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    COLUMBUS—Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said President Donald Trump would trigger “a cataclysm’’ if he fires Special Counsel Robert Mueller or pardons himself, even as one of the president’s lawyers said pardons aren’t being discussed.

    Schumer said he can’t imagine his Republican colleagues, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, “just standing by” if Trump moves to dismiss Mueller or pardons himself or someone close to him who’s under investigation.

    “It would be one of the greatest, greatest breaking of rule of law, of traditional democratic norms of what our democracy is about,” Schumer said on ABC’s “This Week’’ on Sunday. “It would cause a cataclysm in Washington.”

    While the president has the constitutional power to grant pardons — though the U.S. Supreme Court probably would have to decide whether he could pardon himself — his legal team isn’t having conversations with him about it, Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s personal attorneys, said on ABC.

    “We’re not researching the issue because the issue of pardons is not on the table,” Sekulow said. “There’s nothing to pardon from.”

    Read more:

    Trump denounces ‘illegal leaks’ in new accounts of his campaign’s contact with Russia

    Trump calls newly commissioned $12.9-billion warship a ‘100,000-ton message to the world’

    Donald Trump said 414 false things in his first six months. Here’s what we’ve learned

    The president and members of his inner circle are facing Congressional and FBI investigations of possible collusion with Russia in its interference with the 2016 presidential election. Mueller is also examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, a person familiar with the probe said.

    Trump suggested in an interview with the New York Times on July 19 that Mueller would cross “a red line’’ if he looked into those issues, and the president mentioned pardons as part of a series of early-morning Twitter posts on Saturday.

    “While all agree the U.S. President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is LEAKS against us,” Trump told his 34.3 million followers on Twitter.

    Anthony Scaramucci, whom Trump named his new communications director on Friday, called the focus on Russia “overblown.’’ He said on “Fox News Sunday’’ that the president brought up the issue of pardons in the Oval Office last week and said that he doesn’t need to use it.

    “There’s nobody around him that has to be pardoned,’’ Scaramucci said. “He was just making the statement about the power of pardons.’’

    Trump “in all likelihood” has the power to pardon himself, but it’s not a good idea, Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

    “In a political sphere, I would caution someone to think about pardoning themselves or family members,” Paul said.

    Trump also has suggested on Twitter that Mueller and members of his legal team have conflicts of interest because of donations to Democratic political candidates — something Scaramucci, daughter Ivanka Trump and the president himself have done in the past.

    Sekulow said while Trump’s legal team is monitoring potential conflicts, it hasn’t raised any with Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who appointed Mueller after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation.

    “We’re going to be constantly evaluating that situation,’’ Sekulow said on ABC. “And if an investigation were to arise and we thought that the conflict was relevant, we would raise it without question.’’

    Only Rosenstein can fire Mueller, and he’s said he won’t do it without “good cause.” So Trump would first have to purge the upper ranks of the Justice Department until he finds someone willing to follow his orders and dismiss the special counsel.

    Trump is “clearly worried” about what Mueller may unearth about the Trump Organization and what’s concerning is “anything that could be held over the president’s head that could influence U.S. policy,” Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation on Sunday.”

    Schiff said he’d also be worried if Trump wants Sessions out so he can name a new attorney general to supervise Mueller’s investigation.

    “If this is part of a longer-term stratagem to define or confine the scope of the Mueller investigation, that would be very concerning,” Schiff said.

    Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine said even if Trump is frustrated by the Russian probe, he should stop talking about the special counsel, Mueller’s staff, or the investigation.

    “I know it’s hard, but he needs to step back and not comment, and let Bob Mueller, who is an individual with the utmost integrity, carry out the investigation and make his determination,” Collins said on CBS.

    Meanwhile, Democratic Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he’s not satisfied with an agreement announced by the panel on July 20.

    It would allow Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to discuss handing over documents and be interviewed by the committee members and staff in private, ahead of a possible public hearing later.

    The panel previously had scheduled a hearing Wednesday and invited Trump Jr., Manafort and other witnesses. Trump Jr. has said he’s willing to testify under oath.

    “I think that they need to be under oath,” Franken said. “And they need to release all the documents.”

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    It’s not Brexit, really, that Brits are talking about down at the pub. It’s the baby.

    Because the life of one very sick infant is a common denominator, a horror that can strike any family. More morally confounding, at least in the moment, than the great befuddlement of disentangling from Europe and how much that’s going to cost.

    Everybody wants what’s best for Charlie Gard. There’s far less agreement on what that might be for the terminally ill 11-month-old at the centre of a power struggle between medical authorities, the baby’s parents, a hospital of tremendous renown, a judge who’s expected to pronounce with the wisdom of Solomon and a platoon of lawyers.

    Though Charlie’s mom and dad weren’t the only parties astonished to discover last week that the barrister who’s speaking for their little boy in front of the bench — appointed to the role by a publicly funded state body that acts in the best interests of children in court cases — is also chair of Compassion in Dying, a sister organization to Dignity in Dying, a charity that advocates to make assisted dying legal in the United Kingdom.

    The conflict of interest is obvious and galling, though few involved in this long-running drama seem to appreciate that fact.

    (As an aside, why do death activists always attach terms like “dignity” to their campaigns? As if death, however messy and agonizing, is ever undignified, except perhaps as a public execution. Even then, the indignity accrues to the state that embraces capital punishment.)

    A private tragedy has turned into Grand Guignol theatre, sloshing beyond the walls of the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London where Charlie is being “treated” — except there’s been no treatment beyond keeping the baby alive on a ventilator while Justice Nicholas Francis considers a last-chance appeal that might persuade the judge to reverse his April decision that life support should be switched off.

    The Pope has weighed in, with a Vatican-owned hospital in Rome offering to take Charlie into its care. U.S. President Donald Trump has said he would help the family if they want to pursue experimental treatment in the U.S. Editorial writers have delicately taken sides, always posited within a framework of compassion and mercy.

    Charlie is allegedly in the terminal stage of mitochondrial depletion syndrome, a gene mutation disorder that affects muscles, organs and the brain. There is no cure and the condition is astronomically rare — only 16 known cases have been recorded, according to the literature.

    This baby, specialists say, cannot see, cannot cry, cannot move, cannot breathe on his own, suffers seizures and is on a low dose of morphine because doctors believe he’s in pain. It’s the pain factor — if true, which nobody can assert unequivocally — that’s most distressing and far more convincing an argument for ending Charlie’s existence than inchoate postulating about quality of life, an issue that rightfully alarms the old, the frail and the severely disabled.

    For Charlie’s parents — indeed, for anybody ever confronted with life-or-death decisions on behalf of a loved one — their son is warm to the touch. They can hold him. They can love him. They can desperately seek experimental treatment, a fragile lifeline that might be available and which could perhaps alleviate some of the symptoms, with a small — maybe 10 per cent — chance of improving brain function.

    The hospital argues that Charlie has already suffered irreversible brain damage and the proposed therapy — Dr. Michio Hirano, professor of neurology at Columbia University Medical Centre examined the baby last week for the first time — would not improve Charlie’s quality of life.

    On Friday, during a procedure before the same judge — he’s said he will reopen the hearing only if presented with compelling new evidence — the hospital’s lawyer revealed that the latest MRI scan made for “sad reading,” information that had not been shared with the parents in advance. Charlie’s mom fled the courtroom in tears; the baby’s father shouted: “Evil!”

    The lawyer apologized. “I didn’t mean to cause distress.”

    It has been nothing but distressful, lo these many months. Charlie’s parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, have lost their battle at every level of the legal process: High Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights.

    More than $1.7 million has been raised via a public funding campaign to help the parents access treatment in the U.S. Meanwhile, the case grows ever more toxic with the hospital complaining on the weekend that its staff and patients are being constantly harassed and death threats have been received. There’s an irony there — indignation over hothead death threats when death, Charlie’s death, is precisely what the hospital has deemed humane.

    The hospital has not been shy about parading its own suffering. But its professed empathy for the suffering parents rings hollow. Most abominably, after the judge sided with the hospital in his April decision, hospital authorities refused the parents’ entreaty that they be allowed to take their baby home to die. They would not permit even that small mercy.

    Charlie’s parents may be grasping at straws. Yet their greater sin, it seems, is a refusal to capitulate to monolithic medical authority and to the state, which has aligned itself with that establishment. It was the hospital that turned to the courts for permission to end the baby’s life. The judge is expected to rule on this last-ditch gambit Tuesday.

    Why such adamant opposition to even the faintest-hope therapy? What does the hospital have to lose? How can what’s “best” for Charlie equal death? There is no best in death.

    Charlie’s case may indeed be hopeless. But the hospital is insisting the baby die on its terms.

    That is insufferable.

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

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    Unless you are a liar, you won’t be able to say you were not warned.

    You cannot plead ignorance to the perennial, century after century cannibalization of Black humanity and dignity in the pursuit of western civilization.

    You cannot say no one told us there is a problem; that the descendants of enslaved Africans are still considered less than human. That even as they walk among us, in Toronto the Good, in the burgeoning suburbs from Burlington to Bowmanville and up to Barrie, an off-duty cop allegedly stopped a young Black man for no apparent reason, fabricated evidence, beat him up and no one in the police chain of command reported it to the agency that investigates police. The cop faced no repercussions until the young Black man’s lawyer reported it. The young Black man was left with several broken bones and an eye that is so badly damaged it will have to be taken out.

    Our Black citizens are:

    • Carded by police – in case there’s some future, maybe, possible, potential indiscretion.

    • Racially-profiled – cause, y’know, they are up to no good. Right?

    • Disengaged and discouraged in the halls of learning.

    • Overlooked in the workplace, their credentials undervalued and competencies discounted.

    • Under-paid, over-worked, over-incarcerated, victims of higher unemployment, poorer health and more likely to be victims of violence.

    • Invisible everywhere except in the bulging tenancy of the prison complex where membership costs as little as smoking a joint, the kind of indiscretion that earns white citizens a shrug of the shoulder, not the long arm of the law.

    These are not the wild musings of Black Lives Matter (BLM) radicals we tolerate for a moment before we tune out and return to a world dominated by the colonizer. (Those European empire builders who traversed the world to “discover” indigenous and established civilizations, capture land, enslave the inhabitants and appropriate their labour for economic gain — all the while denigrating the captured as heathen or not fully human.)

    These are the lived daily experiences of Black folk — our friends and lovers, our teacher and accountant, our surgeon and carpenter and insurance broker. These are the stories laid bare again Wednesday by the latest report, called the Black Experience Project, chronicling Black life in the GTA.

    And, give me a shake, the next generation of Black people in Toronto feel more victimized than the previous one.

    Astonishingly, half of Black youths aged 16 to 24 identify racism as the greatest challenge facing the Black community. These are kids born here. In 2011, for the first time, the majority of young Black adults in the GTA were Canadian-born, outnumbering those born in the islands. But instead of building security on top of their parent’s angst, they report anxiety beyond that of their elders.

    And still you wonder why Black Lives Matter has such resonance.

    Hundreds filled the auditorium of the downtown Y on Wednesday night to receive the report, six years in the making. Black folk interviewed themselves, in depth, 250 questions over two or more hours, each posed to more than 1,500 respondents in the GTA, buttressed by the polling expertise of the Environics Institute.

    Findings? No surprises here. The gathering had a vibe of self-prescribed group therapy where victims comfort each other with nodding heads and sighs that breathe, “the story of my life.”

    Validation is good, one woman said, providing feedback. “Now I know it’s not just me; I’m not crazy,” she said.

    Another summed up the daily toll of racism encountered in a society steeped in the ethos of colonized and colonizer. “It drains you,” she said.

    Then she asked the tough question. “How are you getting this information in front of the people who need to hear — so it’s not just us talking to ourselves, telling us what we already know?”

    Almost 40 years ago when I took pictures and wrote stories for Contrast Newspaper, the parade of headlines had a numbing sameness: Man beaten by police. Mother says school discriminates. Youth says racism kept him from job.

    In the 1980s when I joined with Toronto Star colleague Leslie Papp to examine life in Metro Toronto for Black folk compared with whites, little had changed. In daily interactions large and small, Black folk endured the slings and arrows of outrageous racism.

    In 2002 the Star unleashed its study on racial profiling, Black pain and suffering finally received an official stamp of institutional and scientific approval. No one who was serious could deny the reality anymore. Black people were being targeted, harassed, arrested, imprisoned and victimized at a rate three to four times their white neighbours — not because of wanton crimes but for the same misdemeanor and behavior that left white citizens free of censure.

    When the Star verified in 2010 what Black youths complained about from my Contrast days — that they are systematically watched, targeted, surveilled, had their movements recorded and “carded” as a matter of police policy — one would have thought the jig was up.

    But no, the racism deniers only got bolder and intransigent.

    Police chiefs and mayors and citizens defended the most outrageous violation of the human and civil rights of its Black citizens — in the name of a safety no one could identify or specify.

    I sat at a police services board meeting and watched my mayor support carding — immediately after Black and white citizens begged the board to please, stop, in the name of God or justice. Former metro councillor Bev Salmon was in tears. Former police board member Roy Williams was near depressed. Desmond Cole renounced his journalism credentials and attempted to shame the bastards into doing the right thing. And they sat there unmoved.

    I wept that day — at police headquarters.

    I wept many other nights that year as I watched the systematic de-humanization of Black people, across America and the globe.

    Why do we matter so little?

    Fowzia Duale Virtue, one of the presenters Wednesday night, in a moment of revelation, put her finger on the trigger:

    “I’ve been Black in a lot of places in the world. I’ve lived on four continents, lived in 22 countries” and encountered racism “so overt that I didn’t want to spend another” dollar in that place. And she’s experienced the “refreshing welcome of humanity in places without the history of colonization.”

    Right here, Black response evolved into Black Lives Matter (BLM) — young, accented in Canadian lilt and vocabulary. Where Dudley Laws and Charles Roach and Black Action Defence Committee (BAD-C) once roamed, BLM occupies. The youths seem more strident, more forceful, direct and impatient and radical.

    And some GTA teacher posted or retweeted the sentiment that says BLM is our local terrorist group.

    Dude! You should be ecstatic. The alternative will be unrecognizable — more combustible and radical and urgent and disruptive than the 2017 version of BLM.

    Consider that the majority of young Black adults is now Canadian born. They have more white friends and connections than their immigrant parents. One might expect their reported experiences in Toronto society would leave them with a more hopeful, less victimized existence. Yet this latest report says:

    “Young Black Canadian-born adults are more likely to identify racism as an obstacle they face; more likely to say they experience some forms of unfair treatment because they are Black; and more likely to be adversely affected by these experiences. It appears, therefore, that young Black adults are more impatient with the failure of Canadian society to deliver on the country’s promise of equality.”

    That’s what should bother us. BAD-C leads to BLM. What will BLM morph into, if current conditions persist?

    Carding had to go because it was just too odious. The disrespect so obvious that regular middle-class folk, Black and white, could see its devilish design. But the racism that’s part of our DNA is so much harder to erase.

    Black people have shown they won’t stop pushing for equality. Toronto’s next wave of Black voices will be more urgent, strident, boisterous and radical. You can count on that.

    Malcolm X talked about the ballot or the bullet, even as Martin Luther King marched in non-violent protest. One day, the idea of Black Lives Matter as an incendiary terrorist group will be as absurd as calling the Black Action Defense Committee dangerous. Current requests will pale in the face of future demands.

    “We are just like everyone else,” Virtue said Wednesday, her form steady, poised, articulate and resolute. “We will fight and demand that our humanity is respected and honoured and received.”

    We won’t be able to send these kids home — back to Africa or Jamaica. They are home. What too many of them are telling us — if we open our ears and hearts — is that our beloved Toronto doesn’t feel like home.

    We have been warned.

    Royson James’ column appears weekly.

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    NEW YORK—The New York Times is asking Fox News’ morning show Fox & Friends to apologize for what the newspaper calls a “malicious and inaccurate segment” about the newspaper, intelligence leaks and Daesh that aired Saturday.

    New York Times spokesperson Danielle Rhoades Ha said Sunday that she requested an “on-air apology and tweet.” The paper, she wrote, took issue with a Fox host on the segment saying that Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi “was able to sneak away under the cover of darkness after a New York Times story” in 2015 and a host’s comment that the U.S. government “would have had al-Baghdadi based on the intelligence that we had except someone leaked information to the failing New York Times.”

    The segment referred to comments by a top military official noted in a Friday Fox story. In the Fox story, Gen. Tony Thomas, the head of U.S. Special Operations Command, said his team was “close” to al-Baghdadi after a 2015 raid but the “lead went dead” after it “was leaked in a prominent national newspaper.” The Fox story connected Thomas with the Times, saying that Thomas “appeared to be referring to a New York Times report in June 2015 that detailed how American intelligence agencies had ‘extracted valuable information.’”

    The story was updated online Sunday with a Times statement. Fox & Friends will “provide an updated story to viewers tomorrow morning based on the report,” the company said in a statement emailed by Fox spokesperson Caley Cronin Sunday.

    The Times wrote a story Sunday saying President Donald Trump was wrong when he tweeted Saturday morning that the “failing” New York Times “foiled” a government attempt to kill al-Baghdadi, apparently a reaction to Fox’s story. The Times also pushed back against Fox’s story, noting that the Pentagon issued a news release more than three weeks before the Times article that could have tipped off al-Baghdadi. The paper also said the Pentagon “raised no objections” with it before the 2015 article on the intelligence gleaned from the raid was published.

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    The year Sebastian Commock spent waiting for his refugee hearing was the most “agonizing, frustrating” year of his life.

    “I’m still not fully recovered from that year, and that was just one year,” he said.

    With his own experience of being in limbo behind him, Commock has turned his attention to refugee claimants who’ve been waiting five years — or in some cases more — for hearings to decide whether they can remain in Canada.

    As of March, there were 5,514 so-called “legacy” refugee claimants whose cases haven’t been decided. Their claims were filed before Dec. 15, 2012, which means they aren’t subject to tighter timelines established by the former Conservative government.

    Over the last five years, the Immigration and Refugee Board has worked through more than 26,000 of those claims. More than 13,000 were rejected, almost 8,700 were accepted, and the rest were either abandoned or withdrawn.

    In September, the board’s legacy task force will embark on a two-year process to decide the remaining claims.

    To help support legacy claimants through that process, Commock founded a new advocacy and support group in March. Four months later, the Canadian Legacy Refugee Advocacy and Alliance (CLRAA) is working to support more than 150 legacy claimants. They’ve been able to reach hundreds of others through the 519, an organization that advocates for LGBTQ inclusion, where Commock and another member of the executive committee work.

    While the organization is mostly supporting LGBTQ legacy refugee claimants, the group is open to legacy claimants who have come to Canada for any reason, Commock said.

    Last week, Commock and another member of the CLRAA executive met with the head of the Immigration and Refugee Board’s legacy task force to discuss the upcoming process and get the wheels turning.

    In the next week about 450 legacy claimants will be given a date for their hearings, Commock said. It’s news they’ve been waiting years to hear.

    Though the head of the task force, Gaétan Cousineau, could not agree to offer amnesty to legacy refugees, he did commit to look through the remaining claims to determine if any could be decided based on their paper application, Commock said.

    The Immigration and Refugee Board has an expedited policy which allows claims from Syria, Iraq, Eritrea, Burundi, Egypt, Afghanistan and Yemen to be decided without a hearing and a process to allow certain “straight forward” claims to be addressed through shortened hearings, a spokesperson for the board explained.

    With hearings finally within reach, Commock said the task force is urging legacy claimants to touch base with their lawyers and legal aid.

    Legal aid case files automatically close after three years if no work has been done of them, said Graeme Burk, a communications adviser for Legal Aid Ontario.

    That means any refugee claimants who were relying on legal aid for support through their claims process need to be have their financial eligibility reassessed.

    While Commock reported there is momentum from the legacy task force, Janet Dench, the executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees, remains concerned about the whole process.

    It’s “deeply disappointing” and “grossly unfair” to refugees who have been waiting years for Canada to decide if they can stay, she said.

    The Canadian Council for Refugees, like CLRAA, wanted to see a simplified process, with minimum criteria, that would have allowed refugee claimants to become permanent residents without going through the hearing process.

    “This is a population that has been seriously neglected by the government, which brought into effect a process where they were basically put to the back of the queue.”

    For Lucas, a legacy refugee claimant whose name has been changed to protect his identity, the years of waiting for a hearing have made him question whether he made the right choice in coming to Canada.

    In Saint Lucia, “fear and shame” took over his life. As a gay man, “you’re considered nasty, you’re a nasty person,” he told the Star.

    He was forced to leave his home community when his family was attacked with machetes, but the threats followed him when he moved to a larger centre.

    “I left home every day with fear, fear and shame.”

    Though challenges in Canada aren’t the same, his life hasn’t been easy since he came here.

    “Sometimes honestly I feel like I jumped out of the frying pan into the fire,” he said.

    As a gay person in Canada, he doesn’t feel the same fear and shame that he felt at home, but his unsettled refugee claim means he still can’t be open about it, for fear he may have to return.

    The waiting game has taken on a toll on his professional life as well. His status as a refugee claimant has left him unable to pursue higher education and better job opportunities, he said.

    It’s an emotional roller-coaster Commock knows too well.

    As a gay man in Jamaica, Commock said he faced “shame, ridicule and scorn.” He felt constant fear for his safety.

    “I wanted to be able to live free, express myself, love who I wanted to love, and I wasn’t given that opportunity in Jamaica,” he said.

    So he came to Canada.

    But the uncertainty he faced as he waited for his hearing made his first year here, “the worst year of my life.”

    For those still waiting for certainty, Commock and the rest of the CLRAA executive hope their support can make it a little bit easier.

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    Working out on your period is known to ease PMS and cramps, not to mention help battle fatigue, but many women are put off by the threat of leaks and the uncomfortable nature of wearing tampons or pads while in movement.

    While for decades, tampons and pad makers have touted the protection of their products, there’s been little innovation specifically around gear to keep ladies active during menstruation. But in recent years, there’s been a boom in period panties (underwear designed with additional layers of special fabric to trap menstrual flow) and cotton pads (natural-fabric pads with a Velcro fastener that can be washed out and reused each month).

    And amid this wave of new ways of dealing with periods, a number of companies are rolling out products designed to protect women as they keep active with leak and period-proof sportswear.

    Sport Shorts from Lunapads

    In August, the Vancouver-based company, which has been making period panties since the early ’90s, is rolling out a new line of sport shorts geared at teen girls. If successful, it’ll introduce a similar product for all ages. The shorts are designed to be worn alone or with tampons and pads, and have an absorbent layer to trap up to two tampons worth of menstrual flow. $60 to $80,

    Yoga pants and Dancewear from Dear Kate

    Last year, New York period-panty maker Dear Kate unveiled its first line of yoga pants and followed it up with a pair of dance leotards, launched this past June. The yoga pants are available in a variety of patterns and invite wearers to “go commando,” while the dancewear leotards come in black. Both the pants and leotard have an absorbent gusset that can hold one teaspoon of liquid — usually enough for a short workout. Leggings, $143; Leotard, $65,

    Training shorts from Thinx

    New York period-panty maker Thinx unveiled a newer line of training shorts, ditching the tight-fitting look of so much gym-wear in favour of a pair of baggier traditional-looking health class-inspired shorts. Lined with a pair of its signature undies, the shorts can hold up to two tampons worth of liquid in its four layers of moisture-wicking fabric. $86,

    PantyProp leak proof leggings

    New York-based PantyProp rolled out a pair of leggings that are undies, period protection and gym-wear (or lounge wear) all in one. It can be worn with a pad, tampon, cup or all alone, and will hold up to four teaspoons worth of flow. And with proper care promises to last up to three years. The product is made in the U.S. and ships to Canada with no duty or fees. $66,

    Seamless panties from Knixwear

    Made from a carbon-based cotton, Toronto-based Knixwear bills itself as additional protection against period leaks, founder Joanna Griffiths says. The underwear itself can hold upwards of 15 mL of liquid — roughly two tampons worth — and can be worn with a tampon or pad. The fast-drying cotton makes it ideal for women while they work out, Griffiths adds, while its seamless cut means it can easily be worn under tight-fitting yoga pants. $26 to $32,

    0 0

    Kyle Ashley, Toronto’s famous bike lane guardian, spotted the Canada Post truck veer into a lane on St. George St. The driver spotted the parking enforcement officer.

    “He jumped out of the truck, trampling a garden, and asked me for two minutes to make his delivery. I said, ‘No, this is a bike lane, you should park legally.’ He called me a jerk, got in his vehicle and drove off to avoid the ticket.”

    On Friday, another Canada Post driver on Runnymede St. pleaded in vain for leniency before he told Ashley: “You're a f------ idiot,” said the parking officer. Ashley later lodged a complaint.

    Ashley has seen a lot in the seven weeks since he started focusing exclusively on lane invaders, unleashing $150 tickets as he pedals around town using social media to spread the word that bike lanes are not convenient pull-over shoulders for motorists who have other options that don’t force cyclists into vehicle traffic.

    He estimates up to 90 per cent of his tickets land on the windshields of delivery vehicles including those of courier companies FedEx, Purolator and UPS.

    In his experience, however, Canada Post— the nation’s mail mover, a Crown corporation — is the worst offender.

    “Of all the ones who are still holding out from engaging in the positive behaviours that we’ve started seeing from Beck Taxi, Mister Produce and others, the one that I’m still seeing the most infractions coming from would be Canada Post,” Ashley said early this week.

    “The flagrant disregard for the bike lanes is strongest from them. I don’t know if they think they have impunity because the trucks say Canada Post, or if they just don’t care about the public image or the public safety.”

    Ashley said two Canada Post drivers recently told him they were told it “‘was okay to block the bike lane and get the parking ticket so long as they weren’t in (front of) fire hydrants or (getting) accessible parking tickets.’ That’s obviously not true — I’ve ticketed city vehicles for parking in a bike lane.”

    He advises delivery drivers who can’t find a legal spot to park in an alleyway, as long as they don’t block it, or block a live lane of vehicle traffic if other vehicles can go around it. Cyclists have only one lane.

    Mayor John Tory called a Canada Post manager Wednesday after being asked for comment for this story.

    “I asked if he could help the city by making clear to people that we really can’t have this going on,” Tory said. “He said that, as a result of a media inquiry they had already picked up on this and sent out a note (to drivers) and were taking it very seriously.”

    Ashley said Thursday that, after a couple of days with noticeably fewer bike lane breaches, Canada Post’s numbers had started to rise again.

    Jon Hamilton, a senior Canada Post spokesperson, said in an interview from Ottawa that drivers are instructed to follow the rules of the road and shown photos of parking examples good and bad shared by Ashley and others on social media.

    The postal operator is constantly examining routes and making other changes to cope with the demands of a rapidly growing city and ongoing surge in delivery demand caused by e-commerce, he said.

    “The vast majority of our drivers don’t have issues. They go the extra mile to find a spot,” in Toronto, he said.

    “We are making changes, and we are talking to our drivers, and we expect them to follow the rules of the road.

    “At the same time, there are challenges, and it’s a balance, and there are a lot of people who depend on Canada Post and the work we do so we can’t just make instant changes that have a huge impact on the small businesses that rely on us or the people that have ordered stuff they need, sometimes medicine and things like that.”

    David Turnbull of the Canadian Courier & Logistics AssociationCanadian Courier & Logistics Association, representing members including FedEx and Purolator, blamed the City of Toronto for “dragging its feet” in creating a sufficient number of courier delivery zones so couriers have an alternative to bike lanes.

    “To have commerce in this city, you have to have deliveries,” he said. “I’m as frustrated as any cyclist.”

    One reason companies can treat such tickets as a cost of doing business is the city’s “global resolution” process. Companies with many tickets can get some cancelled, and pay a fraction of the total possible fine, in exchange for not subjecting the city to court costs and proving they were on delivery.

    Tickets that cannot be cancelled under the process include those for parking too close to fire hydrants or in disabled spots.

    The global resolution process will continue after next month when the city expects to move its parking tickets out of the provincial court system and into a city-run administrative penalty system where screening officers will decide which delivery company tickets’ can be cancelled.

    The new system will offer a benefit for keeping bike lanes clear. Drivers who now leave illegal spots before a parking officer can affix the ticket to their vehicle don’t have to pay it. Under the new system, such drivers will receive tickets in the mail and face the same fines.

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    Senator Murray Sinclair, the respected former Chair of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, will lead an investigation into the Thunder Bay Police Services Board.

    The Ontario Civilian Police Commission announced Sinclair’s appointment on Monday. The commission is a quasi-judicial agency that oversees all police boards in the province.

    The commission, in a Monday statement, said it has “serious concerns about the state of civilian police oversight and public confidence in the delivery of police services in Thunder Bay.”

    Specifically, the commission has concerns in the Thunder Bay board’s ability to address matters raised by Indigenous leaders relating to a series of deaths of Indigenous youths and the quality of the investigations into these deaths conducted by the Thunder Bay police.

    The Thunder Bay Police Service is currently under investigation for allegations of “systemic racism” by the civilian watchdog group the Office of the Independent Police Review Director regarding how they handle Indigenous death and disappearance cases in the northern city.

    Thunder Bay leadership has faced a series of crises recently. The commission pointed to public confidence concerns in relation to the recent criminal charges that were laid against the former Thunder Bay Chief of Police J.P. Levesque, who was charged with breach of trust and obstruction of justice on May 23, 2017.

    And last Friday, the Ontario Provincial Police charged Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs, a former police officer, with extortion and obstruction of justice in connection with an investigation into “allegations of criminal wrongdoing that include a municipal official and local resident.”

    Sinclair’s investigation will examine the board’s performance in carrying out its responsibilities to ensure “adequate and effective” police services; he’ll probe the board’s role in determining “objectives and priorities with respect to police services” in Thunder Bay and their role in establishing policies for the effective management of the police.

    The investigation will also examine the board’s role in ensuring that police service in the city complies with the Police Services Act, specifically, “The need to ensure the safety and security of all persons and property in Ontario,” and, “The importance of safeguarding the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Human Rights Code.”

    An interim report will be out on Oct. 31, 2017 and a final report is expected March 31, 2018.

    In May, the deaths of two Indigenous teens heightened racial tensions in the city. Both teens, Tammy Keeash and Josiah Beggs, went missing on the night of May 6.

    Tammy Keeash, a 17-year-old high school student from North Caribou Lake First Nation, failed to make her curfew on that night and her body was discovered on May 7, lying in shallow water.

    Begg, a 14-year-old from Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation, also vanished on May 6. He was in town for medical appointments and he was found dead in the McIntyre River on May 18 after an intensive community search.

    For years, many Indigenous people in the Thunder Bay area have complained about the level of racism they face daily. That tension has heightened after the July 4 death of Barbara Kentner, from Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation. Kentner was hit in the stomach by a metal trailer hitch in January, thrown at her out of a passing car. Her sister, Melissa, who was with her at the time, heard a car occupant say, “I ** got one of them.”

    During a recent eight-month long inquest into the deaths of seven other Indigenous high school students, who died between 2000 and 2011, many youth complained they were subjected to racial taunts, unprovoked assaults and had garbage thrown at them from passing cars.

    Of the seven students whose deaths were investigated during the inquest, five were found in the rivers and of those, three of the deaths were ruled undetermined by the coroner’s jury.

    Indigenous leaders have repeatedly requested something be done about the investigations into Indigenous deaths. They held a news conference at the end of May to say they no longer trust the local police force, and they asked the RCMP to be brought in to investigate the deaths of Keeash, Begg and the unexplained death of 41-year-old Stacy DeBungee, an Indigenous man found in the lake in October 2015.

    Ontario’s Chief Coroner Dr. Dirk Huyer announced last month that York Region police would be brought in to investigate Begg’s and Keeash’s deaths.

    The OPP alleges that Hobbs, 65, his wife, Marisa, and a third person, Mary Voss, 46, attempted to induce a prominent local lawyer “to purchase a house (for Voss), by threats, accusations, or menaces of disclosing criminal allegations to the police, thereby committing extortion,” court documents show.

    Hobbs’ lawyer Brian Greenspan told the Star on Friday that his client denies the charges. Mayor Hobbs and his wife’s obstruction charges are both related to their alleged attempt to interfere with an investigation into an allegation of extortion reported to the RCMP, court documents show. Hobbs is now on a paid leave.

    The charges have not been proven in court. But they are the latest in a series of criminal and civil allegations that not only saw the prominent lawyer, Sandy Zaitzeff, arrested on sexual assault charges late last year but have also drawn in the police chief.

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    MONTREAL—A newborn who was delivered by emergency C-section after its mother was stabbed multiple times died in hospital Monday, police said.

    A 37-year-old man who is the woman’s partner was arrested several hours later, said spokesman Jean-Pierre Brabant.

    Police were called to a home in the city’s Montreal North borough around 2:30 a.m. and found the woman, 33, stabbed multiple times in the upper and lower body.

    The suspect was not at home when police arrived and the victim, who was eight months pregnant, was transported to hospital.

    “The woman is in stable condition,” Brabant said. “Unfortunately the baby did not survive its wounds and was pronounced dead in hospital.”

    Hours after the attack, around noon Monday, the suspect reappeared and approached a police vehicle not far from the scene of the crime.

    “After a brief discussion, he was arrested,” Brabant said.

    The suspect was known to police.

    It was not the police’s first visit to the home.

    Around 10 p.m. Sunday night, officers responded to a domestic violence call at the couple’s residence, Brabant said.

    The woman’s partner was not at home at the time, and their two children were sent to stay with a relative.

    Brabant said the woman didn’t want to leave the home.

    “Police made a report and strongly suggested to the woman to leave the house but she refused,” he said.

    A neighbour said the woman was yelling and knocking at her door at around 2:30 a.m.

    “I opened my door, she was screaming,” said Noella Bernier. “I called 911. She was wounded and there was blood all over her. Blood on her stomach. She was pregnant, she told me she was in her last month.”

    Brabant said police will question the man, with an arraignment likely Tuesday.

    With files from Cogeco Nouvelles

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    LONDON—The parents of Charlie Gard, whose battle to get their critically-ill baby experimental treatment stirred international sympathy and controversy, dropped their legal effort Monday, saying tearfully that it was time to let their son die.

    At an emotional court hearing, a lawyer for the baby’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, said the couple was withdrawing a bid to have Charlie sent to the United States, where a doctor had offered to try to treat his rare genetic condition. The decision came after new medical tests showed the 11-month-old, who has brain damage and cannot breathe unaided, had irreversible muscular damage.

    Both parents wept in the packed courtroom at the High Court in London as lawyer Grant Armstrong made the announcement, his voice breaking.

    “This case is now about time,” Armstrong said. “Sadly, time has run out.”

    Outside court, Chris Gard said that Charlie “won’t make his first birthday in just under two weeks’ time.”

    “We are about to do the hardest thing that we will ever have to do, which is to let our beautiful little Charlie go,” he said.

    Gard and Yates, who are in their 30s and from London, have fought ferociously for their son, who was born in August 2016 with mitochondrial depletion syndrome, a rare genetic disease.

    The baby has been treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, one of the world’s leading children’s hospitals. Doctors there say Charlie is in pain and further treatment would only increase his suffering. They have sought permission from the courts to switch off his life support and allow him to die peacefully. His parents have resisted, arguing that an experimental treatment could extend and improve Charlie’s life.

    The case gained international attention after Charlie’s parents received support from Pope Francis, U.S. President Donald Trump and some members of the U.S. Congress.

    On Monday, the Vatican said Pope Francis was praying for Charlie and his parents, and urged the faithful to join him in prayer so that the baby’s parents “may find God’s consolation and love.

    As the legal battle dragged on, U.S.-based pro-life activists had flown to London to support Charlie’s parents, and the case became a flashpoint for opposing views on health-care funding, medical intervention, the role of the state and the rights of the child.

    Passions have often run high, with activists demanding “justice for Charlie” rallying outside the High Court and Great Ormond Street Hospital. Over the weekend, the hospital said it had contacted police after staff received abuse and threats.

    Read more:

    U.K. hospital insufferable for insisting that baby Charlie Gard die on its terms: DiManno

    Baby Charlie protesters rally as hospital reports threats

    U.K. baby Charlie Gard’s latest brain scans reveal irreversible damage, hospital says

    Charlie’s parents condemned the abuse, and on Monday thanked the hospital for the care it had given their child.

    Some commentators portrayed the case as a clash between family and the state, and U.S. conservatives used it to criticize Britain’s government-funded health care system — even though the case was never about money.

    Judge Nicholas Francis criticized those “who know almost nothing about this case but who feel entitled to express opinions.”

    At its heart, the case pitted the right of parents to decide what’s best for their children against the authorities’ responsibility to uphold the rights of people who can’t speak for themselves.

    Under British law, children have rights independent of their parents, and it is usual for courts to intervene when parents and doctors disagree on the treatment of a child — such as cases where a parent’s religious beliefs prohibit blood transfusions.

    British courts and the European Court of Human Rights all ruled against Charlie’s parents and in favour of Great Ormond Street. The case returned to court this month when the hospital asked the judge to reassess the possible benefits of a treatment pioneered by Dr. Michio Hirano, a neurology expert from Columbia Medical Center in New York.

    At a hearing earlier this month, Hirano said there was a 10 per cent chance of a significant improvement in Charlie’s muscle use with the treatment, known as nucleoside therapy. But he conceded it had never been tried on a human with Charlie’s exact condition and no tests had ever been done on mice to see whether it would work on a patient like Charlie.

    Hirano came to London last week to examine Charlie along with other experts. After seeing the results of new tests, the baby’s parents agreed to drop their case, meaning Charlie’s life support can now be removed.

    But they still believe Charlie could have been saved had months not been spent in legal wrangling about whether he should get treatment.

    “Had Charlie been given the treatment sooner he would have had the potential to be a normal, healthy little boy,” Yates told the court.

    “Our son has an extremely rare disease for which there is no accepted cure, but that does not mean that this treatment would not have worked, and it certainly does not mean that this shouldn’t have been tried.”

    The hospital disagreed. Its lawyer, Katie Gollop, said Charlie had suffered “irreversible neurological damage” and the treatment would have been “futile.” She said the hospital stood by its belief that Charlie was in pain.

    “At the first hearing in Charlie’s case in March, (Great Ormond Street Hospital’s) position was that every day that passed was a day that was not in his best interests,” Gollop said in a written statement. “That remains its view of his welfare.”

    The hospital also criticized Hirano, saying that he had given evidence to court without having read previous judgments or Charlie’s medical records. And it noted that Hirano had told the court that he “retains a financial interest in some of the ... compounds he proposed prescribing for Charlie.”

    Ending a case he called tragic for all involved, the judge paid tribute to Charlie’s parents, saying it was impossible to comprehend the agony they faced.

    “No parent could have done more for their child,” he said.

    Yates cried as she told the court she and Charlie’s father had only wanted the best for their son.

    “We are so sorry that we couldn’t save you,” she said.

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    CRANBROOK, B.C.—Winston Blackmore was making no apologies Monday after he and another former bishop of an isolated religious community in British Columbia were found guilty of practising polygamy.

    “I’m guilty of living my religion and that’s all I’m saying today because I’ve never denied that,” Blackmore told reporters after a judge announced a verdict against him and co-defendant James Oler.

    “Twenty-seven years and tens of millions of dollars later, all we’ve proved is something we’ve never denied,” Blackmore said. “I’ve never denied my faith. This is what we expected.”

    Read more:Long-awaited trial of accused B.C. polygamists Blackmore and Oler begins Tuesday

    Blackmore, 60, was married to Jane Blackmore and then married 24 additional women as part of so-called “celestial” marriages involving residents in the tiny community of Bountiful.

    Oler, 53, had five wives.

    B.C. Supreme Court Justice Sheri Ann Donegan said the “collective force of the evidence” proved the guilt of both men, who were practising members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a breakaway Mormon sect that believes in plural marriage.

    “His adherence to the practices and beliefs of the FLDS is not in dispute,” Donegan said, reading her written ruling in a Cranbrook, B.C., courtroom.

    “Mr. Blackmore ... would not deny his faith in his 2009 statement to police. He spoke openly about his practice of polygamy.”

    Blackmore was shown a list of his alleged wives and made two corrections to the details, Donegan said.

    “Mr. Blackmore confirmed that all of his marriages were celestial marriages in accordance with FLDS rules and practices.”

    Blackmore’s lawyer Blair Suffredine told the court he would launch a constitutional challenge of Canada’s polygamy laws. A hearing date is expected to be set next Monday.

    Blackmore said it’s not religious persecution that bothers him, but that it’s political persecution and he hopes the challenge will bring about change.

    “Twenty-seven years ago adultery was a criminal act. Twenty-seven years ago when they started with us same-sex marriage was criminal,” he said.

    “Those people all successfully launched constitutional challenges on the basic right to freely associate. For us I imagine it will be (that) this is entrenched in our faith and I would have been hugely disappointed if I would have been found not guilty of living my religion.”

    A decades-long legal fight launched by the provincial government led to a 12-day trial earlier this year. It heard from mainstream Mormon experts, law enforcement who worked on the investigation and Jane Blackmore, a former wife of Winston Blackmore who left the community in 2003.

    Oler was self-represented in the trial but had the services of Joe Doyle, appointed to ensure a fair trial, though he could not offer any legal advice.

    Both men’s representation argued against the credibility of evidence related to marriage and personal records seized by police in 2008 from the Yearning for Zion Ranch, an FLDS church compound in Texas. The information pertained to members of the sect in the United States and Canada.

    Doyle said important events related to Oler were missing, such as his client’s elevation to presiding elder in the community in June 2004. He also argued the Crown didn’t prove Oler continuously practised polygamy between 1993 and 2009.

    “I find that the FLDS marriage records are ultimately reliable,” Donegan said before announcing her verdict against Oler.

    “Having concluded the Crown has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that James Oler ... practised a marriage with more than one person at the same time I find Mr. Oler guilty of practising polygamy,” Donegan said.

    Both Blackmore and Oler remain out on bail. Crown spokesman Dan McLaughlin said the maximum sentence for a conviction of polygamy is five years in prison.

    The mainstream Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints officially renounced polygamy in the late 19th century and disputes any connection to the fundamentalist group’s form of Mormonism.

    Blackmore and Oler were charged in 2014 for the second time with practising polygamy, more than two decades after allegations that members of the Bountiful community were involved in multiple marriage, sexual abuse and cross-border child trafficking.

    Uncertainty over whether the Criminal Code section banning polygamy violated religious rights hovered over the case until 2011 when the B.C. Supreme Court ruled the law was constitutional and that polygamy is a crime.

    The constitutional reference case heard that the harms of polygamy outweigh any claims to freedom of religion and include physical and sexual abuse, child brides, the subjugation of women, and the expulsion of young men, the so-called lost boys, who have no women left to marry.

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    A Mississauga man who has been charged with willful promotion of hatred says he’s “not going anywhere,” and that he intends to run for mayor of the city.

    The charges come after “a lengthy investigation into numerous incidents reported to police, involving Kevin Johnston and concerns information published on various social media sites,” Peel police said in a news release Monday.

    Johnston, 45, was released on bail after a brief appearance in court Monday. The conditions of his release included an order to have no contact with three people, whose names are under a publication ban. He was also ordered to stay 100 metres away from any mosque or Muslim community centre in Ontario, except for when travelling on the road.

    Johnston, wearing a blue polo shirt and jeans, sat calmly in court as the details of the case were read in court.

    Outside the courtroom, he was defiant.

    “I’m going to run for mayor against Bonnie Crombie next election,” Johnston said. “She can’t stop me through the courts.”

    Johnston does not have legal counsel yet. He will appear next Sept. 8.

    Johnston has previously ran for mayor, and lost to Mississauga Mayor Crombie in 2014. He is best known for his strong views about the Muslim community, having opposed the construction of a mosque in Meadowvale, offered prize money for videos of students praying on Fridays, and protested against the federal anti-Islamophobia motion, M-103.

    Last year, a story published on the Mississauga Gazette site resulted in Crombie filing a hate-crime complaint with Peel police. It was not immediately clear if that complaint prompted Monday’s charges.

    For police to lay a hate-related criminal charge, a criminal offence must have occurred – such as an assault, damage to property — and hate or bias toward a victim must have motivated the criminal offence.

    At Queen’s Park, Attorney General Yasir Naqvi said the government “takes allegations of hate crime very seriously. Ontario prosecutes these cases vigorously, where there is a reasonable prospect of conviction.

    With files from Robert Benzie

    “In a multicultural and inclusive province like Ontario, the promotion of hatred stands in direct opposition to our fundamental values of equality and diversity. Hate divides people and communities,” Naqvi said Monday.

    The consent of the attorney general is required to lay hate-crime charges.

    Naqvi’s office confirmed he received a formal request from Peel police to lay the charge of willful promotion of hatred.

    “Hate crimes are, by their very nature, serious offences because their impacts can be devastating, spreading from the individual, through the social fabric of our communities and society as a whole,” he said.

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    It’s a public agency that controls a $1-billion operating budget and is in charge of a once-in-a-generation expansion of transit in the GTHA.

    But Metrolinx has a problem — most people don’t know what it does.

    That’s why the provincial organization has embarked on a rebranding effort it hopes will help it connect with the transit-riding public.

    For the past year Metrolinx has been gradually rolling out a new “visual identity” across its divisions. The agency said the new brand will cost $250,000 to research and design.

    Agency spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins said the public’s lack of understanding of Metrolinx’s role is “an ongoing struggle” for the organization.

    Research conducted in 2016 revealed that 47 per cent of GTHA residents didn’t know what Metrolinx was and a majority had a “low understanding of the relationships between Metrolinx” and its numerous divisions.

    “One of the things that branding can do is it can make clear to the public this is what we do. This is what we’re responsible for,” Aikins said.

    Metrolinx’s old circular logo is being replaced with a more austere symbol of intersecting lines. The agency has also ditched its green-and-white colour scheme in favour of a “reduced core colour palette” of black and white, which will be applied to signs, employee uniforms and agency publications.

    Metrolinx says it chose the new simpler colour scheme “to increase clarity of communications” with the public, as well as to comply with accessibility legislation requirements relating to colour blindness.

    The $250,000 cost of the rebrand covers research, brand analysis, design and the creation of a new “identity standards manual,” according to Aikins.

    The figure doesn’t cover the cost of applying the new brand to physical assets such as signs, uniforms and vehicles. Aikins said in order to keep costs down, the new branding will only be applied to Metrolinx’s physical assets as they’re replaced or updated.

    She asserted that the cost of the branding is within industry standards for an organization of Metrolinx’s size.

    At just 11 years old, Metrolinx is relatively young for a makeover. But since the provincial Liberal government created it in 2006 to co-ordinate transit in the GTHA, Metrolinx’s mandate has expanded from what was primarily a planning role to the operation of transit service and the construction of new lines.

    The organization, which reports to the Ontario ministry of transportation, is now responsible for running GO Transit and the Union Pearson Express, as well as overseeing the Presto fare card system used by municipal transit agencies from Hamilton to Ottawa.

    It’s also in charge of constructing Toronto’s $5.3-billion Eglinton Crosstown LRT and the $13.5-billion regional express rail project that will quadruple the capacity of GO rail lines.

    Aikins said deploying a new brand across all its divisions will impress on the public that all these different projects are connected under the Metrolinx umbrella and will signal the agency’s expanded role.

    Many of the changes will be subtle and unlikely to be noticed by customers. Some imagery, like the green-and-white livery of GO Transit vehicles, won’t change significantly. Presto cards are being redesigned however.

    Metrolinx has come under fire in the past for using public funds to burnish its image, including spending $40,000 to have a fashion designer draw up plans for Union Pearson Express uniforms.

    But Alan Middleton, assistant professor of marketing at York University’s Schulich School of Business, said having a strong brand is important to the transit agency’s success, and that the $250,000 cost of the design work is reasonable.

    “Remember, Metrolinx is not a monopoly,” he said, noting that travellers have the choice of using private cars and other transit agencies.

    “What you ideally want is in the future that people automatically include Metrolinx in their travel planning . . . and you want them thinking of it in a positive manner.”

    David Soberman, Canadian National Chair in Strategic Marketing at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, said there’s a misconception that “the only thing that really matters is the service and all this marketing stuff is fluffy.

    “Well, you know, getting consumers to use something is not just affected by what the service is, but it’s what’s in their mind. And sometimes this fluffy marketing stuff can make a big difference.”

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    A controversial New York restaurant opened by a Toronto expat has provoked protests in Brooklyn.

    In late June, Torontonian Becca Brennan opened the upscale restaurant Summerhill in Crown Heights, a predominantly Black neighbourhood. But longtime locals have pushed back against what they see as aggressive gentrification and selling the illusion of slumming it in their neighbourhood.

    Brennan’s marketing for the restaurant, which is named for the affluent Toronto area where she grew up, promoted a “bullet hole” in the wall and drinking wine out of40s in brown paper bags. Cocktails at the restaurant are $12 and one of the dishes bears the hipster-friendly name “Keep Austin Weird.”

    The “bullet hole” in the wall is likely due to moving and construction, reports the New York City blog Gothamist.

    Rally organizers criticized Brennan as out of touch with the neighbourhood and its history.

    A Facebook statement posted by protest co-organizer Justine Stephens said Brennan was “profiting by perpetuating violent and ridiculous stereotypes, all while disrespecting and appropriating a history that does not belong to the owner of this bar.”

    Up to 200 people protested outside the restaurant Saturday, where they carried signs and chanted “Bye-bye, Becky.”

    Brennan declined to do an interview with Metro, but in an emailed statement she apologized for her actions.

    “I deeply apologize for any offence that my recent comments might have caused. I did not intend to be insensitive to anyone in the neighbourhood, and I am sorry that my words have caused pain,” she wrote.

    Brennan also wrote that she would reach out to community organizations such as theCrown Heights Tenant Union, whose members were involved in the protests. “I recognize that I have more work to do to continue healing relationships with my neighbours,” she added.

    Rally organizers made several demands of Brennan, including that she apologize, remove the “bullet-holed” wall and hire local people of colour at living wages.

    Brennan’s marketing pitch for Summerhill has not gone over well on social media.

    New York journalist Brandon Gates tweeted, “This is disgusting. Shame on you, Summerhill.”

    Many others left negative comments on the review site Yelp, although there were also some supporters of the restaurant who stood up for “freedom of speech.”

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    An Ontario judge who wore a Donald Trump campaign T-shirt in public won’t be disciplined, according to a letter posted on the Canadian Judicial Council website last month.

    Toni Skarica, an Ontario Superior Court judge who previously served as a Progressive Conservative MPP from 1995 to 2000, was spotted wearing a “Make America Great Again” T-shirt by Dundas resident Lorne Warwick while grocery shopping in June 2016.

    Warwick, a retired teacher, said that he and his wife immediately recognized Skarica, and they were shocked to see what he called a “flagrant display” of support for a politician who had openly discriminated against Muslims and Mexicans during the campaign.

    “I wondered about his ability to independently assess people before the courts,” Warwick said in an interview Monday.

    Warwick wrote to the judicial council with a complaint about Skarica’s choice of attire, claiming that it constituted a breach of impartiality rules for judges.

    The Canadian Superior Courts Judges’ Association website says that judges must appear to be impartial in both their public and private lives.

    When the Star reached out to Skarica, his office said that he declined to comment.

    A letter responding to Warwick’s complaint dated Sept. 2, 2016, was posted on the council’s website late last month. It details Skarica’s defence to the complaint, including that he was wearing the T-shirt as an item of historical memorabilia and that he does not endorse Trump.

    The letter states that Skarica put the T-shirt on to show a friend, and later wore it out shopping, but “he does not intend to wear the T-shirt in public in any meaningful way.”

    The council was satisfied that Skarica had no meaningful connection to the Trump campaign, and concluded that Warwick’s complaint was “unfounded.”

    Skarica is not the only Hamilton-area judge facing scrutiny for sporting Trump-related attire. Justice Bernd Zabel faces a disciplinary hearing set for Aug. 23 for wearing a “Make America Great Again” baseball cap in court the day after the American election.

    Zabel has apologized for the choice, calling it a “misguided” attempt at humour.

    Warwick said that he was “a little disappointed” when he received the letter from the judicial council, although he thinks Zabel’s Trump attire display was “more egregious,” since it took place in court.

    While he was hoping for Skarica to be reprimanded, Warwick is satisfied that his complaint was taken seriously.

    “I was pleased that they did speak to him and he had to defend himself before the association,” he said.

    Johanna Laporte, a spokesperson for the council, said the letter dismissing the complaint had been publicly available before its release on the website in June, since Warwick had published it on his blog, and the correspondence was reported in the media.

    It went up on the website a few weeks ago “for ease of reference,” after a lawyer wishing to cite the letter asked for it to be published.

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    The family of a 26-year-old cyclist, who was killed in a hit-and-run by a 19-year-old driver who wove around stopped traffic to speed through an amber light, were devastated to learn the man will be able to drive again in 10 years.

    Mitchell Irwin, now 21, was sentenced to four years in prison and a six-year driving ban on Monday after pleading guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of Adam Excell, as well as failing to remain at the scene and breaching his bail conditions.

    “It doesn’t seem like justice was served today,” said Excell’s cousin Ashley Ferguson, wearing a handmade bicycle pendant gifted to her in Excell’s memory. “If you take someone’s life while driving, I don’t think you should be able to drive. You shouldn’t have that privilege.”

    More than 20 of Excell’s family members and friends filled the courtroom, dressed as if at a funeral, to hear the sentencing. Many left in tears.

    According to the agreed statement of facts, Irwin was driving north on Avenue Rd. at 11:20 p.m. on June 13, 2015, with two friends. Excell had been going south on Avenue and waited for oncoming traffic to stop before making a left turn onto Davenport Rd. Irwin approached the intersection speeding, suddenly changed lanes to get around a stopped car and entered the intersection, striking Excell. He was going 87 kilometres an hour in a 50 km/h zone. Though his windshield was smashed, Irwin didn’t stop. Instead, he drove to a nearby school, dumped out a case of beer, and made the hour-long drive home to Keswick.

    He surrendered to police the next day and was released on bail. However, he breached his bail conditions multiple times, according to the agreed statement of facts. Photos posted to social media showed Irwin associating with the two friends who were in his car that night, as well as holding alcohol. He was also found intoxicated on another occasion, though he was prohibited from drinking.

    Prosecutor Neville Golwalla and Irwin’s defence lawyer, Leo Kinahan, both agreed a four-year prison sentence would be appropriate given that Irwin pleaded guilty, showed remorse and is a young man with no criminal record. However they disagreed on how long the driving prohibition should be. The Crown sought a 10-year ban, the defence a five-year ban.

    Superior Court Justice Maureen Forestell sentenced Irwin to four years in prison and imposed a six-year driving ban after that. While that sentence would once have been considered high, she noted during submissions, sentences have been steadily climbing for dangerous and impaired driving offences.

    Forestell said she accepts that Irwin’s remorse is genuine and that he has taken responsibility for his actions.

    But she also noted Irwin had only a G2 licence at the time of the crash, that he stopped after the crash to take a case of beer out of his car and that he left the scene to avoid being caught.

    There was no evidence as to whether Irwin had been drinking at the time of the crash. Irwin told police he was the designated driver for his friends.

    “Mr. Irwin did not intend to kill anyone or indeed to hurt anyone,” Forestell said. “He did, however , intend to drive in a manner that put the public at risk. He intended to drive in a way that cost Adam Excell his life. Mr. Irwin intended to leave the scene, leaving Mr. Excell injured and dying.”

    Irwin was handcuffed and taken into custody as his own family and friends sobbed.

    After the guilty plea Friday, Excell’s mother, Brenda, urged drivers to be more cautious and slow down. She questioned whether driver education programs are doing enough to tackle careless and risky driving.

    “I’m afraid every time I drive,” she said in her lengthy victim impact statement. “All I see is bad drivers and dangerous situations. Noticing close calls is now the new normal. Crazy stupid things people do with no idea the effect their stupidity will have on their loved ones or on their victim’s loved ones.”

    Jared Kolb, executive director of Cycling Toronto, says it is crucial that road violence be taken seriously.

    “Every single death on our roads is preventable,” he said. “There is an immense amount of power that comes with driving a motor vehicle … (Drivers) need to slow down, need to put their phones down, need to pay attention and drive sober. It is huge responsibility and a privilege to be driving.”

    At least 16 pedestrians and two cyclists have been killed in traffic collisions in Toronto this year. Unlike in Mitchell’s case, which involved criminal charges, many cases are dealt with through Highway Traffic Act charges that carry much lower penalties.

    Advocates are calling for a “vulnerable road user” law to stiffen penalties for drivers who kill or injure cyclists or pedestrians.

    Outside the courthouse, Excell’s friend Leyah Cynamon told reporters Excell’s legacy lives on through all the lives he touched.

    “He was a huge human being. He lived big, he lived well and he loved a lot of people,” she said of the artist, outdoorsman and cyclist. “He continues to be a huge inspiration to all of us, even in his death. We hope that we can honour him, create meaning and find adventure.”

    With files from Ben Spurr

    0 0

    SAN ANTONIO—The tractor-trailer was pitch-black inside, crammed with maybe 90 immigrants or more, and already hot when it left the Texas border town of Laredo for the 150-mile trip north to San Antonio.

    It wasn’t long before the passengers, sweating profusely in the rising oven-like heat, started crying and pleading for water. Children whimpered. People took turns breathing through a single hole in the wall. They pounded on the sides of the truck and yelled to try to get the driver’s attention. Then they began passing out.

    By the time police showed up at a Walmart in San Antonio around 12:30 a.m. Sunday and looked in the back of the truck, eight passengers were dead and two more would soon die in an immigrant-smuggling attempt gone tragically awry.

    Read more:Immigrants die in sweltering truck during smuggling attempt in Texas

    The details of the journey were recounted Monday by a survivor who spoke to The Associated Press and in a federal criminal complaint against the driver, James Matthew Bradley, who could face the death penalty over the 10 lives lost.

    “After an hour I heard ... people crying and asking for water. I, too, was sweating and people were despairing. That’s when I lost consciousness,” 27-year-old Adan Lalravega told the AP from his hospital bed.

    Bradley, 60, of Clearwater, Florida, appeared in federal court on charges of illegally transporting immigrants for financial gain, resulting in death. He was ordered held for another hearing on Thursday.

    He did not enter a plea or say anything about what happened. But in court papers, he told authorities he didn’t realize anyone was inside his 18-wheeler until he parked and got out to relieve himself.

    In addition to the dead, nearly 20 others rescued from the rig were hospitalized in dire condition, many suffering from extreme dehydration and heatstroke.

    A number of those aboard were from Mexico and Guatemala. Many of the immigrants had hired smugglers who brought them across the U.S. border, hid them in safe houses and then put them aboard the tractor-trailer for the ride northward, according to accounts given to investigators.

    “Even though they have the driver in custody, I can guarantee you there’s going to be many more people we’re looking for to prosecute,” said Thomas Homan, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    Bradley told investigators that the trailer had been sold and he was transporting it for his boss from Iowa to Brownsville, Texas. After hearing banging and shaking, he opened the door and was “surprised when he was run over by ‘Spanish’ people and knocked to the ground,” according to the criminal complaint.

    He said he did not call 911, even though he knew at least one passenger was dead.

    Bradley told authorities that he knew the trailer refrigeration system didn’t work and that the four ventilation holes were probably clogged.

    The truck was registered to Pyle Transportation Inc. of Schaller, Iowa. President Brian Pyle said that he had sold the truck to someone in Mexico and that Bradley was supposed to deliver it to a pick-up point in Brownsville.

    “I’m absolutely sorry it happened. I really am. It’s shocking. I’m sorry my name was on it,” Pyle said, referring to the truck. He said he had no idea why Bradley took the roundabout route he described to investigators.

    Bradley told authorities that he had stopped in Laredo, Texas — which would have been out of his way if he were travelling directly to Brownsville — to get the truck washed and detailed before heading back 240 kilometres north to San Antonio. From there, he would have had to drive 440 kilometres south again to get to Brownsville.

    “I just can’t believe it. I’m stunned, shocked. He is too good a person to do anything like this,” said Bradley’s fiancée, Darnisha Rose of Louisville, Kentucky. “He helps people, he doesn’t hurt people.”

    She said Bradley told her he had no idea how the immigrants got into his trailer.

    One passenger described a perilous journey that began in Mexico, telling investigators he and others crossed into the U.S. by raft, paying smugglers $875, an amount that also bought protection offered by the Zeta drug cartel.

    They then walked until the next day and rode in a pickup truck to Laredo, where they were put aboard the tractor-trailer to be taken to San Antonio, according to the complaint. The passenger said he was supposed to pay the smugglers $5,500 once he got there.

    Another passenger told authorities that he was in a group of 24 people who had been in a “stash house” in Laredo for 11 days before being taken to the tractor-trailer.

    Lalravega said that he was told by smugglers who hid him and six friends in a safe house in Laredo that they would be riding in an air-conditioned space.

    The Mexican labourer from the state of Aguascalientes said that when they boarded the truck on a Laredo street Saturday night for the two-hour trip to San Antonio, it was already full of people but so dark he couldn’t tell how many.

    He said he was never offered water and never saw the driver. Lalravega said that when people are being smuggled, they are told not to look at the faces of their handlers — and it’s a good idea to obey.

    He said he was deported from the U.S. three years ago but decided to take another chance because the economy is depressed where he lives with his wife, 4-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son.

    “A person makes decisions without thinking through the consequences,” he said, “but, well, thanks to God, here we are.”

    0 0

    “This is human life.”

    For years the battle-hardened and decorated American veteran wrestled with his conscience, with whether he’d done the right thing in saving the life of Omar Khadr, seen by many as a terrorist who profited from his crimes.

    Now, watching from afar the furor over the Canadian government’s $10.5-million payout to Khadr, Donnie Bumanglag wants to tell his story, offering a perspective born of bitter experience — one he admits may not be popular with many Canadians, or even some of his own former comrades-in-arms.

    Bumanglag, 36, of Lompoc, Calif., has spent years coming to terms with his former life as an elite airborne medic supporting U.S. special forces during three missions to Afghanistan and Iraq. He’s been haunted by flashbacks, frequently thrown back to that time in the summer of 2002, when he spent hours in the back of a helicopter frantically working on Khadr, then 15 years old and at the very edge of death.

    Read more:Everything you need to know about the Omar Khadr saga, but were afraid to ask

    “This is a human life. This is war. This is something that most people can’t fathom, and they want to be real quick to give an opinion just because it makes them feel good about themselves,” Bumanglag says. “(But) there’s more to this story than just talking points.”

    The following account is based on interviews Bumanglag gave to The Canadian Press, as well as on a recent podcast he co-hosts in which he talks about saving Khadr.

    Little guy on a door

    Doc Buma, as the 21-year-old Ranger medic was known, was looking forward to leaving the remote area of Afghanistan in which he had been operating for more than a month and heading to Bagram for a shower and some downtime before redeploying to Kandahar.

    Instead, as they flew toward Bagram that day in July 2002, a distress call came in. The MH-53 helicopter veered toward Khost and an encounter that would stay with him for years.

    Edmund Sealey, then the Rangers platoon sergeant, remembers the call coming in with orders to divert and pick up an “enemy fighter” who had been shot.

    “I was on the aircraft. We picked up that casualty in a firefight,” Sealey, 47, now of Columbus, Ga., said from Afghanistan. where he still works as a contractor. “With Buma being a Ranger medic, he’s going to assist as soon as you get on board. Enemy or friendly, it doesn’t matter.”

    With the chopper gunners providing covering fire, they landed in a field. Sealey led the way, Bumanglag behind him, as they threaded their way through a suspected minefield, down a road, and connected with a group of U.S. special forces soldiers.

    On what appeared to be a wooden door lay the wounded enemy fighter, shot twice by one of the elite Delta forces. The soldiers had found the casualty barely alive in a compound the Americans had pounded to rubble during a massive assault. One of their own, Sgt. Chris Speer, had been killed by a grenade, and another, Layne Morris, blinded in one eye. It was apparent to the incoming medic that the Delta soldiers were in “some pretty severe distress” over the loss of their comrade.

    “There’s a look on somebody’s face when the whole world went to s--- 10 minutes ago and it’s too much to process,” Bumanglag says.

    As he recalls, the soldiers gave him bare-bones biographical data on the casualty: The fighter had killed Speer. He was a Canadian who had been Osama bin Laden’s “houseboy.” They also told him to keep the high-value detainee alive because he would be a vital source of information, and passed him off.

    Bumanglag was now charged with saving Khadr, son of a high-ranking member of Al Qaeda. He didn’t know Khadr was 15 years old, but his youth struck him.

    “I don’t know if I can call him a little kid but he sure looked little to me. He’s 80 pounds or something. He’s a little guy who’s on a door, basically,” Bumanglag says.

    They moved the patient up the ramp and the chopper took off. The medic immediately began working to save the boy, who was covered in blood and sand.

    “Omar, with gunshot wounds and flex cuffs like an animal had been shot, didn’t look human,” Bumanglag recalls. “But moving in closer and working on him as a patient and seeing the facial features and seeing the skin pigmentation, those images always stuck with me.”

    Khadr, it turned out, bore a striking resemblance to one of Bumanglag’s cousins, which bothered the young medic then, and for years after.

    “All I seen was a kid that looks like a kid that I knew.”

    ‘Everybody is jihad’

    As the chopper bobbed and weaved toward Bagram, Doc Buma worked to stabilize his disoriented, barely conscious patient, who was writhing and moaning in pain. At the other soldiers’ insistence, Khadr’s hands remained handcuffed behind his back out of concern he might turn violent.

    Bumanglag’s main task was to deal with Khadr’s two gaping bullet exit wounds on his chest. His mind raced with thoughts about whether he should save the life of this “terrorist,” and whether he’d have enough medical supplies for his own guys should something happen. He even pondered pushing the enemy fighter out the chopper and being done with it.

    “He’s rocking his body around everywhere,” he says. “I took it as aggression. You get this idea that everybody is jihad and they’re going to fight to the death.”

    Then there was his ego, he admits: the notion that saving this captive would earn him praise, would show he had what it took. So he kept working, trying to staunch the bleeding.

    “My mission, my job was just to save him, keep him alive. There was no politics in it then. I was a young Ranger and this was my chance,” Bumanglag says. “I worked on him for over two hours in the back of a helicopter as the sun went down. At the end, I’m working under finger light.”

    He kept working, and Khadr kept living, not saying anything, just making noises.

    “His body indicated that he was a pretty brave guy. He fought for his life just as much as we fought to save him,” Bumanglag says. “Some people have a will to live and some people don’t. He definitely did.”

    They finally touched down at Bagram.

    “We plugged all the holes and we tried to keep things viable,” he says. “I pass him off and I don’t know whether he’s going to live or die.”

    What he did know was that Khadr hadn’t died on his watch and it was therefore mission accomplished — one for which he would later be commended by his superiors. It would take another year or so before Bumanglag learned that Khadr had survived.

    After the battle

    Omar Khadr, born in September 1986 in Toronto, spent several months recovering from his wounds at Bagram, where, from the moment he was conscious and able to speak, he underwent what were, by most accounts, some of the harshest interrogations the Americans had devised in the War on Terror.

    A few months later, in October 2002, he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay. He had just turned 16.

    It was in his early days at the infamous U.S. military prison in Cuba that Canadian intelligence officers went down to interrogate him. The Americans made the interviews conditional on having the information he provided passed on to them. The Canadians also knew the teen had been subjected to the “frequent flyer program,” a brutal process of sleep deprivation designed to soften him up.

    Video would surface years later of a weeping teen, now realizing the Canadian agents weren’t there to help him, whimpering for his mother.

    Khadr ultimately pleaded guilty to five war crimes in 2010 before a widely discredited military commission. He later disavowed his confession to having killed Speer, saying it was the only way the Americans would return him to Canada, which happened in 2012.

    The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the federal government had violated Khadr’s rights. The ruling underpinned the recent settlement of his lawsuit in which Ottawa apologized to him and, sources said, paid him $10.5 million.

    “If you say you’d go through what he went through for $10 million, you’re out of your mind, and that’s the truth,” Bumanglag says.

    Khadr has said he no longer remembers the firefight and would not comment on Bumanglag’s account.

    ‘I’m glad I saved his life’

    Doc Buma returned to his native California and left the military in 2003. He became a police officer, working anti-narcotics, for almost 10 years. Ultimately, the flashbacks and the post-traumatic stress bested him and he retired as a cop about five years ago. He studied educational psychology, he said, as part of trying to sort himself out.

    He took up co-hosting a podcast, Sick Call, in which he and a fellow vet talk about a variety of issues, including topics related to the military and law enforcement. In one recent episode, he talks about Khadr. It’s all part educating others, part therapy for himself, he says.

    The years since his time in the military, when he was ready to drop everything at a moment’s notice and heed the call of duty wherever it took him, he says, have afforded him time to grow up, to gain some perspective on war, on his life as a soldier, on demonizing people he has never met or with whom he has no personal quarrel.

    “I’ve been on the worst combat missions. I bought into the ideology. Now it’s time for reflection,” he says.

    Time and again, he is careful to make clear he intends no disrespect to Speer’s relatives or to Morris and empathizes with what they have lost.

    “Omar lost his eye, too. I don’t know how much more symbolic that can be.”

    At the same time, he is clear that Speer and Morris were grown men who had signed on the line to become elite professional soldiers, knowing the risks of their jobs.

    On the other hand, Bumanglag also makes it clear he empathizes with the young Canadian who was taken by his father to another country and thrown into an ideologically motivated war over which he had no control.

    As a married father of four, Bumanglag says it’s naive to believe Khadr could somehow have just walked away from the compound his father had sent him to. More to the point, he says, had he found himself where Khadr did that fateful day in July — under heavy bombardment, with the fighting men dead and the enemy closing in for the kill, he likely would not have hesitated to throw a grenade.

    “What happens if the shoe is on the other foot? This is the scenario that I’ve played in my head,” Bumanglag says, his mind turning to those who are furious at the Canadian government’s settlement with Khadr.

    “They can be upset but the reality is that they don’t understand the full story. I don’t think any of us do.”

    Doc Buma says he no longer frets that he should have let Khadr die.

    “Everybody may hate him but I’m glad I saved his life,” he says. “It just wasn’t his time then.”

    0 0

    WASHINGTON—On Monday morning, the president of the United States urged his attorney general to investigate his election opponent.

    It was a remarkable breach of democratic norms. It barely made news.

    Donald Trump has spent so long attacking the institutions and traditions underpinning America’s political system that some of his new attacks no longer receive widespread attention. But they are increasing in frequency and gravity, renewing concerns about what scholars call democratic backsliding.

    Trump’s tweeted advice Monday to Attorney General Jeff Sessions — “So why aren’t the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillarys [sic] crimes & Russia relations?” — was only the latest part of a wide-ranging recent effort to undermine the people and entities he perceives as threats.

    Sessions. Special counsel Robert Mueller. The Congressional Budget Office. The electoral system. The news media. All have been disparaged by the president over the Past seven days.

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

    Trump’s critics warn of a pressing threat to the rule of law. Matthew Miller, chief spokesman for the Department of Justice during the Obama administration, said he sees a worrisome public complacency about Trump acts that he believes are reminiscent of a “banana republic” strongman.

    “The president has done so many things that crossed the red line with respect to the rule of law that people just get kind of used to it,” Miller said, invoking the tale of the frog who does not notice he is being boiled to death in gradually warming water.

    “Firing the FBI director (James Comey), attacking the AG because he recused himself as he was required to do by the rules, openly speculating about prosecuting your political opponent — these are all the types of things that are dangerous warning signs,” Miller said.

    Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a New York University professor who studies authoritarianism, said Trump is operating from an “authoritarian playbook.” She said she fears he will pay even less heed to democratic traditions if he faces a deeper crisis.

    “It’s very alarming, because he’s escalating all of the things he’s been doing,” she said. “And what unites all these manoeuvres is his back is increasingly against the wall.”

    Perhaps Trump’s most serious threat in the past week was to Mueller, who is probing any links between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government.

    In a New York Times interview last week, Trump alleged that Mueller was compromised by “conflicts,” and he warned the respected former FBI director not to probe the Trump family’s financial dealings unrelated to Russia. Trump also complained that Sessions had recused himself from the Russia probe, thus allowing the deputy attorney general to hire the special counsel.

    The pair of remarks led to a new round of speculation that Trump would find a way to fire Mueller. Such a move would trigger a Washington “cataclysm,” Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer told ABC, and represent a severe breach of the rule of law.

    House Speaker Paul Ryan defended Mueller on Monday, saying the former George W. Bush appointee is “a Republican who was appointed by a Republican.” Other Republicans have warned Trump against a firing, with homeland security committee chairman Michael McCaul promising a “tremendous backlash.”

    On Saturday, Trump floated the possibility of another way to avoid accountability: issuing pre-emptive pardons of himself and his aides. He tweeted: “While all agree the U.S. President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is LEAKS against us. FAKE NEWS.”

    There is not, in fact, a consensus that the president has the power to pardon himself.

    Trump made at least four other mentions of “fake news” over the course of the week. The media, though, was not the only independent source of information to draw his ire. His administration continued assailing the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, saying in a White House tweet Thursday that its conclusions on health care “simply can’t be trusted.”

    The day prior, Trump stopped by a meeting of a voter fraud commission launched as a result of his false claim that millions of people voted illegally in 2016. Once again, he claimed, baselessly, that the election was compromised — saying people “saw” irregularities “having to do with very large numbers of people in certain states.”

    “What he’s doing with the media gets the most attention, but it’s a larger strategy,” Ben-Ghiat said. “This is at the core of this authoritarian playbook, where you sow the seeds of uncertainty around everything to build the idea that you can’t know the truth.”

    Trump raised eyebrows again on Saturday with an unusual public suggestion that Republican lawmakers owe him fealty.

    “It’s very sad that Republicans, even some that were carried over the line on my back, do very little to protect their President,” he wrote on Twitter.

    “He sees ‘loyalty’ as a personal matter — not to American institutions, rule of law, the Constitution and traditions,” Robert Zoellick, the former World Bank chief and senior official in both Bush administrations, told CNBC.

    Trump did announce that he was giving up one particular attempt to convince people to question the truth.

    For the entirety of his campaign, Trump called the low U.S. unemployment rate a hoax. He said Wednesday that he has changed his mind.

    “I said for a long time, they don’t matter. But now I accept those numbers very proudly,” he said. “I say they do matter.”

    0 0

    The first thing Blake Talbot saw when he arrived at the scene of his mother’s accident was the blood.

    Just minutes earlier, he had received a call at his job at a nearby rec centre from a woman who said she was with his mother, who had just crashed her bicycle.

    Talbot arrived to find his mom, Stacey Talbot, inside an ambulance, “covered in blood and still bleeding,” with “her upper lip and nose (swelled to) more than double their size.”

    Read more: Cyclist’s death renews calls for stricter penalties for drivers

    That’s when she told him the full story: she was knocked off her bike after a vehicle turned in front of her, and she felt lucky to be alive.

    “I didn’t even see it coming,” she told the Star.

    Shortly after the accident, Talbot shared a photo of his mother, bloodied shirt and all, in a Facebook post, calling for justice for what he and his mother believe was a hit and run.

    Halton Regional Police confirmed that they are investigating, and are doing “extensive canvassing” to try to find out more about the alleged incident.

    The online engagement has snowballed since Blake uploaded the picture Friday. The original post had more than 1,200 likes, 750 comments and 5,300 shares on Facebook as of early Monday evening, with countless strangers and friends expressing their outrage and sadness at the incident.

    “We would love to catch the dirt bag who thinks it’s OK to leave a bleeding woman they just hit on the street,” Talbot’s post reads, describing his mother as “the most peaceful person.”

    Stacey Talbot told the Star she had been riding home from work around 2:30 p.m. on Friday on Nottinghill Gate in Oakville when a car crossed into her lane while attempting to make a turn in front of her, causing her to crash into the vehicle.

    “When I first looked up (after the collision), I thought that the car had pulled over onto the side of the road. Then I went down again,” Talbot said. “And then there was a lady there who was helping me and I assumed she was the driver (until) I said something about the car, and (she) said there was no car there, it left.”

    That woman was the one who called her son, and has since given her account of events to police, Blake Talbot said.

    Incidents like this are relatively rare in the Halton region, said Sgt. Ryan Snow.

    “(We) only get about 100 collisions (per year) in our region involving cyclists,” he said, adding that unlike in the city of Toronto, “we do not have cyclists dying (nearly) every day on a roadway.”

    Since 2010, Halton Regional Police have only recorded six deaths in collisions between cyclists and vehicles. In 2016, there was one death and 83 non-fatal injuries. Unfortunately, Sgt. Snow said that solving hit and runs can be difficult , especially since drivers sometimes don’t realize they’ve struck someone.

    “Without a licence plate number . . . the ability of the police to locate the offending vehicle and driver becomes greatly diminished,” Snow said.

    Halton Traffic Services told the Star police believe they are looking for a “white car,” but the division said that they have not yet been able to get more detailed suspect information.

    Stacey Talbot has been in hospital since the accident Friday, when a CT scan revealed bleeding in her brain. An MRI was performed Monday, but as of early evening they had yet to receive the results.

    She said her son’s impassioned defence of her is one reason why they received such a “crazy” response online. “I think that really touched people.”

    She needs new glasses, and her teeth are so numb that she can’t “chew or bite with them at all,” but despite that, she is willing to forgive the driver.

    That’s not good enough for Blake. The fact that his mother said the car continued on despite hitting her is “inexcusable” to him.

    “We are Canadian,” he said. “We are known for being caring, giving people. At least we used to be.”

    Thankfully his mother was wearing her helmet at the time of the accident. He believes that “if she wasn’t wearing her bike helmet, it would have killed her.”

    Sgt. Snow said that “a helmet is not the be all and end all of walking away from a collision,” but that at the end of the day “anyone riding a bicycle” should have one on.

    “I’ve always been kind of hit and miss with wearing my helmet and fortunately I had my helmet on when that happened,” Stacey Talbot said. “I will never ride without a helmet again.”

    With files from Emily Fearon

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