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    BRIDGEWATER, N.J.—In a break with tradition, U.S. President Donald Trump and the first lady have decided not to participate in events for this year’s Kennedy Center Honors arts awards so honorees can celebrate “without any political distraction,” the White House announced Saturday.

    The Kennedy Center said it respected Trump’s decision and the show will go on.

    Past presidents and first ladies traditionally host a White House reception in the hours before the Kennedy Center gala, which they would then watch from seats high above the stage. This year’s honours are to be awarded on Dec. 3.

    The Trumps reached their decision Friday, said a White House official who insisted on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

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

    It was made the same day that the entire membership of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities resigned to protest Trump’s comments about last weekend’s demonstrations by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia. The president has blamed “many sides” for the violence that left an anti-racism activist dead.

    Trump has had a long and contentious relationship with the arts world and some Kennedy Center honorees, who are being recognized for lifetime achievement in their fields, already had said they would not attend the White House reception.

    One honoree, television writer and producer Norman Lear, had also questioned whether Trump would want to attend the gala, “given his indifference or worse regarding the arts and humanities.”

    Trump has recommended defunding the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

    Dancer Carmen de Lavallade said on her website this week she was honoured to be recognized, but would not go to Trump’s White House.

    “In light of the socially divisive and morally caustic narrative that our existing leadership is choosing to engage in, and in keeping with the principles that I and so many others have fought for, I will be declining the invitation to attend the reception at the White House,” she said.

    Singer Gloria Estefan earlier had said that she would set her personal politics aside to accept the honour, now in its 40th year. She said the image of a Cuban immigrant, like herself, being honoured is important when Latino immigrants in particular have “taken a beating in the recent past.”

    Estefan once hosted a Democratic fundraiser attended by President Barack Obama. She said she and her husband, Emilio, are not affiliated with a political party.

    The other honorees are hip-hop artist LL Cool J, who had yet to say whether he would attend the White House reception, and singer Lionel Richie, who described himself as a maybe. Representatives for both celebrities did not immediately respond to requests for comment Saturday.

    Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein and President Deborah F. Rutter said they respect Trump’s decision.

    “In choosing not to participate in this year’s Honors activities, the administration has graciously signalled its respect for the Kennedy Center and ensures the Honors gala remains a deservingly special moment for the honorees. We are grateful for this gesture” they said in a joint statement.

    The honorees, announced earlier this month, will be celebrated at a Kennedy Center gala in December, featuring performances and tributes from top entertainers that will be nationally televised. A traditional State Department reception and awards dinner on Dec. 2 will be held as planned.

    Rubenstein and Rutter said all five honorees were expected at both events.

    The White House said Trump and first lady Melania Trump “extend their sincerest congratulations and well wishes to all of this year’s award recipients for their many accomplishments.”

    Trump also chose to skip the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner in April and instead attended a rally in Pennsylvania where he began with marks attacking the news media while dismissing the dinner and its participants.

    “A large group of Hollywood actors and Washington media are consoling each other in a hotel ballroom in our nation’s capital right now,” Trump said. He added: “And I could not possibly be more thrilled than to be more than 100 miles away from Washington’s swamp, spending my evening with all of you and with a much, much larger crowd and much better people, right?”


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    The Canadian National Exhibition has cancelled its popular Youth Day for this year’s exhibition, citing issues in 2016 when it was forced to shut down early due to safety concerns.

    The CNE reviews its promotions yearly and last year’s incident was a factor in the decision, said media spokesperson Tran Nguyen.

    Last year police were called to the fair grounds after multiple fights broke out during Youth Day, when admission prices drop to $6 before 3 p.m. and there are discounted rides.

    Two 16-year-olds and a 17-year-old were arrested and, in a “proactive measure,” the exhibition closed nearly three hours early.

    The CNE then said it would be re-evaluating the event, which they have had for six years.

    “A few bad apples” won’t deter the CNE from welcoming youth, Nguyen said.

    Security is “very comprehensive” and they factor in past years’ experiences into the security plan, Nguyen continued.

    This year, in an effort to appeal to the younger demographic despite cancelling Youth Day, youth-oriented programming has been expanded for the whole fair, including concerts and things like Parkour demonstrations and laser shows, Nguyen said.

    Tickets are being offered at $8 to all ages after 5 p.m. each Monday to Thursday, excluding Labour Day.

    In 2015, the CNE closed an hour early due to overcrowding, when 20,000 more people than expected, including “large groups of youth” were counted at the Youth Day event. While they called the turn out a “positive response,” the decision was “simply to ensure the safety of our guests.”

    With files from Emily Fearon


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    Two men are in serious condition following a shooting in a downtown hotel early Saturday.

    Toronto police Const. Caroline de Kloet said two men were found with gunshot wounds in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency hotel at King St. W. and Peter St. near Spadina Ave. around 4:30 a.m.

    “One man had a gunshot wound to his stomach and the other man had a gunshot wound to his leg,” she said.

    Both were conscious and breathing when they were transported to hospital.

    Toronto police were still on the scene as of Saturday morning continuing the investigation. There is currently no information on suspects.

    Anyone with information is being asked to contact police at 416-808-5200 or Crime Stoppers at 416-222-8477.


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    Refugee claimants stuck in Canada’s growing backlog have a chance to get their cases heard speedily — if they can afford to take the Immigration and Refugee Board to court.

    The Star has learned that at least a dozen asylum cases in which claimants took the board to court, including some that have been in the queue since 2012 and earlier, have been scheduled for hearings by the board since July.

    By giving the asylum-seekers their long-awaited hearings, the board avoided the possibility the Federal Court would make a ruling in relation to its handling of the backlog.

    Critics say timely processing of asylum claims should not be available only to those who pursue legal action against the government.

    “Those who have money can go to the expensive litigation and may be able to get a resolution for themselves,” said lawyer Raoul Boulakia, who represented two of these asylum claimants, a Sri Lankan man and a woman from Burundi.

    “But this is not the answer for the vast majority of refugees in the backlog who don’t have the money or are too afraid to litigate against the Canadian government.”

    There are some 5,500 so-called legacy asylum claims, those that were filed before 2012 reforms that required new cases to be heard within 60 days. While the refugee board has focused on the new claims, the legacy cases were put on the back-burner. Even some of the new cases have been delayed, meaning the backlog has continued to grow.

    Exacerbating the situation is the surge of asylum seekers crossing the border via the United States since President Donald Trump came into power.

    The board declined to comment on the litigation, saying it doesn’t comment on individual cases or private proceedings.

    Board spokesperson Anna Pape said the refugee backlog stood at 25,365 in June 2017 and is currently growing at a rate of about 1,000 cases per month.

    “Over the past 18 months, the (board) has been facing mounting workload pressures amid a rising intake of refugee claims and fixed output capacity. These pressures have led directly to lengthening processing times,” she said.

    So far, Ottawa hasn’t provided additional funding to the board, which has the capacity to hear about 21,000 claims a year.

    In 2015, some frustrated claimants in the backlog initiated what’s known as “mandamus” litigation with the Federal Court of Canada in an effort to challenge the inaction of the board on their files and order officials to adjudicate their cases.

    The backlog has created tremendous hardship for some claimants, who are often separated from their families and cannot plan their lives without permanent status.

    Legal Aid Ontario does not usually cover mandamus litigation, but it did fund some of the claimants — from Afghanistan, Burundi, Congo, Eritrea, Guinea, Namibia, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Turkey — represented by Boulakia and the Refugee Law Office in Toronto. There were also similar cases handled by other lawyers.

    One of Boulakia’s clients, Ingrid Ntahigima, was a member of the Movement for Solidarity and Democracy, an opposition party in Burundi. She fled to Canada and made an asylum claim in October 2012 due to political persecution.

    For years the refugee board didn’t hear her case, despite her repeated pleas and a psychiatric report that showed she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder due to trauma in Burundi and severe depression as a result of the inability to get her asylum resolved.

    “I didn’t have any option. I felt so powerless. I didn’t see any hope. I didn’t see any future,” said the 25-year-old from Bujumbura, who works as a customer service representative. She paid more than $3,000 for the litigation out of her own pocket.

    “The wait wasn’t necessary. They wasted five years of my life. I understand there is a process, but this is people’s lives. Five years is a long time. It should not be that way. It is just unfair.”

    In July, the refugee board agreed to schedule the asylum hearing for Ntahigima and the other litigants. After previewing the woman’s file before the hearing, a refugee judge decided to grant her asylum status immediately because she had such a strong claim. Once she was given a hearing date, her court case was over.

    “The violence that reigns in Burundi includes acts of violence motivated by ethnic hatred against the Tutsi minority. Since the claimant is identified as being an opponent of the current regime, she risks being targeted, arrested and abused by the Burundian authorities,” wrote adjudicator Robert Riley in his asylum decision.

    “The political opinion of the claimant, combined with her ethnicity, establishes a nexus to the (United Nations) Convention refugee definition.”

    While Ntahigima is relieved that she can now move on with her life, she feels the delay was unnecessary.

    “Justice delayed is justice denied,” said Ntahigima, who is trying to save up money to apply for permanent residency and continue her university education, hopefully pursuing a degree in international studies and business.

    “I’m happy I was granted (refugee) status and can now move on with my life, but it is an injustice if you don’t have the money to sue or are too afraid to raise your voice.”


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    Toronto firefighters have a new collective agreement, cementing them as the highest-paid firefighters in the province in terms of base salary.

    The decision, awarded on Friday after arbitration between the city and the Toronto Professional Firefighters’ Association, also maintains the long-standing practice of advancing firefighter wages in lock-step with police salaries.

    “With arbitration you don’t get everything you want, but overall we feel the decision is balanced,” said Toronto Professional Fire Fighters’ Association president Frank Ramagnano.

    “By 2018 we’ll be at the exact same level as Toronto police, we’re just taking a slightly different road to get there,” Ramangnano said.

    The new deal covers 2015-18. The arbitration award represents a roughly 8.5-per-cent-increase over four years. Most of those increases are loaded on the front end of the four-year period. In 2018, salaries will increase by only about half a per cent that year.

    As of July 2017, the base salary for a first-class firefighter will be $97,910 per year — about $8,000 per year more than under the previous collective agreement.

    Retroactive wage increases will be paid out within 90 days to the city’s 3,000 plus firefighters, the arbitration ruling says. That means the majority of cost increases from the new agreement must be paid out in lump sums.

    Toronto firefighters had been without a contract since 2014, when talks broke down between the association and the city.

    While no other Ontario firefighters earn as high a base salary, Ramagnano said in terms of total compensation, including benefits like bankable sick days and paid-duty assignments, Toronto firefighters are the lowest-paid emergency services workers in the city.

    “Our vacation isn’t as generous,” Ramagnano said. “We didn’t get any increase to our eye care packages, like other comparables did.”

    Ramagnano also pointed to lower pay on statutory holidays, and a work week that’s two hours longer than that of Toronto police officers.

    Given that the new deal covers up to only 2018, Ramagnano said he hopes the next collective agreement can be reached through negotiation, instead of going to arbitration.

    The increased costs of the new deal will put more pressure on city coffers, even after city council voted in May to freeze all budgets at 2017 levels for a year.

    After accounting for inflation, that’s the equivalent of cutting $11 million from the operating budget.

    The city faces an initial budget shortfall of $343 million in 2018 unless property taxes are raised above the roughly 2-per-cent inflation mark.

    With files from Betsy Powell


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    DIEPPE, FRANCE—Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr is leading a Canadian government delegation to France to mark the 75th anniversary of the Dieppe raid during the Second World War.

    The raid, launched on Aug. 19, 1942, would prove to be the bloodiest single day for Canada’s military in the entire war.

    The Prime Minister released a statement Saturday to honour the hundreds of Canadians who lost their lives in the battle.

    Of the nearly 5,000 Canadian soldiers who took part in the ill-fated mission, more than half became casualties, and 916 would die on the rocky shore of Puys Beach on the northern coast of occupied France.

    Read more: Bitterness lingers 75 years after Dieppe: ‘My father always felt that they had been sacrificed’

    Shackles, pebbles and posters: The Raid on Dieppe in 10 objects

    The beach landing was supposed to happen under the cover of darkness, but the Canadians, along with 1,000 British and 50 American soldiers, were late arriving on shore, and as the sun rose they were left exposed to withering fire from German troops on the cliffs above.

    Justin Trudeau said the loss at Dieppe taught Allied forces valuable lessons, which he said helped “to turn the tide of the war on D-Day” less than two years later.

    “As we commemorate the Dieppe Raid at events in Canada and France, I ask all Canadians to honour the people who gave so much at Dieppe, as well as their families at home who suffered the loss of their loved ones,” Trudeau says.

    Governor General David Johnston noted that this year marks the centennial anniversary of two great victories for Canada — the battles at Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele in the First World War — but it’s equally important to remember the losses, like the one at Dieppe.

    “We must never forget the terrible cost of armed conflict and ensure that future generations remember, lest we repeat the mistakes of the past,” Johnston said in a statement.

    Ceremonies honouring the soldiers’ sacrifice are being held Saturday in Dieppe, Montreal, Calgary and on Sunday in Dieppe, New Brunswick.


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    CARBONDALE, ILL.—The warning signs hang above hundreds of kilometres of highway, flashing the same message from Illinois to Tennessee: “SOLAR ECLIPSE. AUGUST 21. PLAN AHEAD.”

    On Monday, the moon will pass in front of the sun and cast a shadow over a 112-kilometre-wide cross-section of the continent known as the “path of totality.” It will be the country’s first total solar eclipse in nearly 40 years, and an estimated 12 million people are expected to witness it. That estimate may well be low.

    A good chunk of those people will watch from somewhere along Interstate 24. It’s a smooth, straight highway that cuts across the American heartland, passing cornfields, churches, Chik-fil-As and dozens of billboards bearing stern instructions not to leave your car to look at the sun.

    This is the road to totality. And already, eclipse chasers are congregating here, ready for the moon’s shadow to fall on them.

    Rose Gilbert arrived days ago. It took the Columbia, Md., resident 11 hours to drive herself, her husband, three of their daughters and Gilbert’s octogenarian parents to Nashville, where they’ve rented a house with a view of a lake and a wide open stretch of sky.

    “Suppose it’s cloudy?” asks her father, Carl Landi. He’s been skeptical about this whole endeavour since she first proposed it more than a year ago. (“Had it been up to me, I probably wouldn’t be here,” he confides privately.)

    “Then we’ll get in the car and drive,” Rose replies, not missing a beat.

    She and her husband, John, wouldn’t call themselves astronomy buffs. She’s a nurse, he’s a physician assistant. They don’t own telescopes or plan their vacations around celestial events.

    But an eclipse is different, Rose says.

    “It’s two whole minutes of the sun being blocked.”

    “That’s a once in a lifetime experience for most people,” John says.

    “It’s a no-brainer,” Rose responds.

    So here they are, the whole family. Their cameras are outfitted with solar filters. Their eclipse glasses are NASA-certified — Rose double checked. Even Carl is grudgingly looking forward to the event. T-minus three days and ready to go.

    Signs of the coming spectacle are evident to those who look. There’s an unusual abundance of out-of-state plates in Midwestern towns that rarely get tourists. Restaurants have announced economically awkward Monday afternoon closings between noon and 3 p.m. The billboard outside the Park Avenue Baptist Church in Paducah, Ky., asks: “We live on a planet that circles the sun and you don’t believe in miracles?”

    Locals compare the eclipse mania to a fever. It started almost imperceptibly — a date on the calendar, a one-minute preview on the nightly news. Then came the special sections of the newspaper, the cartons full of cardboard solar glasses in every storefront and posters of the sun in every window. The obsession grew and grew. Now, the whole region is half delirious.

    “I’ve heard some pretty apocalyptic sounding things,” said Melanie Cochran, of Nashville. “Cellphones dying. Power lines overloaded. They say you should get all your grocery shopping done now, in case the stores run out of food.”

    “Pfft,” Demeka Fritts, also of Nashville, lets out an exasperated breath. “Every newscast is eclipse and politics.”

    Don’t be fooled by her tone. Fritts long ago made plans to watch the event from her sister’s rooftop. It’s been a while since she spent time gazing at the sky. The 38-year-old used to love looking at the stars, but now her job keeps her busy and the lights in Nashville are too bright to see much. On Monday, she’ll stop and look up again. The whole country will.

    “It’s kind of cool,” she says.

    Businesses are closing for the big event. Schools are sending their students home early — or asking them not to come in at all.

    Shelley and John Henry Wells, of San Francisco, were supposed to be at an artist’s conference in the Smoky Mountains next week. A few months ago, they found out that the organizers had cancelled all of Monday’s events; instead, attendees will be given a bagged lunch and a seat on a bus to a viewing location near Hendersonville, N.C.

    Meanwhile, anyone who can turn the eclipse into a marketing opportunity has done so. The Warby Parker hipster eyewear chain is handing out branded solar glasses. A billboard for Harrah’s Casino in Metropolis promises a $100,000 (U.S.) eclipse giveaway.

    At the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, curators have pulled out of storage an award-winning 1989 work called “Corona II” — a fabric and thread depiction of the sun’s outer atmosphere as seen during an eclipse. On Friday, at least two dozen visitors came into the museum specifically to see it.

    “It’s just magical,” said Laura Hendrickson, the museum’s registrar, her gaze tracing the quilt’s stunning, swirling design. “That’s the only way to describe it.”

    That this quilt happens to hang within the path of totality seems a stunning cosmic coincidence. (Then again, the path of totality also encompasses “Carhenge.”)

    Hendrickson confessed that she harbours a secret hope that something special will happen during Monday’s event. She’s a “megafan” of the TV show Heroes, in which characters gain superpowers from watching a total solar eclipse.

    “The nerd in me is like, ‘what if the eclipse happens and someone can fly?’” Hendrickson laughed.

    “I’ll be right here,” she said of her plans for the eclipse. Watching through solar glasses decorated with an image of “Corona II.” Waiting for something magical to occur.


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    A Twitter post from the account of Jason Kessler, the far-right activist who organized the Charlottesville, Va., “Unite the Right” rally, insulted the protester who was killed at the event, saying late Friday night that her death was “payback time.”

    Heather Heyer was a fat, disgusting Communist,” the post said. “Communists have killed 94 million. Looks like it was payback time.”

    The post linked to a story on neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer that also insulted Heyer in crude terms and appeared to take glee in her death.

    Kessler did not respond to messages seeking comment.

    Police say Heyer was killed when a rally attendee, James A. Fields, drove his sports car into a crowd of counterprotesters at the event Aug. 12, which drew white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other far-right figures from around the nation.

    Fields has been charged with her murder. Kessler had blamed city officials for not providing sufficient security for the rally, which was organized to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a Charlottesville park.

    Kessler’s Twitter post sparked denunciations from other far-right rally attendees, who quickly distanced themselves from him, accelerating a spiral of recriminations that have been brewing among far-right leaders over who was to blame for the chaos behind last weekend’s violent “Unite the Right” rally.

    On Saturday morning, the post had been deleted from Kessler’s account, which initially claimed he’d been hacked, but then backtracked and said he’d been on a mixture of drugs.

    “I repudiate the heinous tweet that was sent from my account last night. I’ve been under a crushing amount of stress & death threats,” the post said. “I’m taking ambien, xanax and I had been drinking last night. I sometimes wake up having done strange things I can’t remember.”

    Kessler’s posts then were switched to “private” mode before his account was deleted entirely.

    “I will no longer associate w/ Jason Kessler; no one should,” Richard Spencer, a white nationalist who was scheduled to speak at Kessler’s event, said on Twitter. “Heyer’s death was deeply saddening. ‘Payback’ is a morally reprehensible idea.”

    Another far-right figure who attended the event, Tim Gionet, who goes by the name Baked Alaska, also criticized the remarks.

    “This is terribly wrong and vile,” Gionet posted. “We should not rejoice at the people who died in Charlottesville just because we disagree with them.”


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    BOSTON—Thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-Nazi slogans converged Saturday on downtown Boston in a boisterous repudiation of white nationalism, dwarfing a small group of conservatives who cut short their planned “free speech rally” a week after a gathering of hate groups led to bloodshed in Virginia.

    Counterprotesters marched through the city to historic Boston Common, where many gathered near a bandstand abandoned early by conservatives who had planned to deliver a series of speeches. Police vans later escorted the conservatives out of the area, and angry counterprotesters scuffled with armed officers trying to maintain order.

    Members of the Black Lives Matter movement later protested on the Common, where a Confederate flag was burned and protesters pounded on the sides of a police vehicle.

    Later Saturday afternoon, Boston’s police department tweeted that protesters were throwing bottles, urine and rocks at them and asked people publicly to refrain from doing so.

    Boston Commissioner William Evans said 27 arrests were made — mostly for disorderly conduct while some were for assaulting police officers. Officials said the rallies drew about 40,000 people.

    Read more:

    Vancouver anti-racism rally promotes message of love, tolerance

    What white supremacy looks like minus the Charlottesville paraphernalia: Paradkar

    UN experts say Charlottesville exemplifies rising racism in U.S.

    U.S. President Donald Trump applauded the people in Boston who he said were “speaking out” against bigotry and hate. Trump added in a Twitter message that “Our country will soon come together as one!”

    Organizers of the event, which had been billed as a “Free Speech Rally,” had publicly distanced themselves from the neo-Nazis, white supremacists and others who fomented violence in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12. A woman was killed at that Unite the Right rally, and many others were injured, when a car plowed into counterdemonstrators.

    Opponents feared that white nationalists might show up in Boston anyway, raising the spectre of ugly confrontations in the first potentially large and racially charged gathering in a major U.S. city since Charlottesville.

    One of the planned speakers of the conservative activist rally said the event “fell apart.”

    Congressional candidate Samson Racioppi, who was among several slated to speak, told WCVB-TV that he didn’t realize “how unplanned of an event it was going to be.”

    Some counterprotesters dressed entirely in black and wore bandanas over their faces. They chanted anti-Nazi and anti-fascism slogans, and waved signs that said: “Make Nazis Afraid Again,” “Love your neighbour,” “Resist fascism” and “Hate never made U.S. great.” Others carried a large banner that read: “SMASH WHITE SUPREMACY.”

    Chris Hood, a free speech rally attendee from Dorchester, Mass., said people were unfairly making it seem like the rally was going to be “a white supremacist Klan rally.”

    “That was never the intention,” he said. “We’ve only come here to promote free speech on college campuses, free speech on social media for conservative, right-wing speakers. And we have no intention of violence.”

    Rockeem Robinson, a youth counsellor from Cambridge, Mass., said he joined the counterprotest to “show support for the Black community and for all minority communities.”

    TV cameras showed a group of boisterous counterprotesters on the Common chasing a man with a Trump campaign banner and cap, shouting and swearing at him. But other counterprotesters intervened and helped the man safely over a fence into the area where the conservative rally was to be staged. Black-clad counterprotesters also grabbed an American flag out of an elderly woman’s hands, and she stumbled and fell to the ground.

    Saturday’s showdown was mostly peaceable, and after demonstrators dispersed, a picnic atmosphere took over with stragglers tossing beach balls, banging on bongo drums and playing reggae music.

    The Boston Free Speech Coalition, which organized the event, said it has nothing to do with white nationalism or racism and its group is not affiliated with the Charlottesville rally organizers in any way.

    Rallies in other cities around the country each attracted hundreds of people who wanted to show their opposition to white supremacist groups.

    Counterprotesters marched through New Orleans, some of them carrying signs that read “White People Against White Supremacy” and “Black Lives Matter.”

    In Atlanta, Ga., a diverse crowd marched from the city’s downtown to the home of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Meredith Dubé brought along her daughters, 2-year-old Willow Dubé and 12-year-old Rai Chin. Dubé is white and her daughters are mixed race. She said it is essential to show children at an early age that love is more powerful than hate.

    An anti-racism rally was held in Laguna Beach, Calif., one day before the group America First! planned to hold a demonstration in the same place that’s being billed as an “Electric Vigil for the Victims of Illegals and Refugees.”

    Mayor Toni Iselman told the crowd that “Laguna Beach doesn’t tolerate diversity, we embrace diversity.”

    In Dallas, officials were expecting thousands of people for a Saturday evening rally against white supremacy at city hall plaza, a short distance from the city’s Confederate War Memorial. About a half-dozen people wearing camouflage and toting guns patrolled Pioneer Park and its Civil War cemetery. They said they were there to make sure there was no vandalism to graves or the Confederate memorial.


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    Police are probing whether a dissolving business partnership involving the London, Ont., Hells Angels is behind two failed murder attempts in the GTA this month.

    The latest shooting took place on Wednesday outside a coffee shop at Sherway Gardens near The West Mall and Evans Ave. around 7:30 p.m.

    The shootings are the latest in a string of more than a dozen unsolved violent incidents this year in southern Ontario, including killings, explosions and arson.

    Organized crime experts say the GTA is undergoing a power struggle that pits established criminals against younger, up-and-coming ones — often from outside the province.

    They’re fighting for control of drug networks and online gambling dollars, experts say, adding they don’t expect the fighting to end anytime soon.

    Read more:

    Organized crime’s interest in the illegal pot business is going up in smoke

    Back to the future: Satan’s Choice biker club reappears on Ontario roads

    On the organized crime front, several shots were fired in the Wednesday attack that left Mark Peretz of London seriously injured.

    A second male victim also suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

    The suspects, who were wearing black masks and all-black clothing, fled in a black SUV. The vehicle was later located — burned and abandoned — in Mississauga near Hurontario St. and Queen Elizabeth Way, police said.

    Peretz is one of four men who served prison time for a botched Mob hit in 2004 that left an innocent mother-of-three paralyzed from the waist down.

    In the other attack, a 35-year-old London man was shot Aug. 4 after he was approached by three men outside a Sunset Grill breakfast restaurant in an Oakville shopping plaza at Cornwall and Trafalgar Rds. around 9:30 a.m.

    One male suspect was arrested after fleeing on foot, and two other males are still being sought by police after fleeing in a black pickup truck.

    A police source said a dissolving business partnership involving the London Hells Angels and online gambling has contributed to recent underworld tensions.

    Peretz was sentenced to nine years in prison in April 2006 for his role in a drive-by shooting attack at a California Sandwich shop on Chesswood Dr. in Etobicoke on April 21, 2004 that left bystander Louise Russo paralyzed from the waist down.

    Court heard that Peretz was the driver of a stolen van in the shooting and that the motive was an outstanding $240,000 online gambling debt owed to him.

    Peretz took part in a controversial plea bargain that provided Russo with $2 million in restitution, along with Peter Scarcella of York Region, described by Corrections Canada as a Mob figure; Paris Christoforou, who was then sergeant-at-arms for the London Hells Angels; and gunman Antonio Borrelli.

    Peretz, Scarcella and Christoforou each were sentenced to nine years in prison while Borrelli received a 10-year term.

    Court heard that the target of the botched murder attempt in 2004 was Michele Modica, who was in the restaurant at the time of the shooting but was not injured.

    Court heard that Modica entered Canada on a forged passport and, with an associate, ran up online gambling debts of about $240,000 owed to Peretz.

    Court heard that Christoforou was Peretz’s partner and head of collections.

    Their associate, Raffaele Delle Donne, later became a police agent. He is quoted in the agreed statement of facts on the case as saying that Peretz and Christoforou met with Modica shortly before the shooting and left no doubt they expected payment in full.

    “I didn’t see it but I heard that uh, Mark (Peretz) . . . and uh, his bodyguard (Christoforou) I guess . . . kicked (Modica) in the face and put a . . . gun in his mouth,” Delle Donne is reported as saying.


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    WASHINGTON—The leader of Canada’s largest private sector union says the United States must “soften its stance” on its push for Buy American rules in government procurement if it wants to get a new NAFTA deal.

    Unifor president Jerry Dias said he has heard American negotiators are standing firm on their demand to gain more access to government procurement contracts in Canada and Mexico, while restricting businesses in those countries from competing for bids in the U.S. through so-called Buy American laws that have been championed by President Donald Trump.

    “They want to build a wall around Buy American policies, (and) yet have full access to procurement policies in Canada and Mexico,” he told the Star in an interview Saturday at the Washington hotel where NAFTA renegotiations are being held this week.

    “Why would we do this? We’re a polite nation, but we’re not a stupid nation,” he said.

    “They can’t say they want a deal and then bargain as if they don’t want one.”

    Dias’s comments came as the U.S. trade office, together with the commerce department, published an eight-page call for “industry outreach” on how U.S. trade deals, including NAFTA, affect the costs and benefits of Buy American laws. The call stems from an executive order — titled “Buy American and Hire American” — made by Trump earlier this year, which instructed government departments to study how these provisions would work.

    Dan Ujczo, a trade lawyer from Ohio who has worked for both the U.S. and Canadian governments, said he finds the timing of the public call — in the midst of the first round of NAFTA renegotiations — hardly coincidental.

    He explained that it may be a way for the U.S. to take the issue off the NAFTA table, because the government can say they are holding consultations on the issue and how it relates to a series of agreements. In that sense, the issue could be swept from the NAFTA table, Ujczo said, thus blocking any Mexican and Canadian objections to Buy American provisions in the renegotiation process.

    “This seems to be a pretty deliberate strategy,” he told the Star. “This takes it off the table”

    One of the hallmarks of Trump’s rise to power and subsequent presidency has been his penchant for inflammatory rhetoric on NAFTA. He has called it the worst deal ever signed and threatened to tear it up unless a better agreement can be negotiated for American workers. He has also advocated “America First” policies, which include the exploration of ways to create rules where government projects and large-scale private enterprises — such as the Keystone XL pipeline — would have to hire American workers and use American-made resources.

    Canada is expected to push back on this. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a speech Monday that restrictions on government procurement are like “political junk food,” in that they are “superficially appetizing, but unhealthy in the long run.”

    Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said the Americans’ push to restrict government procurement in the U.S. while opening it in Canada and Mexico is anything but “reciprocity” — which was the stated goal for the process outlined by U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer in his opening remarks to the talks on Wednesday.

    Beatty added that the ambitious timeline set out for the renegotiations — the U.S. and Mexico reportedly want a new deal by the end of the year — will be scuttled if the U.S. holds firm on positions like this.

    “If (the goal) is simply rewrite the agreement to favour one party at the expense of the other two, there’s not going to be an early conclusion. And if there is an early conclusions, there won’t be a happy one,” he said.

    Despite the appearance that the U.S. is standing firm on a key disagreement, Beatty said it’s still early in the renegotiation process. “Everybody should keep their cool,” he said.

    Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress and member of the Liberal government’s cross-partisan NAFTA advisory council, told the Star that the negotiations to this point have been “very respectful and cordial.” He said the sense from the Canadian side is that the talks could actually wrap up by December.

    At the same time, he expressed confusion at the U.S. stance on Buy American, which he said is a major issue for Canadian industries like steel and aluminum.

    “I’m not convinced that will be their bottom line, but that’s the kind of message that they want to send to the American public, and specifically to (Trump’s) constituency — that they’re tough,” he said.

    The three countries that are party to NAFTA have outlined their own goals for the renegotiation. The U.S. has pointed to trade deficits with Mexico and to a lesser degree Canada as a key problem they hope to solve. Lighthizer also said this week that the agreement was a “failure” for countless Americans, pointing to the decline of manufacturing in some sectors and placed blame on the agreement.

    Canada, meanwhile, has said it wants to see chapters on the environment, gender and Indigenous peoples added to the agreement, as well as find ways to increase the cross-border flow of business professionals and cut down red tape.

    All three countries have said they’d like to see the agreement “modernized” to reflect the realities of technological progress since NAFTA came into effect in 1994.

    As the fourth day of negotiations began Saturday, Canada’s chief negotiator strolled by a group of reporters. One of them asked if things are going as expected. Steve Verheul smiled as he passed.

    “So far,” he said. “So far.”

    The first round of negotiations is scheduled to finish with a joint communiqué from the negotiating teams Sunday afternoon.


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    Toronto police’s Homicide Unit has been called in to investigate after a man was found dead near College and Bathurst Sts. Sunday morning.

    At around 8 a.m., officers from 14 Divison rushed to a commercial building on Lippincott St. after receiving a call for the man who was suffering from obvious trauma, Det. Shawn Mahoney told media on scene.

    “The body was found by people in the neighbourhood this morning who were coming in to work and called police,” said Mahoney.

    Witnesses say that the man, believed to be between 20 to 25-years-old, was suffering from a single gunshot wound.

    “We heard from witnesses that something did occur last night,” Mahoney confirmed, and added investigators have a tentative identification of the male but his family has not been notified.

    Police say it is too early in the investigation to provide further details on the incident, including a suspect description or the identity of the victim.

    Detectives are asking witnesses who were in the area to contact investigators.


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    If you flew over Lake Erie on Sunday afternoon, you might not have noticed the distress below.

    You’d have seen boats, of course, the distinctive red-orange of Fort Erie Fire Department vessels, coast guard boats and perhaps the 25 mismatched watercraft moving across the 25,744-square-km Great Lake.

    What you wouldn’t have seen were the details that turned a fundraising swim race from Sturgeon Point, N.Y., to Crystal Beach, Ont., into a frantic search-and-rescue mission: swimmers alone in choppy waves, crew members vomiting over boat rails, vessels losing their propellers and any ability to steer across the lake.

    In the end, it was a call to the coast guard to find a missing swimmer — who’d been lost in the open water for 40 minutes already — that ultimately ended the race. Not one of the 41 swimmers made it to the other side.

    “I’ve had better days,” organizer Miguel Vadillo said about 4 p.m., as he walked to meet swimmers who’d since been taken to dry land. Earlier on Sunday, Vadillo spoke to the Star from aboard one of the race’s accompanying boats. He wasn’t blind to the day’s rocky conditions, but was still optimistic.

    “Right now? It’s pretty daunting,” Vadillo said about 10 a.m. The wind whipped in the background while he pointed out a current pulling east. Vadillo has been an open-water swimmer himself since his youth in Mexico.

    “It is very challenging, knowing where you’re going, what you’re fighting, what you’re doing,” he said.

    He wasn’t worried about the youngest swimmers — four 11- to 14-year-olds braving the water to raise money for Red Roof Retreat, a respite care facility in the Niagara region.

    “Those guys are better swimmers than many others here. I worry about some of the adults that are behind that are not making it very far,” he admitted.

    Some swimmers came to the race with high-profile causes. Dr. Sherri Mason, a key researcher of Great Lake pollution, was aiming to draw attention to how micro-plastics contaminate the freshwater. Carlos Costa swam against the odds of a double-leg amputation, looking to become the first male para-swimmer to cross the lake.

    The event had taken significant planning and co-ordination, including liaising with both the U.S. and Canadian jurisdictions on the route.

    But at 2:33 p.m, five-and-a-half hours after the race began, Vadillo revealed the day had gone awry: “Hang on it is not looking good.”

    A propeller had broken on one of the boats, and as it was no longer able to steer, its respective swimmer veered off alone. Vadillo went back with his boat in an attempt to step in as a crew. But the waves had got even more turbulent and the crew members started “puking down the side of the boat.”

    “It was very clear to me that she wouldn’t be able to make the cutoff at half time, of 10 kilometres at five hours,” he said. The swimmer made the decision to call it a day, and was taken on the boat to Canadian waters.

    At that point, they learned that another swimmer — Michael Kenny — was missing in the open water. Organizers had been searching for 40 minutes fruitlessly; it was time to call in the coast guard.

    At that point, Vadillo said, “the swimmers abandoned their own race to help a fellow swimmer.” All boats were re-allocated to the search, and the wayward swimmer was located an hour after he disappeared.

    But although he had been missing for a full hour, Kenny, who goes by the nickname “Swim Diesel,” was in high spirits. By his account, his boat crew had left to refuel, and were meant to catch up with him after.

    But there were “huge waves,” he said, “so I couldn’t hear or see them.”

    When he realized he was lost on the lake, Kenny decided that either going back or staying put would only mean more effort against the waves. So he eyeballed a white lighthouse in Canada and a distinct building in the U.S. and swam straight down the middle.

    “I know how to swim,” he noted cheerily. “Whether the boat’s beside me or not, it’s the same swimming. So I just said to myself, well, ‘I’ll keep going, and either they’ll catch up with me or they won’t!’ ”

    About an hour later, one of the search vessels spotted him and called out to him.

    “The coast guard came along and said, ‘Sir, you have to get out!’ And I said, ‘Well, I don’t want to end my race! Can I wait until my boat shows up?’ ” he said.

    “And they told me, ‘No, you have to get out. We are extracting you from the water.’ ”

    By the end of the day, when the weary swimmers found their land legs again, Vadillo said the race will be given another go next year.

    “It takes plenty of courage to even try,” he said of the day’s attempt.

    “We’re different because we have courage.”


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    For the third time in its history the Royal Canadian Air Force will receive new colours on Sept. 1, a “once-in-a-generation event” the RCAF plans to celebrate on land and in the air.

    The colours, or flags, reflect the RCAF’s “loyalty and fealty” to the Queen and Canada, said Lt. Col Holly Apostoliuk, the air force’s director of public relations.

    On the day, which will be declared Royal Canadian Air Force Day in Toronto, Torontonians will see about 25 historic and current RCAF aircraft fly by above the city’s skyscrapers to mark the occasion.

    Alongside the famed Snowbirds and a specially painted Canada 150 CF-188 Hornet, a CH-146 Griffon helicopter will fly from east to west along the direction of Queen St. across Nathan Phillips Square, where Governor General David Johnston will present the new colours.

    For RCAF members, the colours represent their history, service and ideals, said Apostoliuk.

    “On the first of September, we will actually reaffirm our responsibilities to Canada and to the Royal Canadian Air Force with those colours as the symbol,” she said.

    The RCAF’s existing flags carry its old name, Air Command, which was changed back to the Royal Canadian Air Force in 2011.

    There are two colours: The Queen’s Colour, a flag that carries a Canadian maple leaf with the sovereign’s cipher in the middle and symbolizes loyalty to the Crown, and the Command Colour, a blue flag carrying the air force’s badge in the middle, which symbolizes the RCAF’s “pride, cohesion and valour.”

    There will be a parade and music in Nathan Phillips Square to celebrate the consecration of the new colours starting at 12:30. The fly-by will take place at 2 p.m. and last about 10 minutes. The fly-by will be rehearsed on Aug. 31 between 2:15 and 2:45 p.m.

    On Friday, two Griffons offered media a first look at the flight path. They flew across downtown, where the military aircraft must be 500-ft above the highest obstacle in their flight path: the 1,000-ft Bank of Montreal building.

    The helicopters flew above kayakers paddling the brown waters of the Don River, and back over the treetops, houses, and highways of Mississauga.

    For Capt. Sean Crites, a member of the 424 Transport and Rescue Squandron based at 8-Wing Trenton, it must have been easy flying; there were no tricky landings in tight forest clearings, no nighttime rescues over Lake Ontario.

    He recalled one of his “hairiest rescues.”

    It was the middle of the night and a sailboat on Lake Ontario was taking on water. Crites and his co-pilot managed to drop the search-and-rescue technicians in the water where they swam to the boat to assist an hypothermic occupant.

    The conditions were challenging. There was no way to hoist the patient back up, he said.

    It was only when the boat washed ashore that they could pick up the occupant and rescuers.


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    Jerry Lewis, the comedian and filmmaker who was adored by many, disdained by others, but unquestionably a defining figure of American entertainment in the 20th century, died Sunday morning at his home in Las Vegas. He was 91.

    His death was confirmed by his publicist, Candi Cazau.

    Lewis knew success in movies, on television, in nightclubs, on the Broadway stage and in the university lecture hall. His career had its ups and downs, but when it was at its zenith there were few stars any bigger. And he got there remarkably quickly.

    Barely out of his teens, he shot to fame shortly after the Second World War with a nightclub act in which the rakish, imperturbable Dean Martin crooned and the skinny, hyperactive Lewis capered around the stage, a dangerously volatile id to Martin’s supremely relaxed ego.

    After his break with Martin in 1956, Lewis went on to a successful solo career, eventually writing, producing and directing many of his own films.

    As a spokesman for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Lewis raised vast sums for charity; as a filmmaker of great personal force and technical skill, he made many contributions to the industry, including the invention in 1960 of a device — the video assist, which allowed directors to review their work immediately on the set — still in common use.

    A mercurial personality who could flip from naked neediness to towering rage, Lewis seemed to contain multitudes, and he explored all of them. His ultimate object of contemplation was his own contradictory self, and he turned his obsession with fragmentation, discontinuity and the limits of language into a spectacle that enchanted children, disturbed adults and fascinated postmodernist critics.

    Jerry Lewis was born on March 16, 1926, in Newark, N.J. Most sources, including his 1982 autobiography, Jerry Lewis: In Person, give his birth name as Joseph Levitch. But Shawn Levy, author of the exhaustive 1996 biography King of Comedy: The Life and Art of Jerry Lewis, unearthed a birth record that gave his first name as Jerome.

    His parents, Danny and Rae Levitch, were entertainers — his father a song-and-dance man, his mother a pianist — who used the name Lewis when they appeared in small-time vaudeville and at Catskills resort hotels.

    In 1944 — a 4F classification kept him out of the war — he was performing at the Downtown Theater in Detroit when he met Patti Palmer, a 23-year-old singer. Three months later they were married, and on July 31, 1945, while Patti was living with Jerry’s parents in Newark and he was performing at a Baltimore nightclub, she gave birth to the first of the couple’s six sons. The couple divorced in 1980.

    Between his first date with Palmer and the birth of his first son, Lewis had met Dean Martin, a promising young crooner from Steubenville, Ohio. Appearing on the same bill at the Glass Hat nightclub in Manhattan, the skinny kid from New Jersey was dazzled by the sleepy-eyed singer, who seemed to be everything he was not: handsome, self-assured and deeply, unshakably cool.

    When they found themselves on the same bill again at another Manhattan nightclub, the Havana-Madrid, in March 1946, they started fooling around in impromptu sessions after the evening’s last show. Their antics earned the notice of Billboard magazine, whose reviewer wrote, “Martin and Lewis do an afterpiece that has all the makings of a sock act,” using showbiz slang for a successful show.

    By the summer of 1948, they had reached the pinnacle, headlining at the Copacabana on the upper East Side of Manhattan while playing one show a night at the 6,000-seat Roxy Theater in Times Square.

    The phenomenal rise of Martin and Lewis was like nothing show business had seen before. Partly this was because of the rise of mass media after the war, when newspapers, radio and the emerging medium of television came together to create a new kind of instant celebrity. And partly it was because four years of war and its difficult aftermath were finally lifting, allowing America to indulge a long-suppressed taste for silliness. But primarily it was the unusual chemical reaction that occurred when Martin and Lewis were side by side.

    Lewis’s shorthand definition for their relationship was “sex and slapstick.” But much more was going on: a dialectic between adult and infant, assurance and anxiety, bitter experience and wide-eyed innocence that generated a powerful image of postwar America, a gangly young country suddenly dominant on the world stage.

    Among the audience members at the Copacabana was producer Hal Wallis, who had a distribution deal through Paramount Pictures. Wallis signed them to a five-year contract.

    He started them off slowly, slipping them into a low-budget project already in the pipeline. Based on a popular radio show, My Friend Irma (1949) starred Marie Wilson as a ditsy blonde and Diana Lynn as her levelheaded roommate, with Martin and Lewis providing comic support. It was not until At War With the Army (1951), an independent production filmed outside Wallis’s control, that the team took centre stage.

    At War With the Army codified the relationship that ran through all 13 subsequent Martin and Lewis films, positing the pair as unlikely pals whose friendship might be tested by trouble with money or women (usually generated by Martin’s character), but who were there for each other in the end.

    The films were phenomenally successful, and their budgets quickly grew.

    That’s My Boy (1951), The Stooge (1953) and The Caddy (1953) approached psychological drama with their forbidding father figures and suggestions of sibling rivalry; Lewis had a hand in the writing of each. Artists and Models (1955) and Hollywood or Bust (1956) were broadly satirical looks at American popular culture under the authorial hand of director Frank Tashlin, who brought a bold graphic style and a flair for wild sight gags to his work.

    Tashlin also functioned as a mentor to Lewis, who was fascinated with the technical side of filmmaking.

    As his artistic aspirations grew and his control over the films in which he appeared increased, Lewis’s relationship with Martin became strained. As wildly popular as the team remained, Martin had come to resent Lewis’s dominant role in shaping their work and spoke of reviving his solo career as a singer. Lewis felt betrayed by the man he still worshipped as a role model, and by the time filming began on Hollywood or Bust they were barely speaking.

    After a farewell performance at the Copacabana on July 25, 1956, Martin and Lewis went their separate ways.

    Lewis saved his creative energies for the films he produced himself. The first three of those films — Rock-a-Bye Baby (1958), The Geisha Boy (1958) and Cinderfella (1960) — were directed by Tashlin. After that, finally ready to assume complete control, Lewis persuaded Paramount to take a chance on The Bellboy (1960), a virtually plotless homage to silent-film comedy that he wrote, directed and starred in, playing a hapless employee of the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach.

    It was the beginning of Lewis’s most creative period. During the next five years, he directed five more films of remarkable stylistic assurance, including The Ladies Man (1961), with its huge multistory set of a women’s boardinghouse, and, most notably, The Nutty Professor (1963), a variation on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, in which Lewis appeared as a painfully shy chemistry professor and his dark alter ego, a swaggering nightclub singer.

    With their themes of fragmented identity and their experimental approach to sound, colour and narrative structure, Lewis’s films began to attract the serious consideration of iconoclastic young critics in France. At a time when American film was still largely dismissed by American critics as purely commercial and devoid of artistic interest, Lewis’s work was held up as a prime example of a personal filmmaker functioning happily within the studio system.

    The Nutty Professor is probably the most honoured and analyzed of Lewis’s films. (It was also his personal favourite.) For some critics, the opposition between the helpless, infantile Professor Julius Kelp and the coldly manipulative lounge singer Buddy Love represented a spiteful revision of the old Martin-and-Lewis dynamic. But Buddy seems more pertinently a projection of Lewis’s darkest fears about himself: a version of the distant, unloving father whom Lewis had never managed to please as a child, and whom he both despised and desperately wanted to be.

    His blend of physical comedy and pathos was quickly going out of style in a Hollywood defined by the countercultural irony of The Graduate and M*A*S*H. After “The Day the Clown Cried,” his audacious attempt to direct a comedy-drama set in a Nazi concentration amp, collapsed in litigation in 1972, Lewis was absent from films for eight years. In that dark period, he struggled with an addiction to the pain killer Percodan.

    He enjoyed a revival as an actor, thanks largely to his powerful performance in a dramatic role in Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy (1982) as a talk-show host kidnapped by an aspiring comedian (Robert De Niro) desperate to become a celebrity. He appeared in the television series Wiseguy in 1988 and 1989 as a garment manufacturer threatened by the Mob, and was memorable in character roles in Emir Kusturica’s Arizona Dream (1993) and Peter Chelsom’s Funny Bones (1995). Lewis played Mr. Applegate (aka the Devil) in a Broadway revival of the musical Damn Yankees in 1995 and later took the show on an international tour.

    In 1983, Lewis married SanDee Pitnick, and in 1992 their daughter, Danielle Sara, was born. Besides his wife and daughter, survivors include his sons Christopher, Scott, Gary and Anthony, and several grandchildren.

    Although he retained a preternaturally youthful appearance for many years, Lewis had a series of serious illnesses in his later life, including prostate cancer, pulmonary fibrosis and two heart attacks.

    Through it all, Lewis continued his charity work, serving as national chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association and, beginning in 1966, hosting the association’s annual Labor Day weekend telethon. The telethon raised about $2 billion during the more than 40 years he was host.

    During the 1976 telethon, Frank Sinatra staged an on-air reunion between Lewis and Martin, to the visible discomfort of both men. A more lasting reconciliation came in 1987, when Lewis attended the funeral of Martin’s oldest son, Dean Paul Martin Jr., a pilot in the California Air National Guard who had been killed in a crash. They continued to speak occasionally until Martin died in 1995.


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    CHICAGO—The weekend at Wrigley Field was surely memorable for the thousands of fans that made the trek from the Great White North to the great North Side. On the field the Blue Jays may have been swept in three games, but they battled to the end, including an agonizing 6-5 extra-innings loss on Sunday.

    Roberto Osuna struck out two batters in the 10th inning and both reached base, one on a wild pitch and one on a brain cramp by catcher Raffy Lopez who corralled the ball but forgot to throw down to first base for the out with the tying run perched on third. The Cubs scored three times against Osuna to complete the sweep.

    The Cubs’ winning rally included two hits, one of them a two-run single by Jason Heyward, a walk, a hit batter and two strikeouts that resulted in baserunners. The biggest of the mistakes was failure by Lopez to execute the throw to first base that would have been the second out and given the Jays a chance to escape.

    “It was definitely a tough inning,” Lopez understated. “A block has to be made and I just have to make a better throw to first, with the guy on third after I checked him. I was checking the runner and just made a bad throw and had to adjust my feet. I didn’t get my body in the best position to turn and throw to first.”

    The Jays had taken the lead in the top of the 10th. With runners on first and second against Koji Uehara, Kevin Pillar ripped an opposite field single scoring shortstop Josh Donaldson, who slid head-first around the tag of Alex Avila. It was Pillar’s sixth hit of the series. Outfielder Nori Aoki walked with the bases loaded for an add-on run that ended up not mattering.

    For Pillar, it was a great game and a great weekend from a personal standpoint, tempered by the fact his team was swept. The acrobatic centre fielder collected six hits in three games including the go-ahead RBI on Sunday, plus he made a highlight catch in the seventh inning on a dead sprint into the brick wall to haul in a drive by Kris Bryant. It was one for the ages.

    “It was just an amazing weekend for me, personally, being able to go out there and play the way I feel like I should play every day,” Pillar said. “And to be able to do it in front of a lot of fans that travelled a long way and in front of my family that made the trip out here is something I’ll always remember.”

    Jays starter Marco Estrada continued his game of Catch-22. He wants to stay with the Jays and he wants to pitch well. But the better he pitches, the more likely he will be moved in a trade before the end of August to a team like the Astros that missed the non-waiver trade boat.

    As has happened to Estrada more often than he would like to count, it all came down to one crumbly inning Sunday for the 34-year-old free agent-to-be.

    Estrada waved the trainer back to the dugout, but hit Jon Jay with a pitch and threw wide on a bunt by Kyle Hendricks to load the bases. Albert Almora Jr. doubled past third baseman Jose Bautista, who was even with the bag, to clear the bases.

    If Bautista had been positioned four steps deeper, he may have been able to start a double play. Instead, Estrada trailed 3-0 with just one ball out of the infield.

    The bottom line for Estrada on Sunday is that, with another quality start, his fourth in his last five outings, he again pitched well enough to win the game, well enough to stay with the Jays and well enough to be traded. He allowed three runs and five hits in six innings, with a walk and four strikeouts.

    The Jays’ offence, meanwhile, hung around and clawed back to tie the game in the sixth inning.

    Justin Smoak led off the fourth with a double and Jose Bautista singled to centre field. Smoak delayed to make sure the ball landed but third-base coach Luis Rivera surprised the Cubs by waving him home. Anthony Rizzo was late arriving at the cutoff position and when he turned with time to throw Smoak out at the plate he slipped and went down as if shot by a sniper.

    In the fifth inning, Nori Aoki doubled leading off. Estrada took a strike with Rizzo charging hard for the bunt. Estrada then faked a bunt and slapped a grounder to Javy Baez who flipped to third, but Aoki slid in safely. An Ezequiel Carrera double-play grounder scored Aoki.

    In the sixth, catcher Miguel Montero proved that, actually, you can go home again, slamming a solo homer deep into the left-centre field bleachers to tie the game. It was his second homer with the Jays. Montero, a World Series Game 7 hero for the Cubs a year ago, had been designated for assignment after he criticized some of his own pitchers for not holding runners on base.


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    What is a Steve Bannon? And if so, why? I have never seen a spiky American political operative reduce so many commentators to making lists. Normally opinionators pick an angle and stick to it, but during the Bannon years, they floundered in a sea of possibilities.

    Bannon birthed President Donald Trump and worked as his White House chief strategist. He was fired on Friday. Here’s the upsetting part: in many ways, Bannon was the more sensible of the two.

    Joshua Green’s new book, Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump and the Storming of the Presidency, makes a good effort at tracking Bannon before and during the election. Trump was an empty vessel. Bannon gave him a world view, plus “an infrastructure of conservative organizations” that worked “sometimes in tandem with mainstream media” to destroy Hillary Clinton.

    Bannon was a kingmaker. He provided Green with acres of interviewing time and the book is very much Bannon’s version of things.

    But up against a publishing deadline, Green ended the book on June 5 with an afterword, a list of dire reasons for the presidency falling apart as soon as it began.

    1. Trump thought being president was about asserting personal dominance, rather than working with people and groups, including Congress.

    2. He ran against the Republican Party, Wall Street and Paul Ryan, and then reverted to their agenda.

    3. He doesn’t have a political philosophy, being nothing more than a creature of his ego.

    This makes sense. But then came that interview Bannon gave to a left-wing outlet on Wednesday, saying white supremacists were clowns, a nuclear war with North Korea was beyond the pale, and that what he really wanted was economic war with China.

    Why would Bannon have done this? Margaret Hartmann of New York Magazine made a list:

    1. He made a mistake.

    2. Or he leaked on purpose, trying to damage a rival for Trump’s ear, or to assert his dominance over Trump, or to distract from Trump’s disastrous reaction to Charlottesville.

    3. Or he just didn’t care if he was fired, which he was.

    I could write essays on my own response:

    1. No, he didn’t.

    2. Yes, partly right. He may have already been fired.

    3. Yes.

    But opinionating adds to the chaos, and chaos is what Bannon loves. He’s a hypercompetitive, hyperaggressive “political grifter” whose life in the Navy, Wall Street, Hollywood finance, gaming, and Breitbart News turned him into a malevolent man who wants to blow up his own country.

    He was born blue-collar and never fit into Republican country club culture. Shrugging off the status anxiety that afflicts Americans, unshaven and dressed in borderline rags, he made it obvious that he didn’t want to belong. Green calls him “a human hand grenade,” and that was what Trump liked about him, initially.

    “Honey badger don’t give a shit” was Bannon’s catchphrase, honey badgers being big furry weasels in Africa and Southeast Asia who attack and eat pretty much anything. The honey badger meme is vile; so are its fans on the extreme right.

    But the Republican Party has been driving into animality for a long time, arguably since Pat Buchanan’s “culture wars” speech rolling out their loathing of the modern world at the Republican convention in 1992.

    I see the hatred Buchanan expressed as the human embodiment of the underground fires that forever burn beneath abandoned American coal mining towns. Centralia has been smoking in Pennsylvania for 55 years. It looks peaceful enough. You can be asphyxiated or swallowed by gassy sinkholes.

    It’s not a bad metaphor for the Republican Party right now.

    I was startled by the absurd Canadian reaction to the New Yorker’s casual mention of a “friendship” between the honey badger and Trudeau Principal Secretary Gerald Butts. “They talk regularly.”

    Well, of course they do. Bannon was a get. Bannon wants to chat about his pet economic wars; Butts wants to save Canada from economic destruction at the hands of an unhinged president. Butts was doing his job.

    For interim NDP leader Thomas Mulcair to demand Ottawa talk only to the nice Americans proves that Mulcair has a student council view of international governance. Bring us a bright, capable NDP leader, please.

    Negotiating with Trump’s people is like feeding animals. You have interests in common. You wish to sustain the animal; honey badger wants its meat. I’m glad we have Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland. Who else could manage it?

    hmallick@thestar.ca


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    Police have identified the woman whose body was found in a park near Jane and Finch Saturday.

    Toronto police Const. David Hopkinson said police rushed to Derrydowns Park near Jane St. and Finch Ave. W. at around 12:45 p.m. after a report that a person was in the water.

    Police said the woman was pronounced dead on scene after she was pulled out of the water without vital signs.

    The victim has been identified as Virgil Jack, 31, of Toronto. She lived near the area where her body was found. Signs of trauma were found on her body.

    Toronto police homicide Det. Sgt. Terry Browne told reporters on scene Sunday an initial examination revealed Jack was stabbed multiple times.

    “Whoever did this to Ms. Jack, this was a very violent act,” said Browne.

    Police said Jack was last seen at around 2:30 p.m. in the Jane and Finch area on Aug. 18.

    Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-7400, Crime Stoppers anonymously.


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    Health Canada has approved the immediate opening of a downtown supervised safe injection site to combat the opioid crisis in Toronto, but it’s not nearly enough, according to one of the founders of an unsanctioned pop-up site at Moss Park.

    “It’s not a crisis response,” registered nurse Leigh Chapman said.

    “I think it’s great that they have accelerated the opening of the sanctioned safe injection sites,” Chapman said. “It would be great if they could expand their hours and have much longer hours than we have.”

    She said there are no plans to shut down the Moss Park pop-up site, which runs seven days a week, with volunteers working from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

    “We can’t abandon these people who are visiting our tent in Moss Park,” Chapman said. “We are building trust and allowing them the opportunity to feel safe with volunteers who care about their wellbeing. The city should care too.”

    More details on the facility at 277 Victoria St., near Yonge and Dundas St., are expected from the Medical Officer of Health on Monday morning.

    The interim site there has approval to run until at least Feb. 28, according to Health Canada.

    The Moss Park group has received funding from a GoFundMe campaign In addition to supervising injections, it has handed out more than 200 kits of naloxone to block the affects of opioids.

    Toronto Mayor John Tory met this month with harm reduction workers to talk about how to respond to the city’s opioid problem.

    Health Canada has already approved safe injection sites at the South Riverdale Community Health Centre and at the Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre, but those sites remain closed pending renovations.

    About 2,400 opioid-related overdose deaths were reported in Canada in 2016.

    Chapman said her group has successfully responded to five overdoses.

    “Generally, every day we see 12 to 25 people,” Chapman said. “These are people that are injecting in the medical tents.”

    Volunteers take daily walks through Moss Park looking for discarded drug-injection kits and reaching out to drug users, she said.

    “We’ve reached out to a place where there is open drug use and the population there is underserved,” Chapman said.

    The problem comes as heroin, which is grown from poppies and illegally imported, is laced with fentanyl, which is laboratory produced and has high potency.

    “People are overdosing in alleys,” Chapman said. “They just don’t know what they’re taking.”

    Chapman praised the response by police to the Moss Park clinic.

    “We’ve had a ton of police support and community support,” Chapman said. “They were amazing. Very supportive.”


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    MONTREAL—Tensions boiled over in Quebec City on Sunday, as police were pelted by beer bottles and smoke bombs set off in garbage cans in an ugly end to a weekend of pro- and anti-immigrant rallies across the country.

    The Quebec group La Meute, which is associated with the far right, called for a rally Sunday to protest against the federal and provincial government’s handling of the border crossers, but ended up having its members pinned inside a garage while counter-protesters demonstrated outside.

    Once the counterprotesters turned violent, the Quebec City police declared the protest illegal. Clashes ensued and at least one protester was arrested as officers tried to block access to the building where some of the La Meute protesters had taken refuge.

    By 6 p.m. the counterprotesters had dispersed and the members of La Meute, many of them carrying flags featuring the group’s wolf-paw logo, emerged from the building to begin their protest.

    Television footage showed them marching in silence near Quebec City’s legislature.

    The protests in the Quebec capital were far more tense than a demonstration a day earlier in Vancouver where thousands of people peacefully demonstrated in an anti-racism rally in response to reports earlier in the week that an anti-Muslim protest was planned. That latter rally didn’t materialize.

    The rallies sprung up in the wake of last week’s deadly events in Charlottesville, Va., in which one person was killed and others injured when a vehicle plowed through a crowd of anti-racism protesters.

    The Quebec events were largely spurred by the unprecedented number of people walking across the border to seek asylum.

    Almost 6,800 people showed up at an unofficial crossing from the U.S. into Quebec since Canada Day to claim asylum. By comparison, only 2,920 claims were filed in Quebec in all of 2015.

    When asked Sunday if the unprecedented number of border crossers was stoking anti-immigrant sentiments in the country, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned “intolerant, racist demonstrations.” He said he stood with millions of Canadians “who reject the hateful, harmful, heinous ideologies” that have sprouted across the country.

    “The small minority, angry, frustrated group of racists don’t get to define who we are as a country, don’t get to tell others who we are and don’t get to change the nature of the open, accepting values that make us who we are,” Trudeau said in Montreal hours before the Quebec City demonstration.

    Federal authorities have said more than 3,800 people walked over the border into Quebec through the first two weeks of August, compared to the 2,996 who similarly crossed the border throughout all of July. Many are being housed in temporary shelters, including tents along the Quebec-New York border and inside Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, while officials handle the sudden surge in asylum claims.

    Haitian nationals form the bulk of recent arrivals, believed to be driven by a change in U.S. policy that many fear would result in mass deportations. Canada lifted the temporary restriction on deporting Haitians last year, set up in the wake of the 2010 earthquake, and many were sent back to the island nation, Trudeau said.

    Trudeau urged Canadians to maintain trust in the immigration system and the officials who he believed were managing the situation. He said none of those walking across the U.S. border would receive any special advantages in their quest to come to Canada, stressing to Canadians and would-be refugees alike that border hoppers must go through the usual security checks and immigration evaluations.

    Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard tweeted about the violence in the provincial capital Sunday, saying that people have the right to demonstrate peacefully with zero tolerance for violence.

    “We condemn violence and intimidation. We live in a democracy where respect must be the norm and not the exception.”

    Read more: Montrealers rally outside Olympic Stadium to welcome asylum seekers from U.S.


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