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

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

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

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

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

    He was held for a bail hearing Wednesday.

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

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    OTTAWA—The Envoy Air jet slowed on Runway 24 Left at Pearson International Airport after an uneventful flight from Chicago’s O’Hare airport. It was 5:30 p.m., the height of the afternoon rush at Canada’s busiest airport.

    As the Envoy pilots exited the runway, fast-talking controllers in the tower — moving metal at an industrial pace — issued instructions to them to stop on the taxiway, short of a parallel runway being used for departures.

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

    But worried that the Envoy flight, an Embraer 175 jet operated by a subsidiary of American Airlines, wasn’t stopping as instructed, the controller issued firm orders, according to a recording on the website

    “Envoy 3765, stop, stop,” the controller said.

    Tuesday’s incident was yet another close call at Pearson. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada has launched a special review of operations at Pearson, worried that the frequency of incursions — when an aircraft inadvertently taxies into the runway environment — could lead to disaster.

    “We’re very aware of a broader systemic issue,” said Ewan Tasker, the regional manager for air investigations for the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

    The circumstances around Tuesday’s incident remain under investigation. In a statement to the Star, American Airlines, the parent company of Envoy Air, says the flight “turned onto the appropriate taxiway, held short of runway 24R, and then taxied to the gate as instructed.”

    The pilots say they did not cross the active runway until directed by controllers.

    Tasker says the Envoy Air flight crossed the hold short line, entering the protected runway environment, but stopped short of the runway itself. “It wasn’t as if the planes narrowly missed . . . the severity of this individual event, not that high,” Tasker said.

    But a rash of similar incidents — almost two dozen dating back to June, 2012 — has safety board officials worried about the potential for a catastrophic incident.

    “Some of the worst aviation disasters in history have been due to a runway incursion of sorts. So it’s a very serious issue,” Tasker said.

    That’s why the board has taken the rare step of launching a special safety study to examine incursions that occur between the two parallel runways on the south side of Pearson airport. At busy times, aircraft land on the outer runway and then taxi across the inner runway to reach the terminal buildings.

    “They generally land on the outer or southerly runway and are instructed to hold short of the inner runway. There’s been a whole bunch of incidents where air crews haven’t done this,” Tasker said.

    As they exit the runway, pilots are performing post-landing checks, looking at airport diagrams to find their way to the terminal and it’s easy to get distracted and lose situational awareness of the approaching parallel runway.

    “That’s something we need to look at in all these events, what the crews were doing, who was doing what, who was looking where,” Tasker said.

    It’s already recognized as a potential hazard. When the south parallel runways are in use at Pearson, another controller position is opened in the tower, specifically to monitor communications and be on guard for potential incursions, Tasker said.

    As well, ground radar can sound an alarm when an aircraft on the ground violates the protected space around a runway.

    The study, which the board hopes to finish by year’s end, is looking at issues like airline procedures, airport design, air traffic control and the automated warning systems. Investigators are also looking at airports around the world with similar runway configurations to see whether measures in those places have helped mitigate incursions.

    It’s the second such incident for Envoy Air at Pearson this year. An Envoy flight had a close call on the same parallel runways in April.

    But Tasker said the research so far shows a variety of airlines have been involved in the incursions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    With files From The Canadian Press

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

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

    The woman then fled the scene, police say.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    OTTAWA—The Trudeau government says it will send up to 20 police officers to Iraq as part of its commitment to fighting Daesh, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

    At the end of June, Canada extended its military mission in Iraq for another two years.

    The police officers, both men and women, will support efforts to re-establish a local police presence in areas newly liberated from Daesh control and advise their Iraqi counterparts on issues such as gender, diversity and human rights.

    There now are three Canadian police officers in Iraq, with a fourth going in the next month. Others will be sent in gradually over the next two years.

    Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says the Canadian police will contribute to stability in the troubled country.

    International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said the mission is in keeping with Canada’s efforts to support women and girls, “who are among the most severely affected by the conflict in Iraq.”

    “This mission provides Canadian policewomen with a unique opportunity to train and advise Iraqi police officers and contribute positively to creating longer-term stability, security and prosperity,” she said.

    Read more:

    Canadian troops help secure Mosul as future battles loom

    Yazidi women freed from Daesh bear deep psychological scars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more:

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

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

    Why North Korea is threatening Guam with its ballistic missiles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    WASHINGTON—FBI agents raided the Alexandria, Va., home of U.S. President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman late last month, using a search warrant to seize documents and other materials, according to people familiar with the special counsel investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

    Federal agents appeared at Paul Manafort’s home without advance warning in the pre-dawn hours of July 26, the day after he met voluntarily with the staff for the Senate Intelligence Committee.

    The search warrant was wide-ranging and FBI agents working with special counsel Robert Mueller departed the home with various records. Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort, confirmed that agents executed a warrant at one of the political consultant’s homes and that Manafort cooperated with the search.

    Read more:

    Investigation into U.S.-Russian ties gets more serious

    Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chair, turns over notes on Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russian lawyer

    Ex-Trump campaign chair discloses $17 million in payments from pro-Russian party, registers as foreign agent

    Manafort has been voluntarily producing documents to congressional committees investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. The search warrant indicates investigators may have argued to a federal judge they had reason to believe Manafort could not be trusted to turn over all records in response to a grand jury subpoena.

    It could also have been intended to send a message to Trump’s former campaign chairman that he should not expect gentle treatment or legal courtesies from Mueller’s team.

    The documents included materials Manafort had already provided to Congress, said people familiar with the search.

    “If the FBI wanted the documents, they could just ask (Manafort) and he would have turned them over,” said one adviser close to the White House.

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

    Josh Stueve, spokesman for Mueller, declined to comment, as did Reginald Brown, an attorney for Manafort.

    “Mr. Manafort has consistently cooperated with law enforcement and other serious inquiries and did so on this occasion as well,” said Maloni, the spokesman for Manafort.

    Mueller has increased legal pressure on Manafort, consolidating under his authority a series of unrelated investigations into various aspects of Manafort’s professional and personal life.

    Manafort’s allies fear that Mueller hopes to build a case against Manafort unrelated to the 2016 campaign, in hopes that the former campaign operative would provide information against others in Trump’s inner circle in exchange for lessening his own legal exposure.

    The significance of the records seized from Manafort’s apartment is unclear.

    Manafort has provided documents to both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate and House intelligence committees. The documents are said to include notes Manafort took while attending a meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in June 2016.

    Emails show Trump Jr. took the meeting and invited Manafort after he was promised the lawyer would deliver damaging information about Hillary Clinton as part of a Russian government effort to assist his father’s campaign.

    0 0

    Three Toronto Police officers have been found not guilty of sexually assaulting a parking enforcement officer while she was unable to move and too intoxicated to consent.

    Superior Court Justice Anne Molloy said the complainant’s evidence was flawed due to inconsistencies, unreliable memories and contradictory evidence and as a result, she could not make a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

    However, she said, she did not necessarily believe the evidence of Leslie Nyznik, the only one of the three officers who testified.

    Nyznik’s evidence seemed “stilted or somewhat scripted” and much of his account of the sexual acts was implausible, she said. Nyznik testified that the sexual acts that took place were consensual and that most were initiated by the complainant, describing her almost as an “aggressor,” Molloy said. His description would have required the complainant to be “some kind of contortionist,” she said.

    “Some of this simply did not ring true,” she said, adding that he was “less than forthright” when he refused to acknowledge the possibility of career repercussions for a woman employed by the police who accused police officers of sexual assault.

    “To summarize, I do not find Mr. Nyznik’s version of the events to be compelling,” she said. “However, neither am I in a position to say I reject his evidence as untruthful. I simply do not know whether or not he is telling the truth about the critical issue – the consent of the complainant to the acts he described.”

    Nyznik, Sameer Kara and Joshua Cabero had pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting the complainant, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, in a downtown hotel room on Jan. 17, 2015.

    The defence was seeking to have the charges tossed because the investigating officer failed to obtain crucial video from the hotel and the cab. Molloy did not make a ruling on this issue due to the finding of not guilty.

    Molloy said she “looked in vain” for evidence that would corroborate the complainant’s evidence which was too flawed to rely on by itself.

    “Based on the complainant’s evidence, I cannot be sure about what happened in that hotel room,” Molloy said in her 45-page ruling. “It is simply not safe to convict.”

    Following the verdict, Nyznik’s lawyer Harry Black said his client remains suspended. He said his client is pleased to be “vindicated” and is looking forward to having his life back. He would not comment on Molloy’s finding that she did not necessarily believe Nyznik’s testimony.

    The complainant testified she was orally penetrated and vaginally penetrated by the men who were aware she was going in and out of consciousness. At one point, she said she heard Kara say, “Stop Josh, she’s out.”

    “I was powerless. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t stop what was happening,” she told the court. She said she never consented to sex with any of the three men.

    She’d had at least seven drinks that night which began with a “rookie buy night” for 51 Division officers, she testified, but believes she may have been drugged at some point.

    Kara had already returned to the room after getting extremely drunk earlier that night.

    The complainant testified she went to the hotel to wake up Kara and see if he wanted to go to a bar and continue partying. However, she said, during the cab ride to the hotel she started to get a headache and her vision blurred. She said it felt like being in a “Star Trek warp.” As she was lying on the bed next to Kara, Nyznik penetrated her mouth with his penis, she said. She said another man – likely Cabero – began vaginally penetrating her. Someone asked if he should “f--- me up the a--,” she said. After Kara said she was “out” they stopped, but later Kara vaginally penetrated her, she said. She said she told them to stop but they did not. Nyznik said the complainant began performing oral sex on him and said she had sex with Kara and Cabero.

    Molloy found it “inconceivable” that the complainant, Nyznik and Cabero wanted to take Kara out drinking again, given that Kara had been so drunk earlier that evening that he could barely stand up. She questioned why they didn’t just call him and ask him to meet at a bar, rather than all go to the hotel. She also found that video footage and the testimony of another officer, Elias Tissawak, corroborated Nyznik’s version of events in this instance.

    The video of the complainant walking into the hotel and waiting for the elevator is also inconsistent with her evidence that she was confused, had trouble with her vision and was in pain. “In short she appeared to be perfectly normal,” Molloy said.

    Some of the complainant’s memories were also shown to be wrong, Molloy found, for example, she said they walked from one bar to another but video evidence shows they took a cab.

    Molloy said that could be an honest mistake or that she lied about the cab ride to avoid evidence of sexual banter during the cab ride.

    “Either is problematic,” Molloy said. “If she has reconstructed a false memory about walking to the Brass Rail, how do I know she has not done the same thing with respect to her conduct at the hotel afterwards? If she has lied about the cab ride to the Brass Rail, how do I trust she has told the truth about what happened in the hotel room?”

    Molloy also found that the symptoms the complainant described were not corroborated by the testimony of a toxicologist on how the drugs and alcohol would have affected her.

    With files from Rosie DiManno

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    An Ajax woman caught part of an altercation on video in which a TTC employee can be heard calling her a derogatory name.

    In a statement the TTC said it is investigating the incident to better understand why the expectations of its dignity and respect policy “were not seemingly met in this case.”

    “The language used is very concerning,” said TTC spokesperson Brad Ross.

    Brittany Rattray, 26, was on her way from Ajax to Lamport Stadium on Sunday to enjoy the Toronto Caribbean Festival with her two-year-old son when she approached the TTC collector’s booth operator at King Station to ask for directions.

    The TTC officer said he could not provide directions and asked her to look at the wall map, she said. When she couldn’t find the stadium on the map she asked to see a paper fold-out version, thinking it might include more detail.

    Rattray said she got upset when she couldn’t find Lamport Stadium on that version either. She crumpled the map and pushed it back through the opening in the collector’s booth.

    Then she started recording, planning to complain to the TTC about the way its employee had spoken to her.

    In the video she is heard explaining the situation, while the TTC employee is speaking with another customer. Towards the end of the video the employee says “lady, get out of my face, man, get out of my face, retard.”

    “I just don’t even think that’s a word that should exist,” Rattray said.

    At that point Rattray stopped recording because her phone battery was close to dying, but the conflict continued, she said over the phone Wednesday.

    Rattray said he also called her a “dummy.”

    In a second video Rattray can be heard saying “I’m a dummy? Say it in the mike.”

    The employee then says “Yeah, yeah, what do you think, you think that hurts me?”

    Rattray called the experience frustrating and upsetting.

    The employee should apologize to her and her child, she said.

    A representative for ATU Local 113, the union which represents Toronto transit workers, said the collector’s behaviour was “inappropriate.”

    “While we still need to learn more about what happened before and after the video footage, plain and simple, the collector’s behaviour is inappropriate,” Kevin Morton, secretary-treasurer for ATU Local 113, said in a statement.

    “Under no circumstance should a passenger be subjected to insults and we apologize for this individual’s behaviour. It is important to remember this individual’s behaviour in no way reflects the hardworking transit workers of our city, who themselves are increasingly subjected to abuse and assaults.”

    The TTC said the employee would not be made available to the media.

    “This is now an employee-employer matter,” Ross said. “The TTC has a respect and dignity policy that it expects all of its 14,000 employees to embrace and adhere to. It also expects its employees to be courteous and professional with customers and the public at all times. The vast majority of TTC employees, of course, do this day in and day out.”

    Rattray said she encountered at least two other TTC employees on that trip who were both polite and helpful, and has never had a problem with the TTC before.

    0 0

    An Ontario judge says it is “totally unacceptable” that Crown attorneys in Brampton allowed case files to go missing for over four months, contributing to charges being stayed against a man accused of a stabbing.

    Kadeem Payne’s legal right to be tried within a reasonable amount of time was violated as actions taken by the Crown, and regular procedural delays, prolonged his case by over 19 months, Judge Paul Monahan ruled on July 27.

    That was enough to put Payne’s case over the time limit guidelines established in a Supreme Court of Canada ruling last year which has already resulted in dozens of criminal charges being stayed — effectively ending prosecutions without any decision of guilt or innocence.

    Payne was arrested in Peel in September 2014 and charged with assault with a weapon and assault causing bodily harm, after he allegedly stabbed someone in the leg and hand with a knife, Monahan wrote in his decision.

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    But the trial for Payne was not set to begin until this coming September, about 36 months after his arrest.

    Provincial court cases like Payne’s should last no more than 18 months from the date of arrest to the anticipated conclusion of the trial, not counting delays caused by the defence or unforeseen circumstances like illness, the Supreme Court ruled in 2016.

    Payne’s defence prolonged his case by applying for legal aid later than they could have, Monohan ruled. And a trial date scheduled for July 2016 had to be postponed when Payne’s then-lawyer fell ill, contributing to the 36 month-wait.

    But even without those defence-related delays, Monahan ruled, Payne would have waited over 19 months between his arrest and the end of his trial.

    Payne, who was out on bail while awaiting trial, would have pleaded not-guilty to the charges, Haig DeRusha, the senior lawyer on Payne’s defence team, said.

    The Crown office at the Peel court in Brampton referred the Star’s questions about Payne’s case to the Ministry of the Attorney General. Ministry spokesperson Emilie Smith said it would be “inappropriate to comment on the specific facts of this case,” because an appeal of the judge’s decision could be launched.

    On four separate occasions between August 2015 and January 2016, defence lawyers and Crown prosecutors went to court with the intention of setting a date for trial. But each time, no progress could be made because the Crown said its brief on the case was missing, Monahan said.

    “The defence was ready to proceed and said on the record that they wanted to set a trial date but each time they were told they could not do so because the Crown could not find its own file,” Monahan wrote in his decision.

    The judge acknowledged that files sometimes go missing, particularly when officials are grappling with large workloads.

    “These things happen... when the Crown, the defence and the Court carry a heavy load, as they do in Brampton, a busy Court jurisdiction,” Monahan wrote. “Having said that, losing a Crown file for more than four months and having four court attendances during the same period of time which in turn prevents the setting of a trial date is totally unacceptable.”

    Further delays were caused when the Crown failed to disclose all of its evidence to the defence, preventing a trial date from being set between February and July 2015, Monahan ruled.

    The defence team is pleased that they were able to have Payne’s charges cleared without the time or cost of a trial, said DeRusha.

    “It is difficult to be perfect all the time, but one must try,” DeRusha said of the Crown’s missing files.

    “The negative consequence to Kadeem has been remedied. He was facing criminal charges for a long time. He was on (bail) conditions that imposed penalties that make him a criminal when he does certain things that the rest of us do.”

    As a condition of his bail, Payne had to be at home between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. every day — restrictions that cost him his job when his boss put him on the night shift, Payne is quoted as saying in an affidavit.

    This is at least the third time in under a year that delays by the Crown’s office in Brampton has resulted in charges being stayed — essentially ending a prosecution.

    In the two previous cases which were both related to drug crimes, which concluded in December and February respectively, the Crown took too long to provide disclosure to the defence, judges ruled.

    The right to be tried “in a reasonable time” is laid out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    The Supreme Court’s 2016 ruling in the case of R. v Jordan articulated what that right means in practical terms, Michael Rosenberg, a Toronto lawyer not affiliated with the Payne case said.

    “The core argument (is) that if you are put to trial some lengthy period after the relevant events we recognize there is a material likelihood that recollection will blur, important evidence won’t be available and at the very least justice won’t be seen to be done,” Rosenberg said.

    Prior to 2016, judges could stay charges if a trial was not completed fast enough, but the decisions required a more “complex and contextual analysis,” Rosenberg added.

    “Often there was delay that was not met with any sanction and brought into jeopardy the fairness of the proceedings.”

    Under the old system, defendants had to establish that the delay in their case had created “prejudice” against them for their trial. Since 2016’s Jordan ruling, a judge needs only to determine whether the delay was “reasonable.”

    While the Crown in the Payne case argued that many of the delays had occurred prior to the Supreme Court’s updated ruling, Monohan said in his decision that Payne’s charges would have been stayed even if they were measured using the old criteria.

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    SAINT-BERNARD-DE-LACOLLE, QUE.—Teams of Canadian soldiers stretched canvas across the metal frames of tents at a camp site near the Quebec-U.S. border Wednesday as they helped fellow authorities cope with the crush of asylum seekers crossing into Canada.

    The site, located on a flat stretch of grass behind the building where asylum claimants are bused in from the border, was expected to accommodate up to 500 people.

    “We have about 100 personnel here on the ground who will set up 25 tents in order to house approximately 500 people,” Maj. Yves Desbiens said in an interview in Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle.

    “We’re going to set up lighting as well, and heating and we’re going to have flooring installed.”

    The soldiers will have no role in security matters and will not participate in law-enforcement tasks. All but a few will return to their home base once the site is completed.

    Canada Border Services Agency spokesperson Judith Gadbois-St-Cyr said the camp was being set up because too many people were crossing the border for them to be processed immediately.

    In a phone interview, she said it can currently take two or three days to process a refugee claim and most people would not stay in the camp longer than that.

    She said border services would be responsible for providing food, water, beds and blankets.

    By 5:30 p.m., the tents had been erected and strung with hanging lights as soldiers continued to lay down wooden flooring.

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    Gadbois-St-Cyr said the camp would be ready to accept people “in a short time” but could not say exactly when that would be.

    Earlier in the day, in nearby Hemmingford, some 40 asylum seekers sat under white tents at an impromptu reception centre that has sprung up on the Canadian side of a popular illegal border crossing.

    The atmosphere appeared relaxed as border crossers lined up for lunch boxes handed out by RCMP personnel and waited to be shepherded onto buses for the 10-minute drive to the Lacolle processing station.

    “I’ll be your tour guide,” one RCMP officer inside the bus could be heard joking.

    “There’s the United States; this is Canada.”

    Many of the hundreds of people who are crossing the Canada-United States border into Quebec to seek asylum are of Haitian descent.

    Robert Duteau, the mayor of Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, told The Canadian Press he is not worried about overcrowding.

    “There is space to receive them (the soldiers),” he said. “I know there’s a lot of action in that area, but, all things considered, it doesn’t upset me.”

    In the United States, the Trump administration is considering ending a program that granted Haitians so-called “temporary protected status” following the massive earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010.

    Many of the arrivals are being housed in Montreal at the Olympic Stadium.

    The City of Montreal said recently between 250 and 300 people were crossing the Canada-United States border to seek asylum every day, up from 50 per day in the first half of July.

    On Wednesday, the Quebec government announced the opening of another facility, this one at the former Royal Victoria Hospital with a capacity of between 300 and 320 places.

    Another shelter was opened earlier this week at a former convent that is owned by the city.

    Francine Dupuis, who oversees a Quebec government-funded program that helps asylum seekers, said 2,620 people are currently being housed in temporary accommodation in Montreal.

    “As soon as people arrive (in Montreal), not only do we find them a place to stay but we make sure it’s safe, that they have the meals they need and that it’s hygienic,” Dupuis said.

    “We try to keep families together.”

    With files from Jean Philippe Angers in Montreal

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    OTTAWA -- A Mississauga pastor imprisoned in North Korea since 2015 has been released on humanitarian grounds, according to the country’s state news agency.

    News of the release of Hyeon Soo Lim comes just hours after a high-level Canadian delegation, led by the prime minister’s own national security advisor, had arrived in the country in hopes of intervening in his case.

    “Rim Hyon Su, a Canadian civilian, was released on sick bail according to the decision of the Central Court of the DPRK on August 9, 2017 from the humanitarian viewpoint,” the KCNA news agency said Wednesday, using the country’s official name, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

    “He had been under the penalty of indefinite hard labor as he conducted hostile deeds against the DPRK,” the news agency said.

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    There was no immediate reaction Wednesday morning from Canadian officials.

    Lim, the 62-year-old senior pastor of the Light Presbyterian Church in Mississauga, had made frequent humanitarian visits to North Korea on behalf of his church. But he went missing during a 2015 visit and it was later revealed he had been taken into custody, purportedly for scheming to overthrow Kim Jong Un’s authoritarian regime. The pastor was sentenced to life in a hard labour camp in late 2015.

    There are concerns that Lim’s health has suffered while in captivity, spurring diplomatic efforts to seek his release.

    This week another delegation in Pyongyang, reportedly headed by Daniel Jean, who serves as Justin Trudeau’s national security advisor.

    The prime minister’s office on Tuesday would not comment on the members of delegation but expressed concern about the fate of Lim.

    “Pastor Lim’s health and well-being remain of utmost importance to the government of Canada as we continue to engage on this case,” said Cameron Ahmad, a spokesperson for Trudeau, said in an email.

    With files from Mary Ormsby

    0 0

    As GTA residents await details about new casinos, the start of Woodbine’s dramatic transformation is already under way.

    A new partnership of Great Canadian Gaming Corp. and Brookfield Business Partners, announced Tuesday as the winner of a competitive bid process to develop and operate three GTA casinos, is keeping plans under wraps while consulting “stakeholders” including the host communities.

    But Woodbine Entertainment Group, operator of the horse-racing track and its largely undeveloped 684-acre Rexdale site, already has a master plan, with the first rezoning applications being reviewed by the City of Toronto, to build a new community, including gambling, in Toronto’s northwest corner.

    WEG chief executive Jim Lawson said Wednesday that based on his preliminary talks with Great Canadian Gaming, and the international reputation of Brookfield as a big-league developer, he believes their plans can mesh to create a new “city within a city” that happens to stable more than 2,000 horses.

    Racing uses about 240 acres at the site’s south end. Another 60 acres to the north will be devoted to entertainment uses including gaming, restaurants, a hotel, convention space and theatres.

    “About half of that may well be for initiatives of the winning bidder but we're certainly open to speaking to them about further development,” Lawson said.

    Replacing Woodbine’s slot machine parlor with a full casino, and other venues to make it the “integrated entertainment complex” demanded by Toronto council when it gave conditional approval for a casino there, should be “the catalyst, the trigger” for the rest of the site, Lawson said.

    Further phases would include office space, retail, cultural and educational facilities, and a sizeable residential component including townhouses.

    “Brookfield is a world-class developer and there is keen interest especially in the balance of the north corridor,” Lawson said, adding that the focus of WEG, formerly the Ontario Jockey Club, is to foster development that will promote and sustain the horse-racing industry.

    Chuck Keeling, Great Canadian’s vice-president of stakeholder relations and responsible gaming, said in an interview Wednesday that the new casino partnership will work with Woodbine’s master plan.

    “Our plan will be complementary and work hand-in-hand with Woodbine’s,” he said.

    WEG hired California-based architects and planners SWA Group to develop its master plan.

    SWA architect and urban designer Andrew Watkins said in an interview from Laguna Beach that work continues to create a “node” serving community around Woodbine, along with future visitors and residents, and travelers who can be lured from layovers at nearby Pearson international airport.

    That includes more intersections along Rexdale Blvd. to bring “permeability” to a Woodbine site that is now an “island”, he said, and connecting the green-space trail networks of Mimico Creek and the Humber River.

    Although the new casino will be an important anchor, Watkins added, many U.S. gaming complexes are now drawing more revenue from restaurants, theatres and other venues surrounding the poker tables, roulette wheels and slot machines.

    Toronto council included 21 conditions in its 2015 approval of Woodbine as a casino site, many aimed at ensuring Rexdale residents get a share of socio-economic benefits, and that the casino operator and Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. work to minimize gambling addictions and other social ills associated with casinos.

    Councillor Mike Layton, who voted against having any casinos in Toronto, remains convinced that expanded gambling at Woodbine will only hurt the community.

    “A good chunk of the research about casinos suggests a lot of their income comes from people who live locally,” he said. “Some jobs are creating but more are lost by the closure of businesses in the surrounding areas.

    “OLG is giving out 22-year casino leases so you don’t get a second toss of the dice. We’re not investing in the economy to get a real economic boost — a significant amount of economic activity will be sucked out of that community and the provincial government is banking on that.”

    OLG says gross gaming revenues for the slot machines at Woodbine and Ajax Downs track, and the small Great Blue Heron casino near Port Perry, total about $1 billion per year. The agency’s modernization plan aims to boost revenues but OLG won’t say how much it hopes to earn from the sites once they host full casinos operated by the new private partnership.

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    WASHINGTON—North Korea on Wednesday officially dismissed President Donald Trump’s threats of “fire and fury,” declaring the American leader “bereft of reason” and warning ominously, “Only absolute force can work on him.”

    In a statement carried by state media, General Kim Rak Gyom, who heads North Korea’s rocket command, also said his country was “about to take” military action near the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam. He said the North would finalize a plan by mid-August to fire four mid-range missiles hitting waters 30 to 40 kilometres away from the island.

    The plan will then go to the commander in chief of North Korea’s nuclear force and “wait for his order,” Kim was quoted by KCNA as saying. He called it a “historic enveloping fire at Guam.”

    The statement only served to escalate tensions further in a week that has seen a barrage of threats from both sides. While nuclear confrontation still seems incredibly remote, the comments have sparked deep unease in the United States, Asia and beyond.

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

    A day after evoking the use of overwhelming U.S. military might, Trump touted America’s atomic supremacy. From the New Jersey golf resort where he’s vacationing, he tweeted that his first order as president was to “renovate and modernize” an arsenal that is “now far stronger and more powerful than ever before.”

    It was a rare public flexing of America’s nuclear might. And Trump’s boasting only added to the confusion over his administration’s approach to dealing with North Korea’s expanding nuclear capabilities on a day when his top national security aides wavered between messages of alarm and reassurance.

    If Trump’s goal with two days of tough talk was to scare North Korea, Kim, the commander, put that idea quickly to rest. He called Trump’s rhetoric a “load of nonsense” that was aggravating a grave situation.

    “Sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason and only absolute force can work on him,” the KNCA report quoted him saying.

    Kim said the Guam action would be “an effective remedy for restraining the frantic moves of the U.S. in the southern part of the Korean peninsula and its vicinity.”

    Guam lies about 2,100 miles from the Korean Peninsula, and it’s extremely unlikely Kim’s government would risk annihilation with a pre-emptive attack on U.S. citizens. It’s also unclear how reliable North Korea’s missiles would be against such a distant target, but no one was writing off the danger completely.

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    The new specificity from Pyongyang about its plans for a potential attack came as Trump and his top national security aides delivered contrasting messages over North Korea’s expanding nuclear capabilities.

    As international alarm escalated, Trump dug in on his threats of military action and posted video of his ultimatum to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

    The suggestion that Trump has enhanced U.S. nuclear firepower was immediately disputed by experts, who noted no progress under Trump’s presidency. Still, Trump tweeted, “Hopefully we will never have to use this power, but there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world!”

    The tweets did little to soothe concerns that Trump was helping push the standoff with North Korea into uncharted and even more dangerous territory. While the prospect of military action by either side appears slim, given the level of devastation that would ensue, Trump’s talk Tuesday of “fire and fury like the world has never seen” compounded fears of an accident or misunderstanding leading the nuclear-armed nations into conflict.

    This week, an official Japanese report and a classified U.S. intelligence document, the latter reported by The Washington Post, combined to suggest the North was closer to being able to strike the United States with a nuclear missile than previously believed. The U.S. document reportedly assessed that the North had mastered the ability to fit a nuclear warhead on its long-range missiles.

    After North Korea issued its own warning that suggested it could attack Guam, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sought to calm the sense of crisis.

    Speaking earlier Wednesday on his way home from Asia, he credited Trump with sending a strong message to the North Korean leader on the “unquestionable” U.S. ability to defend itself, so as to prevent “any miscalculation.” Tillerson insisted the U.S. isn’t signalling a move toward military action, while it pursues a policy of sanctions and isolation of North Korea.

    “Americans should sleep well at night,” Tillerson told reporters. He added, “Nothing that I have seen and nothing that I know of would indicate that the situation has dramatically changed in the last 24 hours.”

    No sooner had Tillerson ratcheted down the rhetoric than Defence Secretary Jim Mattis ratcheted it back up.

    Echoing Trump’s martial tone, Mattis said North Korea should stand down its nuclear weapons program and “cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.” As seldom as it is for a president to speak of using nuclear missiles, the reference to the “destruction” of a foreign people is equally rare.

    It was unclear, however, how serious to take all the war talk. Markets weren’t rattled by the back-and-forth threats. Trump had no meetings on his schedule Wednesday. There were no indications from the Pentagon of urgent planning or new assets being hastily deployed to the Pacific region. And Tillerson even made a pre-scheduled refuelling stop in Guam, the target of the North’s purported military designs.

    Trump’s alarmist tone sparked criticism among his political opponents in the United States and concern among allies and partners in Asia — the very nations the United States would need to work with to avert a military showdown with North Korea.

    Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said “reckless rhetoric is not a strategy to keep America safe.” Fellow Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein said the situation needs diplomacy, “not sabre rattling.”

    China, North Korea’s increasingly alienated ally, cautioned all sides against “employing words or actions that could sharpen differences and escalate the situation.”

    One regular critic of Trump’s foreign policy stood up for the president. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican hawk, said he felt Trump wasn’t bluffing with his threat of “fire and fury.” Trump has “basically drawn a red line” by saying Pyongyang can’t ever have a nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the U.S., Grahamsaid.

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    Not guilty but not so innocent either.

    Not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

    And not worth it, maybe: The invasion of privacy, the savagery of cross-examination, the dismantling of a woman’s character.

    There was no surprise in the acquittal Wednesday of three off-duty cops charged with sexual assault.

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    There was just a judge — a wise, widely respected female judge — palpably gritting her teeth, on the bench reading aloud and in her written decision issued, which found the defendants not guilty of forcing sexual acts upon a non-consenting female parking officer.

    And one lone voice yelping out a “Yeah!” in the courtroom as the verdict was delivered — the sister of a defendant unable to contain her relief. But even that interjection sounded heavily inappropriate in this setting and was abruptly stilled.

    It helps to love the law, as Justice Anne Molloy clearly does, in fraught cases such as this. The law pivots on a presumption of innocence even for those accused of sexual assault, just as it applies in any other criminal offence. Amidst competing testimony and conflicting evidence, it was the Crown’s responsibility to prove the case brought against Constables Leslie Nyznik, Sameer Kara and Joshua Cabero. The prosecution failed, as it so often does, when one person’s word is pitted against another person’s word and the alleged offence is sexual.

    “Although the slogan ‘Believe the victim’ has become popularized of late, it has no place in a criminal trial,” Molloy wrote. “To approach a trial with the assumption that the complainant is telling the truth is the equivalent of imposing a presumption of guilt on the person accused of sexual assault and then placing a burden on him to prove his innocence. That is antithetical to the fundamental principles of justice enshrined in our constitution and the values underlying our free and democratic society.”

    Whether deserving of it or not, these police officers are the beneficiaries of a sound, centuries-old justice system that requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

    There was too much doubt, much of it emanating from the complainant’s lengthy appearance in the witness stand, subjected to unconscionable character assassination. Some of those lapses were trivial and insignificant. Others were more problematic, especially when placed against the evidence of a toxicology expert who testified that the complainant’s alcohol consumption, based on her own recollection of drinks imbibed, was inconsistent with the symptoms of blackouts, nausea and immobility which purportedly ensued.

    The complainant — whose identity is protected by a publication ban — maintained that her body was unresponsive, her mental will useless, such that she was unable to fend off the unwanted simultaneous sexual acts by all three accused — intercourse and fellatio — inside a room at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel in the early morning hours of Jan. 17, 2015, following a night of pub crawling.

    A blood-alcohol concentration — estimated and projected, given the complainant’s account, her height and weight — of between 65 mg and 90 mg of alcohol in 100 mL of blood, “would not come close to” the level of impairment required to cause memory blackouts and loss of consciousness. The complainant leaned heavily on that scenario to explain away inconsistencies in her testimony.

    Such symptoms could only be contributable to the ingestion of a drug, which was the complainant’s firm belief, although she could not point to an instance where her drink might have been spiked and there’s no evidence of that occurring in the surveillance tapes available. Further, as the expert from the Centre of Forensic Sciences testified — a Crown witness — had the culprit been GHB or ketamine (common rape drugs), the effects would have been felt within 15 to 30 minutes of ingestion, peaked and then disappeared within half an hour. No memories, rather than patchy memories, would have resulted from that blackout period.

    AB (the initials made up by the judge) did have memories from that sordid hotel room encounter. Also, upon arrival at the Harbour Castle, she is seen on video getting out of the cab without problem, then conversing normally with two of the accused as they wait for an elevator.

    “That does not mean that AB was lying about these symptoms,” Molloy observed. “It is possible she has an inaccurate or unreliable memory of her symptoms. It is also possible . . . that she has reconstructed a memory of her own participation in the hotel room and believes it to be true.”

    Throughout the month-long trial, defence lawyers — and Nyznik, the only accused to take the stand — insisted that the sexual episode was consensual and that, in fact, AB was the one who initiated it.

    If eyes rolled at Nyznik’s under-oath version of events — with AB the succubus, preying on a trio of men (one of them, her friend Kara, sleeping off his colossal drunk when she got to the room) — there was precious little to hang a conviction on. That is the nature of such trials and why it takes a brave complainant to go the prosecution route.

    Molloy made no bones about her skepticism regarding Nyznik’s evidence, bold-facing that section in her decision: I Do Not Necessarily Believe Mr. Nyznik.

    Indeed, Molloy agreed with most of the Crown’s submissions that the testimony was scripted and missing in details except for those aspects which the prosecution characterized as “rehearsed.”

    “However, making a determination that someone has lied under oath is not an easy task. There are certainly aspects of Mr. Nyznik’s testimony that I did not find convincing.” Some of his account — describing how AB had pulled down his zipper and taken his penis into her mouth with no assistance or prior discussion, for example — was “unlikely.” Parts of his evidence “simply did not ring true.” But Molloy was stuck with what was presented.

    “I do not find Mr. Nyznik’s version of the events to be compelling and I am not able to say I necessarily believe him. However, neither am I in a position to say that I reject his evidence as untruthful. I simply do not know whether or not he is telling the truth about the critical issue — the consent of the complainant to the acts he described.”

    A jury, possibly, with lesser appreciation of the law, might have come to a more gut-instinct conclusion. But Molloy, in a judge-alone trial, didn’t have the luxury of instinct over evidence. She clearly went as far as she could go, adhering to the constraints of law.

    That included, quite notably, an entire section on: Irrelevant Evidence and Things I Have Not Taken Into Account.

    This, I believe, was an admonition to the defence team for getting down and dirty in their rape-myth maligning of the complainant’s character: The allegation she’d told Nyznik and Kara, before hand, that she planned to wear a short skirt to “Rookie Buy Night,” for “easy access” (Molloy was not satisfied the comment had been made and it didn’t matter to whether she consented to sex several days later); the insignificance of what AB was wearing that night (“What a woman wears is no indication of her willingness to have sexual intercourse, nor can it be seen as even the remotest justification for assuming she is consenting to sex”); AB’s willing accompaniment of Kara and Nyznik to a strip club or whether she “invited herself” to their hotel room afterwards; her initial reluctance to report the alleged assault and her erratic behaviour in the days that followed.

    “In particular, a woman who has been the victim of a sexual assault will not necessarily exhibit immediate symptoms of trauma. She might, or might not, be weepy. She might, or might not, be depressed and withdrawn. She might, or might not, be hysterical. Or she might cover up any of those kinds of emotions with an exterior of jocularity …

    “There is simply no ‘normal’ or typical’. I have not taken any of this conduct into account in reaching my decision.”

    May not feel that way, in this moment, but that’s a win for victims of sexual assault.

    It gives them back their dignity.

    0 0

    “No matter how high he climbed, he never forgot where he came from and he was never intimidated by title or by success.”

    That humility referred to by Bob Rae was one of the overriding traits family and friends remembered in eulogies at the funeral of businessman and philanthropist Jack Rabinovitch, founder of the Scotiabank Giller Prize, who died Sunday at the age of 87 after a “catastrophic” fall at his home in Toronto.

    In the depth of summer, dignitaries and luminaries including Rae and his wife Arlene Perly Rae, former Ontario cabinet minister Gregory Sorbara, Ontario Lt.-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell, editor Douglas Gibson, writers Nino Ricci, Alison Pick, media mogul Moses Znaimer, friends Anna and Julian Porter, and so many others gathered to remember his philanthropy and business acumen, yes, but, mostly, his humour, zest for life and his friendship.

    Rabbi Adam Cutler and Cantor Aviva Rajsky officiated at the Wednesday morning funeral at the Beth Tzedec Congregation on Bathurst St.

    “It was a testament to the friendship and love he had given to so many people,” remarked Louise Dennys, the executive vice-president of Penguin Random House Canada. “He was truly beloved.”

    Read more:

    Jack Rabinovitch, creator of Giller Prize, dies at 87

    Jack Rabinovitch’s legacy was a gift to Canada: Editorial

    What emerged was a portrait of a family man, a lover of books and of life, a man who was as generous with his friendship as he was in his philanthropy.

    His three daughters stood together in front of the gathered mourners, side by side as if to gain strength from each other and hold each other up, from youngest to eldest, Elana, Daphna and Noni, his legacy, as one of them pointed out.

    Noni talked about the different “acts” of her father’s life — Act I being his early life in Montreal and Act II being the Doris Giller years.

    She remembered his leaving for work when she was a child in his gold-coloured Buick with the 8-track tape deck playing Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. To get offered a lift to their parochial school was a big deal.

    She also remembered Doris Giller, Rabinovitch’s second wife, saying the former Toronto Star books editor had a hard time understanding three little girls who didn’t drink scotch, didn’t smoke and needed to be fed before the civilized hour of 8 o’clock at night.

    The Giller Prize was established by Rabinovitch after his wife’s untimely passing in 1993. It brought glamour to the Canadian literary scene, offering the winning author a prize of $25,000 — these days, the winner claims $100,000.

    “You can tell how important Jack Rabinovitch was to the world of books in Canada just by looking around the funeral,” said editor Douglas Gibson after. “Publishers, authors and many others in the book world were there, paying tribute to the man who made Canadian novels popular.”

    “Miraculously, he found a way to create ‘the Giller Effect,’ which induced hundreds of thousands of Canadians to become excited about our books, and to buy them,” Gibson added.

    Daphna Rabinovitch recalled her and her father’s shared love of good food, and of him sitting in the kitchen with a stack of newspapers by his side — he read five a day, we were told — and television remote at the ready nearby so he could watch his beloved sports. He was a spectator but also an athlete, playing tennis only recently.

    Elana Rabinovitch, now the executive director of the Giller Prize, met weekly with her father to talk about the prize — meetings she looked forward to, even if they did end up yelling at each other sometimes.

    “He fostered in all of us a wonder about and love for — as he put it — the arsenal of language,” she said. “I will always be grateful that he showed us the value for and understanding of the wider world.”

    Through all the eulogies, those several hundred people in the synagogue learned about Jack Rabinovitch’s mother Fanny, a seamstress who escaped from Ukraine to Romania and Bucharest in the 1920s. We heard about his early life in Montreal, where he grew up poor in the Main district around Saint Laurent Boulevard and how he learned his math skills by counting coins for the family business.

    We heard of his time at Baron Byng High School — where he was at the centre of a story referenced by a number of his family and friends in relation to throwing a teacher’s desk out a window.

    Jack Rabinovitch came down the “Rene Levesque” highway from Montreal to Toronto in 1985 to Toronto where he and his family made a life — and had an impact.

    Bob Rae, former Ontario premier and once acting leader of the federal Liberal Party, gave a eulogy commenting on their 25 years of friendship.

    He spoke of how Rabinovitch had talked with him about the idea of building the new Princess Margaret hospital before the 1990 election, which saw Rae become premier. They worked together to bring it into being in 1996.

    Rae said no matter how high he climbed, Rabinovitch never forgot where he came from, nor did he lose his playful spirit.

    “He cared about his friends, he cared about all of us. And it was never a club with a closed door,” Rae said in his eulogy.

    Former TTC chairman and lawyer Julian Porter recalled travelling with his close friend to London, sitting in the Lord Mayor’s pew in Westminster Abbey. Rae also regaled about tales of travels with him and his wife Arlene Perly Rae. Julian Porter quoted from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, struggling to hold back tears — “I didn’t cry,” he said as he walked off to the open arms of Rae and of Rabinovitch’s family.

    Writers were quoted liberally — Auden, Yeats, Shakespeare — and Madeleine Thien whose book Do Not Say We Have Nothing, was the last Giller Prize winner that Jack Rabinovitch would ever read, a rabbi pointed out.

    “The funeral was a great reflection of the kind of person Jack was. The speeches mixed funny stories with tributes to Jack’s tremendous skills at business and philanthropy,” remembered Jack Batten, writer and friend, after the funeral.

    “That combination described Jack to a T, but if he were around, he’d say, ‘Gimme more jokes.’ He took serious things seriously but sooner or later in any discussion, sooner most often, he would insert a funny line. Jack was the least stuffy businessman you would ever meet.”

    Elana Rabinovitch began and ended her commemoration with words from the W.H. Auden poem “Twelve Songs”:

    Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,

    Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,

    Silence the pianos and with muffled drum

    Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

    . . .

    He was my North, my South, my East and West,

    My working week and Sunday rest,

    My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;

    I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

    With files from the Star’s wire services

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