Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel

Embed this content in your HTML


Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)

More Channels

Channel Catalog

Channel Description:


older | 1 | .... | 979 | 980 | (Page 981) | 982 | 983 | .... | 1045 | newer

    0 0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Moose are colorblind.

    0 0

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

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

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

    Read more:

    Why North Korea is threatening Guam with its ballistic missiles

    North Korean threats aren’t deterring tourists from visiting Guam

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

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

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

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

    Cruz detailed the preparations people needed to take.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    0 0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    0 0

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

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

    The racists were right.

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    0 0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Then a woman was murdered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    0 0

    Being caught impaired at work is not necessarily the end of the line for TTC employees.

    Three months into the transit agency’s controversial new random drug and alcohol testing policy, 17 out of the 680 transit workers checked have tested positive for being inebriated on the job, according to TTC figures.

    Ten of the employees no longer work for the transit agency, having either resigned or been dismissed. Four cases are still under investigation.

    But three of those who tested positive have been allowed to keep their jobs.

    Under a TTC policy that is supported by labour law experts, workers who are impaired on the job aren’t fired if they can show that they have an addiction, which the TTC considers a disability.

    “We don’t want anybody to be coming to work impaired, needless to say. But at the same time we want people to be healthy,” said TTC spokesperson Brad Ross.

    “People have addictions. We want to help them.”

    Ross said that for privacy reasons he couldn’t confirm whether the TTC reinstated the three workers because they admitted to a substance abuse problem, but that “any reinstatement after a positive test would almost certainly be for an addiction.”

    If a worker who tests positive claims to have an addiction, their case is reviewed by an independent substance abuse professional, according to Ross.

    TTC management and employee relations staff also review the case, and if it’s determined the addiction is genuine the employee is directed to enter a treatment program.

    The worker can be cleared to return upon the completion of the program, but before doing so would be tested to ensure they’re free from drugs or alcohol.

    The employee is then subject to unannounced drug and alcohol tests for a period of two years. Ross said each worker is dealt with on a case-by-case basis, but that an employee could be terminated if the test uncovers any alcohol or drug use.

    Nadia Halum, an employment and human rights lawyer at the Toronto-based MacLeod Law Firm, said that the TTC is legally obligated to give special consideration to workers with addictions.

    “Addiction has been recognized as a disability by the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario,” she said.

    “If someone has a disability and discloses that they have a disability, then the TTC — or any employer really — has a duty to accommodate that disability.”

    Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, which represents more than 10,000 TTC workers, opposes the random drug testing policy, which the union argues violates the rights of employees. An arbitration ruling on the policy is still pending.

    But Local 113 secretary-treasurer Kevin Morton said that subjecting workers who have admitted to an addiction to unannounced tests is a sensible measure to protect public safety.

    “I wouldn’t do it for a lifetime … but I would say (two years) is fair,” he said.

    Of the 17 workers who have tested positive since the TTC introduced the random testing policy on May 8, five were found to have consumed alcohol, and12 were found to have used unspecified drugs. Two employees refused to be tested, which the TTC considers a violation of the policy that can result in disciplinary action.

    The TTC is still waiting on the results of 24 drug tests, which take several days to process.

    Two of the employees who tested positive were transit vehicle operators. One was non-union, meaning the person held a supervisory or management position.

    The TTC says that the tests only determine whether someone is impaired at the time of the check, not whether they use drugs or alcohol on their own time.

    0 0

    The Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled that police investigating a suspected marijuana grow-op in a Hamilton home needed a search warrant to obtain hydro records from a local utility company.

    The landmark decision sends a clear message to law enforcement agencies and hydro companies, says Toronto cannabis lawyer Paul Lewin. He argued the case on behalf of appellants Maria Del Carmen Orlandis-Habsburgo and Edwin Robert LeFrancois.

    “Going forward, police must obtain a warrant or other judicial authorization in order to search and seize hydro consumption records with respect to suspected residential cannabis grow operations,” Lewin said in a statement.

    Despite the fact the court did not, however, exclude the marijuana and cash seized — so the convictions for possession for the purpose of trafficking and possession of proceeds of crime, were upheld — the case is nonetheless a positive development for cannabis growers and privacy advocates, Lewin said Tuesday.

    “We have an expectation of privacy in all our most private places, like our homes, our briefcases … our cars,” Lewin said Tuesday. Electricity usage records, which reveal “a lot about your lifestyle,” didn’t have an expectation of privacy “and now it does.”

    The defendants, whom Lewin described as a medicine woman and Indigenous activist, rented a home in Hamilton with a grow-op in the basement.

    Horizon Utilities, using customized software, noted a pattern of electricity use in the residence that was consistent with the operation of a grow-op. Horizon forwarded the information to police, the court ruling says.

    Ontario utilities have routinely turned over such information without requiring a warrant. But Horizon went further in this case, Lewin said.

    When police began an investigation, including surveillance, they requested additional information about ongoing electricity use at the home and at neighbouring residences. The utility voluntarily complied.

    Police applied for a warrant to search the residence relying, in part, on energy consumption information supplied by Horizon. Police found a grow-op in the basement, seized $23,000 and charged the pair.

    A judge convicted them in 2014 after finding the defendants’ rights were not violated under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    But three judges of the Court of Appeal found their rights against an unreasonable search and seizure were violated when Horizon shared the information with police, which launched the investigation.

    The province’s high court rejected the Crown argument that the appellants did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the data.

    “The examination and use of the data by the police was not authorized by law, and therefore could not be reasonable within the meaning of s. 8 of the Charter,” Justice David Doherty, writing on behalf of the panel, wrote in a decision released Aug. 11.

    “The appellants’ right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure was breached.”

    The judges, however, determined the evidence should not be excluded because police might have believed in good faith that they were entitled to the energy consumption data without a warrant.

    Once pot is legal next year, Canadians will be able to grow up to four plants while medical growers are allowed 12 plants. Even if authorities suspect people are exceeding those limits, “now no one can spy on them, they are private in their home,” Lewin said.

    0 0

    When David Makepeace experienced his first solar eclipse in 1991, he didn’t expect it would completely transform his life.

    “My slate was wiped clean . . . I have not been the same since,” said Makepeace, now 54 and a filmmaker/video producer in Toronto.

    It’s difficult to describe the rush he gets from seeing an eclipse, he says, but it’s an overpowering feeling of being “at one with the cosmos.”

    “You see that first one and then it’s all over. As soon as the shadow of the moon rushes off you, you want that feeling back.”

    Now Makepeace is addicted to chasing solar eclipses — he’s travelled to all seven continents to stand in the moon’s shadow.

    In 2003, he spent a month on an icebreaker travelling to the far side of Antarctica, where he witnessed an eclipse from an ice shelf. He’s gone into the Saharan desert to see an eclipse with thousands of other people at a campsite in Libya. He’s gone to a volcanic island in Indonesia and he’s even taken a chartered flight, so he and more than 70 other eclipse chasers could sail through the moon’s shadow at more than 11,200 metres.

    On Monday, Makepeace will witness his 23rd eclipse — and 16th total eclipse in Wyoming. It’s an experience he firmly believes everybody should have at least once in their lifetime — in fact, he runs a website called dedicated to spreading the word.

    During a total eclipse, everything goes dark, you can see planets, birds roost, animals behave oddly — “there’s just a litany of change taking place all around you when you’re standing in the shadow of the moon,” said Makepeace, who estimates he’s spent around $100,000 chasing eclipses.

    Seeing the corona — the aura surrounding the eclipsed sun — is especially intense. He said people are often overcome with tears during the experience.

    “There’s no way to really describe it unless you see totality yourself,” he said.

    On Monday, people across the United States will witness a total solar eclipse — the rare astronomical event where the moon passes between the earth and the sun, fully covering the sun and darkening part of the Earth with its shadow. Millions of people will be in the roughly 110-kilometre wide “path of totality,” a ribbon spanning from Salem, Ore., to Charleston, S.C., according to NASA.

    People in Toronto will experience a partial solar eclipse Monday when the moon will cover about 70 per cent of the sun with maximum coverage at 2:32 p.m.

    Makepeace is part of a community of eclipse chasers, who avidly seek out the shadow of the moon — although he says he’s among the most hardcore. He generally sees eclipses with a band of other avid chasers — it makes more sense to go in groups, especially when hunting down eclipses in remote places.

    A total eclipse is a “spectacular” experience, said Chris Malicki, a family doctor in Mississauga who’s travelled the world to see 14 total eclipses and five annular eclipses, where the moon covers the sun’s centre.

    He vividly remembers being flabbergasted by his first total eclipse in 1979; next week his five- and seven-year-old grandchildren will see an eclipse for their first time.

    “I think it’s the most dramatic and beautiful thing one can see in nature,” said Malicki, whose wife is also an eclipse chaser.

    “It’s like standing on another planet during the precious two minutes or so when the sun completely disappears . . . There’s beautiful angel wings around this black hole, it’s dark, then suddenly in the period of a minute or two it just becomes daylight again. It’s unreal.”

    Randy Attwood, the executive director of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, will see his 10th solar eclipse on Monday. He and his wife actually chased an eclipse during their honeymoon in 1984, travelling to a small fishing village in Papua New Guinea where there was no electricity or running water.

    Attwood said that it’s difficult for people who’ve never seen a total eclipse to understand what’s so incredible about them.

    “Generally people who see their first eclipse, the first thing they say after the eclipse is ‘when’s the next one?,’ ” Attwood said.

    “The light levels change dramatically, you can actually see the moon’s shadow race across the sky . . . You actually reach a point where you are aligned with the moon and the sun and the earth.”

    For people staying in Toronto, Attwood said it’s crucial that people don’t look at the partially eclipsed sun without proper protection. He urges people to wear properly made solar viewers or eclipse glasses — sunglasses are not sufficient.

    For thousands in the U.S., Monday will be their first time seeing a total solar eclipse.

    Yvette Cendes, 31, has been planning to see this total eclipse since she was 13 years old. Now an astronomy PhD student at the University of Toronto, Cendes can’t wait to travel to Jackson Hole, Wy., to be in the “path of totality” for the first time.

    Several people from her department are travelling for the event, she said, and she also has astronomer friends flying in from Europe to see it.

    ‘It’s going to be pretty big. I’m kind of joking it’s like a wedding, what are we going to talk about once the eclipse is done?,” she said, laughing, adding that she’s a little worried about getting hooked on the expensive hobby.

    On Wednesday, Makepeace will fly to Wyoming, where he and a dozen friends will pack into RVs and travel to the centreline of the eclipse path. If it looks like it might be cloudy, they’ll hop in their RVs and move — you’ve got to be mobile, or risk missing the eclipse, he said.

    He usually has five or six cameras rolling during every eclipse, but the experience is impossible to truly capture.

    0 0

    Bombardier is taking Metrolinx to court for the second time this year, in the latest sign that the relationship between the Quebec-based rail manufacturer and the provincial transit agency has badly deteriorated.

    In an application filed with the Ontario Divisional Courton Tuesday, Bombardier claims that Metrolinx, which is the government agency responsible for transit planning in the GTHA, unfairly prohibited it from bidding on a lucrative contract to operate its Toronto-area rail services.

    “Metrolinx improperly, arbitrarily, unfairly, and unlawfully excluded Bombardier from participating in the Regional Express Rail (RER) operator procurement by designating Bombardier as … ineligible,” reads the company’s application.

    “Bombardier has a right to compete in this procurement process on an equal footing and with the same rights as its competitors.”

    Bombardier currently holds the contracts to operate Metrolinx’s GO Transit and UPX service until 2023.

    Last month Metrolinx issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) to identify potential bidders to take over the lines after the current deals expire, by which time the agency plans to be well on its way to drastically expanding GO service as part of the RER program that is expected to quadruple the number weekly GO trips from 1,500 to 6,000 by 2025.

    Metrolinx says it prohibited Bombardier and at least two other companies that provide maintenance for the rail lines from participating in the RFQ in order to avoid a conflict of interest.

    “One of the main duties of the successful bidder will be to carry out an assessment of our current operations and service providers. A current operator cannot oversee this function objectively. That’s why Bombardier will not be eligible to fulfil that role,” wrote Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins in an email Tuesday.

    A Bombardier spokesperson refused to answer the Star’s questions, on the grounds that the issue is now before the courts.

    But the company’s application alleges that Metrolinx’s decision to exclude it from the RFQ violates the Crown corporation’s “statutory and other legal obligations to provide fair and equal access to procurement processes.”

    Bombardier claims it would “suffer irreparable harm” if it is unable to participate, because it would miss out on a contract it estimates could be worth more than $2 billion. (Metrolinx would not confirm that figure.)

    The application asks the court to quash Metrolinx’s designation of Bombardier as ineligible, to stay the procurement process, and to provide the company with a “reasonable opportunity” to participate in the RFQ.

    Aikins said that Metrolinx has already agreed to extend the deadline by two weeks, to Sept. 12, in order to answer questions from other potential bidders.

    The latest legal dispute between Metrolinx and Bombardier is separate from the bitter court battle that played out earlier this year over a delayed $770-million order for light rail vehicles (LRVs) to run on the Eglinton Crosstown and other Toronto-area light rail lines.

    Metrolinx placed the order with Bombardier in 2010 but moved to cancel it last year, claiming that the company had defaulted by not delivering two prototype vehicles on time.

    Bombardier denied it was in default and filed an injunction against Metrolinx in February.

    In April a judge sided with the company, ruling that Metrolinx couldn’t terminate the deal for default without first going through the dispute resolution process set out in the contract.

    That process is ongoing, but in May the province announced it would buy vehicles from Alstom, a Bombardier competitor, as a back up for the troubled Crosstown order.

    Aikins stated that the decision to exclude Bombardier from the RER procurement was not retaliation for the court loss, saying in an email that the LRV dispute was a “very separate” issue.

    0 0

    OTTAWA—A Bullock’s oriole that landed in eastern Ontario in 2015 will finally be flying home to British Columbia — by plane.

    The little western bird drew national attention when she arrived in Packenham, Ont., in December 2015 — probably after being blown off her migration course.

    Birdlovers flocked to the area to witness the rare sighting, but Ray Holland found it half dead under a tree and brought it to the Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre in January 2016.

    The female bird was diagnosed with dehydration, weakness and hypothermia and had lost a toenail to frostbite.

    A few months later, after the bird had fully recovered, efforts began to get it home, but because the bird began to molt, its return had to be postponed.

    The Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre says the oriole’s long-awaited journey home on an Air Canada flight is scheduled to begin on Wednesday morning at the Ottawa Airport.

    Bullock’s orioles are found in the southernmost part of B.C. and Alberta, but their main range is in the United States.

    The bird care centre says export and import permits and federal laws would have made flying it to the U.S. extraordinarily difficult.

    The centre says it worked with the BC Wildlife Rescue Association to secure permits and permission, along with Air Canada, which secured a federal transport exemption.

    It says there were even some offers from people willing to buy a ticket just to escort the bird.

    Air Canada employee Dave Starke will accompany the oriole to Vancouver and the airline has secured her a spot in the passenger cabin.

    BC Wildlife Rescue Association will give the oriole time to adapt in an outdoor flight cage where it will build muscle and acclimatize to outdoor temperatures again.

    It’s hoped the bird will be released after a week or so, at which point it will fly itself to the southern U.S. or northern Mexico, its native wintering grounds.

    0 0

    EDMONTON—A woman who lost her engagement ring 13 years ago while weeding her garden on the family farm is wearing it proudly again after her daughter-in-law pulled it from the ground on a misshapen carrot.

    Mary Grams, 84, said she can’t believe the lucky carrot actually grew through and around the diamond ring she had long given up hope of ever finding again.

    “I feel relieved and happy inside,” Grams said Tuesday from her home in Camrose, southeast of Edmonton.

    “It grew into the carrot. I still can’t figure it out.”

    Grams said she never told her husband, Norman, who died five years ago, that she had lost the ring, but she mentioned it to her son.

    Once she realized it was missing she spent hours looking through the garden for the keepsake, but to no avail.

    “I got on my hands and knees and looked all over and I could not find it. I looked for days and days.”

    Colleen Daley found the ring while harvesting carrots for supper with her dog Billy at the farm near Armena, Alta., where Grams used to live. The farm has been in the family for 105 years.

    Daley said while she was pulling the carrots she noticed one them looked kind of strange.

    She was going to feed it to her dog but decided to keep it and just threw it in her pail.

    When she was washing the carrots she noticed the ring and spoke to her husband, Mary’s son, about what she had found.

    “Mary had kept it a secret that she had lost her ring,” Daley said.

    They quickly called Mary in Camrose about their find.

    “I said we found your ring in the garden. She couldn’t believe it,” Daley said. “It was so weird that the carrot grew perfectly through that ring.”

    Grams said she was eager to try the ring on again after so many years.

    With family looking on she washed the ring with a little soap to get the dirt off.

    It slid on her finger as easily as it did when her husband gave it to her.

    “We were giggling and laughing,” she said. “It fit. After that many years it fits.”

    0 0

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The elder Bush turned 93 in June.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    0 0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Both events had a heavy police presence.

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

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

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

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

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

    With files from the Canadian Press

    0 0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Bob Hepburn’s column appears Thursday.

    0 0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    0 0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more:

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

    Shame the Charlottesville white supremacists on social media: Teitel

    Trump’s presidency a long descent into darkness: Rae

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    With files from the New York Times

    0 0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    0 0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    0 0

    Owen Robinson is desperate to find host families in Toronto for three boys with congenital heart defects from Haiti who need life-saving surgery.

    Robinson’s organization, Haiti Cardiac Alliance, is helping the children, aged three to four years old, find treatment outside Haiti. The group has helped 300 Haitian kids get heart surgeries at hospitals all over the U.S. and the Caribbean since it began in July 2013.

    But the operations for these three boys, who all have holes in their hearts, are difficult and no hospital the group normally goes to has been willing to take the cases on.

    That’s when SickKids Hospital agreed to step in and do the surgeries with the help of the Herbie Fund, which offers financial support to children worldwide who require specialized care.

    “If these kids don’t get treatment in Toronto, I can say with a fair degree of confidence they’re not going to be able to access treatment at all,” Robinson said. “It would very literally be life-saving.”

    But SickKids can only do the operations as long as the kids have a place to recover once they are discharged from the hospital. And finding the boys a place to stay has proven to be tricky.

    “In the United States we have some solid connections with organizations and they help us welcome these families into their community, but in Toronto we don’t have that,” Robinson said.

    In July, he asked for help from Mark Brender, an old friend and the national director of Partners in Health Canada.

    Brender recently contacted the Haitian consulate in Toronto in the hopes that someone from the community would be willing to help the boys: Roobens Thelusma, David Smith Millien and Kervens Jeannot.

    But they are still waiting for responses.

    “If there’s care available it shouldn’t be limited to where you are born and if you have the funds,” Brender said.

    He’s hoping a Haitian family will offer to help, to make communicating with the visitors easier, but said that “anybody could step up.”

    Robinson is searching for people to take in one child and one parent at a time. A social worker would accompany the family for the first week to help them get settled and translate for them. The family would need to stay in Toronto for one or two months during the recovery period. The surgery would take place about a week after their arrival, and they would spend the next week or two at the hospital, he said.

    The families only speak French and Haitian Creole. Robinson said that while it would be helpful, the host family and volunteers don’t have to speak the language. Tools like Google translate, phrasebooks, or social workers who are available by phone could help bridge the language gap.

    The hosts and volunteers would be expected to provide the family with transportation to and from the hospital, food, or the means for the parent to cook, and a warm and supportive environment. The child’s parent would take care of the medical aspects of caring for the child.

    “If the child had been born in the U.S. or Canada, (the heart problem) would have been repaired in the first few months of the child’s life but these kids are three- or four-years-old now,” Robinson said. “We have situations all the time where a child’s been selected somewhere and they die before they can go, it just takes too long.”

    Anyone interested in helping can contact Robinson at

    0 0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

older | 1 | .... | 979 | 980 | (Page 981) | 982 | 983 | .... | 1045 | newer