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- 09/01/17--04:01: _Woman, 18, shot in ...
- 09/01/17--12:55: _GOP ability to dism...
- 09/01/17--14:51: _I used to hate the ...
- 09/01/17--12:58: _Utah officer handcu...
- 08/31/17--15:15: _Landlords can no lo...
- 09/01/17--14:33: _Doug Ford set to ru...
- 09/01/17--13:55: _UN calls out Ottawa...
- 09/01/17--15:58: _There are plan-maki...
- 09/02/17--08:25: _150 years later, U....
- 09/02/17--09:08: _Daesh claims respon...
- 09/02/17--08:15: _Trump’s turbulent s...
- 09/02/17--03:30: _Piers Handling to s...
- 09/02/17--04:30: _How chief planner J...
- 09/02/17--05:32: _Post-Harvey problem...
- 09/02/17--03:00: _Michelle Kungl's in...
- 09/03/17--06:01: _Police identify man...
- 09/03/17--05:52: _Two dead, three ser...
- 09/02/17--16:42: _In defending NAFTA,...
- 09/03/17--05:30: _North Korea calls i...
- 09/03/17--05:22: _Some power restored...
- 08/31/17--15:15: Landlords can no longer evict tenants without compensation
- 09/01/17--14:33: Doug Ford set to run against John Tory in mayoral rematch
- 09/01/17--13:55: UN calls out Ottawa over lengthy immigration detention stays
- 09/02/17--08:25: 150 years later, U.S. Civil War narratives are still duelling
- 09/02/17--08:15: Trump’s turbulent summer spills over into high-stakes fall
- 09/02/17--03:30: Piers Handling to step down as head of TIFF
- 09/02/17--05:32: Post-Harvey problems still plague Texas as Trumps arrive in Houston
- 09/02/17--03:00: Michelle Kungl's incredible journey
- 09/03/17--06:01: Police identify man fatally shot near Etobicoke daycare
- 09/03/17--05:52: Two dead, three seriously injured after collision in Vaughan
- 09/02/17--16:42: In defending NAFTA, Mexican president takes aim at Trump
- 09/03/17--05:22: Some power restored to homes without hydro in Annex, Rosedale
An 18-year-old woman is in critical condition after being shot in the face outside a popular 24-hour restaurant in Mississauga early Friday morning, police say.
Just before 1 a.m., Peel Regional Police were called to Zet’s Restaurant on Airport Rd., near Pearson airport, and found the young woman suffering from gunshot wounds. She had been shot while sitting in the driver’s seat of her vehicle in the restaurant parking lot, police say, and was rushed to hospital in what paramedics describe as critical, but not life-threatening condition. Another woman was in the car at the time of the shooting, but was unharmed.
The victim was allegedly involved in a verbal altercation inside the restaurant shortly before the shooting. As she was sitting in her car outside afterwards, another vehicle approached, and someone fired upon her from within the second vehicle. The assailants, believed to be the two men she had argued with earlier, then fled the scene in their vehicle.
Police are looking for two suspects, both described as men in their 20s. One was last seen wearing a black Nike hoodie and blue jeans, and the other had a black zip-up hoodie, a white t-shirt and blue jeans.
The restaurant was open at the time. No one else was harmed, but police say there were numerous witnesses in the area and that they are cooperating in the investigation. Police are asking anyone who was in the area at the time of the shooting to contact them.
WASHINGTON—Senate Republicans will soon run out of time to rely on the barest of their majority to dismantle the Obama health law.
The Senate parliamentarian has determined that rules governing the effort will expire when the fiscal year ends Sept. 30, according to independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee. The rules allow Republicans to dismantle the Obama health care law with just 51 votes, avoiding a filibuster.
“Today’s determination by the Senate parliamentarian is a major victory for the American people and everyone who fought against President Trump’s attempt to take away health care from up to 32 million people,” Sanders said in a statement. Sanders heads up Democrats on the budget panel and took the lead in the arcane arguments before the parliamentarian, who acts as the Senate’s non-partisan referee.
Republicans control the Senate 52-48 and were using the special filibuster-proof process in the face of unified Democratic opposition. Now, if Republicans can’t revive the repeal measure in the next four weeks, they will be forced to work with Democrats to change it.
Senate Republicans pulled the plug on their Obamacare repeal effort in July, after falling short in a key vote. It has languished since, despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s call for senators to keep trying.
The ruling by Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough is likely the final nail in the coffin, since it means Republicans would have to revive the effort and wrap it up in just a few weeks. Congress returns to Washington next week to face a packed agenda including Hurricane aid, a temporary government-wide funding bill, and raising the government’s borrowing cap to prevent a default on U.S. payments and obligations.
The bitter battle, and struggle among Republicans, over health care consumed the early months of Trump’s presidency. Now, the administration and its allies in Congress are eager to turn the focus to overhauling the tax code.
Some people love the Canadian International Air Show, and others, like myself, see it as a loud annoying tourist trap — that is, until today.
Gliding above the city, circling the CN Tower, I joined the Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team in the cockpit of a Second World War plane that took off from Buttonville Airport ahead of the weekend Air Show at The Ex.
“You have to be individually trained to fly this plane,” my pilot, Kent Beckham says. “Many modern day pilots would never be able to take this off the ground.”
The Canadian Harvard, which first debuted in 1941 for combat operations, is held in a high regard among pilots. “If you master flying the Harvard, you can fly anything,” Beckham and his team joked before takeoff.
Beckham, who flies full time for Air Canada, says that the air show is his ‘fun break,’ flying alongside the four-man fleet for around 10 years. He loves it especially because of the novelty and history behind the Harvard.
“There are no computers on this plane, just your hands, feet and your eyeballs,” he continued. “It’s incredible.”
From liftoff to touchdown, the pilots seamlessly synchronized the four planes in the air, following the lead pilot’s orders over the radio. The aircraft swooped over and under one another, all while maintaining a concerningly close distance, almost wing-to-wing. I was able to clearly see the pilot and passengers in the other three planes — one of them even took photos of me from their seat.
“It just looked absolutely beautiful, three four feet away from each other, it’s incredible,” Garry Wilks, an aviation enthusiast who flew in one of the Harvard planes said. “Formation flying is amazing. It gives you a whole new appreciation for the skill of flying.”
Wilks also hopes the younger generation will become more interested in keeping the air show tradition alive.
“The history is very important to maintain, it is by which everything our society has grown from. That’s why the air show, these planes are incredible.”
As a millennial, once sour to the thought of coming anywhere near The Ex or the ‘annoying’ air show, flying in a piece of Canadian history took my head out of the clouds.
The Canadian International Air Show will be running over Labour Day weekend at The Ex from Saturday to Monday.
SALT LAKE CITY—A Utah nurse said she was scared to death when a police officer handcuffed and dragged her screaming from a hospital after she refused to allow blood to be drawn from an unconscious patient.
After Alex Wubbels and her attorneys released dramatic video of the arrest, prosecutors called for a criminal investigation and Salt Lake City police put Detective Jeff Payne on paid leave Friday.
“This cop bullied me. He bullied me to the utmost extreme,” Wubbels said in an interview with The Associated Press. “And nobody stood in his way.”
The Salt Lake City police chief and mayor also apologized and changed department policies in line with the guidance Wubbels was following in the July 26 incident.
Wubbels, a former alpine skier who competed in the 1998 and 2002 Winter Olympics, said she adhered to her training and hospital protocols to protect the rights of a patient who could not speak for himself.
“You can’t just take blood if you don’t have a legitimate concern for something to be tested,” Wubbels said. “It is the most personal property I think that we can have besides our skin and bones and organs.”
Payne didn’t return messages left at publicly listed phone numbers, and the Salt Lake Police Association union did not respond to messages for comment. The department and a civilian board also are conducting reviews.
“I was alarmed by what I saw in the video with our officer,” Police Chief Mike Brown said.
Police body-camera video shows Wubbels, who works in the burn unit, calmly explaining that she could not take blood from a patient who had been injured in a deadly car accident, citing a recent change in law. A 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling said a blood sample cannot be taken without patient consent or a warrant.
Wubbels told Payne that a patient had to allow a blood sample to determine intoxication or be under arrest. Otherwise, she said police needed a warrant. Police did not, but Payne insisted.
The dispute ended with Payne saying, “We’re done, you’re under arrest” and pulling her outside while she screamed and said, “I’ve done nothing wrong!”
He had called his supervisor and discussed the time-sensitive blood draw for over an hour with hospital staff, police spokeswoman Christina Judd said.
“It’s not an excuse. It definitely doesn’t forgive what happened,” she said.
Payne wrote in a police report that he grabbed Wubbels and took her outside to avoid causing a “scene” in the emergency room. He said his boss, a lieutenant whose actions also were being reviewed, told him to arrest Wubbels if she kept interfering.
The detective left Wubbels in a hot police car for 20 minutes before realizing that blood had already been drawn as part of treatment, said her lawyer, Karra Porter. Wubbels was not charged.
“This has upended her worldview in a way. She just couldn’t believe this could happen,” Porter said.
Wubbels and her attorneys on Thursday released the video they obtained through a public records request to call for change. She has not sued, but that could change, said attorney Jake Macfarlane.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said that the video was concerning and called the police chief to ask for a criminal investigation.
The department is open to the inquiry that will be run by Salt Lake County’s Unified Police, Judd said. Gill’s office will review the findings.
In response to the incident, Judd said the department updated its blood-draw policy last week to mirror what the hospital uses. She said officers have already received additional training.
The agency has met with hospital administration to ensure it does not happen again and to repair ties.
“There’s a strong bond between fire, police and nurses because they all work together to help save lives, and this caused an unfortunate rift that we are hoping to repair immediately,” Judd said.
The hospital said it’s proud of the way Wubbels handled the situation.
The patient was a victim in a car crash and Payne wanted the blood sample to show he had done nothing wrong, according to the officer’s written report.
The patient, William Gray, is a reserve police officer in Rigby, Idaho, according to the city’s police. They thanked Wubbels for protecting his rights.
Grey is a semi-truck driver and was on the road when a pickup truck fleeing from authorities slammed into him and his truck burst into flames, police reports say.
Ontario tenants will have more protection from eviction starting Friday.
That’s when new measures aimed at stopping landlords from turfing people from their rental units will take effect.
Effective Friday, when a landlord ends a tenancy to have family members move in, people evicted must receive compensation.
“When a tenant is evicted through no fault of their own, they are forced to scramble to find new accommodations and cover the costs of a sudden move,” Housing Minister Peter Milczyn said in a statement.
Landlords will have to pay one month’s rent to the evicted tenant or offer him or her another comparable rental unit.
There will also be a new measure in place to ensure that an apartment isn’t vacated, ostensibly for a relative, and, less than one year later, rented out to someone else.
“If the landlord advertises, re-rents or demolishes/converts the unit within one year, she or he will be considered to have acted in bad faith, unless they can prove otherwise and could face a fine of up to $25,000,” the government says.
“The new measures will help protect tenants by discouraging landlords from unlawfully evicting them, whether for conversion of the unit into a short-term rental or immediately re-renting it at a higher rate.”
Milczyn, who is also the minister responsible for Ontario’s poverty-reduction strategy, said the aim is to help “make that transition easier” for tenants forced to move.
The minister said, in some cases, it could “prevent it from happening at all, by curbing unlawful evictions.”
Friday’s changes are part of sweeping tenant-protection protections imposed this year.
Residential rent increases are capped at 1.8 per cent next year unless landlords apply to housing authorities for more.
But those who renovate their units can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for increases based on the amount of money spent on improvements.
Rent controls were expanded by Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government in April.
In all, there are about 1.2 million private rental units in Ontario.
Doug Ford will announce next Friday that he plans to challenge Mayor John Tory in the 2018 Toronto election, sources say.
Ford has quietly been building a team in his bid for a rematch against Tory, who beat him in the 2014 municipal vote.
Joe Reis, one of the federal Conservative Party’s top campaign organizers, has been phoning around to elicit support for the former city councillor.
“Right now, I’m just shaking the trees and seeing if the people that I worked with before will come out for him like they did for his brother (former mayor Rob Ford, who died last year),” he said Friday.
Reis, who is also well-respected in provincial Progressive Conservative circles, said Torontonians are wary of a bloated civic bureaucracy that fails to deliver on key services.
“We go back to what his brother used to say: be there for the taxpayer. Drain the swamp . . . although I think that was another bushy-haired guy,” he said, referring to U.S. President Donald Trump, who has been likened to Rob Ford.
“It’s the same principle, right? Stop the gravy train. I think they’re getting back on the gravy train.”
Even though the current mayor was leader of the Progressive Conservatives from 2004 until 2009, “the only thing Tory about that man is his name,” Reis joked.
“I don’t think he’s conservative enough. We need someone who will really pull the purse strings back together and make sure the city understands why they’re there,” he said.
Asked what the response has been to Ford’s nascent campaign, Reis said: “very good, it’s been excellent. I’ve only had pushback from one person, who will remain nameless, because he has a vested interest in seeing that John Tory is returned.”
“I understand his personal vested interest . . . and I respect it, but I think, on the whole, people have been supportive. It will be a good run. I think Doug will have a good team,” he said, adding hastily “if he decides to enter.”
Ford, who had been toying with running for Patrick Brown’s Progressive Conservatives in the June 7, 2018 provincial election, told the Star to “wait until Friday,” when he will announce his plan at the family Ford Fest barbecue in Etobicoke.
Tory’s campaign would welcome a reprise of the 2014 election, which was a referendum on Rob Ford’s tenure when Toronto was ridiculed around the world for the ex-mayor’s exploits, which included smoking crack.
“People vividly remember the chaos and dysfunction of the Ford years, and they don’t want to go back,” said one source on the Tory re-election effort, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal strategy.
“Also, Toronto voters find Trump-style politics repugnant and will not be inclined to look favourably on a candidate who embodies them and has publicly expressed his admiration for the guy,” said the insider, referring to Ford’s praise of Trump.
Amanda Galbraith, Tory’s former director of communications and his campaign spokeswoman in 2014 before she became a principal at Navigator Ltd., also made the comparison with the mercurial American president.
“Doug is basically Donald Trump Light. If he wants a rematch, I think voters will take one look at him and say, ‘No, thanks. We’ve seen this movie. We’ve got the T-shirt. We’ve moved on,’ ” she wrote in email.
Galbraith added that a reboot of 2014 would be “an election and narrative the mayor has fought and won before.”
“From a political perspective, Doug will drive voters from (the) left to the mayor. It’s a narrative that works for him. If I were Doug, I’d stick to making stickers,” she added, referring to Ford’s decals-and-tags business.
Ford said Friday he knows Tory’s “little game will be to try to compare me to Donald Trump,” but rejects any parallels.
Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals want him to run for the provincial Tories, because they believe the Trump comparisons will hurt Brown.
“I used to take it as a real insult when they compared Rob to Donald Trump; Rob Ford was Rob Ford, and the Fords are the Fords, and we’re going to do what we’ve always done for 25 years for the taxpayers,” said Ford.
The next municipal election will be held Oct. 22, 2018, four years after the last election, in which Tory received 394,775 votes compared to 330,610 for Ford, who only entered the race after Rob Ford dropped out for health reasons, late in the campaign.
There have been changes to election rules. The campaign period is now shorter. It used to be that nominations could be filed on Jan. 1. Next year, nominations can be made May 1.
Campaign finance rules have changed, too; the maximum contribution a candidate can make to his or her campaign is now $25,000.
Previously, there was no limit on what a candidate could spend as long as it did not exceed the overall spending limit, which was $1.36 million in 2014.
That year, Doug Ford spent $558,724 of his own money to run for mayor, after his brother Rob’s cancer diagnosis forced Rob to drop out in September. Doug Ford raised $356,167 in donations.
Tory, who didn’t spend any of his own money, received $2.8 million from more than 5,000 donors.
A United Nations committee has urged Ottawa to limit the use of immigration detention and drop a bilateral pact that turns asylum-seekers back at the U.S. land border.
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination makes the recommendations in its recent review of how Canada’s government policies and programs are affecting minority groups.
“The Committee recommends . . . immigration detention is only undertaken as a last resort after fully considering alternative non-custodial measures. Establish a legal time limit on the detention of migrants,” said the report released in Geneva this week.
Canada should also “rescind or at least suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States of America to ensure that all individuals who attempt to enter the State party through a land border are provided with equal access to asylum proceedings,” the report said.
Ottawa has been under intense criticism for its handling of migrants in detention and the surge of asylum seekers attempting to cross into Canada at unmarked points along the U.S. border.
A Star investigation, Caged by Canada, this year into immigration detention in Canada found a system that indefinitely warehouses non-citizens away from public scrutiny in high-security criminal detention facilities.
Some of the detainees are former permanent residents who were convicted for crimes and await deportation. Others are failed refugees waiting for removal or people deemed inadmissible to Canada, flight risks or dangers to the public. More than 100 of the detainees had spent at least three months in jail, and one-third of them have been held for more than a year.
“We raised the issue of indefinite detention of non-status immigrants and their children, and the committee has listened,” said Shalini Konanur, director of the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario.
The Safe Third Country agreement, introduced in 2004, prevents refugees from making asylum claims in both the U.S. and Canada, which clogs the system. Claimants are barred from entering the other country for asylum unless they belong to one of four exemption groups.
However, the ban does not apply to those who sneak through unmarked points along the border, pushing some asylum-seekers to trek through no man’s land, mostly commonly in Quebec, B.C. and in Manitoba, where hundreds walked in the dead of winter this year, sometimes overnight, to Emerson.
“Given the current xenophobic political climate in the U.S.A., it is no surprise that the committee has called on Canada to rescind or at least temporarily suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement. Canada cannot turn a blind eye to what is happening down south,” said Debbie Douglas of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants.
A Harvard University Law School review in February also warned about the negative effect of President Donald Trump’s administration on refugees and urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to consider pulling out from the bilateral deal.
Hursh Jaswal, a spokesperson for Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, said Canada has a robust asylum system and the Safe Third Country Agreement is an important tool for the orderly handling of refugee claims on both sides of the border.
“While the executive order affected the U.S. system for resettling refugees from abroad, it did not impact the U.S. system for handling domestic asylum claims,” Jaswal said. “Our government is monitoring the situation closely and will carefully evaluate any new developments for potential changes to the domestic asylum system in the U.S.”
On immigration detention, a spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the government is committed to improving the system.
“We need to minimize the use of provincial jails and try to avoid, as much as humanly possible, the holding of children in detention,” said Scott Bardsley, adding that Ottawa is investing $138 million to expand alternatives to detention, improving detention conditions, providing better mental health services and reducing reliance on provincial jails for immigration holding.
“Under the new government, the number of immigration detentions has decreased, despite an increase in visitors to Canada,” Bardsley said.
The UN committee also raised alarm over the treatment of migrant workers in Canada.
“Although the temporary foreign worker program conducts inspections, temporary migrant workers are reportedly susceptible to exploitation and abuses, and are sometimes denied basic health services, and employment and pension benefits to which they may make contributions,” it warned.
The report called on Ottawa to collect race-based economic and social data to improve monitoring and evaluation of its programs that aim at eliminating racial discrimination and disparities.
On a positive note, the committee praised Ontario for establishing the anti-racism directorate; Quebec, for passing a bill on combating hate speech and incitement to violence; and Ottawa for its condemnation of Islamophobia, as well as progress made in addressing discrimination against Indigenous peoples, resettling 46,000 Syrian refugees and restoring health care funding for refugees.
New York’s Parks Commissioner, Mitchell Silver, has a theory that there are two kinds of cities when it comes to how they are built: plan-making cities and deal-making cities.
He mentioned this during a panel discussion in Toronto at the Economic Club of Canada luncheon last November.
Some places have these rules laid out in a plan that people follow. In other places, the rules amount, in effect, to a proposal to “make us an offer.”
Toronto’s chief planner, Jennifer Keesmaat, was on the panel. She immediately nodded as if he’d crystallized something elusive and essential.
Toronto, she said, is totally a deal-making city.
And the concept does seem to crystallize a lot about how Toronto development happens (or doesn’t) and the flare-ups in the news we hear about it along the way.
I was reminded of this exchange this week as I followed the arguments about a proposed eight-storey condo building on Davenport, opposed by Margaret Atwood, Galen Weston and some other high-profile Annex residents.
The contours of the arguments are by now familiar: “Developers running roughshod over the rules that protect our neighbourhoods” on one side versus “entitled NIMBYs hate new housing” on the other.
We know this fight because we have it all the time.
It can be fun! It plays to our snobberies and assumptions.
The one-liners are already written.
“This is an illegal assault on our community!”
“This is just what the city needs in a housing crisis and what our guidelines call for!”
“Which developer greased your palms?”
“Why do you hate those less fortunate than you?”
If some nuance is lost about what people really want or don’t want, that’s just standard operating procedure.
In fact, I think the system we have — call it Let’s-Make-a-Deal city-building — virtually ensures we have these fights, again and again.
I don’t know if that’s for better or for worse.
But it’s certainly not for easy understanding.
Let’s go back to Silver’s point: Toronto does have a plan. Officially. It’s called the “Official Plan.”
And it calls for intensification — more units for people to live in — on main streets, such as Davenport. Specifically, it says we need to accomplish this by getting developers to build mid-rise buildings.
An eight-storey building on a street such as Davenport is something we want to encourage.
That’s the plan.
But that isn’t the rule.
The rules, laid out in the zoning bylaws, say that you cannot build anything higher than two storeys, unless you get a specific exemption from the bylaw. Any neighbour could look at that and plainly see: an eight-storey building on that street is a violation of the bylaw! It’s against the rules!
So our plan says we want to encourage something, and our rules seem to say that same something is forbidden.
What’s that all about?
The zoning bylaws are not intended to be interpreted as rules that explain what the city wants and expects. In fact, many of the homes and businesses that have been standing for generations in our most apparently successful and beloved neighbourhoods do not conform to the zoning bylaws. These aren’t rules; they are the opening offer in negotiations.
If you’re a builder, you can take them as they are and have no further fuss, or you can make a counter-offer.
For instance, you could propose building something that the city, in it’s official plan, says it wants to encourage.
And then the negotiations continue: neighbours get to weigh in and ask for changes; the city might ask for cash for community benefits through Section 37 of the planning act; the developer might offer to trade one thing (a floor of height or a certain number of parking spots) for another (giving cash for a park, or changing the building materials, or including some affordable units).
And, if no one can come to a deal, then the Ontario Municipal Board can rule for one side or another. The OMB has long stood as the ultimate judge in this adversarial framework.
There are benefits to the city, and city councillors, from this system: they get to be involved, site-by-site in designing any proposed building and can extract dollars to build community amenities.
Councillor Gord Perks has explained, on Twitter, that the zoning bylaws and accompanying process shouldn’t be interpreted as forbidding anything, but as identifying a threshold at which community consultation and approval is needed.
It’s a threshold at which you need to get democracy involved in development . . . if you look at it from a certain perspective.
But there are drawbacks; it’s natural that people who live in a neighbourhood will object to changes to it, especially changes that might give them less privacy, or create more traffic on their street, or spoil their view, or bring down their property values.
Very often they are right that the change will have some negative effect on them, even if it benefits the city.
Now, if there were clear rules saying that something was allowed to be built, then those objections might be washed away as just the way things work in the big city.
But the existence of zoning bylaws that depict the proposal as “illegal” will only tend to harden their conviction that they are being wronged by a shady developer, and give fuel to their rhetorical depiction of the change as unjustified.
And, in the meantime, the deal-making nature of the process gives incentives to everyone involved to begin at more extreme ends of the spectrum than they otherwise would, so that any compromise that they settle on ends up closer to what they actually want.
Developers have often said it can be as hard, long and expensive to negotiate a midrise building as it is a highrise — and much less profitable.
So why not go up, up, up, if you’re going to endure the hassle anyway?
Would we be better off with clear plan-based rules, than with case-by-case deal-making? I don’t know. Silver said unequivocally that New York, where he works, is a deal-making city. But I see online that he’s given lectures saying plan-based cities can be most successful, because of the clarity they offer, and that, in deal-making cities, plans “lose credibility and public trust.”
What does seem obvious to me is that the Selfish NIMBY vs. Greedy Developer headline battles we usually see are a perhaps inevitable byproduct of the way the oppositional case-by-case development system is built. These fights are just part of the deal.
BIRMINGHAM, ALA.—When the Civil War was over, when the dead were buried and the union was reunited, it came time to tell tales and write history. In reunion gatherings and living rooms alike, differing versions of the causes of the conflict became as hardened as sun-baked Georgia clay.
More than a century and a half later, those dueling narratives are with us still.
Did 620,000 die, as Northerners would have it, in a noble quest to save the union and end slavery — the nation’s horrific original sin? Or was the “War Between the States” a gallant crusade to limit federal power, with slavery playing a lesser part, as Southerners insisted?
After all this time, it could be argued that it doesn’t matter, but the blood that was shed over a statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia, is powerful evidence that it does. The national dispute over the fate of stone and bronze monuments begs this larger question: How does one country with two histories move forward?
The answer, some say, is by seizing a rare chance to build a shared history through small steps.
“This is a moment to acknowledge the incredible change that we have seen among American people when they look at their past,” said Peter Carmichael, a history professor at Gettysburg College.
Academics and others told The Associated Press the road to avoiding a more divisive future may be lined with discussions rather than shouting matches; more complete history lessons; local, rather than state or national action; and a renewed focus on individuals who fought and were impacted by the war, including the deprivations they endured.
The drafting of men for the war, desertions in the Confederate and Union armies, political disagreements and dissent are among things not well represented in the memories of the conflict, especially not through monuments, said Stephen Rockenbach, history professor at Virginia State University. Americans can draw on primary sources, including writings of people who lived during that time period and their diaries to understand different viewpoints.
“The danger occurs when you only look at one aspect, one person, one battle, even one time frame,” he said.
Historians often don’t reach consensus on interpretations of the past and the general public can’t be expected to, either, Rockenbach said.
“How then do we convey this huge experience that all kinds of Americans went through in meaningful way?” he said. “Statues do not do a very good job of doing that on their own.”
Carmichael, the Gettysburg College professor, said some of the problems of today could be addressed by doing a better job of explaining the war and how it affected a group that generally was ignored by both sides after Appomattox Courthouse: black Americans.
Rather than simply tearing down statues, interpretive markers should be used at Confederate monuments to show the systematic oppression of black people through lynching, the denial of voting rights, and segregation, he said. That way, Americans can understand that the system of slavery destroyed by the Civil War didn’t create equality but instead ushered in Jim Crow laws.
Reconciliation won’t happen in the immediate aftermath of Charlottesville, he said. The best change might be through local efforts where people who know each other can hash things out.
“The more it’s done from far away, the more I think it’s likely to provoke resentment and anger, and not lead to anything wonderfully productive,” he said.
Civil War veterans reunited on battlefields for years after the fight. But today, organizations composed of descendants of the armies that battled from 1861 to 1865 have few dealings with each other or conversations on a broad level.
The head of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Mark Day, said opening a shared dialogue about the nation’s history might be a good start.
“We’re Americans. We have an ability to hold different opinions and share different opinions,” said Day, the national commander. “I think it’s a national thing that we maybe have to talk to each other.”
Thomas V. Strain Jr. is Day’s Southern equivalent, commander-in-chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which is more than three times the size of the Union group with some 33,000 members. Strain doesn’t mind talking to Union descendants — he recently attended a gathering of the Northern group — but he doesn’t know that discussions will help.
“Until society as a whole changes and we start seeing things for what they are, I don’t think at any time we’re going to be able to sit down and reconcile,” said Strain, of Athens, Alabama.
The Southern descendants’ group supports the preservation of Confederate monuments and members often espouse the traditional, Southern view of the war that minimizes the role of slavery in the conflict. But it didn’t officially participate in the Aug. 12 demonstration in Charlottesville that ended in multiple injuries and the death of a woman who was killed when a car allegedly driven by a man aligned with white supremacists plowed into a crowd.
The group continues to memorialize its forebears; members were on hand for the dedication of a monument to unknown Confederate dead on private property in rural south Alabama on Aug. 24. The NAACP spoke out against the project, calling it a step backward.
Bernard Simelton, president of the civil rights group’s Alabama chapter, said he’s not interested in coming together to reach a consensus on Civil War history while Confederate monuments are still going up.
“The monuments have to come down before you can begin an honest conversation because as long as they are up and that flag is flying it leaves African Americans to say, ‘You don’t value our feelings, you don’t understand our pain,’” Simelton said.
Strain said many on the pro-Confederate side just aren’t willing to budge after seeing monuments and Confederate monuments removed.
“I think we have to stand firm at this point,” he said.
BAGHDAD—At least three attackers entered a power station in Samarra Saturday and blew themselves up, killing seven workers and wounding eight security forces, Iraqi authorities said.
Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool said two attackers disguised themselves as workers and a third wore a security forces uniform. Samarra is 125 kilometres north of Baghdad.
Daesh, also known as ISIS or ISIL, claimed responsibility for the dawn attack in an online statement, saying 10 “apostates” had been killed and another 20 wounded.
Electricity Ministry spokesman Musaab al-Mudaris said seven employees were killed and eight security forces were wounded. He said there were four attackers.
Al-Mudaris said one attacker was shot dead and the others blew themselves up.
WASHINGTON—After a summer of staff shakeups and self-made crises, President Donald Trump is emerging politically damaged, personally agitated and continuing to buck at the confines of his office, according to some close allies.
For weeks, the West Wing has been upended by a reorganization that Trump has endorsed and, later, second-guessed, including his choice of retired Marine Gen. John Kelly as chief of staff. The president recently lashed out at Kelly after a boisterous rally in Phoenix, an incident relayed by a person with knowledge of the matter. In private conversations, Trump has levelled indiscriminate and harsh criticism on the rest of his remaining team.
Seven months into his tenure, Trump has yet to put his mark on any signature legislation and his approval ratings are sagging. Fellow Republicans have grown weary of his volatility, and Trump spent the summer tangling with some of the same lawmakers he’ll need to work with in the coming weeks to pass a government funding bill, raise the country’s borrowing limit and make a difficult bid for tax overhaul legislation.
“He’s in a weak position,” said Christopher Ruddy, the CEO of Newsmax and a longtime Trump friend. “A lot of the Republican establishment has not been supportive, his poll numbers are down and he has spent most of his early presidency appealing to his base while most presidents would be seeking more consensus.”
That sentiment was echoed in interviews with 10 White House officials, Republican operatives and others with close ties to the president. Most spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose private conversations with the president and his staff.
Some White House officials believe Trump did find his footing during the response to Harvey, which they say has given him an opening to demonstrate presidential leadership. Trump has eagerly promoted the federal government’s response and recovery efforts, and on Saturday was making his second visit to the region in a week.
The White House has asked Congress for an initial $7.9 billion in emergency aid, a request expected to win quick approval.
During an Oval Office event Friday, Trump struck a rare unifying tone: “As Americans, we know that no challenge is too great for us to overcome — no challenge.”
But the government’s largely well-received handling of the storm has not soothed Trump’s own frustrations, according to those who speak with him regularly. Trump told one associate he missed his old life in New York. And he’s become increasingly focused on the prospect of losing support among his core supporters — the voters he once said would stick with him even if he shot someone on New York’s Fifth Avenue.
“I don’t think it’s a worry or a concern as much as it’s a reality,” Roger Stone, a longtime informal adviser to the president, said of Trump’s preoccupation with his base. “It’s a reality that he understands politically.”
Polls show Trump losing a bit of ground with some of his core constituencies. A Fox News survey released last week put Trump’s overall approval rating at 41 per cent, and notably cited a 7 percentage point drop among conservatives and a 9 point drop among whites without a college degree, one of Trump’s strongest voting groups.
The recent reorganization in the White House has done little to determine the ideological course of Trump’s presidency or shed light on how he will approach the looming showdowns in Congress.
While strategist Steve Bannon, who repeatedly preached to Trump the importance of fulfilling his campaign promises, left the White House shortly after Kelly’s arrival, the president has made aggressive moves on some of the issues Bannon promoted. Trump said he would shut down the government next month unless Republicans give him money to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and he issued a controversial pardon for former Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona. Trump is also considering rolling back deportation protections for young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children, a step he previously intimated to top advisers that he would rather avoid.
Some Republican lawmakers, including House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, are urging Trump to keep those immigration protections, and longtime allies are encouraging him to think beyond the wishes of the voters who pack Trump’s raucous rallies.
“Steve Bannon got the president and a lot of people believing they had to fulfil a checklist number of promises I don’t believe his supporters require him to do that,” Ruddy said. He added that as long as Trump appeals only to that group of voters, he will be focused only on “a fraction of conservatives, a minority viewpoint.”
Kelly’s mark on policy and the direction of the administration remains uncertain. He is not viewed as particularly ideological, though White House officials praised his work putting in place Trump’s travel ban and other immigration policies when he ran the Department of Homeland Security during the first six months of the administration.
So far, Kelly has largely focused on tightening up West Wing protocols and ousting staff that he deemed problematic or unproductive. He moved quickly to limit the flow of information to Trump from some of the news sources Bannon promoted, including Breitbart News, where the conservative provocateur has returned after leaving the White House.
Trump developed a deep respect for Kelly during his tenure at Homeland Security. But he’s chafed at some of Kelly’s attempts to limit his access to information or former campaign officials, who became accustomed to frequent, easy access to the president. Some Trump advisers outside the West Wing believe the relationship between Trump and Kelly is inevitably doomed, given their dramatically different personalities and styles.
But there is no sign that another shakeup is imminent, and Trump has sought to quiet speculation in the media about an emerging rift.
“General John Kelly is doing a great job as Chief of Staff,” Trump wrote on Twitter Friday. “I could not be happier or more impressed.”
The 42nd Toronto International Film Festival is days away, but it already has its first show-stopper: Piers Handling is stepping down after nearly 25 years as head of the cinema giant that transformed both the city and its global image.
His departure will be a slow credits roll rather than a sudden fade to black. Handling will remain as TIFF’s director and CEO until the end of 2018.
This is to allow the TIFF board time to choose a successor and to get him or her up to speed on an organization that has grown from its 1970s spark as a week-long movie celebration running on brio and credit cards into one of the world’s top arts institutions, operating year-long in many guises with a $45-million annual budget that contributes an estimated $189 million annually to Toronto’s economy.
The main event is still the annual 11-day fall festival, which this year runs from Sept. 7 to 17.
“The timing feels right for me, it really does,” Handling said Friday in an interview.
“I did a lot of thinking over the course of this year . . . I’m excited about what’s going to be in the future for me.”
The urbane Handling, 68, has a lot planned for his post-TIFF life, including a book — something film-related but not personal memoirs — and more of the world travel and mountain climbing that have long been among his other passions. In all, the former film professor will have been at TIFF for 36 years, nearly half his life.
“I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish when I started with this organization. It’s constantly surprised me in terms of the potential that was here and what I was allowed to do and what we could do, which was to dream large and just do big things.”
Handling anticipates a “robust transition of power” and his most likely successor would seem to be Cameron Bailey, TIFF’s artistic director, who was for several years in the past decade the co-director of the fest with Handling.
“He’d be more than an obvious candidate, but I certainly don’t want to comment because it’s not my job to actually choose my successor,” Handling said.
“It’s the board’s job, and I’m sure they’ll go through a very detailed and exhaustive process to make sure they end up with the right candidate.”
Whoever is chosen will have their work cut out for them. TIFF recently announced it is embarking on a five-year transformation plan called “Audience First,” in response to industry-wide drops in movie attendance, including a single-year drop of 49,000 people in 2016 over 2015 to showings on the five public screens at TIFF Bell Lightbox, the fest’s year-round headquarters at King and John Sts.
TIFF plans to move from simply showing films to offering “transformative experiences through film,” which would include more hands-on involvement with online services and through such popular attractions as the digiPlaySpace interactive children’s exhibit.
But Handling says he’s confident the organization can weather any storm, and he’s seen big ones in his time. They include the terrorist attacks of 9/11, which occurred midway through the 2001 festival and resulted in numerous red-carpet cancellations, although the films continued to screen.
The biggest challenge of all, Handling said, was the SARS epidemic of 2003, which spooked so many Hollywood denizens, it looked for a time that there wouldn’t be any celebrities on that year’s red carpet, and maybe not even a festival at all. The logjam began to break when Canadian rocker Neil Young said he’d be coming to TIFF to premiere his film Greendale, SARS or no SARS.
“It’s just been so rich and rewarding and all driven by being a complete and passionate cinephile,” Handling said of his time with TIFF, which has brought him numerous global honours that include the Order of Canada and France’s Chevalier des arts et des lettres.
“So to be able to see film and to rub shoulders with all the creators and to think about it and curate it and bring it back to Toronto has been extraordinary.”
In the lead-up to a crucial vote during which city council flip-flopped on transit plans to approve a multibillion-dollar subway in Scarborough, Jennifer Keesmaat went on the warpath.
In July 2013, the progressive chief planner — whose departure after five years at the helm was announced on Monday — was trying to make it known to anyone who would listen that a seven-stop light-rail line the province had already agreed to pay for, and the city had already approved, was still the better option.
Hundreds of pages of emails obtained by the Star through freedom of information requests over the past two years show how Keesmaat became the subway’s strongest critic on staff and tried — but ultimately failed — to prevent what some have called the biggest boondoggle of Toronto transit politics.
The number of reasons why the three-stop subway was a bad idea added up, Keesmaat agreed in one such email, to an “embarrassment of riches.”
The push to build a subway in Scarborough was one of the most controversial projects advanced under Keesmaat’s tenure at city hall, one that has complicated her legacy as a progressive city-builder. A compromise plan she later moved under Mayor John Tory today continues to unravel.
This is the untold story of how she tried behind the scenes to prevent the subway from being approved in the first place.
By the first week of July 2013, the future of transit in Scarborough was in limbo.
A surprise and illegal motion from Scarborough councillor and subway backer Glenn De Baeremaeker at an earlier May meeting during a completely unrelated debate — a move supported by then mayor Rob Ford — saw council sending mixed messages. They had endorsed a subway while having a signed agreement with the province’s transit agency, Metrolinx, to build an LRT.
Metrolinx, unsurprisingly, demanded clarity, triggering another vote, which was scheduled for a July 16 council meeting.
City staff began preparing a report to help council decide how to proceed, meeting nightly at one point to meet the tight deadlines.
On July 2, Keesmaat emailed her superiors, then city manager Joe Pennachetti and deputy city manager John Livey.
She noted media reports that said TTC CEO Andy Byford was meeting Metrolinx officials to review the costs for proceeding with the subway following De Baeremaeker’s motion.
But Keesmaat was not convinced the subway should be built at all.
“As we have discussed, there are different opinions as to the validity/relevance of these motions,” Keesmaat wrote, referring to the re-opening of the debate.
“I am well aware of the issues,” Pennachetti responded, promising to convene a meeting of staff that day.
The next day, Keesmaat forwarded a proposed outline for the council report to Livey.
“This is the outline we are working with,” she wrote.
Importantly, the outline included an example of what the planning department believed should be recommended: “For the reasons presented, subway is not the preferred technology to meet the future planning and transportation vision for this part of the city.”
Several days later, Pennachetti asked a senior group of staff for further refinements to the draft report.
Keesmaat responded to that request to make a point: “The subway option DOES NOT make the list of (ten) priority projects when compared with other projects across the city.”
It was followed by a warning.
“The quickness of the turn around has meant that we are struggling with a rationale, fair means of assessment,” Keesmaat wrote.
Two days later, Keesmaat sent Byford an email with the subject line “LRT/Subway – URGENT.”
“It is my understanding that your support of a subway for Scarborough is based on the projected increase in ridership,” she began. “I would like a more fulsome understanding of (how) you attained this number.”
“I have not forecast more riders,” Byford responded. “We didn’t reopen this debate so (it’s) up to councillors to say if funds are available.”
The emails reference a ridership number that would soon appear in the final version of the July report.
Though earlier analysis estimated the number of subway rush-hour riders by 2031 would be 9,500. That number had suddenly grown to 14,000.
That number was rarely discussed in any emailed conversations obtained by the Star before that report was tabled.
But the increase came as a surprise to Keesmaat. She was unaware it had apparently come from her own planning department, not the TTC, as the final report would later state.
Keesmaat declined to comment for this story. When asked previously about this exchange, the chief planner admitted the analysis leading up to the July vote was both “rushed” and “problematic”.
Reached by the Star, Pennachetti said he was relying on Keesmaat, Byford and their teams to come up with the recommendations in the report. As for the ridership number, he said: “I don’t have an explanation for that number because it was a transportation planning key issue to determine.”
By July 9, staff had a working draft of their report to council. A copy obtained by the Star shows that language warning against the perils of a switch to a subway was toned done significantly in the final report.
For example, a line that said: “At present, there is insufficient information available at this early stage on the net cost of maintaining and operating a proposed extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway” was removed entirely.
There were also several additions to the final report.
An entire section on ridership projections, focusing on the 14,000 figure, was added.
Importantly, this line was included in summary: “TTC staff have identified that either an LRT or subway can effectively serve the Scarborough RT transit corridor. Each technology option offers distinct advantages.”
On July 10, Keesmaat emailed Pennachetti with the subject “Subway vs LRT” to offer more evidence of the LRT’s benefits.
“Are you aware that the LRT travels through 3 priority neighbourhoods and the subway travels through one?”
“Are you aware that this will double the city’s debt — the cost is 3 billion?”
Pennachetti appears to not have responded by email.
The next day, Keesmaat emailed Councillor Josh Matlow’s senior policy adviser, Andrew Athanasiu, who had asked for information to support an opinion piece he was drafting to send to the Star. Matlow had been strongly opposed to the push for a subway from the beginning.
Keesmaat told him they were still working on the report to council, due the next day, and that it had been a “significant negotiation around the table.” She wanted to know what kind of material he needed.
Athanasiu responded that the piece had already been submitted. “That’s fine,” he said. “There’s an embarrassment of riches as to why this is a bad idea.”
“It is an embarrassment of riches,” Keesmaat replied. “It is a significant overbuilding of the needed infrastructure.”
She also noted the cost for a subway, as spelled out in the report, would be “mind boggling” — much higher than anticipated.
“Has this changed Joe P’s mind at all?” Athanasiu asked, inquiring about the city manager.
Keesmaat didn’t answer that question in her subsequent email.
Emails also show that in July staff were monitoring Keesmaat’s tweets and printing them out for her superior, Livey, to see.
In an email this week, Livey said: “Since I did not access Twitter regularly, I asked staff to print them for me. Staff regularly receive media and social media updates/clippings from strategic communications to help better inform us of the coverage on topics of high interest to the public.”
When the report was finalized, the recommendations were not at all what Keesmaat had earlier envisioned.
Instead, it gave council a choice, presenting the subway and the LRT as potential equals, with some caveats. In doing so, staff told council to choose instead of making a firm recommendation as the original outline had done.
The 45-member council convened on July 16 to discuss the report and make a choice.
It wasn’t even close. Council voted instead to build a subway, 28-16 (one councillor was absent).
The subway was again confirmed in a subsequent vote in October, which approved a tax increase to help cover the more than billion-dollar increase in costs. In the years that followed, Keesmaat worked to create a compromise that Mayor John Tory, who campaigned on building the subway, and his allies could support.
It involved reducing the number of stops from three to one and pitching that the savings could be used to build an extension of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT to the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus.
In presenting the idea she argued an “express” subway — a favoured term of Tory’s — could be beneficial in the context of a network plan.
But since that plan was unveiled, mounting costs related to the subway have meant the funds already set aside may not even cover the cost of the subway, let alone the LRT.
And a recently published study on the subway estimates that in 2055, trains will still be two-thirds empty at rush hour — which would mean steep costs for the city to operate it.
Announcing she’ll decamp from her post at the end of September this year, Keesmaat will be long gone before any of it is hashed out at council and construction green-lighted.
At that July debate, Matlow, fighting to keep the LRT plan in place, asked Keesmaat to address the bigger question directly, out in the open. Which would be better for the city?
Keesmaat, on her feet in the cavernous council chamber, tried to make it clear.
“Based on the criteria that we have for great city-building, looking at economic development, supporting healthy neighbourhoods, affordability, choice in the system, the LRT option is, in fact, more desirable.”
“I just want to make sure that my colleagues heard that,” Matlow said as his time to question ran out. “So, you’re saying that all of the evidence-based criteria that you’re using, the LRT for this specific route is the preferred option for Scarborough and Toronto.”
“That’s correct,” Keesmaat said.
HOUSTON—A Texas city that lost its drinking water system to Harvey’s floodwaters struggled Saturday to restore service, and firefighters kept monitoring a crippled chemical plant that has twice been the scene of explosions and fires since the storm roared ashore and stalled over Texas more than a week ago.
Officials in Beaumont, population almost 120,000, worked to repair their water treatment plant, which failed Thursday after the swollen Neches River inundated the main intake system and backup pumps failed. The Army Corps of Engineers sent pumps, and an ExxonMobil team built and installed a temporary intake pipe in an effort to refill a city reservoir. Exxon has a refinery and chemical plants in Beaumont.
On Friday, people waited in a line that stretched for more than a mile to get bottled water.
In Crosby, outside of Houston, authorities continued to monitor the Arkema plant where three trailers of highly unstable compounds ignited in recent days, sending thick black smoke and tall flames into the air. A Harris County Fire Marshal spokesperson said Saturday that there were no active fires at the facility, but six more trailers were being watched.
The soggy and battered city of Houston began burying its dead and taking steps toward the long recovery ahead. The storm that is blamed for at least 43 deaths is believed to have damaged at least 156,000 dwellings in Harris County, which includes the nation’s fourth-largest city.
Kim Martinez, 28, waited Saturday for insurance adjusters to come to her Southbelt/Ellington neighbourhood, a devastated middle-class area of southeast Houston where fast-food restaurants, strip malls and churches line major streets.
The mother of two was hosting a watch party for the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight last Saturday when floodwaters forced about 15 people to the attic. They escaped the next day. Seven children were rescued by a neighbour’s boat. The women and a 115-pound German shepherd used inflatable swim toys, and the men swam or waded through shoulder-high water.
“You can be prepared for anything but not a monster storm like Harvey,” said her mother, Maria Martinez, 63.
Not everyone was able to think about rebuilding yet.
On Saturday, about 200 people waved signs and shouted as they rallied Saturday outside a still-flooded subdivision in the west Houston suburb of Katy, demanding answers about when they will be able to return home. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has warned residents that their homes could remain flooded for up to 15 days because of ongoing releases of water from two reservoirs protecting downtown.
The city said the releases were necessary to preserve the reservoirs' structural integrity, but many at the rally said their homes were being sacrificed to save others.
Homeowner Sheetal Parwal said her family now has less than what they had when they emigrated from India 10 years ago, and that their home is now a swamp.
Houston public schools officials said up to 12,000 students will have to be sent to different schools because of flood-damaged buildings. Twenty-two of the district's 245 schools had extensive damage that will keep them closed for months.
Superintendent Richard Carranza said the goal is to start the school year on Sept. 11, but that could change.
President Donald Trump arrived in Houston for his second visit to the devastated region. He and first lady Melania Trump met with Harvey evacuees taking shelter at the NRG Center in Houston, spending time in an area designated for children posing for photographs and shaking hands as they listened to people’s stories and helped to serve food. They also will visit Lake Charles, Louisiana, to survey damage.
Trump has asked lawmakers for a $7.9 billion down payment toward Harvey relief and recovery efforts — a request expected to be swiftly approved by Congress, which returns to work Tuesday after its summer break.
Trump and first lady Melania Trump met with Harvey survivors living in a shelter.
National Guard troops at the centre shouted to Trump, “we’re proud of you” and “you’re doing a fantastic job.”
Meanwhile, floodwaters have inundated at least five highly contaminated toxic waste sites near Houston — and that’s raising concerns the pollution there might spread.
The Associated Press has visited the sites — some still only accessible by boat.
The Houston metro area has long been a centre of the U.S. petrochemical industry, and is home to more than a dozen Superfund sites.
The Environmental Protection Agency said Superfund sites are among the most contaminated places in the country.
An EPA spokeswoman said agency experts won’t begin assessing the damage at the sites until the floodwaters recede.
Among the Superfund sites completely flooded are the San Jacinto River Waste Pits, the site of a 1960s paper mill. Soil there is contaminated with dioxins — toxic chemicals linked to birth defects and cancer.
Friends and family gathered Friday evening to remember 42-year-old Benito Juarez Cavazos, one of 43 people whose deaths are attributed to Harvey. Cavazos came to Texas illegally from Mexico 28 years ago and was in the process of getting his green card.
“It’s very unfortunate that right when he finally had hopes of being able to maybe go to Mexico soon to go see his family, it all went downhill,” his cousin, Maria Cavazos, said. “Sadly, he’s going back to Mexico, but in an unfortunate way.”
Turner pleaded for more high-water vehicles and more search-and-rescue equipment as the city continued looking for any survivors or corpses that might have somehow escaped notice in flood-ravaged neighbourhoods.
Search teams quickly worked their way down streets, sometimes not even knocking on doors if there were obvious signs that all was well — organized debris piles or full cans of trash on the curb, for instance, or neighbours confirming that the residents had evacuated.
Turner also asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide more workers to process applications from thousands of people seeking government help. The mayor said he will request a preliminary aid package of $75 million for debris removal alone.
The storm had lost most of its tropical characteristics but remained a source of heavy rain. National Weather Service meteorologists expect Harvey to break up and merge with other weather systems over the Ohio Valley late Saturday or Sunday.
Harvey initially came ashore Aug. 25 as a Category 4 hurricane, then went back out to sea and lingered off the coast as a tropical storm for days. The storm brought five straight days of rain totalling close to 1.3 metres in one location, the heaviest tropical downpour ever recorded in the continental U.S.
Another storm was churning far out over the Atlantic. Hurricane Irma was following a course that could bring it near the eastern Caribbean Sea by early next week. The Category 2 storm was moving northwest at nearly 13 mph (20 kph). No coastal watches or warnings were in effect.
Michelle Kungl was pulled from the womb with a broken neck and a grim prognosis.
Limp and unable to breathe, nobody expected her to survive the difficult forceps delivery 34 years ago. Her parents and doctors were preparing to remove her from life support when suddenly, an elated nurse noticed something miraculous — Michelle’s tiny hand, twitching.
It was the beginning of an astonishing journey that would see the bright-eyed baby — who had no movement below the neck and was attached to a ventilator to breathe — eventually learn to talk, sit up, walk and even ride a tricycle.
Throughout the ’80s and ’90s, Michelle became a media darling. The Star and other local newspapers wrote stories about the little dynamo at the Hospital for Sick Children who couldn’t go home because she relied on a ventilator. She was featured on CBC and CNN as a youngster determined to live like any other child.
Michelle would spend the first seven years of her life at Sick Kids — the hospital’s longest in-patient — before she was transferred to Bloorview Children’s Hospital, where she was finally allowed to go home for the first time with a nurse. Another seven years would pass before the province’s health-care system provided the support for her to live at home full time.
Doctors never thought she would live independently. But now 34, Michelle has her own apartment in Richmond Hill with on-site attendants. She drives a 2013 Dodge Caravan Crew SE, enjoys playing video games with her boyfriend, and earns more than $42,500 as a full-time credit card fraud investigator for a bank.
Michelle overcame impossible medical odds as a child. But as an adult she is fighting her most frustrating and seemingly impossible battle yet — convincing Ontario’s narrow and rule-bound social assistance system that she is disabled enough to receive help to cover her extraordinary medical and disability-related expenses.
“The impact this is having on her life is devastating,” says her lawyer Brendon Pooran, who specializes in human rights and financial security for people with disabilities.
* * *
It is early July and after 11 months of emails, phone calls and meetings, Michelle believes York Region’s Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) office has finally sorted out her monthly payments and extended health benefits.
The bad news comes first thing in the morning on July 6, when Michelle’s ODSP worker calls to say her provincial support has been suspended for about the 50th time in almost 14 years.
Today, it is because she received three bi-weekly paycheques in June and has — once again — exceeded the program’s monthly income threshold.
“I don’t believe that they care at all about me — I’m just a number, a case file,” she writes in an email to her mother.
“They give you as little as they possibly can and turn away from you like you are invisible.”
Since she finished college in 2003, Michelle has had to choose between her health — even survival — and being an active and productive member of society.
The irony is, she knows exactly what she could do to make these headaches disappear overnight.
“Everything would be so much easier if I just didn’t work,” she sighs, placing her index finger over the tracheotomy tube in her neck to steady her voice.
And yet Michelle, who achieved “top performer” status at work earlier this year, loves her job.
“When you are working it helps your mental health. You have friends. You have something to look forward to,” she says. “You have more income — more than what you get on ODSP (alone.) You have activities where you meet new people. It’s better than staying home alone, isolated.”
Working also keeps her moving, which is good for her overall health, especially her fragile lungs.
While living in hospital, Michelle learned to breathe without her ventilator, a process that requires her to think about every breath she takes. But she still needs her ventilator when she sleeps and is at home relaxing, in case she nods off.
“If I forget to breathe, I’m dead,” she says, only half joking.
Every time her income crosses a certain threshold, Michelle’s benefits are suddenly cut off, leaving her scrambling.
This day’s latest setback is particularly worrisome because her accessible van is being serviced and she is expecting a bill for more than $2,300. As she has explained dozens of times to ODSP workers who have questioned these expenses, she needs the van for work because accessible public transit doesn’t accommodate her hours.
To make matters worse, July is when her tenant and auto insurance are due. Michelle pays these expenses annually to save on both premiums and paperwork.
And it is a mountain of paperwork. Every year, Michelle collects scores of receipts and fills out dozens of forms to convince ODSP to help cover more than $25,000 in annual disability expenses that keep her healthy and able to work.
Keeping up with the paperwork has become a part-time job for Michelle and a full-time job for her mother Lyn, a 62-year-old artist and retired gallery manager.
“It’s hard watching your kid struggle,” says Lyn. “But this is beyond that. This is a human rights issue.”
Michelle can’t work, save money for a vacation or even consider marrying her boyfriend without losing critical financial support, she notes.
Michelle’s employer allows her to work set hours instead of the usual rotating shifts. Her Friday to Tuesday afternoon/evening work schedule accommodates the one-hour attendant care she receives every morning as well as an extra two-hour appointment every Wednesday when an attendant helps her do laundry or clean the circuits on her ventilator.
Michelle’s days off are packed with household errands, medical appointments, trips to her wheelchair service technician or auto mechanic and the ever-present administrative burden of keeping track of expenses she must submit monthly to prove she needs ODSP to survive.
Lost receipts mean lost support and more precious time fighting for reinstatement, so once a month she drives the documents to the ODSP office to ensure nothing goes missing in the mail.
As of June, Michelle was approved to receive $767.24 a month to offset what she and her mother estimate are almost $1,700 in monthly work-related disability expenses that allow her to hold down a job and remain active in the community. Life-sustaining medical equipment related to her ventilator adds another $507 to Michelle’s monthly costs that she recoups through her company benefits plan and ODSP extended health benefits.
But as the latest call from her ODSP worker shows, it is never a sure thing.
From the time she moved into her own apartment and began receiving ODSP in 2003, Michelle’s support has been questioned. There were disputes over her supplies, such as the “trach tie,” a collar she wears around her neck that holds her tracheotomy tube in place. The only brand the program covered cut into her neck until it bled.
When Michelle’s part-time work hours grew, the program would spit out form letters informing her she was cut off for earning too much.
Finally, in 2007, while living in Toronto, Michelle’s local legal aid and ODSP workers devised a “creative solution” that ensured her extraordinary disability costs would be taken into account so the cut-off notices would cease.
Her monthly income support and medical benefits remained relatively stable until last summer when she relocated to an apartment in Richmond Hill closer to work.
“When she moved, the whole thing fell apart,” Lyn says.
York Region ODSP didn’t recognize how her case was handled in Toronto, she says. “They told her go home. Deal with it on your own. You are making a salary and you should be able to look after this by yourself.”
Complicating matters — and adding to the paperwork — was Michelle’s promotion to full-time last fall which entitles her to company benefits.
Since ODSP is a “program of last resort,” Michelle can no longer submit an annual list of medical supplies to her local pharmacy, order what she needs every month, and have everything covered.
Instead, she must pay upfront. To get her money back, she has to submit the bills to her company benefits supplier, which covers 80 per cent of most items. Then she has to bring the benefit statement toODSP to cover the balance. Wheelchair repair costs are handled the same way.
It is an onerous process that usually takes two months and explains why Michelle carries 14 credit cards to juggle the costs. She figures she owes about $30,000.
* * *
Dr. Karen Pape was in the neonatal intensive care unit at Sick Kids on Dec. 19, 1982, when Michelle arrived by ambulance from Women’s College Hospital, barely alive.
And it was Pape’s ground-breaking use of electric stimulation to Michelle’s inert muscles about three years later that changed the course of the young girl’s life.
But the neonatologist who has since retired from clinical practice, confesses she was shocked when she reconnected with her former patient several years ago while writing a book about innovative treatments for children with early brain and nerve injuries. After everyone worked so hard for Michelle as a child, public systems seem to have abandoned her as an adult, Pape says.
“She has really been failed. She has chronic ventilatory dependence. This is not a joke. She will die a respiratory death.”
As far as Pape knows, Michelle is the oldest person with a neonatal spinal cord injury who is partially ventilator dependent and living independently.
Adults with Michelle’s level of injury are usually in institutions and costing the public hundreds of thousands of dollars, she notes.
Instead of the constant paper chase and hour-long drive each way to Newmarket to submit her income statements and expense receipts every month to ODSP, Michelle’s time should be spent living her life and looking after her health, Pape says.
She should have a massage and physiotherapy once a week, an athletic trainer to keep her mobile and an occupational therapist to monitor her for safety and medical aids, the doctor says.
But none of this is covered by Michelle’s employer or ODSP. Her company benefits cover the equivalent of just one physiotherapy treatment a month.
Pape was the catalyst for Michelle’s move to Richmond Hill last summer where she lives in an accessible, ground-floor apartment in a non-smoking building with underground parking. Second-hand smoke, which was common in Michelle’s subsidized apartment in Toronto where she lived for almost 13 years, is particularly dangerous for people on ventilators, she notes.
“She was on the eighth floor of a building where the elevator used to break down. She couldn’t get up the stairs. Her father had to be called to carry her up,” she says, trying to control her exasperation. “She had to scrape the ice from her car in the outdoor parking lot in the winter.”
Michelle’s new apartment is a huge improvement, Pape says. But even that arrangement comes with a hitch. Now that Michelle is working full-time, her subsidized rent of $352 a month is expected to spike to a “market rate” of more than $1,100 after her annual rent review this fall.
* * *
“Hope you weren’t expecting Driving Miss Daisy,” Michelle quips, as she roars out of her underground parking garage in her gold Dodge Caravan. When Michelle is behind the wheel, it is nothing like the 1989 film about an aging Jewish widow and her African-American driver.
Her license plate — “Sparky8” — is a nickname from her years at Brother André Catholic High School in Markham. The blue butterfly tattoo on her left shoulder blade and an image of the moon and the stars inked on her lower back are also high school relics.
“Why not look at the moon when you are looking at the moon?” she says with a smirk.
The van, with a price tag of about $25,000, cost her more than $80,000 after accessibility modifications were installed to accommodate her electric wheelchair. Her 10-year, biweekly loan payments average about $941 a month, an expense that must be paid until 2022. Now that the warranty has run out, her service costs will escalate.
But the van is Michelle’s life-line.
Her first stop is almost always Starbucks drive-thru for a venti Caramel Frappuccino “no whipped cream, extra drizzle” or Tim Hortons for a large S’mores Iced Capp.
Michelle frowns as she pulls into Costco and looks for a wheelchair parking spot. The specially designated spaces often don’t work for her van, which requires at least five metres of clearance for the electric wheelchair ramp that extends out the right-hand sliding door at the push of a button on her keychain. As a result, she parks in a regular spot at the far end of the lot to avoid getting boxed in.
As she searches for a deal on plastic cups for a work pot-luck, she zips by startled shoppers in her electric wheelchair barking “careful now” in a “don’t mess with me” voice.
“People just don’t look where they are going,” she says. “And I hate it when people see someone in a wheelchair and just assume you need help.”
Michelle smiles in the check-out line where clerks greet her by name.
Growing up amid hospital routines, rules and regulations have given Michelle an intense, if not extreme, respect for authority, confidentiality and protection of personal information in both her professional and private life.
Punctuality and precision are also touchstones. “I’d rather be an hour early than a minute late,” she says describing how she allows 90 minutes for the 30-minute drive to work.
“Wheelchair breakdowns, accessibility ramp glitches and difficulty finding wheelchair parking spots. Having a disability takes time,” she says wryly.
* * *
Lyn has spent more than three decades fighting for her eldest child’s right to live a normal life. While raising two younger boys, she pushed for Michelle to leave the hospital with a nurse so she could attend school with her peers. She insisted her daughter join the school choir, become a Brownie and a Girl Guide, take taekwondo, go to summer camp and go on family vacations.
When Michelle became a young adult, Lyn insisted her daughter work part-time and attend college where Michelle lived in residence and learned to drive.
Michelle credits her mother for her fierce independence.
But her years of hospital life and Lyn’s constant advocacy have forged a difficult mother-daughter relationship.
“My mom and I both have different ideas about how I should be conducting myself,” Michelle says diplomatically.
Strong-willed and extremely private, Michelle refuses to introduce her mother to her boyfriend, a man with spastic cerebral palsy she has dated for more than two years.
And she is annoyed by Lyn’s discomfort with suctioning.
Because Michelle can’t cough, she carries a portable medical vacuum mounted to the back of her wheelchair that sucks the mucus from her lungs through a clear narrow catheter. When she sticks the catheter into her lungs through a tracheotomy tube in her neck, the machine whirrs and makes loud slurping noises.
“I suction wherever I want. But for some people, it makes them feel sick, so Lyn feels I should do it in the bathroom.”
As a teen, when she finally moved into the family home, Michelle was angry Lyn forced her to leave her wheelchair in the garage and walk or use her walker.
“She thought it was better for me. Which of course it was,” Michelle concedes.
Lyn loves her daughter. But she admits Michelle is sometimes hard to like.
“Michelle’s point of view is f-you. I’m disabled. Get over it,” Lyn says.
She frets about her daughter’s hygiene and diet. “I find it hard to go to her house and see bags of potato chips and packages of Mr. Noodle everywhere.”
“Michelle feels I have never accepted her disability,” Lyn says. “And she is right. I’ve never had the luxury of feeling sad for my daughter because I’ve been so busy fighting. I’ve always been the difficult one. I had to be. Because feeling sorry for Michelle was never going to get her where she needed to go.”
But Lyn knows she has to let go.
“Michelle is an adult. I have to let her live her life. We all have to let her live her life. And that is what this fight is all about.”
* * *
“Hey there, whatcha doing for dinner?” Michelle texts.
“Call me — easier that way.”
Michelle’s dad Werner, 60, a bronzed and burly auto mechanic who came to Canada from Germany when he was 18, suggests they meet for dinner at The Keg at 10 p.m. on a Tuesday night.
As often happens when couples have a critically ill child, Werner and Lyn’s marriage collapsed under the stress of Michelle’s traumatic birth and a subsequent failed medical malpractice lawsuit. But as Werner is quick to point out “we are all friends now.”
“Your mother deserves all the credit for getting you where you are at. It is all your mother,” he tells Michelle as he digs into his order of Baseball Top Sirloin. “She was always there for you. She is a very strong woman . . . Me? I’m just the comic relief.”
The restaurant rings with Michelle’s distinctive chortle as Werner recounts the time he took her to summer camp, drove onto the highway shoulder and told her the noise from the rumble strip was a helicopter circling overhead.
“I made you look,” he jokes.
Werner pulls out his cellphone to share photos of Michelle in a bikini, marching in the gay pride parade and riding on the back of his black Harley Davidson motorcycle.
Michelle is still laughing when Werner mentions he and his partner have just joined Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park, a local nudist colony.
“Maybe you want to join too,” he suggests.
“Could I take my wheelchair?” she shoots back.
“I can never say no to you,” her father replies. “Except when you ask for a Ferrari.”
Michelle’s youngest brother, Dane, 30, runs a tow truck company and is often around her father’s Markham auto shop. “I know he will always be there if I need him, especially if my van breaks down on the road,” she smiles.
But she is closest in both age and spirit to brother Ryan, 33, an electrical engineer, currently studying dentistry in Australia and about to apply to medical school.
“When I see Michelle I don’t see her disability,” he says over Facetime from Brisbane. “She has never been defined by her disability and has never asked for any handouts.”
Ryan, the peacemaker in the family, struggles to describe his frustration over his sister’s battles with bureaucracy.
“What I would hope for Michelle is to see her be supported by a program that gives her a fighting chance at continuing to lead a normal life in the face of extraordinary circumstances,” he adds. “A program that covers her basic medical needs without all the hassle of endless paperwork and red tape.”
Disability rights lawyer Pooran, is outraged by Michelle’s struggles with ODSP.
“This constant flow of paperwork — the monitoring and compliance requirements — has had a devastating effect on her physically, emotionally and psychologically. And it has to stop,” he says.
For more than two decades, Pooran and other disability advocates have been urging Queen’s Park to ease the onerous reporting requirements and strict income and asset rules that govern ODSP. He is accompanying Michelle and Lyn to a meeting with provincial officials early next month to discuss her case.
Although Pooran acknowledges Michelle is somewhat unique — few with her level of disability work full time — her experience highlights the problem most people on social assistance face when they try to work or receive income from other sources. More than 900,000 Ontarians rely on social assistance, including more than 490,000 on ODSP. Barely 10 per cent of individuals receiving ODSP have employment income.
It is a key issue Community and Social Services Minister Helena Jaczek asked a provincial working group to address last summer as part of a review of Ontario’s income security system. The group’s 10-year blueprint for reform, is expected in October.
In the meantime, a ministry spokesperson said the government has already increased the amount individuals and families can deduct from their earnings for disability-work related expenses from $300 to $1,000 a month.
The ministry is also planning to ease the burden of monthly income and expense reporting by allowing people to submit records electronically.
“We understand it can be inconvenient, onerous and at times a frustrating process for individuals,” said Kristen Tedesco. “We know we have more work to do and we look forward to the recommendations from the Income Security Working Group in order to further improve social assistance programs in Ontario.”
* * *
When the Kungls lost their medical malpractice lawsuit in 1989, it was a crushing blow to Michelle’s financial future.
As the judge warned in his ruling: “I cannot help but feel that the law has failed the infant plaintiff Michelle. Society must not fail her.”
The words echo as Lyn continues to battle for her adult child.
“Our society should be looking after disabled people,” she says. “Our programs should be looking after Michelle’s medical expenses. If she was not working, it would all be covered. It doesn’t make any sense.”
Lyn confesses she urged doctors to take her severely-injured baby off life-support.
“I can tell you there were times when I wished for the pain of watching Michelle’s struggle to breathe to end,” she says.
“She is a woman now. But the struggle to have a life — a life that you and I take for granted — has always been beyond her reach,” she continues. “This is the pain that I share with my child who lives.”
Toronto police are looking for four armed suspects involved in a fatal shooting of a 34-year-old Toronto man near an Etobicoke daycare on Saturday night.
Police say they were called around 8:45 p.m. near Braeburn Woods Day Care Centre at Tandridge Cres. and Arcot Blvd., east of Albion Rd., for reports of a shooting.
Gun shots were heard by several people in the area at the time of the shooting. Toronto police Const. Caroline de Kloet said police received multiple calls afterward.
When emergency services arrived, they found Awad Hurre with gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead on scene.
“This was a targeted attack with massive overkill. Numerous shots were fired into the victim,” Homicide Det. Sgt. Paul Worden said.
Four men in a silver vehicle were seen parked near the area 20 minutes before the shooting, Worden said. According to surveillance video, he said the suspects ambushed Hurre after he passed by them the second time.
All four gunmen fired at the victim. He said the direction of the shooting was directed toward the apartment lobby. They found three different types of firearm casings on the scene, one of which was from a rifle.
“We do not have a motive for why he was targeted. For this level of violence and this type of overkill, there has to be a reason,” Worden said.
The shooting happened when kids were playing in a nearby basketball court, and people were out in the streets chatting with neighbours. Suspects are considered to be dangerous, Worden said.
“It’s very concerning that this level of violence be used in time of day when there were numerous people in the area and total disregard for public safety,” he said.
Investigators are also looking into a possible link between Saturday’s shooting to the shooting that happened at North York Sheridan Mall.
Worden said even though no physical evidence that connects the two, the homicide cases have similarities — both Hurre and Jovane Clarke, 22, the victim in Thursday’s mall shooting, resided in the same apartment complex, and four gunmen were involved in each.
“They went right up over top of them and fired numerous shots into the victims,” Worden said. “After they’ve been shot, on the ground helpless, they fired numerous shots into each one of these victims. We do not have a motive for either attack.”
Worden said they have talked to the driver of the taxi cab believed to have spoken to Hurre minutes before the shooting.
Investigators are looking for a silver vehicle used by suspects to flee. Worden is asking for people in the community who might have witnessed the incident to talk to the police officers present in the area.
Two men are dead and three others are seriously injured after a multi-vehicle collision in Vaughan on Saturday evening.
York Regional Police said the collision occurred around 5:15 p.m. on Rutherford Rd. just east of Highway 50 and involved an Audi, a Honda CRV, and a commercial van.
The passenger of the Audi, a 27-year-old man from London, was pronounced dead on scene and the driver was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries.
The driver of the CRV, a 61-year-old man from Brampton, was pronounced dead in hospital, while the two passengers suffered serious injuries.
The driver of a van was assessed for minor injuries and released.
The road was closed past midnight for investigation.
Inspector Dave Riches said it is currently not known what caused the collision and police are asking anyone with information to contact them.
With files from Alexandra Jones
With files from Alexandra Jones
MEXICO CITY—Mexico “won’t accept anything that goes against our dignity as a nation,” its president said Saturday, a direct barb against Donald Trump’s repeated denigration of Mexican immigrants, threats against NAFTA and promises to have Mexico pay for a wall between the two countries.
In the annual state of the union address, Enrique Pena Nieto defended free trade and said North American Free Trade Agreement must be strengthened. A second round of talks between Canadian, U.S. and Mexican trade negotiators to update the accord began on Friday in Mexico City, and will continue through Tuesday. Trump, who as a presidential candidate met with Pena Nieto in Mexico, again this week threatened to tear the deal up.
“The relationship with the new government of the United States, like any other nation, must be based on irrevocable principles: sovereignty, defence of the national interest and protection of our migrants,” Pena Nieto said.
“We won’t accept anything that goes against our dignity as a nation,” he told a crowd of politicians and the country’s elite gathered at the National Palace, who rose at that point to deliver the most vigorous standing ovation of his address.
NAFTA is a necessary vehicle to integrate the region, Pena Nieto said.
“The negotiating team has precise instructions to participate in this process with seriousness, good faith and a constructive spirit,” he said, “always putting first the interest of Mexico while reaching for a result where all three countries win.”
On Saturday, Trump said he would discuss with his advisers this week whether to withdraw from a trade deal with South Korea that he has also long criticized. Such a move could stoke economic tensions with a U.S. ally at a time both countries confront a crisis over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
If Trump withdraws from NAFTA, Mexico, which is Latin America’s second-largest economy, has indicated it would pull out as well.
Among the thorny issues negotiators are dealing with are what are called rules of origin, which set what percentage of parts in goods need to come from NAFTA countries in order to get tariff breaks, according to a schedule.
Trump seeks higher U.S. content in goods like automobiles made in Mexico.
Pena Nieto defended free market reforms passed on his watch and also took a jab at the candidate who leads in polls to succeed him in June 2018 presidential elections: leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has espoused more statist, nationalist positions such as building more government refineries to replace U.S. imports of gasoline.
“There are visible risks of going backward,” Pena Nieto said.
“Mexico has not faced such a decisive and determinative crossroads in years,” he said, adding that the country must choose whether to continue down the path of trade and economic liberalization “or surrender to a model from the past that has failed.”
Pena Nieto also called for Mexico to redouble efforts against violence, saying that restoring peace to the country is the biggest demand of society and top priority of his government.
After falling in the first years of his administration, the rate of killings is on the rise again. That requires improvement in security forces at the local level across the country, Pena Nieto said. He urged the Mexican Congress to pass an overhaul to turn 1,800 local police forces into 32 state units, an initiative that has been stalled for years, saying Mexico can’t depend on federal forces to permanently provide security in towns and municipalities.
“We still have much to do,” Pena Nieto said. “Today, a great part of homicides aren’t related to organized crime but with common crimes, for which states and municipalities are responsible. It’s imperative that we address this weakness and the historical lags that exist in our local security forces.”
Homicides have soared this year, reaching the highest rate this century, as drug cartels spar over trafficking routes. The drug war has also spread to top beach resorts like Cancun and Los Cabos, triggering a U.S. State Department travel advisory for both resorts and endangering a tourism industry that generates $25 billion (Cdn) annually.
The president’s reference to the spiralling violence signals the severity of the problem, and its likely importance in the upcoming presidential election to choose his successor next July.
Although the Pena Nieto administration is credited with passing key economic reforms that have ended the state’s oil monopoly and triggered a plunge in prices for mobile-phone service, its record on security has been widely criticized. Successes at taking down drug kingpins like Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman may have only backfired by triggering bloody battles among traffickers fighting to replace them.
The Mexican president also voiced his support for immigrants illegally brought to the U.S. as children. Trump plans to announce on Tuesday whether he’ll scrap protections for them as he comes under new pressure from top congressional Republicans and hundreds of business leaders to keep the program. The young immigrants are known as “Dreamers” after a proposal to shield them from deportation.
WASHINGTON—North Korea on Sunday claimed a “perfect success” for its most powerful nuclear test so far, a further step in the development of weapons capable of striking anywhere in the United States. President Donald Trump, asked if he would attack the North, said, “We’ll see.”
He also suggested squeezing China, the North’s patron for many decades and a vital U.S. trading partner, on the economic front, in hopes of persuading Beijing to exert leverage on its neighbour. Trump tweeted that the U.S. is considering “stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea.”
The latest military provocation from the isolated communist country reinforces the danger facing America, Trump said earlier in a series of tweets, adding that “talk of appeasement” is pointless.
“They only understand one thing!” Trump wrote, without elaboration, as he prepared to meet later with his national security team, which he said would include John Kelly, his chief of staff, as well as Defence Secretary Jim Mattis “and other military leaders.”
Sunday’s detonation by North Korea was the first nuclear test since Trump took office in January.
After attending church near the White House, Trump made his “We’ll see” comment in response to a question from reporters.
The precise strength of the explosion, described by state-controlled media in North Korea as a hydrogen bomb, has yet to be determined. South Korea’s weather agency said the artificial earthquake caused by the explosion was five times to six times stronger than tremors generated by the North’s previous five such tests. The impact reportedly shook buildings in China and in Russia.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was calling counterparts in Asia, and Trump’s treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, said he was putting together proposed new sanctions for Trump to consider that would seek to cut off trade with North Korea.
The action suggested in Trump’s trade tweet would be radical: The U.S. imports about $40 billion in goods a month from China, North Korea’s main commercial partner.
It’s unclear what kind of penalties might make a difference. Lassina Zerbo, head of the U.N. test ban treaty organization, said sanctions already imposed against North Korea aren’t working.
Trump warned last month that the U.S. military was “locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely” and that the U.S. would unleash “fire and fury” on the North if it continued to threaten America. The bellicose words followed threats from North Korea to launch ballistic missiles toward the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, intending to create “enveloping fire” near the military hub that’s home to U.S. bombers.
The North’s latest test was carried out at 12:29 p.m. local time at the Punggye-ri site where it has conducted past nuclear tests. Officials in Seoul put the magnitude at 5.7; the U.S. Geological Survey said it was a magnitude 6.3. The strongest artificial quake from previous tests was a magnitude 5.3.
“North Korea has conducted a major Nuclear Test. Their words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States,” Trump said in the first of a series of tweets.
He branded North Korea “a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success.”
Yet Trump appeared to be more critical of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has attempted to reach out to the North.
“South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!” Trump said.
China’s official Xinhua News Agency said President Xi Jinping and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, meeting on the sidelines of a Beijing-led economic summit, agreed “to adhere to the goal of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, have close communication and co-ordination and properly respond” to the test.
North Korea’s state-run television broadcast a special bulletin to announce the test and said leader Kim Jong Un attended a meeting of the ruling party’s presidium and signed the go-ahead order. Earlier, the party’s newspaper ran a front-page story showing photos of Kim examining what it said was a nuclear warhead being fitted onto the nose of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Sunday’s detonation builds on recent North Korean advances that include test launches in July of two ICBMs that are believed to be capable of reaching the mainland U.S. The North says its missile development is part of a defensive effort to build a viable nuclear deterrent that can target U.S. cities.
The North claimed the device it tested was a thermonuclear weapon — commonly called a hydrogen bomb. That could be hard to independently confirm. It said the underground test site did not leak radioactive materials, which would make such a determination even harder.
At the same time, the simple power of the blast was convincing. Japan’s Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said it might have been as powerful as 70 kilotons. North Korea’s previous largest was thought to be anywhere from 10 to 30 kilotons.
“We cannot deny it was an H-bomb test,” Onodera said.
North Korea conducted two nuclear tests last year and has been launching missiles at a record pace this year. It fired a potentially nuclear-capable midrange missile over northern Japan last week in response to ongoing U.S.-South Korea military exercises.
It said that launch was the “curtain raiser” for more activity to come.
Just before Sunday’s test, according to state media, Kim and the other senior leaders at the party presidium meeting discussed “detailed ways and measures for containing the U.S. and other hostile forces’ vicious moves for sanctions.”
The photos released earlier showed Kim talking with his lieutenants as he observed a silver, peanut-shaped device that the state-run media said was designed to be mounted on the North’s “Hwasong-14” ICBM.
The North claims the device was made domestically and has explosive power that can range from tens to hundreds of kilotons. For context, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima by the U.S. had a 15-kiloton yield.
North Korea’s recent activity has been especially bold.
The North followed its two ICBM tests by announcing a plan to fire intermediate range missiles toward Guam. Kim signed off on the plan, but is watching the moves by the U.S. before deciding when or whether to carry it out.
Guam is a sore point for the North because it is home to a squadron of B-1B bombers that the North fears could be used to attack their country. The U.S. on Thursday had sent the bombers and F-35 stealth fighters to the sky over South Korea in a show of force — and North Korea strongly protested.
The two Koreas have shared the world’s most heavily fortified border since their war in the early 1950s ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. About 28,500 American troops are deployed in South Korea as deterrence against North Korea.
The majority of homes in the Annex and Rosedale neighbourhoods are still without power after an outage that started around 6 a.m.
Of the 7,000 homes originally impacted, Toronto Hydro said about 850 customers in the area have had power restored. They are still hoping to get power back to all customers by 1 p.m.
The hydro distribution company, which serves over 750,000 customers in the Toronto area, tweeted the outage ranges from Mount Pleasant Rd. west to Ossington Ave., and from College St. north to St. Clair Ave.
Toronto Hydro said the cause of the outage is not yet known.