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- 09/19/17--15:43: _Peter Munk donates ...
- 09/19/17--06:29: _At the UN, Donald T...
- 09/20/17--03:00: _Canada contributes ...
- 09/19/17--14:51: _Hard-working immigr...
- 09/20/17--03:12: _Hurricane Maria hit...
- 09/20/17--02:52: _Mexico’s deadliest ...
- 09/20/17--15:42: _Police find body in...
- 09/20/17--09:53: _China to Donald Tru...
- 09/21/17--05:01: _SIU investigating a...
- 09/20/17--15:25: _What voters — and t...
- 09/20/17--14:22: _Canada's refugee ba...
- 09/21/17--04:46: _‘Every minute count...
- 09/21/17--03:55: _Hurricane Maria hea...
- 09/20/17--18:06: _People are ‘baking ...
- 09/21/17--03:00: _How an article defe...
- 09/21/17--04:00: _NDP leadership cand...
- 09/20/17--10:39: _Case of woman accus...
- 09/20/17--11:45: _Surveillance video ...
- 09/21/17--03:00: _York and Peel regio...
- 09/21/17--05:56: _Trump’s threat like...
- 09/19/17--15:43: Peter Munk donates $100 million to the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre
- 09/19/17--06:29: At the UN, Donald Trump threatens to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea
- 09/20/17--03:12: Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico after devastating Dominica
- 09/20/17--02:52: Mexico’s deadliest earthquake in decades leaves at least 248 dead
- 09/20/17--15:42: Police find body in Quebec murder-kidnapping case
- 09/20/17--09:53: China to Donald Trump: Your North Korea speech was really unhelpful
- 09/20/17--15:25: What voters — and the gods — really think of our politicians: Cohn
- 09/20/17--14:22: Canada's refugee backlog growing with no end in sight
Peter Munk said his donation to a Toronto heart hospital is a “debt to repay” to Canada for taking in his family after the Second World War.
On Tuesday, $100 million was contributed to the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, said to be the largest contribution to a Canadian hospital in history.
In a long, impassioned speech, Munk, founder and former chairman of Barrick Gold Corporation, extolled Canadian graciousness he experienced when he emigrated here in the late 1940s.
“When you thank me for what I’ve done for Toronto, and you thank me for what I can do for this community, it doesn’t begin to express my immense gratitude for what this country has done for me and my family,” said Munk, who was born in Hungary. “You opened the door. You gave us everything,” he added, referring to Canada as “paradise.”
Munk said he wants Toronto to be a beacon of innovative health care.
“It’s critical to make the hospital a point of excellence for Canada and we have a chance to do so,” he said.
The historic gift will be invested in efforts to optimize the quality of care and improve health outcomes for those struggling with cardiovascular diseases, both domestically and abroad.
Holding the platform together is artificial intelligence, technology that could pre-emptively save lives.
“We could monitor a patient’s heart beat every second of the day,” said Dr. Barry Rubin, medical director of the cardiac centre. “That system, using an AI-based protocol, could do things that no human could do, which is identify problems that may be on the horizon.”
Someone at risk of a lethal heart attack, for example, would be treated “before that catastrophic event ever happened.
“When people around the world think of artificial intelligence and cardiovascular health care delivery, they will, and should, think of Toronto,” Rubin said.
AI is better equipped to manage, trace and detect problems, he said. And further, information like clinical notes, blood tests and X-rays, will be consolidated into one location, he added.
Ontario Health and Long-Term Care Minister Eric Hoskins called Munk’s gift “unprecedented.”
“Simply put, it is going to change lives,” he said. “This is going to allow the Munk Centre to leap forward beyond its peers around the world.”
The research and talent at the hospital wouldn’t have been possible without Munk’s commitment over the past 20 years, he added.
Since 1993, the Munk family has provided over $175 million to the cardiac centre and the University Health Network, a multidisciplinary research organization that has four Toronto hospitals under its umbrella. The cardiac centre, which is based out of Toronto General and Western Hospitals, opened in 1997.
About 163,000 patients circulate through the hospital every year, Rubin said.
“Mr. Munk was the world’s leading gold miner and he expects we will be world’s leading heart centre, and that’s the mission I will deliver,” he said. “Anybody can cut a cheque, but they (the Munk family) do philanthropy with a deep purpose. You can hear it in the way he speaks about Canada.”
Peter Munk donates $100 million to the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre
WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump issued an extraordinary threat during a nationalistic and aggressive first address to the United Nations, warning that the U.S. might “totally destroy” North Korea if dictator Kim Jong Un, whom he belittlingly called “Rocket Man,” strikes against the U.S. or its allies.
The threat was the most important moment of a speech that veered between an emphasis on respect for the “sovereignty” of individual countries and a demand that “rogue” countries North Korea, Iran, Venezuela and Cuba change their behaviour or face consequences from the international community.
“If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph,” Trump said.
Trump merely hinted that he might withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, and he did not specify what action he might take against Venezuela. On “depraved” North Korea, however, he offered his most explicit and most bellicose words about any international matter to date — threatening not merely to demolish the regime but the entire country.
“No nation on earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles. The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” Trump said. “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. The United States is ready, willing and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary.”
The threat represented the latest escalation in a roller-coaster of Trump rhetoric toward the Kim regime. Trump has both threatened nuclear annihilation — promising “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if Kim so much as continued to threaten to the U.S. — and spoken more softly, suggesting that negotiations might be possible and that military action was not imminent.
The new threat came during a period of heightened tension over Kim’s weapons programs. North Korea fired a missile over Japan on Friday. On Monday, the U.S. flew bombers and stealth jets over the Korean peninsula.
Trump’s UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, issued a similar threat of destruction the day before his speech. But Trump’s words were remarkable for a formal presidential address to the world body. So was his use of a disparaging nickname for Kim. “Rocket Man” had debuted on his Twitter feed two days prior.
Ned Price, a former special assistant to Barack Obama and National Security Council spokesperson, said it was “especially frightening” that Trump’s speech, which involved “asinine name-calling” and “fundamentally dangerous policy positions,” was a scripted and vetted official address.
“It’s one thing to have a president who’s bombastic and prone to publicly go off the rails on issues as delicate and important as foreign policy. But it’s quite another to have an administration that is comfortable with that unhinged rhetoric,” Price told the Star.
North Korea’s ambassador walked out of the room before Trump began speaking.
Like Trump’s inaugural address, much of this one seemed to be aimed at Trump’s own political base more than a broader global audience.
Striking some of the themes he favours at campaign rallies, Trump criticized “uncontrolled migration,” multilateral trade agreements and “radical Islamic terrorism,” a phrase he has avoided, at the urging of some of his top security officials, in most of his recent speeches.
And he referred 21 times to “sovereignty,” or a variation of that word, saying countries have a right to govern themselves without international meddling. The concept is favoured by the nationalist and anti-war segments of his base, among many others — including authoritarian regimes who want the UN to stop criticizing them.
But Trump made clear that sovereignty was not an all-encompassing doctrine for him. He also demanded “fundamental reforms” from the “corrupt and destabilizing regime in Cuba,” a return to democracy in “destroyed” Venezuela, and a retreat from oppression and terror by the “corrupt dictatorship” of Iran.
Trump has a long history of deriding the UN for everything from its alleged incompetence to the “cheap” wall behind the General Assembly podium. He was gentler this time, saying he hoped the UN could become “much more accountable and effective.” And unlike some Republicans, he expressed optimism that the UN could play a helpful role in world affairs.
“Major portions of the world are in conflict. And some, in fact, are going to hell,” Trump said. “But the powerful people in this room, under the guidance and auspices of the United Nations, can solve many of these vicious and complex problems.”
The speech was applauded by current and former Republican leaders, including former Trump critic Mitt Romney, and by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said on Twitter, “In over 30 years in my experience with the UN, I never heard a bolder or more courageous speech.”
Other leaders sat stone-faced, offering only occasional and muted applause.
“It was the wrong speech at the wrong time to the wrong audience,” Swedish Foreign Affairs Minister Margot Wallstrom told the BBC.
And some policy experts were aghast at Trump’s language on North Korea, warning that he was increasing the risk of war and making it more difficult to persuade Kim to give up his nuclear ambitions.
“What an idiot,” Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, wrote on Twitter.
Trump indirectly criticized Russia and China on sovereignty grounds, saying, “We must reject threats to sovereignty from Ukraine to the South China Sea.” But he did not single them out for criticism, and he thanked them for joining in a vote to impose new sanctions on North Korea.
He was far more direct in slamming Venezuela and Iran. Venezuela, he said, has failed not because it has poorly implemented socialism but because of socialism itself.
“We are prepared to take further action if the government of Venezuela persists on its path to impose authoritarian rule,” he said.
Trump described the Iran deal as “an embarrassment,” suggesting it might “provide cover” for Iran to eventually produce a nuclear weapon, and he added: “I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it, believe me.”
At the UN, Donald Trump threatens to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea
OTTAWA—Canada has quietly contributed $33 million to help establish a new centre in Kabul to treat Afghan vets wounded in that nation’s many years of conflict, the Star has learned.
When built, the rehabilitation centre will be the largest and most modern facility of its kind in an impoverished country where injured vets have faced an uphill battle for treatment.
“It would dramatically improve the quality of care for ill and injured vets,” said one former soldier who served in Canada’s Afghanistan mission.
He said the needs are great in the country, the result of “40 years of war and the remnants of war.
“The numbers would be astonishing,” said the former soldier, who spoke on background because a formal announcement has not yet been made.
It’s also hoped that the centre will be a “catalyst” for more effective treatment of ill and injured Afghan personnel, whose numbers continue to grow because of the ongoing counter insurgency campaign against the Taliban, he said.
A NATO official referred questions about the project to the Canadian government.
The Foreign Affairs department confirmed that Ottawa recently contributed $33 million, through NATO’s trust fund for the Afghan National Army, for the construction of the Kabul Military National Hospital’s Rehabilitation Centre.
As well, the government has provided another $2.5 million to repair the hospital, which was severely damaged in a March terror attack. In that attack, gunmen wearing white lab coats stormed the hospital, killing more than 40 people and wounding dozens.
The department did not make anyone available to speak about the funding.
News of the contribution comes just days before Toronto plays host to the Invictus Games, sports competitions for military personnel and veterans wounded while on duty. The games, which begin this weekend, will bring together more than 550 athletes from 17 nations.
Canada — which had a military mission in Afghanistan for more than a decade — would be the largest donor to the Kabul facility, paying half the cost of the project.
It is meant to accommodate 100 military and police personnel as well as civilians injured as a result of the country’s conflicts. An attached facility would house 20 women medical students in training. The goal would be to have the centre built by 2019.
Canada has its own legacy from Afghanistan — 158 soldiers died during the lengthy mission. Another 635 were wounded in action and a further 1,436 suffered non-battle injuries.
While Ottawa has at times faced criticism for the care and benefits provided to personnel who have suffered mental and physical wounds, it far exceeds the treatment and support available to wounded Afghan soldiers who face challenges after suffering injuries, the former soldier said.
“It’s a pretty grim prospect if you lose an arm or leg,” he said.
“The situation for them is as you would expect in a broken, impoverished country at war in one form or another for 40 years,” he said.
Canada contributes $33 million to help build rehab centre for Afghan vets
He’s ringing up a sale at the cash register. He’s looking out the window. He’s streaking out from behind the counter. He’s bursting through the door. He’s raising his arms.
As if to say: STOP!
But there’s no audio on the surveillance footage.
And the last we see of Jayesh Prajapati is a blur of red and yellow — his Shell gas uniform jacket — disappearing out of the frame, at the front passenger edge of what we know is an older model silver Isuzu Rodeo SUV as it peels off in stop-frame slow motion.
From the witness stand, Det. Robert North explains what’s barely visible immediately after, just a speck of red protruding for a split second: “This is what I believe to be Mr. Prajapati starting to go underneath the vehicle.”
Later, almost 78 metres from that Shell station at 850 Roselawn Ave., police would discover Prajapati’s shoes; one over here, one over there.
Just beyond, finally dislodged from the undercarriage of the SUV as it crossed a set of unused railway tracks, the 44-year-old’s lifeless body, death caused by multiple blunt and crushing injuries.
A husband and father, a good man, well-liked by residents in the area for whom that gas station provided a handy convenience store. “I’ll honour you for next time,” he’d say to regulars from the public housing building across the street, if they happened to be cash-short for a jug of milk, a loaf of bread.
A man who, as recalled outside court Tuesday by Liberal MP Mike Colle — this is his riding, the gas station he frequented, Prajapati someone he knew — would travel two hours by TTC every day, getting to his job from the family home in Etobicoke.
A hard-working immigrant from India with a master’s in chemistry who, said Colle, had obtained his Canadian citizenship not long before that night, Sept. 15, 2012.
A dreadful loss of a human life. Over $112.85.
That amount, Crown attorney Jenny Rodopoulos told a jury Tuesday, is what the driver of the SUV hadn’t paid after gassing up, after filling two jerry cans with gasoline as well, shoving them in the back seat of the vehicle.
The SUV just took off into the night, dragging Prajapati away, wedged beneath.
Max Tutiven was arrested in Montreal three years later. He has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.
“The Crown’s theory is that either Mr. Tutiven saw Mr. Prajapati in the path of his travel and intentionally drove at and struck Mr. Prajapati with his vehicle and, rather than stopping, chose to keep driving,” Rodopoulos told jurors in her opening address. “Or, even if Mr. Tutiven did not intentionally drive at Mr. Prajapati, after striking Mr. Prajapati with his vehicle, Mr. Tutiven chose not to stop and chose to continue driving, knowing that he was dragging Mr. Prajapati underneath his vehicle.”
On the first day of the trial, the jury was shown scores of still images taken from surveillance tape captured by several different cameras at and around the station. They also watched moving segments of those tapes.
But none of the cameras actually caught the point of impact.
There are, however, said Rodopoulos, eyewitnesses present and who will testify about what they saw. Those witnesses, court was told, include two men who were at the cash register just before Prajapati apparently spotted the SUV driver getting into his vehicle after replacing the gas nozzle without paying.
Another witness, from his 18th floor apartment across the street, heard someone yelling, “followed by a sickening sound of dragging and squealing tires,” said Rodopoulos. “When he heard a voice shout ‘Someone call 911!’ he went on the balcony and saw an SUV fleeing along Roselawn, in the area of Marlee Ave. north of Eglinton Ave.”
A further witness, said Rodopoulos, will testify about both hearing and seeing the dragging of Prajapati from her balcony.
On the video snippets played Tuesday — Prajapati’s widow, Vaishali, in the courtroom — the SUV driver is clearly visible going about his business, looking this way and that, but never removing a wallet from his pocket.
In coming days, jurors will also watch security video, Rodopoulos said in her “road map” introduction, of six earlier gas thefts that had occurred at different stations around Toronto between Nov. 10, 2011 and Aug. 24, 2012. “All of the videos show a male suspect — who the Crown alleges was Mr. Tutiven — driving an older model silver Isuzu Rodeo, attending the Esso and Shell gas stations, pumping gas into the vehicle and into some red canisters, and then driving away without paying for the gas. These videos show the same suspect using the same vehicle and stealing gas in the same fashion as the male who killed Mr. Prajapati.”
Same guy as the man now sitting in the courtroom next to his defence lawyer, she said.
It will be for the judge to explain the relevance of similar fact evidence.
A gas-and-dash crime, as alleged.
Except this one ended with a dead employee, a widowed wife and a fatherless son.
“What Mr. Prajapati didn’t know when he went to work that evening was that he would never finish his shift.”
The trial continues.
Mea Culpa:Sherry Brydson, heiress, is the granddaughter of newspaper proprietor Roy Thomson and niece to Ken Thomson, late owner of the Globe and Mail. Information that appeared in this column space Monday was incorrect.
Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Hard-working immigrant from India died brutal death — over $113: DiManno
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO—One of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit Puerto Rico pummeled the island Wednesday as officials warned it would decimate the power company’s crumbling infrastructure and force the government to rebuild dozens of communities.
Maria made landfall early Wednesday in the southeast coastal town of Yabucoa as a Category 4 storm with winds of 155 mph (250 kph) winds, and it was expected to punish the island with life-threatening winds for 12 to 24 hours, forecasters said.
Maria had previously been a Category 5 storm with 175 mph (281 kph) winds.
“This is going to be an extremely violent phenomenon,” Gov. Ricardo Rossello said. “We have not experienced an event of this magnitude in our modern history.”
Metal roofs were already flying and windows were breaking as the storm approached before dawn, with nearly 900,000 people without power and one tree falling on an ambulance. Those who sought shelter at a coliseum in San Juan were moved to the building’s second and third floors, reported radio station WKAQ 580 AM. The storm was moving across Puerto Rico on Wednesday morning at 10 mph (17 kph), with a gust of 113 mph (182 kph) reported in the capital of San Juan, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Maria ties for the eighth strongest storm in Atlantic history, when measured by wind speed. Coming in second is this year’s Irma, which had 185 mph (300 kph) winds and killed 38 people in the Caribbean and another 36 in the U.S. earlier this month.
Puerto Rico had long been spared from a direct hit by hurricanes that tend to veer north or south of the island. The last Category 4 hurricane landfall in Puerto Rico occurred in 1932, and the strongest storm to ever hit the island was San Felipe in 1928 with winds of 160 mph.
As Maria approached, U.S. President Donald Trump offered his support via Twitter: “Puerto Rico being hit hard by new monster Hurricane. Be careful, our hearts are with you- will be there to help!”
More than 4,400 people were in shelters by late Tuesday, along with 105 pets, Rossello said.
The storm’s centre passed near or over St. Croix overnight Tuesday, prompting U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth Mapp to insist that people remain alert. St. Croix was largely spared the widespread damage caused by Hurricane Irma on the chain’s St. Thomas and St. John islands just two weeks ago. But this time, the island would experience five hours of hurricane force winds, Mapp said.
“For folks in their homes, I really recommend that you not be in any kind of sleepwear,” he said during a brief news conference. “Make sure you have your shoes on. Make sure you have a jacket around. Something for your head in case your roof should breach. ... I don’t really recommend you be sleeping from 11 o’clock to 4 (a.m.). ... Be aware of what’s going on around you.”
Maria killed one person in the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe when a tree fell on them Tuesday, and two people aboard a boat were reported missing off La Desirade island, just east of Guadeloupe, officials said.
About 40 per cent of the island — 80,000 homes — were without power and flooding was reported in several communities.
The storm also blew over the tiny eastern Caribbean island of Dominica late Monday, where Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit sent out a series of dramatic posts on his Facebook page, including that his own roof had blown away.
“The winds are merciless! We shall survive by the grace of God,” Skerrit wrote before communications went down.
The storm knocked out communications for the entire island, leaving anyone outside Dominica struggling to determine the extent of damage, though it was clearly widespread. “The situation is really grave,” Consul General Barbara Dailey said in a telephone interview from New York.
She said she lost contact with the island about 4 a.m. At that point, officials had learned that 70 per cent of homes had lost their roofs, including her own.
Flooding was a big concern, given the island’s steep mountains, cut through with rivers that rage even after a heavy rain. Dominica was still recovering from Tropical Storm Erika, which killed 30 people and destroyed more than 370 homes in August 2015.
Forecasters said the storm surge from Maria could raise water levels by 6 to 9 feet (1.8 to 2.7 metres) near the storm’s centre. The storm was predicted to bring 10 to 15 inches (25 to 38 centimetres) of rain across the islands, with more in isolated areas.
To the north, Hurricane Jose weakened to a tropical storm Tuesday night. Forecasters said dangerous surf and rip currents were likely to continue along the U.S. East Coast but said the storm was unlikely to make landfall. Big waves caused by Jose swept five people off a coastal jetty in Rhode Island and they were hospitalized after being rescued.
A tropical storm warning was posted for coastal areas in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and tropical storm watches were up for parts of New York’s Long Island and Connecticut.
Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico after devastating DominicaHurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico after devastating DominicaHurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico after devastating DominicaHurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico after devastating Dominica
MEXICO CITY—Police, firefighters and ordinary Mexicans dug frantically through the rubble of collapsed schools, homes and apartment buildings early Wednesday, looking for survivors of Mexico’s deadliest earthquake in decades as the number of confirmed fatalities climbed to 248.
Adding poignancy and a touch of the surreal, Tuesday’s magnitude-7.1 quake struck on the 32nd anniversary of the 1985 earthquake that killed thousands. Just hours earlier, people around Mexico had held earthquake drills to mark the date.
One of the most desperate rescue efforts was at a primary and secondary school in southern Mexico City, where a wing of the three-story building collapsed into a massive pancake of concrete slabs. Journalists saw rescuers pull at least two small bodies from the rubble, covered in sheets.
Volunteer rescue worker Dr. Pedro Serrano managed to crawl into the crevices of the tottering pile of rubble that had been Escuela Enrique Rebsamen. He made it into a classroom, but found all of its occupants dead.
“We saw some chairs and wooden tables. The next thing we saw was a leg, and then we started to move rubble and we found a girl and two adults — a woman and a man,” he said.
“We can hear small noises, but we don’t know if they’re coming from above or below, from the walls above (crumbling), or someone below calling for help.”
A mix of neighbourhood volunteers, police and firefighters used trained dogs and their bare hands to search through the school’s rubble. The crowd of anxious parents outside the gates shared reports that two families had received Whatsapp messages from girls trapped inside, but that could not be confirmed.
Rescuers brought in wooden beams to shore up the fallen concrete slabs so they wouldn’t collapse further and crush whatever airspaces remained.
The federal Education Department reported late Tuesday that 25 bodies had been recovered from the school’s wreckage, all but four of them children. It was not clear whether those deaths were included in the overall death toll of 248 reported by the federal civil defence agency. Pena Nieto had earlier reported 22 bodies found and said 30 children and eight adults were reported missing.
In a video message released late Tuesday, Pena Nieto urged people to be calm and said authorities were moving to provide help as 40 per cent of Mexico City and 60 per cent of nearby Morelos state were without power. But, he said, “the priority at this moment is to keep rescuing people who are still trapped and to give medical attention to the injured people.”
People across central Mexico already had rallied to help their neighbours as dozens of buildings tumbled into mounds of rubble. Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said buildings fell at 44 sites in the capital alone as high-rises across the city swayed and twisted and hundreds of thousands of panicked people ran into the streets.
Dust-covered and exhausted from digging, 30-year-old Carlos Mendoza said two people were pulled alive from the ruins of a collapsed apartment building in the Roma Sur neighbourhood during a three-hour period.
“When we saw this, we came to help,” he said, gesturing at the destruction. “This is ugly, very ugly.”
Blocks away, Alma Gonzalez was in her fourth-floor apartment when the quake collapsed the ground floor of her building, leaving her no way out. She was terrified until her neighbours mounted a ladder on their roof and helped her slide out a side window.
Mancera said 50 to 60 people were rescued by citizens and emergency workers in the capital.
The national Civil Defence agency reported early Wednesday that the confirmed death toll stood at 248, more than half of them in the capital.
The official Twitter feed of agency head Luis Felipe Puente said 117 dead had been counted in Mexico City and 72 in Morelos state, which is just south of the capital. It said 43 were known dead in Puebla state, where the quake was centred. Twelve deaths were listed in the State of Mexico, which surrounds Mexico City on three sides, three in Guerrero state and one in Oaxaca.
At the site of a collapsed apartment building in Mexico City, rescuers worked atop a three-story pile of rubble, forming a human chain that passed pieces of rubble across four city blocks to a site where they were dumped.
Throughout the day, rescuers pulled dust-covered people, some barely conscious, some seriously injured, from about three dozen collapsed buildings. At one site, shopping carts commandeered from a nearby supermarket were used to carry water to the rescue site and take rubble away.
As night began to fall, huge flood lights lit up the recovery sites, but workers and volunteers begged for headlamps.
Where a six-story office building collapsed in Mexico City, sisters Cristina and Victoria Lopez Torres formed part of a human chain passing bottled water.
“I think it’s human nature that drives everyone to come and help others,” Cristina Lopez said.
“We are young. We didn’t live through’85. But we know that it’s important to come out into the streets to help,” said her sister Victoria.
Ricardo Ibarra, 48, did live through the 1985 quake and said there hadn’t been anything like it since.
Wearing a bright orange vest and carrying a backpack with a sleeping bag strapped to it, he said he and his friends just wanted to help.
“People are very sensitive because today was the 32nd anniversary of a tragedy,” he said.
Buildings also collapsed in Morelos state, including the town hall and local church in Jojutla near the quake’s epicenter. A dozen people died in Jojutla.
The town’s Instituto Morelos secondary school partly collapsed, but school director Adelina Anzures said the earthquake drill held in the morning came in handy.
“I told them that it was not a game, that we should be prepared,” Anzures said of the drill. When the quake came, she said, children and teachers rapidly filed out and nobody was hurt.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 7.1 quake hit at 2:15 p.m. EDT and was centred near the Puebla state town of Raboso, 123 kilometres southeast of Mexico City.
Much of Mexico City is built on former lakebed, and the soil can amplify the effects of earthquakes centred hundreds of miles away.
The quake appeared to be unrelated to the magnitude 8.1 temblor that hit Sept. 7 off Mexico’s southern coast and also was felt strongly in the capital.
U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Paul Earle noted the epicenters of the two quakes were 650 kilometres apart and said most aftershocks are within 100 kilometres.
Mexico’s deadliest earthquake in decades leaves at least 248 dead
MONTREAL—Police believe they have found the body of an elderly man whose car was used as a getaway vehicle in a murder-kidnapping case that stretched across a vast area of western Quebec and eastern Ontario.
Yvon Lacasse, 71, was the owner of a 2006 Honda CRV that was allegedly used by a man, who is charged with the killing of his spouse last Thursday evening in St-Eustache, Que., and the kidnapping of his six-year-old son.
A spokesperson with the Sûreté du Québec, Stephane Tremblay, said that a search team discovered a dead body in the village of Arundel, Que., Wednesday.
“Everything leads us to believe that it is the body of Mr. Lacasse, but we have to wait for a formal identification to be made by the coroner,” Tremblay said.
The body was found about 50 kilometres north of Lachute, Que., where police have said they believe that the alleged kidnapper abandoned the pick-up truck he had been using and took Lacasse’s Honda CR-V.
Early Friday morning, police have said that the man checked in briefly to a hotel in Rouyn-Noranda, about 600 kilometres northwest of Lachute. He appears to have doubled back on his tracks and was spotted early Friday morning in the town of Maniwaki.
At around 2:15 p.m. the man was spotted at a bank machine in Napanee, Ont. He was captured a few hours later by Ontario Provincial Police in the town of Griffith, Ont.
The suspect made a brief court appearance Saturday, but was taken to hospital in Ottawa after reportedly harming himself in his jail cell. On Wednesday, a scheduled bail hearing was postponed because he was still in hospital.
Police find body in Quebec murder-kidnapping case
BEIJING—China rebuked U.S. President Donald Trump Wednesday after he threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if necessary, a warning that may have undermined the chances of peace but also gave Beijing an easy opportunity to seize the moral high ground.
Beijing has consistently blamed not just Pyongyang but also Washington for what it sees as its hostile policies toward the regime. It argues that U.S. hostility has helped to pushed North Korea’s rulers into a corner and talk of total destruction only reinforces that narrative.
“Trump threatens DPRK with ‘total destruction’, while China calls for peaceful settlement,” the online English-language edition of the People’s Daily newspaper headlined an op-ed, referring to the county’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“Trump’s political chest-thumping is unhelpful, and it will only push the DPRK to pursue even riskier policies, because the survival of the regime is at stake,” it wrote.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang was more restrained, but nevertheless conveyed a similar message.
In imposing economic sanctions on Pyongyang, the United Nations Security Council has agreed that the North Korea issue should be solved through “political and diplomatic means,” he said.
“The Peninsula situation is still in a complex and sensitive state,” he said. “We hope that relevant parties could maintain restraint while completing United Nations Security Council resolutions, and take more correct actions which are helpful in easing the situation.”
More than 80 per cent of North Korea’s foreign trade is with China, while both Beijing and Moscow have been blamed for helping North Korea develop its missile program. Although Trump thanked both countries for agreeing to sanctions at the UN, he also appeared to rebuke one or both of them.
“It is an outrage that some nations would not only trade with such a regime, but would arm, supply, and financially support a country that imperils the world with nuclear conflict,” he said.
But China is uncomfortable with the idea that it should shoulder the lion’s share of the blame for North Korea’s nuclear and missile program, and for Pyongyang’s refusal to back down, experts explain.
“They don’t like the idea that the international community sees this as a China problem,” said Paul Haenle, director of the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center in Beijing. “To a certain extent, this kind of talk at the UN plays right into their hands.”
Yanmei Xie, a China policy analyst at Gavekal Dragonomics in Beijing, made a similar point.
“Trump’s bellicose rhetoric does add urgency to how China views this issue,” she said. “But it also reinforces China’s view that both sides are to blame for the tension.”
China has become extremely frustrated with Pyongyang, but does not believe that sanctions will ever force it to abandon its nuclear program, which the regime sees as central to its survival.
It has resisted pressure to cut off North Korea’s oil imports, which it believes would only serve to alienate the regime from Beijing, and leave China facing an nuclear-armed enemy state on its border.
“They believe that there is nothing we can do at this point to prevent Kim Jong Un from reaching his goal (of developing an intercontinental nuclear missile capability,)” said Haenle. “And they don’t want to cross the threshold where they become North Korea’s enemy.”
So while Trump has convinced China to turn the screw on North Korea, he will struggle to convince it to act more forcefully.
François Godemont, director of the Asia/China Program at the European Council on Foreign Relations said Trump may suffer a “credibility” problem in Chinese eyes by also threatening the governments of Iran, Venezuela and Cuba, rather than showing a resolute focus on a single issue.
But do Trump’s words presage armed conflict?
The nationalist Global Times newspaper took a pessimistic view, arguing in an editorial that Trump’s speech head “reduced hope of peace” on the Korean Peninsula.
“Facts prove Pyongyang won’t yield to pressure. Pushing North Korea to its limit may eventually trigger a bloody war,’ it warned. “If a nuclear war broke out, that would be a crime against Chinese and South Koreans by Pyongyang and Washington.”
However, several other experts said they were not worried.
“China and Russia have a common stance on this — they want to prevent war even if there is only a one per cent chance of it,” said Wang Sheng, a North Korea expert at Jilin University in Changshun. As a result of their joint resolve, he said, “the United States could not easily start a war.”
Military expert Song Xiaojun agreed.
“What he said is a tactic, it doesn’t mean he will really start a war,” he said. “The U.S. army is concerned about other things, such as China’s rise and Iran. Since the atomic bomb was developed, the United States has never started a war with a nuclear-armed country.”
Last month, the Global Times newspaper warned North Korea that China would not come to the country’s help if it launches missiles threatening U.S. soil, although it would intervene if Washington strikes first.
That statement was meant to deter Pyongyang from crossing any red lines, experts say.
In the event of war, it is unlikely Chinese troops would fight alongside or on behalf of North Korea soldiers to defend the regime, as they did in the 1950-53 Korean War, but they could enter the country to secure nuclear weapons sites, and prevent U.S. troops from crossing into the North and installing a U.S.-friendly puppet government, some experts say.
In Pyongyang, the government will also have taken very clear note of Trump’s angry disavowal of the nuclear deal with Iran, where that country agreed to abandon its nuclear weapons program under international supervision in return for a lifting of sanctions.
Trump called that deal “an embarrassment to the United States” and threatened to pull out of it. Saying “oppressive regimes cannot endure forever,” he also called for the Iranian people to change their own government.
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un has already seen Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and Iraq’s Saddam Hussein agree to surrender their efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction only to end up ousted from power and killed. Trump’s talk will only reinforce that lesson.
“How can Kim not conclude from this that Americans will not rest until his regime is topple and that giving up nuclear weapons is suicidal?,” asked Xie at Dragonomics.
China to Donald Trump: Your North Korea speech was really unhelpful
The SIU is investigating after a crash involving a Peel Regional Police cruiser and a taxi cab Wednesday afternoon.
Both the cruiser and the taxi entered the intersection of Bovaird Dr. and Bramalea Rd. at the same time, said SIU spokesperson Jason Gennaro. A 30-year-old man — a passenger in the taxi at the time of the collision — was taken to hospital with serious injuries.
An investigator, two forensic investigators, and a collision reconstructionist have been assigned to assist with the investigation. The incident happened around 2 p.m. Wednesday.
SIU takes over an investigation whenever a death, serious injury, or allegations of sexual assault occur.
The intersection was closed for several hours after collision, but police confirmed it has since reopened.
Any witnesses that may have seen the incident are urged to come forward.
SIU investigating after crash involving taxi cab and Peel Police cruiser
WALTON, ONT.—Most big city journalists barely know their way around a plowing match, but they sure know what they’re looking for.
A good story. Even better, a bad story.
Typically, that entails the usual tall tales about which politician plowed the straightest furrow in the annual competition. But that’s just the surface story.
Most scribes dig down, not with their pens but divining rods. Seeking the answer to a deeper question:
Who best to till the rich soil of rural Ontario, harvesting votes ahead of their rivals on the campaign trail? The classic barometer, beyond the plowing, is the applauding.
With an election looming, will Premier Kathleen Wynne once again be bogged down by boos? Will Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown gain ground? Will the NDP’s Andrea Horwath make a mark?
The gods gave mixed signals this week, leaving me and my divining rod at sea. On cue, as the politicians convened, the heavens opened up to unleash torrents of rain on a farmer’s field where they were poised to parade, persuade and plow.
The downpours churned the rich soil of West Perth into acres of abundant mud for the politicians to sling at one another. But the only furrowing was of my brow, for the plowing match was soon scrubbed and the parade cancelled.
How then to judge the politicians’ performances? A crowd of country folk and city journalists gathered beneath the big tent, in the soggy fields west of Stratford, but there was precious little mud wrestling or wallowing in muck.
Perhaps it was the shared torment of the weather that prompted the huddled masses in the audience to be uncharacteristically kind-hearted to all. Polite applause for the premier drowned out a few grudging boos from the back.
That’s a big improvement from last year when, under sunny skies, a chorus of disapproval rained down on her, matching her plunging approval ratings. Perhaps mindful of that hostility, Wynne rushed through her prepared remarks as if to get it over with this time.
“Thank you all for what you do every single day,” she gushed from the lectern, ditching her trademark spectacles for a sleeker look — straw Stetson and jeans accented with tartan rain boots and Liberal red top.
As added thanks, she cited the $26 million in relief allocated for those summer rains.
Wynne, who took on the agricultural portfolio during her first year as premier in hopes of winning the hearts of fickle farmers, now knows they’ll keep breaking hers. And yet, despite the chill in the air, a prominent local PC in the crowd confided — off the record, lest he be strung up in the fields — that the premier’s popularity is recovering after a slew of good news announcements.
Next up, Brown won lusty cheers, as one would expect in Tory country (the local riding is held by the PCs, as are most rural seats), when he stressed that farmers deserve a fair hearing at Queen’s Park. Admirably clad in jeans and shirt sleeves, he wound up with a crowd favourite:
“You didn’t come here to listen to a politician.”
Another local Tory, seated beside me, piped up that Brown was a changed man from the year before, when he’d uttered only a few words and seemed out of his element. “Much improved,” she noted approvingly.
Horwath, suited up in NDP orange, also got her fair share of applause when she excoriated Wynne for local school closings.
But as political barometers go, the plowing match applause meter seems of questionable value after 100 years of rural celebrations and defenestrations.
To its credit, the venerable Ontario Plowmen’s Association is finally led by a woman this year. An estimated 100,000 people attend the sprawling event over its five days, but its membership remains trapped in another demographic era that predates diversity.
An Anishnaabe representative addressed the crowd, politely reminding the farmers that Indigenous people are seeking compensation over disputed treaties. The only other specks of colour in a sea of white faces were visible on the faces of a few visiting politicians, journalists, and Queen’s Park staff.
It’s not the fault of stalwart agricultural families that diversity has been delayed in their midst, immigrants seemingly reluctant to transplant themselves to farmers’ fields in such challenging times. But the turnout serves as yet another reminder of the growing demographic and geographic divide across rural and urban Ontario.
And how hard it is to extrapolate from the bucolic setting of the fairgrounds to the breathless tempo of the campaign trail. As much as journalists revel in the charms of a country fair, searching for their proverbial local colour, farmers know better.
Like forecasting the weather, predicting the harvest — electoral or agricultural — requires more than applause meters and divining rods. Or opinion polls.
Martin Regg Cohn's political column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. email@example.com, Twitter: @reggcohn
What voters — and the gods — really think of our politicians: Cohn
A skyrocketing backlog is pushing the wait time for refugee hearings dramatically beyond the federally stipulated 60 days, with recent asylum seekers now waiting 16 months to have their claims determined.
According to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), the backlog has been growing at a rate of approximately 1,400 cases a month since January, with the largest increase so far in August with a sudden surge of 3,000 claims.
As of Aug. 31, the pending inventory of refugee claims is about 34,000 cases, including 29,000 claims filed after December 2012, when the then-Conservative government revamped the process by imposing statutory timelines to process claims and expedite removals of failed claimants. The rest are so-called “legacy claims” that have been waiting for five years or longer for a hearing date.
While the law requires claimants be scheduled for a hearing date in 60 days, it has provisions that allow the refugee board to get around the deadline if there are delays in border officials issuing security clearances, if there are “operational limitations,” or if interpreters or counsel are unavailable.
“The current intake of claims for refugee protection is exceeding the IRB’s operational capacity, which is causing a growing inventory of pending cases,” said the board’s spokesperson, Anna Pape. “As a result, many cases must wait before they can be heard by an independent decision-maker.”
With existing resources, Pape said the IRB can process only approximately 2,000 claims a month. At this rate, it will take 16 months for claims filed today before they will be heard by a refugee judge.
Board chair Mario Dion has been unsuccessful in pleading to the federal government for additional resources to clear the legacy claims and to deal with the surge of asylum-seekers from the U.S. that began this year after President Donald Trump’s initial immigration and travel bans were announced. These asylum seekers are entering Canada through unauthorized points along the border.
Although the board has struck a special task force to process all legacy claims within the next two years, the unanticipated increase in claims via the U.S. has set back the effort and further strained the board’s staffing.
This week the Immigration Department started running a “dedicated service centre” at Montreal’s Guy Favreau Complex that operates seven days a week to help would-be refugees fill out forms and expedite eligibility interviews. This could add further to the refugee board’s workload.
“The IRB continues to explore new and innovative ways to improve efficiency, with the objective of improving timeliness of decisions,” said Pape.
So far, the Liberal government has played down the illicit border crossing and insisted it is under control. It has sent out MPs to tell Latino and Haitian migrant communities in the U.S. that Canada does not offer automatic acceptance of refugees.
“What we are dealing with is definitely a very high, steady increase in numbers, and it is obviously taxing our agencies and our borders, but we are able to redeploy resources and personnel as needed and are able to deal with the situation as it unfolds,” Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen told the CBC in August.
The Immigration Department didn’t respond Wednesday to a request for comment.
Sending a message to discourage potential border-crossers, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also said last month, “You will not be at an advantage if you choose to enter Canada irregularly. You must follow the rules and there are many.”
Toronto immigration lawyer Lorne Waldman, a co-founder of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, said any delay in processing claims allows asylum seekers to stay and work in Canada longer, and would serve as another incentive for them to keep coming.
“Sixteen months is too long and the government has to take steps to speed the process up. It is crucial the refugee determination process is run efficiently,” said Waldman.
Lobat Sadrehashemi, vice-president of the refugee lawyers’ association, said she was not surprised by the wait time, and delay means further uncertainty and insecurity — as well as longer family separation — for refugee claimants.
“The IRB is capable of dealing with the levels of refugee claims that we now have. They have done so in the past. There needs to be a concentrated effort at ensuring there are enough members to hear claims and that claims are processed as efficiently and fairly as possible,” said Sadrehashemi. “This may require more funding.”
Canada's refugee backlog growing with no end in sight
MEXICO CITY—A delicate effort to reach a young girl buried in the rubble of her school stretched into a daylong vigil for Mexico, much of it broadcast across the nation as rescue workers still struggled in rain and darkness early Thursday trying to pick away unstable debris and reach her.
The sight of her wiggling fingers early Wednesday became a symbol for the hope that drove thousands of professionals and volunteers to work frantically at dozens of wrecked buildings across the capital and nearby states looking for survivors of the magnitude 7.1 quake that killed at least 245 people in central Mexico and injured over 2,000.
The death rose after Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said the number of confirmed dead in the capital had risen from 100 to 115. An earlier federal government statement had put the overall toll at 230, including 100 deaths in Mexico City.
Mancera also said two women and a man had been pulled alive from a collapsed office building in the city’s centre Wednesday night, almost 36 hours after the quake.
Even as President Enrique Pena Nieto declared three days of mourning, soldiers, police, firefighters and everyday citizens kept digging through rubble, at times with their hands gaining an inch at a time, at times with cranes and backhoes to lift heavy slabs of concrete.
“There are still people groaning. There are three more floors to remove rubble from. And you still hear people in there,” said Evodio Dario Marcelino, a volunteer who was working with dozens of others at a collapsed apartment building.
A man was pulled alive from a partly collapsed apartment building in northern Mexico City more than 24 hours after the Tuesday quake and taken away in a stretcher, apparently conscious
In all, 52 people had been rescued alive since the quake, the city’s Social Development Department said, adding in a tweet: “We won’t stop.” It was a race against time, Pena Nieto warned in a tweet of his own saying that “every minute counts to save lives.”
But the country’s attention focused on the collapsed Enrique Rebsamen school on the city’s south side, where 21 children and four adults had been confirmed dead.
Hopes rose Wednesday when workers told local media they had detected signs that one girl was alive and she speaking to them through a hole dug in the rubble. Thermal imaging suggested several more people might be in the airspace around her.
A volunteer rescue worker, Hector Mendez, said cameras lowered into the rubble suggested there might be four people still inside, but he added that it wasn’t clear if anyone beside the girl was alive.
Dr. Alfredo Vega, who was working with the rescue team, said that a girl who he identified only as “Frida Sofia” had been located alive under the pancaked floor slabs.
Vega said “she is alive, and she is telling us that there are five more children alive” in the same space.
Education Secretary Aurelio Nuno confirmed that the girl was alive, but said it was still not confirmed if other children were also alive under the rubble. Strangely, Nuno said, no relatives of a girl named Frida could be found.
While optimism ran strong for the girl’s rescue effort, only four corpses had been found in the wreckage during the day, Mendez said, and workers were still trying to get to the girl as the operation crossed into a new day.
The debris removed from the school changed as crews worked their way deeper, from huge chunks of brick and concrete to pieces of wood that looked like remnants of desks and paneling to a load that contained a half dozen sparkly hula-hoops.
Rescuers carried in lengths of wide steel pipe big enough for someone to crawl through, apparently trying to create a tunnel into the collapsed slabs of the three-story school building. But a heavy rain fell during the night, and the tottering pile of rubble had to be shored up with hundreds of wooden beams.
People have rallied to help their neighbours in a huge volunteer effort that includes people from all walks of life in Mexico City, where social classes seldom mix. Doctors, dentists and lawyers stood alongside construction workers and street sweepers, handing buckets of debris or chunks of concrete hand-to-hand down the line.
At a collapsed factory building closer to the city’s centre, giant cranes lifted huge slabs of concrete from the towering pile of rubble, like peeling layers from an onion. Workers with hand tools would quickly move in to look for signs of survivors and begin attacking the next layer.
Government rescue worker Alejandro Herrera said three bodies had been found Wednesday afternoon at the factory.
“There are sounds (beneath the rubble), but we don’t know if they are coming from inside or if it is the sound of the rubble,” Herrera said.
Not only humans were pulled out.
Mexico City police said rescue workers clearing wreckage from a collapsed medical laboratory in the Roma neighbourhood found and removed 40 lab rabbits and 13 lab rats used by the firm that had occupied the building, now a pile of beams and rubble.
In addition to those killed in Mexico City, the federal civil defence agency said 69 died in Morelos state just south of the capital and 43 in Puebla state to the southeast, where the quake was centred. The rest of the deaths were in Mexico State, which borders Mexico City on three sides, Guerrero and Oaxaca states.
In Atzala in Puebla state, villagers mourned 11 family members who died inside a church when it crumbled during a baptism for a 2-month-old girl. People at the wake said the only ones to survive were the baby’s father, the priest and the priest’s assistant.
Power was being restored in some Mexico City neighbourhoods that already spent a day without power. The mayor said there were 38 collapsed buildings in the capital, down from the 44 he had announced previously.
‘Every minute counts to save lives’: Rescue workers in Mexico digging to try to reach survivors ‘Every minute counts to save lives’: Rescue workers in Mexico digging to try to reach survivors ‘Every minute counts to save lives’: Rescue workers in Mexico digging to try to reach survivors ‘Every minute counts to save lives’: Rescue workers in Mexico digging to try to reach survivors
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO—The strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years destroyed hundreds of homes, knocked out power across the entire island and turned some streets into raging rivers Wednesday in an onslaught that could plunge the U.S. territory deeper into financial crisis.
Leaving at least nine people dead in its wake across the Caribbean, Hurricane Maria blew ashore in the morning near the southeast coastal town of Yabucoa as a Category 4 storm with winds of 250 km/h.
It punished the island of 3.4 million people with life-threatening winds for several hours, the second time in two weeks that Puerto Rico has felt the wrath of a hurricane.
“Once we’re able to go outside, we’re going to find our island destroyed,” warned Abner Gomez, Puerto Rico’s emergency management director. “The information we have received is not encouraging. It’s a system that has destroyed everything in its path.”
As people waited in shelters or took cover inside stairwells, bathrooms and closets, Maria brought down cell towers and power lines, snapped trees, tore off roofs and unloaded at least 50 centimetres of rain.
Widespread flooding was reported, with dozens of cars half-submerged in some neighbourhoods and many streets turned into rivers. People calling local radio stations reported that doors were being torn off their hinges and a water tank flew away.
Felix Delgado, mayor of the northern coastal city of Catano, told The Associated Press that 80 per cent of the 454 homes in a neighbourhood known as Juana Matos were destroyed. The fishing community near San Juan Bay was hit with a storm surge of more than 1.2 metres, he said.
“Months and months and months and months are going to pass before we can recover from this,” he said.
Gov. Ricardo Rossello imposed a curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily until Saturday to allow rescue crews and officials to respond to the hurricane’s aftermath.
“We are at a critical moment in the effort to help thousands of Puerto Ricans that urgently need aid and to assess the great damage caused by Hurricane Maria,” he said. “Maintaining public order will be essential.”
Rossello said in an interview on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” that one fatality has been reported but because communications were knocked out in some areas, the total casualty count wasn’t known.
Maria weakened to a Category 2 storm later in the day but re-strengthened to Category 3 status early Thursday with winds of 185 km/h. It was centred about 90 kilometres north of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and moving northwest.
Even before the storm, Puerto Rico’s electrical grid was crumbling and the island was in dire condition financially.
Puerto Rico is struggling to restructure a portion of its $73 billion debt, and the government has warned it is running out of money as it fights against furloughs and other austerity measures imposed by a federal board overseeing the island’s finances.
Rossello urged people to have faith: “We are stronger than any hurricane. Together, we will rebuild.”
He asked President Donald Trump to declare the island a disaster zone, a step that would open the way to federal aid.
Late Wednesday night, Trump tweeted: “Governor @ricardorossello- We are with you and the people of Puerto Rico. Stay safe! #PRStrong.”
Many people feared extended power outages would further sink businesses struggling amid a recession that has lasted more than a decade.
“This is going to be a disaster,” said Jean Robert Auguste, who owns two French restaurants and sought shelter at a San Juan hotel. “We haven’t made any money this month.”
More than 11,000 people — and more than 580 pets — were in shelters, authorities said.
Along the island’s northern coast, an emergency medical station in the town of Arecibo lost its roof, while communication was severed with several emergency management posts. A hospital and a police station reported broken windows, and a tree fell on an ambulance.
As the storm closed in on the Dominican Republic, about 4,000 tourists in the Bavara-Punta Cana area on the eastern tip of the island were moved to hotels in Santo Domingo, the capital. About 100 flights were cancelled and the government suspended school and sent workers home.
“The government has prepared itself for the worst case scenario and so should the people,” presidential administrative secretary Jose Ramon Peralta said.
Maria posed no immediate threat to the U.S. mainland. The long-range forecast showed the storm out in the Atlantic Ocean hundreds of miles off the Georgia-South Carolina coast by Monday morning.
Previously a Category 5 with 281 km/h winds, Maria hit Puerto Rico as the third-strongest storm to make landfall in the U.S., based on its central pressure. It was even stronger than Hurricane Irma when Irma roared into the Florida Keys earlier this month.
Irma sideswiped Puerto Rico on Sept. 6, causing no deaths or widespread damage on the island but leaving more than 1 million people without electricity. More than 70,000 still had no power as Maria approached.
As Maria closed in, Trump offered his support via Twitter: “Puerto Rico being hit hard by new monster Hurricane. Be careful, our hearts are with you—will be there to help!”
The storm’s centre passed near or over St. Croix overnight Tuesday, prompting U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth Mapp to warn people to sleep in their street clothes and shoes just in case. St. Croix was largely spared by Irma.
There were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries on St. Croix, but it was still too dangerous Wednesday to venture out and conduct a thorough check, said Nykole Tyson, a spokeswoman at the U.S. Virgin Islands Emergency Operations Center.
On the island of Dominica, which got slammed late Monday, Hartley Henry, an adviser to the prime minister, reported at least seven deaths and a “tremendous loss of housing and public buildings.” He said the country was “in a daze,” with no electricity and little to no communications.
Dominica’s airport and seaports remained closed, and authorities used helicopters to carry emergency food, water and shelter materials to the island, said Ronald Jackson, head of the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency.
Hurricane Maria heads for Dominican Republic after destruction in Puerto RicoHurricane Maria heads for Dominican Republic after destruction in Puerto RicoHurricane Maria heads for Dominican Republic after destruction in Puerto Rico
“Maybe the gods are listening,” says the second-floor resident of an apartment tower near Yonge St. and St. Clair Ave. as a breeze blows in from her sliding glass door.
It is little respite in her 274-unit building at 44 Jackes Ave. during an unseasonably warm September after management shut off the air conditioning earlier this month.
“They don’t even tell you where to go to talk to somebody because they don’t want to talk to us,” said the woman, who is retired and not in good health. She, like other residents, declined to give her name. “It’s not very nice here at all . . . . This is the way it’s always been.”
Councillors say tenants across the city are currently living in “intolerable” conditions, with some residents reporting temperatures in their units as high as 30 C.
At a press conference Wednesday, tenant issues committee chair Councillor Josh Matlow and board of health chair Councillor Joe Mihevc urged landlords of buildings with air conditioning to keep it on through the heat wave.
“There are a significant number of people who are baking in their homes right now,” said Matlow (Ward 22 St. Paul’s). He called on landlords to “use common sense.”
Landlords genuinely wanting to be compliant with a city bylaw governing rented units are misunderstanding the rules, the councillors said.
The bylaw dictates a minimum temperature of 21 C between Sept. 15 and June 1st. But the bylaw does not say air conditioning must be turned off, or that the heating system must be turned on starting Sept. 15, Matlow said.
“There’s nothing in there that says flip the switch,” he said. “So, if Mother Nature isn’t taking care of it, yes, flip the switch, get the boiler going, get the heat on. But in this case, everyone in Toronto knows that Mother Nature is working overtime. So, she’s taking care of the heat. I want landlords to take care of their tenants.”
Mihevc said his Ward 21 (St. Paul’s) office has been “inundated” with calls from those in hot buildings. In some older towers, the councillors said, centralized heating and cooling systems act as ventilation as well. And rules restricting how much apartment windows can open have exacerbated the problem.
“One of the residents in one of these three buildings actually had to be hospitalized because of the lack of ventilation,” Mihevc said.
The councillors said landlords worried about the time it takes to switch over from air conditioning to heating if temperatures drop quickly won’t be prosecuted by the city’s bylaw enforcement for using their best judgment and doing their due diligence to comply with the rules.
Management at 44 Jackes Ave. did not immediately return requests for comment.
In the long-term, Matlow said Mayor John Tory is supportive of a review of the bylaw to allow for greater clarity and nuance to better protect tenants’ health. Matlow said he hopes changes will come this spring.
People are ‘baking in their homes right now’: Councillors urge landlords to keep the A/C on
If a social debate is based on fuzzy ideas accumulated from something read somewhere, sometime, an academically published view is the antithesis of it, based on rigorous research, citations and knowledge. Before being published, it is peer-reviewed, or tested for accuracy and integrity by someone with subject matter expertise.
This process is at the heart of a controversy roiling the academic community after the Third World Quarterly, a reputable British journal on global politics, published a piece earlier this month titled “The case for colonialism” by Bruce Gilley, a Princeton University Ph.D and Portland State University professor.
(Although “third world” is now considered a derogatory term, the 40-year-old journal’s name derived from the non-aligned movement of countries who did not want to support either side of the Cold War.)
In his article, Gilley says colonialism has been unjustly vilified, that it was legitimate and its “civilizing mission” was in fact beneficial. He also writes that it is time to re-colonize parts of the world and create “new Western colonies from scratch” because developing countries are failing at self-governance and anti-colonial ideology was harmful to native populations.
The reaction was explosive, targeted at both the article and the journal’s decision to publish it. A petition calling for the article’s retraction gathered more than 10,000 signatures. On Tuesday, roughly half of the journal’s 34 editorial board members resigned in protest.
Two researchers writing for a London School of Economics blog called the piece“a travesty, the academic equivalent of a Trump tweet, clickbait with footnotes.”
That it appeared in a respected journal devoted to anti-colonial politics, made it “the equivalent of a journal devoted to Holocaust studies publishing that the Holocaust didn’t happen,” according to Ilan Kapoor, a York University professor at the Faculty of Environmental Studies, who was one of the board members who quit.
The primary problem, though, revolved around whether the piece published under the label “Viewpoint” passed the scholarship test for publication.
“As with all articles in the journal, this Viewpoint did undergo double-blind peer review and was subsequently published,” said Shahid Qadir, editor-in-chief of the quarterly in a statement.
In a double-blind review, the author’s and reviewer’s identities are withheld from each other.
The editorial board members say they asked for but didn’t get copies of the review. They also say the article was not passed, but rejected by three reviewers. (Qadir did not respond to my requests for comment on this.)
“The piece in question was rejected by two peers who were editors of a special issue on ‘Whatever happened to the idea of imperialism?’ and then it was further rejected by another peer,” said Lisa Ann Richey, a scholar from Denmark currently at Duke University in the U.S.
“There was a remedy available last week — to retract the piece and apologize for the gross error — and this remedy was not implemented by the editor. After this disappointing outcome, the only option available for anyone sitting on the Board who wanted to stand for academic integrity was to resign.”
Kapoor said, “This discrepancy between what the editor has told us and what we have found is highly problematic.”.
Meanwhile, the piece is being torn apart by academics on factual grounds.
“Gilley says he is simply asking for an unbiased assessment of the facts, that he just wants us to take off our ideological blinders and examine colonialism from an empirical perspective,” writes Nathan Robinson in a scathing piece in Current Affairs.
“But this is not what he has done. Instead … (he has concealed) evidence of gross crimes against humanity.”
For instance, he omits any mention of the first 300 years of Western colonization because it’s “impossible to spin it,” as beneficial to native populations, says Robinson. Or he quotes a Congolese man saying, “Maybe the Belgians should come back” and entirely bypasses Belgian King Leopold’s reign of terror in the Congo that scandalized the world.
In the think tank Cato Institute’s blog, Sahar Khan gives five examples of how the piece is “empirically and historically inaccurate.”
For instance, “Gilley attributes the abolition of slave-trading to colonialism, which in addition to being ridiculous, is factually incorrect … Systematic decolonization and subsequent wars of independence eventually ended the slave trade.”
The unexplained publication of a piece that does not meet academic standards of quality should sound alarm bells for those of us outside the ivory towers, too.
The desire to appear even-handed under pressure from faux free-speech defenders has created a damaging false equivalency model in mainstream media, where the compulsion to get “the other side” means unfounded ideas are given the same weight as sound reasoning.
Despite the imperfections of academia, academically credited facts established with rigour, empirical evidence and scholarship remain a credible tool to fight climate change deniers, racism deniers, anti-vaxxers or any one floating in the universe of “alternative facts.”
Not condemning this attempt to Breitbart-ize academia will effectively wipe out the role of accountability in fact-gathering and remove any barriers to revisiting lasting atrocities of our past.
Shree Paradkar writes about discrimination and identity. You can follow her @shreeparadkar
How an article defending colonialism was ever published is a mystery roiling academia: Paradkar
The four NDP leadership candidates each recently met with the Star’s editorial board to discuss the campaign and defend their policies. The following are edited transcripts of those meetings.
‘Power can never come at the cost of principles’
How is the campaign going so far?
One of the key things we wanted to do in the campaign was to grow the party and to excite and inspire new people. It was my proposition that one of the key aspects of value that I could bring to the party and to the campaign was that ability to inspire people and bring people in. Most of our fundraising was from new members and we were able to sign up a host of new members from across the country, including significantly from Quebec.
Your platform is quite strong on anti-poverty measures but contains less specifically aimed at inequality, what would you do to address that?
There is policy we put forward towards poverty reduction focused around those who are the most unequal in society: seniors in poverty, the working poor and Canadians with disabilities. We also coupled that with the Better Work Agenda focusing on people who are in precarious work, as well as how we can build better work. We also want to end unpaid internships with no exceptions and to reinstate the Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act to ensure there are high standards of labour rights protections for workers at the federal level — which would encourage more equity and fairness for workers.
What role do you see for universal programs by the federal government?
I am absolutely committed to not only maintaining universal, publically delivered, one-tiered, social programs but expanding them. As New Democrats we already agree on universal daycare; we already agree on universal pharmacare, and so the policies I put forward are ones that I can add my own personal angle or touch. I wanted to bring forward policy agendas — like in the crime agenda or in the criminal justice agenda — that are unique to my personal work experiences and life experiences.
Are you in favour of any of the current pipeline proposals?
I have said no to Energy East and Kinder Morgan and most recently Keystone XL.
Are there any circumstances under which you could support a pipeline?
For energy projects there are three criteria that I rely on in terms of informing my decisions: Respect for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which entails that there must be prior informed consent from Indigenous communities on a project; any energy project that we invest in or allow has to comply with our climate change targets; local jobs and opportunities must be considered, as opposed to strictly focusing on exporting raw goods or raw petroleum.
If an Indigenous community was opposed to an energy project should they have an absolute veto right?
If we truly want a nation-to-nation relationship, then we can’t have projects on the land of another nation without that nation’s consent. It’s pretty fundamental, there really isn’t any way around that; it’s a real step towards reconciliation.
What went wrong for the NDP in the last election?
There was a great platform that was very progressive and included very meaningful advancements for society, but there was also something lacking between this objective platform and the campaign. The campaign lacked emotion and didn’t connect with people. I think that it didn’t feel like the party was progressive. The one concrete problem was the saying that the NDP would have a balanced budget. The problem with that message is that it has been used by conservatives to advocate cuts or austerity, very contrary to New Democratic values.
One of the big debates in the campaign is the eternal tug of war between power and principles. How do you balance this perpetual tension in the NDP?
There is no question that we need power to influence change but for me there is no doubt that power can never come at the cost of principles. There is an absolute way to pursue both your principles and the pursuit of power and that is what I have been committed to doing.
What is your Quebec strategy and what is your experience been like campaigning there?
We have signed up more members than any other candidate in Quebec. We are going to grow in Quebec. We are going to reach out to people who never considered voting for NDP before and we will inspire them to vote for us. We will have new fertile ground in Montréal for ridings that are diverse that were not thought of as NDP ridings before. I am confident that the values that the New Democrats have and the ones that I will put forward are values that resonate with people in the province.
How important is it to have personality over policy in this election when facing Justin Trudeau?
You need both — there is no question about it. You need to have an ability to get your message out to people and that requires personality and to be able to convince people. People have to feel a certain trust and a certain affinity towards the person that is delivering the message. So I think we can’t ignore the reality that it is something really important and I can go toe-in-toe on personality with Trudeau.
Will you go back to Queen’s Park if your message doesn’t resonate with federal New Democrats?
I ran to win and we are running a campaign to win and my only plan is to be the federal leader and running for a federal seat.
The Liberals ‘better mobilized my generation, the millennials’
Where’s your campaign at right now and what’s at stake in this leadership campaign?
From the beginning we’ve made it very clear that “progressive politics” is “smart politics” and that this race is an opportunity for us to reconnect with our roots and our principles as New Democrats — and also reflect on why we lost significant ground in the 2015 election, especially in Quebec, Atlantic Canada and the GTA. We allowed the Liberals to “out-left” us, permitting them to come across as more progressive and inspiring. They certainly better mobilized my generation, the millennials, so going forward we need to better engage young people and that will be accomplished with ideas that attack the two biggest issues of our time: growing inequality and climate change.
Do you risk losing support with the broader electorate by focusing too much on movement activists on the left?
In the last election we talked a lot about “winning” — about “winning government.” But I think we played it too safe taking positions that weren’t reflective of strong NDP principles such as the commitment to balance the budget at all costs. As inequality increases and more people are pushed to the margins you see people looking for a bolder kind of politics. And that’s what our campaign is about. We’re absolutely interested in working with movements — building a movement — but it has to be based on ideas that are salient to the challenges the millennial generation faces. They will be the largest voting block in the next election — 37 per cent of eligible voters — and it’s a generation at risk of living lives much worse than their parents. It’s also a generation more open to progressive politics and challenging the status quo whether it’s free tuition, or public ownership, or progressive global policies on the environment.
What would you say to folks sympathetic to your radical progressive approach who believe it makes you unelectable because you’re too radical?
I believe “principles” are compatible with “power.” I’ve seen it from where I come from. The NDP achieved power in Manitoba by being very clear about whose side they were on: working people and those on the margins. I believe you saw a similar dynamic in Alberta and more recently in B.C. And I would add that Canada is changing. That was apparent to me on my precarious employment tour. It showed that inequality is rising and the degree to which the millennial generation is rejecting the status quo. Two years ago I may have been hesitant about whether the politics of Bernie Sanders or Jeremy Corbyn would resonate here in Canada. But what I experienced then was a real appetite for a much bolder kind of politics — and a bolder pushback against the rise of the right, which is not only extremely divisive but also really dangerous.
Could you expand on the importance of precarious work to you?
The rise of precarious work clearly indicates this country’s increasing inequality. Let me share just one story that touched me. A young woman I met on the tour had just moved back in with her parents so she could pursue a third degree because the first two didn’t result in full-time employment. But she also mentioned she’d likely never have children because she wouldn’t be able to give them the life her parents gave her. That story spoke to me about the dysfunctional breakdown caused by precarity and growing inequality.
On a more immediate public policy issue, is there any pipeline policy that you support?
Our campaign opposes the proposed pipelines — Kinder Morgan, Keystone, Energy East — based on certain key principles, including first, the need to respect the UN Declaration on the Rights on Indigenous People. It is critical that governments prioritize not just consultation but consent, and we know these pipelines do not have the consent of many First Nations across the country.
Second question: Do they meet our climate change targets? They don’t.
I believe we need to move away from the current energy model and instead look at investing in clean renewable energy, and I have proposed creating a new crown corporation that will direct federal funding towards helping create a carbon-free economy.
As prime minister, you’d be called upon to decide what’s in the national interest. How does that apply with energy projects?
What’s in the national interest is confronting climate change and building new pipelines won’t help meet those commitments. Renewable energy will create thousands of much more sustainable jobs than those in the boom-and-bust energy and resource sectors.
‘I don’t want to make everyone equal but you want to level the playing field’
Where is the race right now?
My first task was to get myself better known by putting forward policies that would be seen as out-of-the-ordinary and I think my Basic Income Proposal achieved that goal. My second task was becoming a “competitor.” With my new endorsements and the positive response to my performances in debates, I’m where I want to be.
You’re the only Quebecer in the race but we’re a long way now from the Orange Wave. You got into politics because of Jack Layton’s belief the party’s success ran through Quebec. What happens if you don’t win?
Well, we still have 35 per cent of the vote in the province and we were neck-and-neck in the last election; 2019 will strengthen the party in Quebec and our path to forming government in Canada still runs through the province. But challenges remain: we had 12,000 members in the province; now it’s down to 5,000. To be a force in Quebec, you have to understand Quebecers and their politics.
There are many interesting ideas in your platform. Your tax plan is very ambitious and your signature proposal — a Basic Annual Income — is very bold, indeed, but there are no new universal programs that have been for decades the bread-and-butter of social-democratic electoral platforms. Why?
I wanted to move in a slightly different direction. It strikes me that the NDP has had the same platform for two or three elections and, as you know, universal daycare, a provincial jurisdiction, was a proposal of ours in 2015, and Premier (Kathleen) Wynne said she wouldn’t work with an NDP government on it. The beauty of my proposals is that we can execute them without the support of the provinces.
But aren’t you breaking with a long-standing NDP belief that Ottawa should be the leader? Isn’t this a radical shift?
Well I do believe that Ottawa can play a leadership role in health care, for instance, but not by imposing programs — and for a good reason. Initially, it paid half the bill for public health care, now it’s less than 25 per cent. It’s hard to impose a “national vision” when the provinces are picking up most of the tab.
But your signature social program is a case where Ottawa can act alone and arguably it will likely define your run for NDP leader. Your Basic Income Plan guarantees people living below the “low-income cutoff” an annual income. Curiously, this very innovative policy has split the left: people like you believe it will eliminate poverty but others are suspicious that it will provide cover for politicians to slash existing safety-net programs. Will it?
Basic Income provides for basic needs like food, lodging and clothing and I believe it will have a huge impact reducing poverty. But it won’t work if a province uses it as an excuse to off-load their responsibilities. If that happens there will be a way of taking them off the program. Basic Income will have a huge impact on minimizing income insecurity in the face of rapid changes already underway in the workplace.
The Liberals have run into trouble “selling” a loophole elimination that nets just $200-million in new revenue. Your tax plan is much bigger, generating $31 billion in new revenue, correct?
That’s about right.
You’re talking about netting $2 billion from an inheritance tax and $12 billion from a wealth tax. Won’t you have to bring in the army to sell it? Is it too ambitious?
Canada needs to reform a tax system that hasn’t changed in decades. This is a vision that’s ambitious and bold but these are not taxes on labour income but on unproductive capital. We need to address economic inequality. We are one of the few advance countries without an inheritance tax. I don’t want to make everyone equal but you want to level the playing field and the tax system is not playing its role. My plan proposes a reasonable increase in corporate taxes, but otherwise I’ve been careful not to tax money intended for investment in the productive real economy.
Here’s another hot-button issue. Is there any pipeline proposal you support?
Nope. Any interprovincial pipeline goes through the National Energy Board, and the NEB has no credibility. An NDP government would reform it, so the consultation process doesn’t exclude 90 per cent of those keen to be heard. And we need a separate process seeking First Nations’ consent.
Do First Nations have veto rights on pipelines, etc.?
Yes, if it’s a nation-to-nation relationship, we can only proceed with their consent.
How much time would you spend in Ottawa if you win?
I’ll be in the House two days a week; otherwise I’ll be out there reconnecting with Canadians.
‘Class is a fundamental issue in this country’
To start, do you want to give us a sense of how the campaign is going?
I see a growing sense of economic uncertainty. I have a sense that people don’t believe the politicians speak for them. I think people of all political parties have become more disconnected. And I think that the role of a social democratic party in 2017 is to say: ‘We have to restore some level of believability for people who are [being] left out of the game.’ And that’s been my approach.
I think the issue of class is a fundamental issue in this country. The fundamental divide in this country is economic. And that divide is cutting across a different kind of class strata. It’s no longer the traditional blue-collar class. The new working class is white collar.
The day I launched I met a university professor that I know. And she started to cry when I was asking about her work. I mean, she’s on perpetual contracts, she can’t pay her bills. Our kids pay enormous amounts of money to universities that are more like corporations, and they treat their faculty more like Tim Hortons workers. Fifteen years ago, that was the cream of the middle class, and that’s gone. And so we’ve got to start calling this out: the issue of class.
But despite this emphasis on class, you don’t have much of a tax plan, in terms of tax reform, and tax surely is a major tool for redressing inequalities. Where’s your tax plan?
We need a proper tax plan in order to address the fact that corporate Canada doesn’t pay their share anymore. We were told this myth — this was Paul Martin’s myth, this was Jean Chrétien’s myth, this was Stephen Harper’s myth: You keep giving them corporate tax breaks, and they’ll reinvest, and create good jobs, and we’ll have a great new economy. And [instead] we’ve got the KPMG scandals. They don’t pay their pension benefits anymore. We’ve got them walking away on Sears. And so, tax overhaul is crucial.
Coming up with a coherent tax policy is something I do with the party, with our electoral team. Not as a leadership candidate trying to say I’m going to get this point versus that point raised. It has to be a coherent strategy. So I’ve talked about the general principles, which I think is what a leader does in a leadership race. You talk about your values and your principles, but I go back to the party and say ‘OK, how do we make this credible?’ That’s my focus.
Are you in favour of any of the current pipeline proposals?
Right now, no. I got into politics to fight the Adams Mine. And I got involved in that because that was such a bogus, broken, fraudulent system for review. And when I look at what happened with the National Energy Board, it is much more bogus and fraudulent than even Mike Harris’s Ontario system was…So if you’re going to have a mega-project, you have to have a credible process for public input.
Are there any circumstances under which you could support new pipelines?
In a low-carbon future, we need copper, we need aluminum … and we will need oil. So we have to talk about transportation. Certainly trains are a very, I think, unwise way to move heavy bitumen, particularly since they move through so many urban areas. So we have to look at a review process.
If a First Nation is opposed to a resource project, should they have an absolute veto right?
That’s complicated, but the fact is without social licence, projects are not going to go ahead. But I’ll tell you, when I was working for the Algonquin nation before I was elected, we were having to run blockades all the time because nobody was coming in to talk to a First Nation. Now they do … If government was at the table the way industry has been at the table, we would probably be in a much different position than we are right now. Industry understands that they need social licence on the ground.
I’m just wondering if you think that splitting Indigenous Affairs into two is going to solve the problems, or what would you be doing?
I don’t care how many ministers you put in that broken system. When you have an attitude that it’s up to the federal government to decide what money they need to spend, and how to spend it, it is a black hole of in-accountability.
This is a system that was built to destroy the Indian people, it has done a damn good job for 150 years, and it has to be dismantled.
All of the stories you tell, on Indigenous, NAFTA, losing all our jobs, unaffordable housing, why aren’t Canadians revolting? Why isn’t there a revolution? Why aren’t they flocking to the NDP?
Canadians are very patient. They’re enormously resourceful, but more and more are working full out. They’re just trying to get by. … I think what you need to do is offer a vision where we say it doesn’t have to be this way.
Your notion of class: how is it different from Justin Trudeau’s notion of supporting the middle class and those attempting to join it?
I think Justin and I grew up in a different middle class. Because, I mean, look at his middle-class tax credit, right? If you make $40,000 a year and less you get nothing, and if you make between $150,000 and $250,000 you get the whole bang for your buck.
The middle class that Justin Trudeau’s talking about, it’s disappearing. And I find it really insidious to say, “and those wanting to join it.”
My notion of the working class is that it is blue collar and white collar. There are people who’ve been downsized, professors, people who are working for the federal government on perpetual contracts at 12 bucks an hour when they have masters and PhDs in international development and can’t pay their bills. That to me is the new working class.
It’s shame on us that we are not being the voice for those communities, and if we’re not being the voice for those communities, political arsonists like Donald Trump step in. And I am not, on my watch, seeing the Andrew Scheer’s of the world pretend that they represent working people. I don’t believe they do. So that’s my mission.
NDP leadership candidates sound off on policies, power and principles NDP leadership candidates sound off on policies, power and principles
She’s not insane. She’s intractable.
A psychiatric assessment has found her perfectly mentally fit to stand trial.
Our laws are not her laws. Her law is sharia law.
She worships at the altar of Islamic State.
And what this woman is alleged to have done — attack customers and staff at a Canadian Tire outlet last June 3, with a golf club and a large knife and a bow— she vows to attempt again.
Speaking through an Arabic interpreter in Scarborough court on Wednesday morning — though occasionally in the proceeding she also spoke English, quite competently — Rehab Dughmosh made this declaration: “Tell her I will always be a supporter of the Islamic State until the last day of my life. If you allow me to go out and leave I will do exactly what I tried to do last time and failed.”
Getting the 32-year-old woman to engage with the court has been like moving a mountain of stubbornness and defiance.
On two previous occasions, the Syrian-Canadian — and by the way, she wants her Canadian citizenship revoked — has refused to participate in what is now common video-link hearings from her current place of residence, the Vanier Centre for Women in Milton, Ont. Third time ’round, Justice Kimberley Crosbie reluctantly authorized security personnel to bring Dughmosh into the video room at the jail, by whatever means necessary. Thus a “retraction team” somehow got her in front of the camera, face bare. That was in early September.
Wednesday, the woman walked into the dock, in person, flanked by four court officers. She was clad in a tunic green tracksuit and hijab pulled across her face, revealing only the eyes.
First words out of her mouth, via interpreter: “I want to stay seated.”
It is routine for defendants, whilst in the box, to stand when they are being addressed, certainly when they are being formally indicted.
Last time I witnessed anyone refusing to stand in court, even for a judge’s entrance, was at a Toronto proceeding involving a member of Canada’s notorious Khadr clan. In that instance, mother and sister of the defendant — not Omar, one of his brothers — remained insolently stapled to their seat, presumably to demonstrate their contempt for Canadian courts.
There is no law but one law and fie on your Canadian institutions.
Well, inside this Canadian institution, Dughmosh was facing 21 charges, including four counts of attempted murder, with 14 of them related to terror and laid by the RCMP following the original Toronto police investigation of the Canadian Tire incident at Cedarbrae Mall, which resulted in a clutch of plain old criminal charges — assault, assault with a weapon, threatening death etc.
On Monday, the registrar read out the 14 terrorism-related charges — apparently the original criminal offences have been folded in — in the formal indictment procedure, charges laid under Section 83.18 (1) of the Criminal Code. To wit: Every one who knowingly participates in or contributes to, directly or indirectly, any activity of a terrorist group to facilitate or carry out a terrorist activity is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years.”
But before we got that far, Crosbie, overweening in her patience and decorum, wanted to make absolutely certain that the defendant understood what was happening in the aftermath of the psychiatric assessment report received by the court several weeks ago. “As a result of that report, I have no reason to believe that you are not fit to stand trial. We need to determine what the next step is. You told me (at an earlier proceeding) you wished to plead guilty.”
Dughmosh: “No. I am not guilty.”
Crosbie explained the three options available to the defendant: To have a trial, in Ontario Court, under another judge; to opt for trial before a judge at the Superior Court of Justice; or to go for Door No. 3 — Superior Court, with a judge and jury.
Dughmosh: Nope, none of the above. “Not even one.”
Continuing: “All you non-believers. I do not believe what you believe. Tell her I am still a supporter of the Islamic State and I am not guilty and I don’t want to go to bail court.”
More patience from Crosbie. “This is not bail court.’’
Dughmosh: “OK. So I decide and I determine and I don’t have to be here.”
Crosbie: “If you do not make a choice, I will deem that you would wish to be tried before a judge and jury.”
Dughmosh: “I don’t want anyone. Stop the court!”
Dughmosh has repeatedly rejected representation by a lawyer and expressed no wish for a preliminary hearing in the matter. Federal Crown Bradley Reitz told Crosbie he wanted to go straight to trial. And that’s what is going to happen.
It is too easy, too glib, to posit that individuals who believe as Dughmosh apparently does — in militant jihad, in the apostasy of secular laws — are screwy in the head rather than genuinely Islamist inspired. But Dughmosh, according to her psychiatric assessment, isn’t a loon, at least in so far as she understands her predicament and the legal process. She was committed enough, police alleged when they laid the first charges, to have gone overseas with the objective of joining Islamic State, or ISIS or Daesh, or whatever we’re calling it these days in hypercorrect company, in Syria but was intercepted in Turkey and sent back to Canada.
She does have issues, though.
“They have sent me to the hospital to assess if I have a mental problem,” Dughmosh complained to Crosbie. “And if I did have mental problems then I would not continue with the court. And from the beginning in jail they would offer me the medication and they still bring me to court. Can you explain?”
Crosbie laid down the law, gently. “Whether or not there is any mental issue, when people are told to attend court, they must attend court. That happens two ways: One is on your own volition. Or what happened the last time you appeared on video, by officers bringing you up by force.”
Dughmosh was apparently still stewing about her treatment in that episode. “I do not forgive them for taking off my head dress . . . they should have taken me in a more humane way.”
Rather rich coming from someone alleged to have attacked strangers with a knife, a bow and a golf club whilst shouting: “Allahu akbar!” (God is great.)
She will next be in court, in downtown Toronto, on October 11.
“Going forward, it’s obviously preferable if you go to court on your own free will,” said Crosbie. “You do not have a choice about that. You must attend court and are required to do so.”
Dughmosh, from beneath her veil of sagacity: “Then that doesn’t mean it’s real freedom.”
Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Case of woman accused in Canadian Tire attack like moving a mountain of defiance: DiManno
In the surveillance video, the black male of medium build, approximately 5-foot-7 to 5-foot-11, is seen walking down the stairs of the Toronto restaurant. He wears a hoodie pulled over a baseball cap and tied around his mouth, track pants, and sneakers. Mere blocks away, Toronto International Film Festival events were underway.
The video — a compilation of five different videos, released on Wednesday by Toronto Police — doesn’t show that he was carrying a handgun. It also doesn’t make clear the colours of the shooter’s outfit, which Detective Shannon Dawson, with the homicide squad, confirmed were dark-coloured.
It also doesn’t show that at 8:52 p.m. on Sept. 16, the hooded man would kill Simon Giannini — a 54-year-old real estate broker and father of two young boys — in what police are calling a targeted attack.
“It was a very brief encounter,” said Dawson, who thanked the public and the business community in the area of Simcoe Street for their co-operation in the investigation.
“It is still very early in our investigation, and we are keeping all options open and we aren’t close to either that (the shooter) was someone (Giannini) knew or hired,” she said. “We are looking at everything.”
Dawson said there was no indication Giannini was involved in anything suspicious to cause the shooting, and he has no relationship with the restaurant.
The only thing clearly distinguishable about the shooter was the letter “B” on the front left side of his chest, and a circular emblem with writing above it on the right.
You see both details as he walks into the restaurant at 8:51 p.m. with his hands in his pockets. He stops on the stairs to fidget with something before going ahead toward the manager’s desk. A woman in a dress walks by him in the opposite direction, turning her head to glance at him as she walks into the dining area behind a curtain.
The manager tries to engage him, but he walks right by, heading to the bar area in the back. In a previous statement, restaurant owner Michael Dabic said the manager asked the man if he could help him, as his attire didn’t match the usual dress code of their guests. The shooter told the manager he was there “looking for a friend.”
Seconds later, the shooter walks back toward the manager’s direction, his left hand held close to his side. He heads straight to the dining room, where Giannini and his friend, and approximately 140 other guests were having dinner at the time.
Giannini’s table was close to the restaurant’s exit, from where the shooter had entered.
Dabic told the Star previously that he suspects a guest must have directed the gunman to Giannini’s table. “You just can’t find an individual that quickly,” he said. “Simon’s back was to the hit guy . . . so you have to know where he is.”
At 8:52 p.m. the hooded man is seen rapidly running back up the stairs and out of the restaurant. Police say he fled southbound of Simcoe Street toward Pearl Street, where he got into the passenger side of a light-coloured Chevrolet Equinox SUV, and headed westward.
In the video, one person can clearly be seen chasing him.
Back at the restaurant, some guests were crouching under their table, crying, wondering if it was a terrorist attack. As a restaurant worker helped usher guests out, one member of the staff tried to perform CPR until the ambulance came.
Later, Giannini would be taken to a hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
Two years earlier, a shooting took place within Michael’s on Simcoe, but Dawson said police have no reason to believe the two shootings are related.
Giannini’s friends and family previously told the Star he was an immigrant to Canada from Lebanon and a devoted father. He grew up in Toronto’s east end and was separated from his first wife.
With files from Tony Wong, Mary Ormsby, Victoria Gibson and Emma McIntosh
Surveillance video shows man entering restaurant with intent to kill Toronto realtor
Two GTA municipalities have a child-care problem on their hands, but not the one that normally comes to mind in the world of daycare woes.
The region’s of York and Peel say they have no one on their wait lists for child-care subsidies, and a recent boost in millions of dollars in provincial and federal funding means they actually have more money than there seems to be an immediate need for.
York Region received $14 millon in additional funds in 2017 to spend on its child-care program. Peel says it received a $21 million cash injection in additional federal-provincial funding to put towards making child care more accessible this year.
Now they just need to find families who need the help.
That’s why both municipalities are planning to launch campaigns to try to get the word out — specifically aimed at those middle-income earners who may not even know that they qualify for help with daycare costs.
“I think there are a number of people who automatically disqualify themselves because they don’t know what the income levels might be. They think it’s for people who are very poor or very low-income, and that’s not the case,” said Cordelia Abankwa, the General Manager of Social Services for York Region.
“There are people who are working on very moderate salaries, who would be able to benefit and who need it,” Abankwa said.
“People think that if they own their home they might not be eligible, but that’s not always the case,” she said.
For years, much of the child-care discussion has focused on Toronto, where notoriously high child-care fees, and lower-incomes households have kept the city’s wait list hovering around 15,000 children. Durham Region says they have 2,586 children on their wait list, although a number of kids can’t receive subsidies, as their parents are not working or in school — a necessary criteria for a family to receive support. But both York and Peel say their immediate wait lists were reduced, due to a combination of provincial funding and strategies to target the wait list — including getting out of directly delivering child care.
In 2016, 14,726 children in Peel received subsidies. In Toronto, the number is 28,975, according to the city’s website. In York Region today, currently 8,300 children receive child-care subsidies.
Abankwa believes the low demand is not about a lack of need but is simply a lack of awareness.
“I think the surplus comes down to a lack of knowledge,” she said. “This region has seen a lot of growth and a lot of change. And people don’t necessarily know automatically about our fee subsidy…and for a long time, we did have a wait list,” she said. “People often hear about wait lists in other areas, and I think people tend to assume that in every single area it’s the same. These ideas die hard,” she said.
Currently, in Peel, only 21 per cent of children use licensed child care, according to Suzanne Finn, the director of Early Years & Child Care Services for Peel. “Some people might have grandparents or a spouse at home…we know licensed child care is not for everybody, but we want to make sure that anyone who wants it, can afford it,” she said.
Both municipalities say their campaign includes advertising, putting up posters in child-care centres, and engaging directly with child-care providers.
The province sets out who is eligible for a subsidy using a sliding income scale which is loosely calculated by looking at both household income and the cost of care. For example, a family whose income is around $70,000, could be offered a subsidy to reduce child-care costs to $42 a day per child. Infant care in York Region averages around $1,400 a month, which amounts to $63 a day.
The province announced a major child-care expansion plan in September 2016 to create licensed child care for 100,000 more children under age 4 over the next five years. Then this spring, municipalities received additional federal money under the Canada-Ontario Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) agreement, a multi-year initiative aimed at helping families access child care and invest in “local priorities.”
The province also gave municipalities a hard deadline of spending or allocating most of the money by the end of this year — or risk losing it.
In one York Region report to be discussed by local politicians on Thursday, staff say while money is good to have, it’s been difficult to deal with the influx so quickly.
“The capacity of the many municipalities, including York Region, to absorb this amount of funding in a limited amount of time will be challenging for several reasons,” says the report. “It takes time to create new child spaces particularly if it involves a capital retrofit or capital expansion, as each space needs to undergo licensing inspection. It also takes time to reach new families who may be eligible for fee assistance through a media campaign and then place them into suitable and accessible child care,” the report says, suggesting the region request the province extend the deadline for expenditure from December 31, 2017 to December 31, 2018 to more effectively use the new funding.
Heather Irwin, a spokeswoman with the Ministry of Education says “the ministry has been and continues to work very closing with all service system managers including Peel and York to support the planning and implementation of ELCC investments. The province is also monitoring expenditures and how funding is allocated as part of our expansion plan and ELCC to determine how to best target funding in the future,” she said in an email.
But the timelines are still in place, said Irwin.
Abankwa says she hopes the campaign encourages residents to reach out to their municipalities — even if they aren’t sure they can get help.
“We are also hoping that people will take a chance to reach out to us,” she said. “This is an opportunity, where we have the ability to help our residents…and we want families to take advantage of it.”
York and Peel regions have millions in daycare subsidies available but no one's on the waiting list
SEOUL, KOREA, REPUBLIC OF—North Korea’s foreign minister has described U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to destroy his country as “the sound of a dog barking.”
The comments are the North’s first response to Trump’s debut speech at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, during which he vowed to “totally destroy North Korea” if provoked. Trump also called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “Rocket man.”
The North’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told reporters in New York late Wednesday that “It would be a dog’s dream if he intended to scare us with the sound of a dog barking.”
South Korean TV footage also showed Ri saying he feels “sorry for his aides” when he was asked about Trump’s “Rocket man” comments. Ri was to give a speech at the UN General Assembly on Friday, according to Yonhap news agency.
Trump has unleashed many strong statements on North Korea including his August warning the North will be met with “fire and fury.” The North has responded by a slew of weapons tests and warlike and often-mocking rhetoric against Trump. A top North Korean general called Trump’s “fire and fury” threats “a load of nonsense” let out by “a guy bereft of reason.”
The rhetorical battle came as outside experts say North Korea is getting closer to achieve its long-stated goal of building nuclear-armed missiles capable hitting anywhere in the U.S. mainland.
Earlier this month, North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date and it was subsequently slapped with fresh, tough UN sanctions. North Korea later fired a ballistic missile over Japan and the U.S. military flew powerful bombers and stealth fighter jets over the Korean Peninsula and near Japan in a show of force against the North.
Trump’s threat like the ‘sound of dog barking,’ says North Korea’s foreign minister