of Trump’s travel ban, which sparked chaos at airports across the country and a flurry of legal challenges, officials stressed they had been working for months on the new rules, in collaboration with various agencies and in conversation with foreign governments.
To limit confusion, valid visas would not be revoked as a result of the proclamation. The order also permits, but does not guarantee, case-by-case waivers for citizens of the affected countries who meet certain criteria.
That includes: having previously worked or studied in the U.S. for a lengthy and continuous period of time activity; having previously established “significant contacts” in the U.S.; and having “significant business or professional obligations” in the U.S. Still, officials acknowledged the waiver restrictions were narrower than the exemptions for people with bona fide ties to the United States that he Supreme Court mandated.
The restrictions are targeted at countries that the Department of Homeland Security says fail to share sufficient information with the U.S. or haven’t taken necessary security precautions.
Over the course of the last three months, DHS worked to developed new security baselines, which includes factors such as whether countries issue electronic passports with biometric information, report lost or stolen passports to INTERPOL, and share information about travellers’ terror-related and criminal histories. The U.S. then shared those benchmarks with every country in the world and gave them 50 days to comply.
A total of sixteen countries did not comply with the rules at first, officials said, but half worked with the U.S. to improve their information-sharing and security practices. The remaining eight are now subject to the new restrictions until they are deemed in compliance.
The includes a suspension of all immigrants visas for nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Yemen and Somalia, and the suspension of non-immigrant visas, such as for business and tourism, to nationals of Chad, Libya, North Korea, Syria and Yemen.
Citizens of Iran will not be eligible for tourism and business visas, but remain eligible for student and cultural exchange visas if they undergo additional scrutiny. Such additional scrutiny will also be required for Somali citizens applying for all non-immigrant visas.
Trump last week called for a “tougher” travel ban after a bomb partially exploded on a London subway.
“The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific-but stupidly, that would not be politically correct!” he tweeted.
Critics have accused Trump of overstepping his legal authority and violating the U.S. Constitution’s protections against religious bias each time he has ordered new travel restrictions.
And the inclusion of Venezuela and North Korea appeared to be an attempt to block challenges from advocacy groups and others who have called the restrictions a ban on Muslims. Trump during his campaign called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
The U.S. had already imposed wide-ranging sanctions on certain high-ranking Venezuelan government officials to protest the government’s attempts to consulate power. The new visa sanctions will apply to all officials from five Venezuelan government security agencies and their immediate families.
But officials argue the measures as necessary to keep Americans safe.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement the president was carrying out his duty to protect the American people. He said the State Department would co-ordinate with other federal agencies to implement the measures in “an orderly manner” and would” continue to work closely with our allies and partners who share our commitment to national and global security.”
The new policy could also complicate the Supreme Court’s review of the order, which is scheduled for argument next month.
Trump announces new restrictions as 90-day travel ban expires
Sports, like everything else, lives in the world. It can be tempting to believe sports is a shiny, ridiculous bubble of wins and losses and dingers and dunks. It’s like closing your curtains and pretending the stadium down the road was built by magic. It’s one of many comforting illusions. Stick, as they say, to sports.
And then Sunday the sports world found itself more enmeshed with politics and protest than at any point in modern history. A little over one year ago then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during the American national anthem before a pre-season game to protest against systemic racism in the United States. Nobody even noticed at first. He kept kneeling. He left the 49ers after last season, and was not signed by any NFL team. He isn’t a top-10 QB, but he’s being blackballed without shame.
One year later, the argle-bargle-belching president of the United States decided to play to his canker-sore ego and his racism-fuelled base by attacking the athletes of the National Football League and the National Basketball Association, which by sheer and utter coincidence are the two pro sports leagues in North America with the most Black players. At a rally in Alabama — another coincidence! — he called players who kneel to protest during the national anthem “sons of bitches,” and said they should be fired. Then, after Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry said he didn’t want to visit the White House to celebrate their NBA championship, Donald Trump rescinded the invitation. Sunday, on the only Twitter account in the world that may start a nuclear war, he called for a boycott of the NFL.
Suddenly sports hadn’t been this political since Muhammad Ali. LeBron James called Trump, with devastating precision, “U Bum.” Jim Harbaugh, the football coach at Michigan, said, “Read the Constitution.” People across the NFL criticized Trump: Even former coach Rex Ryan, on ESPN, said: “I supported Donald Trump . . . and I’m reading these comments and it’s appalling to me, and I’m sure it’s appalling to almost any citizen in this country. And I apologize for being pissed off, because right away I’m associated with what Donald Trump stands for.”
Ryan was mighty late to the party on this one, but at least there was a party. There were sideline protests and demonstrations during anthems across the NFL, some of which were booed by fans in the stadiums. It had already spread: Saturday night, Oakland A’s rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first MLB player to kneel during an anthem. During the anthem before Game 1 of the WNBA final Sunday, the Los Angeles Sparks stayed in their locker room. In the NFL, anthem performers knelt. It’s a hell of a day when Terry Bradshaw takes time on the Fox NFL pre-game show to explain that the president might not grasp the concept of freedom of speech.
And every piece of it became, thanks to the howling unquenchable ego of the most powerful man in the world, a choice. Seattle and Tennessee stayed in their locker rooms during the anthem, and so did the Pittsburgh Steelers. But Seattle cited “the injustice that plagues people of colour in this country”; Pittsburgh tried to make it about avoiding politics, even as Steelers offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva, a decorated army veteran, left the locker room to stand for the anthem.
“People shouldn’t have to choose,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told CBS. “If a guy wants to go about his normal business and participate in the anthem, he shouldn’t be forced to choose sides. If a guy feels the need to do something, he shouldn’t be separated from his teammate who chooses not to. So we’re not participating today.”
But that’s not how things work anymore. Trump is a human lie detector, revealing what you are, and he divides people as naturally as he breathes. And as much as anything, Trump is a force for white nationalism and white supremacy. You can’t find a middle ground on white supremacy: When you try, there are suddenly very fine people among the KKK and Nazis. As former NFL player Charles Woodson said on ESPN, “This is choose-your-side Sunday. It really is. And what side are you on?”
This is the era of everything is politics, and sports has been pulled into the ever-widening gyre. NASCAR owners threatened to fire drivers who protested during the anthem. The Stanley Cup-winning Pittsburgh Penguins put out a statement that said they would indeed visit the White House and that “any agreement or disagreement with a president’s politics, policies or agenda can be expressed in other ways. However, we very much respect the rights of other individuals and groups to express themselves as they see fit.” It was so mealy-mouthed and tin-eared it could have sung, “If I only had a heart.” Now the Penguins get to stand next to Trump after he trumpets what can now be considered, in the wake of the protests, their support.
It might not seem like it, but Kaepernick didn’t kneel to protest Trump, or the military, or the anthem itself, any more than Gandhi’s hunger strike was about protesting food. Last year, Kaepernick explained himself by saying, “I have great respect for men and women who have fought for this country. I have family, I have friends that have fought for this country . . . they fight for liberty and justice for everyone, and that’s not happening.”
He talked about police brutality, systemic racism, empathy for those who didn’t have his platform. He wasn’t protesting America. He was protesting racism in America. That’s what it was about, and is about, and the real conversation here. Other players joined him, but only a few. And Donald Trump dumped rocket fuel on the spark because that’s the only thing he knows how to do.
Stick to sports, as an idea, was always a childlike fantasy or a disingenuous barb, and it is as dead as it has ever been. That, along with humiliating Chris Christie, might be the only good thing Trump has ever done. Everyone picks a side now. Sports is part of the fight, and there’s no turning back.
Sports is part of the fight against racism, and there’s no turning back: Arthur
OTTAWA—When Malaika was 6, she travelled with her family on an airplane for the first time, on a summer vacation to Somalia to see her aunts, uncles and cousins.
While there, she was rounded up with other girls in the village and taken into a stranger’s living room, where her genitals were cut with a razor blade.
Now in her early 20s and pursuing a post-secondary degree, Malaika, who was born and raised in the Ottawa area, says she was told by family members to not speak about the cutting. For about 15 years she kept the secret.
“I just felt really, really lonely,” she says.
That was until two months ago, when she read Yasmin Mumed’s story, published in the Star. Yasmin is a 24-year-old recent graduate of the University of Guelph who was subjected to female genital mutilation in her native Ethiopia when she was 6. Three years later, she emigrated to Canada.
On a recent day in August, the women met and spoke about their shared experiences and desire to see other girls spared from the same fate.
The Star is not revealing Malaika’s real name and has withheld some details that could identify her. She asked that her identity be concealed because she is not comfortable sharing intimate details publicly. She has also never addressed what happened with her family and is concerned about receiving criticism from her community.
She worried that photographs showing even the colour of her nail polish or the hijab she often wears could offer clues to her identity to those closest to her.
“A lot of women praise the procedure despite its negative health-related side effects,” she says. “I don’t agree with what happened to me or the practice being done to millions of women across the globe. (But) I feel like coming out not agreeing with it would be like siding against my community.”
A continuing Star investigation has revealed the federal government is aware of cases in which Canadian girls have been sent abroad and subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM). The term often used to describe what happens to these children is “vacation cutting.”
There is no reliable data on the prevalence of the problem here, but officials from Global Affairs Canada say “a few thousand” Canadian girls could be at risk, “some of whom will be taken overseas for the procedure,” according to a 2015 internal email obtained by the Star.
Recent evidence also suggests FGM may be happening on Canadian soil, including a report that found two women from a small Muslim sect called the Dawoodi-Bohras who reported being cut here.
Since 1997, it has been illegal in Canada to subject a child to FGM. It is also illegal to remove them from the country for the same purpose.
Although federal government ministers have called the practice “abhorrent and unacceptable,” experts say Canada lags behind other developed countries, like the United Kingdom, which has dedicated charities and government agencies collecting statistics, administering education campaigns and taking other proactive measures, such as programs designed to identify potential victims at the airport.
“It just makes me the most mad,” says Malaika. She is measured and thoughtful with her words.
“There was a possibility for this to not happen to me. It doesn’t mean that just because you were born in a westernized country that it’s not going to happen.”
FGM has no health benefits. It can cause severe bleeding, problems with urination and later cysts, infections, as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths, according to the World Health Organization. It can also deny women sexual pleasure.
It varies from partial removal of the clitoris to its most severe form, a procedure known as infibulation, in which the clitoris and labia are excised and the vulva stitched together, leaving only a small opening.
Today, Malaika remembers little about her cutting.
She knows it happened without any explanation or warning. She remembers only that other girls in the village were coming in and out of a living room in someone’s home, one at a time. She’s blocked out her memory of the procedure, except pain. Afterward, she recalled, the family continued with the vacation as if nothing happened.
She doesn’t know for certain, but she believes her mother did not plan to have her cut before they left. “I think it’s just something in the moment. That it was a pressure thing,” she says. “And maybe other girls . . . were doing it as well, so I guess it would look kind of weird if they didn’t.”
She has never spoken with her father about what happened, and does not know if he is aware.
FGM is known to be practised in 29 countries — most commonly in Africa, but also in other places like Indonesia and India. It is seen by some as a rite of passage into womanhood or a condition of marriage. It occurs in both Islamic and Christian communities, but is largely a cultural tradition that dates back hundreds of years. In many areas, there is huge social pressure on families to have their daughters cut.
When Malaika returned to Canada from her summer vacation, she pushed any memories aside until high school, when students in her class began to learn about and discuss FGM and “how it was done in specific areas in Africa.”
“That’s when I realized it had happened to me,” she says.
“It just made me more sad. I was always saying, ‘Why am I being punished for this?’. . . On my confidence I think it hit the most there because you’re constantly reminded that you’re not like everyone else. This is something that’s going to follow you for the rest of your life.”
In August, around the same time Malaika was working up the courage to confide in a close girlfriend, she found Yasmin’s story in the Star. She read that Yasmin had made some peace with her cutting and that she is now pursuing reconstructive surgery in the United States. Malaika decided to confide in her friend.
“It took my whole life to tell her about it,” she says, adding that her friend encouraged her to reach out to Yasmin, so she could speak with someone who had been through the same thing.
Malaika got in touch with Yasmin on Instagram and the pair connected by phone. Their first conversation lasted more than two hours. About two weeks later, they met, after Yasmin drove, along with two Star journalists, to Ottawa to meet her.
Just talking to Yasmin and “(knowing) there is a way we can move on from this and also help other people deal with it” has been helpful, said Malaika as they chatted on the bank of the Ottawa River, the Parliament buildings in the background. “I felt like someone understood me for the very first time.”
Their stories have striking similarities.
Like Malaika, Yasmin kept her cutting a secret from those closest to her. She, too, buried the memories until her teens, when she started having flashbacks of women holding down her arms and legs, of a brand-new pink embroidered dress her grandmother had bought her covered in blood.
Like Malaika, she felt alone. She searched for services in the Toronto area where she grew up: a support group, specialized health-care professionals, an organization that focuses on FGM. She found nothing and had a negative experience with a local gynecologist, who she says told her she didn’t need reconstructive surgery because she had not been cut enough to cause problems with going to the bathroom or giving birth.
The federal Justice Department recently gave $350,000 to a small Quebec organization to fight FGM in at-risk communities. Other than that, experts say there are few support services available for women living with the physical and psychological effects of FGM, regardless of when and where it happened to them.
Recent data from the province’s Ministry of Health offers a glimpse into the prevalence of women living with the effects — it shows Ontario doctors have performed 308 surgeries to reverse infibulations in the past seven years.
There is no medical procedure in Canada that aims to give women back sensation. Yasmin and Malaika are now pursuing a reconstructive surgery offered by a doctor in California. The surgery, which is controversial because some medical professionals have questioned whether it works, removes the scar tissue from the clitoris and cuts ligaments around it, allowing it to descend, in the hopes of giving the woman back some feeling.
Both are clear about why they want the surgery. They want to make their own decisions with their bodies. They want to try to get something back that was taken away without their consent.
Yasmin, who after much deliberation decided to speak publicly about what happened to her, says she did not do so to demonize her family (her beloved grandmother, who took her to be cut, believed it was what was best for her), but to take the issue out of the shadows.
About a week after her story was published, a man from her Oromo ethnic group recognized her at an Ethiopian restaurant. He’d been carrying around a copy of the Star and pulled it out to show her. He told her he was proud of her for speaking out.
Recently, she received a message from her mother, who read her story and called to say that she supports her and wants to travel with her to California when she gets the surgery.
Yasmin says the main reason she spoke out, though, was to reach young women like Malaika.
“I thought . . . I’m going to do it even if I reach one person,” she says to Malaika as they sit on the river bank. “I was like ‘there is somebody out there like me who grew up here who feels so different than like her peers’ . . . When you reached out to me I was like ‘this is it. This is what I did it for.’ ”
Malaika hopes that by sharing her story, she can do the same.
“I definitely think me reaching out to Yasmin will pave the way for other girls,” she says. “As Yasmin told me, this is not something that defines us.”
Jayme Poisson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (416) 814-2725
This woman was just 6 years old when she was forced to undergo FGM. Now she’s telling her story
NEW YORK—Anthony Weiner’s sexting compulsion cost him his seat in Congress, his shot at becoming New York mayor and his marriage, and may have even denied Hillary Clinton the presidency. On Monday, it cost him his freedom.
Weiner, 53, dropped his head into his hands and wept as a federal judge sentenced him to 21 months behind bars for illicit online contact with a 15-year-old girl, his tears flowing long after the gavel came down on a case he called his “rock bottom.”
As his parents but not his wife looked on in the courtroom, the New York Democrat was given until Nov. 6 to report to prison for misconduct that included getting the North Carolina high school student to strip and touch herself on Skype and Snapchat.
In handing down the sentence, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote cited a need in such a highly publicized case to “make a statement that can protect other minors.”
The judge said Weiner’s habit of exchanging sexually explicit messages and pictures with young women shows a “very strong compulsion” — so strong that “despite two very public disclosures and the destruction of his career on two occasions, he continued with the activity.”
Calling himself “a very sick man for a very long time,” Weiner tearfully apologized to the teen and sought to assure the judge he had finally learned his lesson. He has been undergoing therapy.
“I stand before you because I victimized a young person who deserved better,” he said, adding, “Your Honour, I’m not asking that you trust that my recovery is real. I ask you for the opportunity to prove that it is real.”
Wearing a wedding band, he also spoke of his devotion to the 5-year-old son he has with his wife, Huma Abedin, formerly Clinton’s closest aide. The couple is going through a divorce.
But prosecutor Amanda Kramer urged the judge to give Weiner a significant prison sentence to end his “tragic cycle” of getting caught sexting.
Weiner’s habit led him to resign his House seat in 2011, doomed his 2013 run for mayor, and rocked Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign during the closing days of the race, when FBI agents investigating his contact with the teen came across emails on his laptop between Abedin and Clinton.
That discovery prompted then-FBI Director James Comey to announce in late October 2016 that he was reopening the probe of Clinton’s use of a private computer server.
Two days before Election Day, the FBI declared there was nothing new in the emails. But in a recent interview, Clinton called Comey’s intervention “the determining factor” in her defeat.
Weiner, once he has completed his prison sentence, must undergo internet monitoring and enrol in a sex-offender treatment program. He also was fined $10,000.
After the sentencing was over, he sat crying for several minutes in the courtroom. He left the courthouse without speaking to reporters.
Weiner’s behaviour in all its lurid detail — including his online alias “Carlos Danger” and a selfie of his bulging underwear — turned him and his last name into an irresistible punchline for late-night comics and mortified his wife again and again.
In her new memoir, What Happened, Clinton revealed that Weiner’s wife “looked stricken” and burst into tears upon learning her husband had triggered Comey’s “October surprise.”
“This man is going to be the death of me,” Abedin was quoted as saying.
Weiner attorney Arlo Devlin-Brown said his client probably exchanged thousands of messages with hundreds of women over the years and was communicating with up to 19 women when he encountered the teenager.
He cited the nation’s capacity to forgive, recalling that Weiner, even after resigning from Congress in disgrace, was leading the New York mayoral primary race when new sexting disclosures emerged.
“In America they say there are second acts, but there are no third acts,” the attorney said, “and after that Anthony was finished.”
Anthony Weiner sentenced to 21 months in prison for sexting with teen girl
OTTAWA—Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says no one asked him whether a former U.S. soldier who leaked thousands of classified military documents should be deemed inadmissible to Canada because of her convictions.
But Goodale suggested he’d think hard before overruling a border officer’s decision that saw Chelsea Manning turned away from Canada last week.
“No such request has been made to me with respect to that matter,” Goodale said.
“And, when a Canada Border Services officer has exercised appropriately within their jurisdiction the judgment that they are called upon to make, I don’t interfere in that process in any kind of a light or cavalier manner.”
Manning is a 29-year-old transgender woman who was known as Bradley Manning when she was convicted in 2013 of leaking the trove of classified material.
On Monday, she posted a letter from Canadian immigration officials to her Twitter account that said because she was convicted of offences that are deemed equivalent to treason in Canada, she’s inadmissible to this country for what’s known as “serious criminality.”
The notice Manning posted said she tried to cross at the official border office at Lacolle, Que., on Friday.
Attempts to reach her were not immediately successful, though she told Reuters that she was hoping to travel to Montreal and Vancouver during her visit here.
She did disclose to border officials that she was convicted of charges and released from prison in May.
Manning had been sentenced to serve a 35-year sentence at the maximum-security military facility but as one of his last acts as U.S. president, Barack Obama commuted her sentence to the time she’d served since being arrested in 2010.
Whether she should have been convicted at all was the subject of much debate in the U.S., where some argued that she should be afforded protection as a whistleblower.
Among the materials she was credited with releasing was footage of the death of civilians at the hands of U.S. soldiers in Iraq, files related to prisoners being held in Guantanamo Bay and thousands of diplomatic and state cables that shed new light on international relations.
Manning said she will challenge the Canadian government’s decision during an admissibility hearing before the Immigration and Refugee Board. There are currently extensive delays for hearings with their immigration appeal division thanks to a shortage of judges.
People whose criminal records make them ineligible to enter Canada aren’t necessarily out of luck.
They can apply for what’s known as a “temporary residency permit,” either before trying to enter the country or at the border. To be eligible, the person has to prove that their need to enter or stay in Canada outweighs any risk they might pose to Canadian society.
Whether Manning attempted to apply for such a permit is unknown.
Immigration lawyer Peter Edelmann said either the minister of public safety or immigration could also step into allow her to enter Canada, perhaps on humanitarian grounds.
“Both ministers could make an exception if they wanted,” he said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declined to comment on the case, saying he also wanted further details.
Chelsea Manning denied entry to Canada
North Korea’s top diplomat said Monday that U.S. President Donald Trump’s weekend tweet was a “declaration of war” and North Korea has the right to retaliate by shooting down U.S. bombers, even in international airspace.
It was the latest escalation in a week of undiplomatic exchanges between North Korea and the U.S. during the U.N. General Assembly’s annual ministerial meeting.
Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told reporters that the United Nations and the international community have said in recent days that they didn’t want “the war of words” to turn into “real action.”
But he said that by tweeting that North Korea’s leadership led by Kim Jong Un “won’t be around much longer,” Trump “declared the war on our country.”
Under the U.N. Charter, Ri said, North Korea has the right to self-defence and “every right” to take countermeasures, “including the right to shoot down the United States strategic bombers even when they’re not yet inside the airspace border of our country.”
Hours later, the White House pushed back on Ri’s claim, saying: ‘We have not declared war’ on North Korea. The Trump administration, referring to Trump’s tweet, also clarified it is not seeking to overthrow North Korea’s government.
“We have not declared war on North Korea. Frankly the suggestion of that is absurd,” White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters in Washington. “It’s never appropriate for a country to shoot down another country’s aircraft when it’s over international waters.”
“Our goal is still the same. We continue to seek the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” she said.
Cabinet officials, particularly Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, have insisted the U.S.-led campaign diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea is focused on eliminating the pariah state’s nuclear weapons program, not its totalitarian government.
But the more Trump muddies the picture, the tougher it may become to maintain co-operation with China and Russia, which seek a diplomatic solution to the nuclear crisis and not a new U.S. ally suddenly popping up on their borders. It also risks snuffing out hopes of persuading Kim’s government to enter a negotiation when its survival isn’t assured.
Trump tweeted on Saturday: “Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!” Trump also used the derisive “Rocket Man” reference to Kim in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 19, but this time he added the word “little.”
This was not the first time North Korea has spoken about a declaration of war between the two countries. In July 2016, Pyongyang said U.S. sanctions imposed on Kim were “a declaration of war” against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — the country’s official name — and it made a similar statement after a new round of U.N. sanctions in December. The North Korean leader used the words again Friday.
The foreign minister’s brief statement to a throng of reporters outside his hotel before heading off in a motorcade, reportedly to return home, built on the escalating rhetoric between Kim and Trump.
“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” Trump told world leaders Sept. 19. “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”
Kim responded with the first-ever direct statement from a North Korean leader against a U.S. president, lobbing a string of insults at Trump.
“I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire,” he said, choosing the rarely used word “dotard,” which means an old person who is weak-minded.
“Now that Trump has denied the existence of and insulted me and my country in front of the eyes of the world and made the most ferocious declaration of a war in history that he would destroy the DPRK, we will consider with seriousness exercising of a corresponding, highest level of hardline countermeasure in history,” Kim said.
On Monday, Ri escalated the threat by saying Trump’s weekend claim that North Korea’s leaders would soon be gone “is clearly a declaration of war.”
All U.N. members and the world “should clearly remember that it was the U.S. who first declared war on our country,” the foreign minister said, adding that North Korea now has the right to take countermeasures and retaliate against U.S. bombers.
Ri ended his brief remarks by saying: “The question of who won’t be around much longer will be answered then.”
Military manoeuvers by the U.S. and its allies are adding to tensions along the two Koreas’ heavily militarized border. In a show of might, U.S. bombers and fighter escorts flew Saturday to the farthest point north of the border between North and South Korea by any such American aircraft this century.
A Pentagon spokesman, Army Col. Rob Manning, said Monday that the operation was conducted in international airspace and legally permissible.
The U.S. has a “deep arsenal of military options to provide the president so that he can then decide how he wants to deal with North Korea,” Manning told reporters. “We are prepared to defend ourselves and our allies from an attack and are prepared to use the full range of capabilities at our disposal against the threat from North Korea,”
South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha called for careful management of the tensions to prevent a conflict that would devastate the region.
“It’s very likely that North Korea will conduct further provocations,” Kang said. “Under these circumstances it is imperative that we — Korea and the United States — manage the situation with astuteness and steadfastness in order to prevent further escalation of tensions or any kind of accidental military clashes in the region which can quickly spiral out of control.”
“There cannot be another war in the region,” Kang said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “The consequences would be devastating not just for the Korean Peninsula but for Northeast Asia and indeed the whole international community.”
Kang said North Korea’s nuclear program seems to be at a “tipping point,” approaching the goal of having a nuclear-armed missile that could reach the continental United States.
She voiced South Korean support for the U.S.-led strategy of “maximum pressure” on North Korea as a tool to get Pyongyang to negotiate on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula — not at toppling the North Korean government.
“There is still room for diplomacy,” Kang said, but “time is running out.”
North Korea has repeatedly said it needs a nuclear deterrent because the U.S. intends to invade it.
Ri told the General Assembly on Saturday that North Korea’s recent “ICBM-mountable H-bomb test” was a key step to completing its nuclear force. He called it “a war deterrent for putting an end to nuclear threat of the U.S. and for preventing its military invasion.”
“Our ultimate goal is to establish the balance of power with the U.S.,” he minister said.
The Pentagon said on Saturday that the Air Force had sent B-1B bombers and F-15C fighters over waters north of the Demilitarized Zone that separates the two Koreas, in response to what it called the North Korean government’s “reckless behaviour.”
It was the farthest north “any U.S. fighter or bomber aircraft have flown off North Korea’s coast in the 21st century,” Dana W. White, the Defense Department’s chief spokesperson, said in a statement.
The North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, had said last week, “Now that Trump has denied the existence of and insulted me and my country in front of the eyes of the world and made the most ferocious declaration of a war in history that he would destroy the DPRK, we will consider with seriousness exercising of a corresponding, highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history.”
With files from the New York Times
Donald Trump’s tweet is ‘a declaration of war,’ North Korea says
The TTC has more than $2 billion worth of unfunded projects in its long-term capital plan, and the agency warns if a solution isn’t soon found, the cash crunch will affect service.
According to a new report on the TTC’s 10-year capital budget, over the next decade the transit agency needs to spend $9.24 billion on work that includes state-of-good-repair maintenance, infrastructure upgrades and new vehicles.
Projects totalling $2.27 billion have been designated as not funded.
An additional $420 million worth of work has been identified as “capacity-to-spend” reductions, which means the TTC doesn’t expect to be able to spend the full amount budgeted for certain projects, mostly for logistical reasons.
The 10-year capital plan doesn’t include expansion projects such as the Scarborough subway extension.
TTC CEO Andy Byford acknowledged that the shortfall sounds “scary,” but he asserted the transit agency is “not in a bad place.”
He said the TTC received “clear, unambiguous” direction from the city not to increase TTC spending beyond council’s self-imposed debt-ceiling, which limits the amount the city can borrow to fund long-term projects.
That meant that the TTC had to prioritize some projects over others. Byford said that, while he would welcome additional funding, for the moment, the capital plan succeeds at “protecting things that we feel are most important.”
The report will be debated by the transit agency’s budget committee on Tuesday. The list of unfunded projects includes $111.61 million for work related to installing an automatic train-control signalling system on Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth), $162.14 million for upgrades to fire ventilation systems and $1.93 billion for the purchase of hundreds of new buses, subway cars and streetcars that will be needed.
The TTC is also $69.78 million short on plans to increase the capacity of its subway infrastructure to handle more customers.
“A long term funding strategy needs to be developed with the city by 2020 to avoid potential service impact(s) associated with not proceeding with these required capital investments,” warns the report, prepared by agency finance staff.
Councillor Joe Mihevc (Ward 21 St. Paul’s), who sits on the TTC board, said “not funding the full capital program simply will not do.”
He called on other levels of government to help bridge the gap.
“Public transit is a life blood of our city,” he said. “So we need the partnership of the provincial and federal government to make sure that it is fully funded . . . (in the awareness) that Toronto is growing at a rapid global pace.”
Together the provincial and federal governments account for close to $3 billion in funding under the 10-year capital plan, or just less than one-third of the agency’s total needs.
Even after deferring some projects to future years, the TTC’s 10-year plan would still breach the city’s debt-ceiling by about $97 million.
The relatively small figure is related to a portion of the cost of a new subway maintenance-and-storage facility near Kipling station. The TTC is working with city finance staff to find funding for the project.
Byford said that, while he’s confident the TTC’s capital plan isn’t on perilous financial footing, he’d like to see substantial changes to the current budget process; instead of the TTC seeking council approval for its spending each year, he’d like to set multi-year financial plans that guarantee long-term funding.
“It’s difficult to run a multi-billion-dollar organization not knowing year-on-year what your budget is going to be,” he said.
“It needs to be way more certain than that.”
More than $2 billion in capital projects unfunded: TTC