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    The trial was supposed to start last Monday, but defence counsel argued that Ali Omar Ader, the man accused of taking Lindhout hostage in Somalia, could not get a fair hearing.

    Amanda Lindhout kidnapping trial to begin Thursday after delay over information disclosureAmanda Lindhout kidnapping trial to begin Thursday after delay over information disclosure

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    The U.S. request that Cuba withdraw diplomats marks yet another major setback for relations between the two neighbours, less than three years after they renewed diplomatic relations.

    U.S. gives Cuba 1 week to withdraw 15 diplomats after mysterious health attacksU.S. gives Cuba 1 week to withdraw 15 diplomats after mysterious health attacks

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    Report finds that residents need more than double what they earn on minimum wage, and that social policies need to be adjusted to meet the needs to present-day society

    Minimum-wage earners in Toronto do not make enough money to thrive, report saysMinimum-wage earners in Toronto do not make enough money to thrive, report says

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    Toronto council approves a three-year pilot project for residents in wards 5, 13, 21 and 32.

    Chickens to be allowed in some Toronto backyardsChickens to be allowed in some Toronto backyards

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    Trump was unabashed in promoting the federal effort in Puerto Rico. “We’ve gotten tremendous amounts of food and water, and lots of other things — supplies — generally speaking, on the island,” he said Monday at the White House.

    Trump comes face to face with hurricane-ravaged Puerto RicoTrump comes face to face with hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico

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    The NDP leader is the only political leader who can authentically speak to marginalized people in this country.

    Jagmeet Singh is the first party leader who knows the bitter pain of racial profiling: Tim HarperJagmeet Singh is the first party leader who knows the bitter pain of racial profiling: Tim Harper

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    Petty’s death was confirmed by spokeswoman Carla Sacks early Tuesday

    Rock superstar Tom Petty dies at 66Rock superstar Tom Petty dies at 66Rock superstar Tom Petty dies at 66Rock superstar Tom Petty dies at 66Rock superstar Tom Petty dies at 66Rock superstar Tom Petty dies at 66

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    More family visits, better complaints process and improved rules around searches, urges Howard Sapers, the independent adviser on corrections reform.

    Ontario’s correctional system needs overhaul, report saysOntario’s correctional system needs overhaul, report says

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    Investigators struggled Tuesday with a chilling but baffling array of clues in the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history—including a hotel room arsenal fit for a commando team—yet were still left trying to grasp what caused a 64-year-old retiree to turn a concert ground into a killing field.

    What was Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock’s motive? Investigators struggle to piece it togetherWhat was Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock’s motive? Investigators struggle to piece it together

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  • 10/03/17--10:31: Article 2

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    Two men have been charged with second-degree murder in a double shooting outside the Rebel nightclub early Sunday that left two other men dead.

    Police found the victims at the scene, near Cherry and Polson Sts., around 3:10 a.m.. One man was pronounced dead on scene, and the other was taken to hospital, where he died from his injuries.

    On Tuesday, police formally identified the victims as Tyler McLean, 25, and Zemarai Khan Mohammed, 26. Mohammed was also known as Amir Jamal.

    Police also said Abdirisaq Ali, 23, of Toronto, and Tanade Mohamed, 24, of Edmonton, had been arrested on charges of second-degree murder. They were scheduled to appear in a Toronto court Tuesday.

    The arrests came after officers executed search warrants in the York Mills Rd. and DVP area on Monday, police said in a news release.

    Friends and family of the victims were left reeling by the deaths. A Gofundme page raising money to ship Jamal’s body back to his family in Afghanistan called him “the most genuine and kind person.”

    Adam Mahgoub, a friend of McLean, said he was “very well respected, very well liked.”

    McLean was a promoter for the nightclub who had just returned from a vacation, according to a coworker. Jamal had been sending money back home to his family. The two men were friends.

    The deaths are listed as Toronto’s 44th and 45th homicides this year.

    With files from Alanna Rizza and Samantha Beattie


    2 men arrested in Rebel nightclub shooting deaths2 men arrested in Rebel nightclub shooting deaths

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    MONTREAL—The election of Jagmeet Singh as leader was a watershed moment for the NDP and for Canadian politics. But the blow dealt to runner-up Charlie Angus on the first and only ballot of the campaign was also revealing of the party’s mood.

    On Sunday the Timmins-James Bay MP lost both in the real world and on the field of expectations. Angus did not expect to become the NDP’s new leader on that day. But nor was his team prepared for a crushing and definitive defeat.

    By the time the Liberals picked a leader in 2013, the men and women who had run against Justin Trudeau knew they would be little more than extras on the set of a coronation.

    By comparison, Angus entered the weekend of the vote cast as one of two front-runners in the campaign to succeed Thomas Mulcair only to emerge as a distant also-ran.

    A well-respected MP with more parliamentary experience than any of his three rivals, Angus had cause to hope his promise to reconnect the NDP to its roots would resonate with the party base.

    He had not recruited as many new members as Singh, but polls suggested he was the popular choice among New Democrats of longer standing.

    Indeed, at the time of the previous NDP leadership vote in 2012, Angus’s decision to rally Mulcair’s camp after his own preferred candidate, Paul Dewar, was eliminated, had been considered one of the more significant developments of the day.

    And yet, in the end, the result was not even close. Angus — with 19 per cent of the vote — not only finished more than 30 points behind Singh, he barely beat Niki Ashton (17 per cent) for second place.

    Angus might have fared better under a riding-by-riding weighted system such as that of the Liberals and the Conservatives. The one-member-one-vote NDP formula does play to regional strengths at the potential expense of broader national appeal. Singh’s support was unevenly distributed across the country with a heavy emphasis on the GTA and the larger Vancouver area.

    But the final score suggests that a significant part of the party base Angus was counting on to keep his campaign alive and get to fight another ballot was in Singh’s corner.

    The appetite for a trip back to a future that stood to again feature permanent opposition as an NDP way of life turned out to be limited.

    This is the same party that shocked the country’s political class by summarily handing Mulcair his walking papers a year and a half ago.

    “I did not think we were that kind of people,” one New Democrat had told me in the hours after Mulcair’s leadership had been disposed of.

    Angus’s results suggest the New Democrats are indeed that kind of people. Jack Layton spent his tenure urging New Democrats to set their sights on forming a government. In the pursuit of power they are no less cold-blooded than their Conservative and Liberal counterparts.

    And then it is not a reflection on Angus’s merits to note that his path to victory had the potential to poison both the New Democrat well and that of his leadership. A winning scenario for his campaign featured mostly terrible optics stretched out over two and possibly three divisive weeks.

    As proud as the NDP was of the demographic diversity of its leadership lineup, it had the potential to backfire on the party.

    Here is how the vote would likely have had to unfold for Angus to win.

    On the first ballot, Guy Caron would have been struck from the lineup.

    On Sunday, Caron finished last with 9 per cent of the vote. There is no guarantee his supporters would have even bothered to vote for one of the surviving contenders on subsequent ballots.

    On week two, Niki Ashton would have been voted off the island. It might then have taken yet another week and another round of voting for Angus to prevail over Singh.

    Having beaten in succession a francophone Quebecer, a woman and a runner-up issued from the ranks of Canada’s visible minorities and done so over weeks rather than mere hours on a convention floor, Angus would have his work cut out for him trying to convince Canadians that he was taking command of a forward-looking NDP.

    Chantal Hébert is a national affairs writer. Her column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.


    In NDP leadership race, Charlie Angus was dealt the hardest blow: HébertIn NDP leadership race, Charlie Angus was dealt the hardest blow: Hébert

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    All lanes on the QEW are now open after a single-vehicle rollover near Guelph Line on Tuesday afternoon sent eight people to hospital and closed the highway down for several hours.

    Emergency services responded to the scene of the accident around 2:30 p.m. Sgt. Kerry Schmidt of the Ontario Provincial Police said a minivan skidded across the lanes and “came to rest on its roof in the left lane,” leaving “debris all across the highway.”

    Eight people were rushed to hospital, two with critical and one with serious injuries. The injuries to the others are unknown as yet.

    Several people were “ejected” from the vehicle during the accident and came to rest on the road, itself, in “different locations” across the highway, Schmidt said.

    “That is obviously concerning for us,” he said, adding that the investigation into the crash would likely be lengthy.

    Some of the possible factors at play the police are investigating include mechanical issues, human error, and whether seatbelts were used, he said.

    Anyone who witnessed the accident is encouraged to contact police.


    QEW reopens after earlier crash at Guelph Line sends eight to hospitalQEW reopens after earlier crash at Guelph Line sends eight to hospital

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    Surveillance camera footage of an overnight burglary at a Scarborough hardware store has been posted by the store owner’s son in hopes of tracking down the thieves who stole more than $50,000 worth of goods.

    “They did the whole thing in about five minutes,” said Dominic Dimilta, a co-owner of Alpine Lawn & Garden Equipment at Kennedy Rd. and Finch Ave. E.

    Multiple videos uploaded to YouTube by Dimilta’s son show how the burglary happened at about 1 a.m. Monday. A U-Haul truck reversed right to the store’s front doors. A camera from the front counter shows a shower of sparks from a cut-off saw, cutting two locks on the front door.

    Two masked thieves enter the store, grab chainsaws, pull trimmers from their stands, and struggle to remove some items from wires attached to the walls before eventually scrambling out of the building and loading the truck.

    By the time the alarm company called, the break-in had wrapped up.

    “Unfortunately, we thought it was a false alarm,” Dimilta said. “They took two of the biggest generators I have, we’re still counting. They took at least a half a dozen trimmers, and two of my biggest chainsaws.”

    Dimilta said that the thieves had clearly prepared in advance to rob the store.

    “These guys, they knew exactly where they wanted to go and they knew exactly what to do.”

    The hardware store is well-secured, with a double gate at its fence equipped with chains and locks, but the saws used by the thieves were too powerful.

    “The cut-off saw, with the gas that they’re using, they’ll go through anything,” Dimilta said. “I mean, that’s the first time I’ve seen (someone) using a cut-off saw to do that. I mean, what the heck are we going to do now?”

    Toronto police are investigating.

    Dimilta hopes that the YouTube videos will help identify the thieves and deter future thefts.

    “The reason my son put (the videos) on YouTube is that we’re trying to see if we can find these suckers before they sell the stuff,” he said. “And if someone’s buying this stuff they know it’s going to be trouble because we have all the serial numbers, all the pictures.”


    Scarborough hardware store releases survelliance footage showing brazen burglaryScarborough hardware store releases survelliance footage showing brazen burglary

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    A Divisional Court on Tuesday dismissed an attempt by the province and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. to prevent former premier Dalton McGuinty, his former finance minister Dwight Duncan, and their chiefs of staff from being questioned under oath about the 2012 decision to terminate a slot machine revenue-sharing partnership with the horse racing industry.

    The legal battle centres on a $65-million civil claim launched in 2014 by a group of Ontario standardbred horse breeders. The breeders argue they were dropped from the slots program without compensation and given scant notice of its demise, even though the province was aware breeders require five to seven years to produce a racing animal.

    Jonathan Lisus, the breeders’ lawyer, said the Divisonal Court ruling is an important step “in the process of understanding how the decision that had such a harmful impact” on his clients was made. Lisus noted many of his clients are elderly and three have died since the litigation began.

    Lisus said he has asked the province and OLG to consent to videotaping all witness examinations “so there’s a good record for the court and the public to review their evidence.”

    Both the Ministry of the Attorney General and the OLG said Tuesday evening that it would be inappropriate to comment as the suit is still before the courts.

    The slot agreement began in 1998 and allowed for revenue generated from slot machines — installed on the premises of provincial horse racing tracks — to be shared among the province, race tracks and horse breeders annually.

    The breeders say they launched their claim after the province and OLG paid $80 million in compensation to track owners but ignored them. The matter is being heard in the Superior Court of Justice in Guelph by Justice Michael Emery.

    The province and OLG are trying to have the suit tossed, claiming in statements of defence that they’ve done nothing improper.

    During the summer, over objections from the province and OLG, Emery ordered McGuinty, Duncan and others — including economist Don Drummond and Rod Seiling, the former chair of the Ontario Racing Commission — give evidence under oath.

    In August, the province and OLG had sought leave to appeal Emery’s decision through the Divisional Court, which denied that request Tuesday.


    Court upholds ruling in horse breeders’ suit against province and OLGCourt upholds ruling in horse breeders’ suit against province and OLG

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    The goodbyes were already said but Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins confirmed Tuesday that Jose Bautista has likely played his last season with the club.

    Toronto will not pick up their end of the mutual option the 36-year-old right fielder signed before what Atkins called a “massively disappointing” 2017 season. While the GM was moved by the outpouring of love Bautista received during his final home game a little more than a week ago — and while he looks forward to celebrating the Blue Jays’ faithful servant at some point in the future — Atkins said, based on Toronto’s current roster, “we feel it’s unlikely that he’s a part of the solution moving forward.”

    Read more:

    Photos: Jose Bautista's most memorable moments with the Blue Jays

    Status quo not an option for Blue Jays: Griffin

    Four burning questions for Blue Jays after lost campaign

    Atkins believes the legendary outfielder is still capable of being a major-league player despite finishing the season with a .203 batting average and a franchise-record 170 strikeouts. But time is working against Bautista, as it did the Blue Jays this year.

    “We’re not getting any younger if we add him to our fold and guarantee him our right-field spot,” Atkins said.

    Age was a hot topic in the GM’s end-of-season news conference as he discussed what to do with the oldest starting lineup in baseball to avoid another painful premature ending in 2018.

    Health was a hindrance, Atkins made plain. Blue Jays players missed more than 1,400 games to injury.

    “We were not able to (survive) the injuries this year,” he said. “Our players that had to come in and step in, across the entire organization, were not enough.”

    So was a lack of consistent fundamental play, an issue star third baseman Josh Donaldson pointed out during Toronto’s final series against the New York Yankees over the weekend. Atkins said better execution starts with spring training and regular drills sometimes not asked of veterans.

    “It often time happens in professional sports where the more veteran your organization, the more veteran your roster becomes, the more individualized the work becomes because of routines,” he said. “That’s what we need to dig into.”

    Depth across the organization was another sticking point for Atkins, who identified both second base and shortstop as positions where Toronto especially needs back up after 50- and 66-game seasons from Devon Travis (knee) and Troy Tulowitzki (ankle) respectively.

    Atkins said he hopes next season will bring better communication between himself, the Blue Jays medical staff and injured players such as Travis and pitcher Aaron Sanchez.

    “I feel like I let them down,” he said. “There aren’t decisions, as we look back, that we can find that we said, ‘We would have absolutely done that differently given the information we had at that time.’ Having said that, there were times in the season that I was frustrated, our players were frustrated because of the inefficiency of some of our communication.”

    All of the off-season work begins with a look inward. Atkins was pleased with this year’s pitching, is happy to see talent being built up in the Blue Jays’ farm system, and still has faith in a talented veteran core. That, he said, is what makes him believe the team can contend in 2018.

    As for who will be around at that point, Atkins said he wants to add an impact pitcher and an impact position player “for sure.”

    Among other thoughts from the GM:

    • He would “absolutely” be open to Donaldson, who becomes a free agent in 2018, staying in Toronto long term, though he wouldn’t elaborate how that might come to fruition.

    • He feels strongly that John Gibbons is part of Toronto’s solution. The manager and the entire Blue Jays coaching staff will be back next year.

    • Teoscar Hernandez did enough to be considered for a starting outfield position next season. The 24-year-old September call-up had eight homers and 20 RBIs in the final month.

    • The club is optimistic Aaron Sanchez will return to being a starting pitcher despite making only eight starts this season due to those blister problems.

    • Atkins is confident all-star Justin Smoak, who managed a career-high 38 homers this season, can put in a similar performance in 2018. He attributed the first basemen’s September lull, in which he hit just two dingers, in part to contusions on his toe and lower leg.

    Bye Bye Bautista: Blue Jays confirm they won't bring back Joey BatsBye Bye Bautista: Blue Jays confirm they won't bring back Joey Bats

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    You might have seen them out on the sidewalk Tuesday morning, on the edges of downtown along Spadina, Jarvis, Queens Quay and Bloor, with clipboards and video cameras, counting. A platoon of volunteers, doing the work they think the city should be doing.

    They were counting bikes, and will continue to do so Wednesday and Thursday. It’s a “cordon count” at 34 locations around the downtown core, attempting to estimate the total number of bikes entering the area during the morning rush.

    “I’m someone who believes very strongly in evidence-based decision-making,” says Gil Meslin as he makes hash marks on a clipboard tracking the number of cyclists coming eastbound through the intersection at Adelaide and Spadina. “I’ve seen the city and the mayor deciding increasingly to go the other way on many major decisions,” he says, picking out one piece of data to fixate on, or one anecdote or emotional thread in a debate. “In my mind, any data point that’s current and relevant can only be a positive contribution to the process.”

    Meslin is the organizer of the entirely volunteer, “citizen-led” cordon count. He says the idea came to him because the city doesn’t really have any publicly available, up-to-date information about the number of cyclists entering the downtown core.

    One cordon count was conducted in 2010, its results still available on the city’s website. At the time, the plan was to replicate the count every year. But it appears that plan was abandoned. It seems the city may have done such a count in 2014, but if it did the results have not been released publicly. So Meslin, a city planner working in the private sector who is also interested in municipal affairs and transportation advocacy, saw a gap in the information available in our debates.

    “Unlike intersection counts or lane counts, where you see how traffic has changed at a particular point, a cordon count shows you system-wide change: how traffic has changed over time across the whole downtown, how behaviour is changing across the city.”

    It could be useful for tracking the demand for cycling infrastructure, for instance. And for seeing how the introduction of bike paths (on Adelaide and Queen’s Quay, for instance) has changed cycling system-wide: has the number of people cycling into the core gone up, or have people just changed their route to take advantage of the new infrastructure? How much more likely are people to use one route over another? Where are the heaviest-trafficked routes that do not have bike lanes? A cordon count showing total volume at most major locations from 2017 that could be compared to the earlier data might answer some of those questions.

    So Meslin used his Twitter account to put out a call for volunteers, proposing to replicate the methodology of the 2010 study. He got more than 70 responses, and on Tuesday morning said there were about 50 volunteers in the field. They don’t have the human resources to replicate the entire 2010 study, which tracked counts at the 34 locations over a 12-hour period, so they are focusing on the morning peak, 7 a.m to 10 a.m.

    “We want to be able to make an apples-to-apples comparison, using the same locations, the same time of day, the same criteria. If there are changes, that tells you something,” Meslin says, noting he won’t try to anticipate what, if any, changes the data may show. He has some volunteers who are professional data analysts and transit engineers to help evaluate the data once it’s collected.

    But for now, he’s busy enough collecting the data. The cyclists come in waves through the intersection as the lights change, and Meslin quickly scratches a tally — segmented into 15-minute increments — as they pass. In the peak hour as the sun rises higher and the commuter crush gets heavier, it becomes hard to keep up. Between 7:00 and 7:15, his tally sheet only shows 35 cyclists passing. Between 8:45 and 9:00, the boxes on the sheet overflow with 325 marks. Meslin has a video camera mounted on a tripod to back up his notes.

    He says he expects this first attempt will be a starting point — that they’ll be able to improve and refine the process to get better, more reliable data for future counts. “Not every area lends itself to the democratization of information gathering,” he says, in which volunteer amateurs provide the city with statistics. There are some kinds of surveys in which methodological or observational expertise is warranted. But when it’s as simple as counting on the street corner, perhaps there’s an opportunity for the city to work with interested citizens to fill its own informational gaps.

    To me, it’s a puzzle why the city wouldn’t be gathering what seems like such basic information on its own — how can we have an intelligent debate about cycling infrastructure in the downtown core without knowing how many people cycle into the downtown core, and where, and when? I think the city should be gathering such information, and making it available.

    But if the city won’t, it’s a relief to find out that somebody will.

    Edward Keenan writes on city issues ekeenan@thestar.ca. Follow: @thekeenanwire


    Volunteer bike counters step up to gather the data the city should be collecting: KeenanVolunteer bike counters step up to gather the data the city should be collecting: Keenan

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    A fourth Canadian has been confirmed dead in a mass shooting at a country music show in Las Vegas.

    Tara Roe Smith, a 34-year-old mother of two young boys who lived in Okotoks, Alta., was there with her husband, Zach, for a weekend getaway.

    Her aunt, Val Rodgers, says Roe Smith died when a gunman opened fire on the crowd from the window of a hotel on Sunday night. Fifty-nine people were killed.

    “She was a beautiful soul. She was a wonderful mother and our family is going to miss her dearly,” Rodgers said Tuesday when contacted at her home in Brandon, Man.

    Read more:

    Las Vegas hospitals overwhelmed after mass shooting left 59 dead, 527 injured

    Three Canadian victims mourned after Las Vegas attack

    B.C. man, Alberta woman among 59 killed in Las Vegas concert shooting

    Roe Smith is the third Albertan confirmed dead in the shooting.

    Two other women — Calla Medig and Jessica Klymchuk — were also killed.

    Medig had taken time off from her job at Moxie’s restaurant in west Edmonton to attend the Route 91 Music Festival in Las Vegas, said her boss, Scott Collingwood.

    “This had started to become an annual thing for her. I believe it was her third trip,” Collingwood told The Canadian Press.

    When news broke about the shooting Sunday, Collingwood said he immediately called Medig, but it went right to voice mail. She didn’t answer texts or Facebook messages, he said.

    On Monday, he called her roommate, who went to Vegas with Medig, and got the terrible news.

    “She was a little bit of everything around here. She was kind of a rock and, as of Thursday, she would have been our newest manager,” Collingwood said. “A lot of us around here have super heavy hearts and we already miss her.”

    Medig grew up in the Rocky Mountain town of Jasper. Jasper Legion Branch 31 said in a Facebook post that it lowered its flag in Medig’s memory. In its post, the legion called her a young, beautiful lady who was taken too soon.

    Alberta Premier Rachel Notley extended her condolences to Medig’s friends and family, as well as to the family of Klymchuk, who was from the small Alberta community of Valleyview.

    Jordan McIldoon, 23, from Maple Ridge, B.C., was also killed.

    A relative said McIldoon would have turned 24 on Friday and was a month shy of completing a course to qualify as a heavy-duty mechanic.

    Canadians injured

    Jan Lambourne, Teulon, Man.

    • The married friend of Jody Ansell, Lambourne was shot in the abdomen and shrapnel fractured her pelvis. She had surgery to repair her intestine.

    Jody Ansell, Stonewall, Man.

    • Ansell was shot in the right arm. She was discharged from hospital late Monday.

    Steve Arruda, Calgary

    • The referee with an adult hockey organization called Hockey North America underwent surgery and was in intensive care in a Las Vegas hospital. He helped his wife to safety, told her run, then stayed to help others get to safety.

    Carrie-Lynn Denis of Leoville, Sask.

    • Denis, who was shot in the foot, grew up on a local farm and is a community volunteer.

    Sheldon Mack, Victoria, B.C.

    • Mack was shot twice and suffered a ruptured colon and a broken forearm. A friend used his belt as a makeshift tourniquet. He was recovering in intensive care.

    Ryan Sarrazin, Camrose, Alta.

    • Sarrazin, born and raised near Spiritwood, Alta., was shot and seriously injured.

    Fourth Canadian confirmed dead in Las Vegas mass shootingFourth Canadian confirmed dead in Las Vegas mass shooting

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    Our thoughts. Our prayers. Our tears.

    What does that even mean?

    When mass murder by gunfire in the U.S. turns into a celebrity meme.

    Condolences expressed on social media, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau among those who tweeted out his sorrow for victims of the Las Vegas massacre.

    Read more:

    Acts of heroism emerge amid chaos of Las Vegas shooting

    What was Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock’s motive? Investigators struggle to piece it together

    ‘He saved my life:’ Manitoba woman praises Good Samaritan in Las Vegas shooting

    To show that you’re on the side of sanity, of revulsion for a crime that wiped 59 innocents off the face of the Earth?

    One can talk miles about good and evil — “an act of pure evil” as President Donald Trump described it, a sombre address clearly scripted for him because those are the only occasions where he sounds even marginally rational: The comforter-in-chief, a mantle that rests so unsuitably on his shoulders.

    And then Trump got on a plane to Puerto Rico, there to hand out flashlights and such — photo op, coming face to face with the same people he’d earlier characterized as “politically motivated ingrates” — for a calamity which he claimed was nowhere near the tragedy dimensions of Hurricane Katrina. “Sixteen versus literally thousands of people.”

    The death toll from Katrina a dozen years ago: More than 1,833. A “real catastrophe,” Trump chose to scold Puerto Ricans on Tuesday.

    As if blaming them, Puerto Ricans, for the natural disaster that has befallen their island.

    The financial drain of emergency assistance on the American treasury, Trump thought it appropriate to highlight that as well. “I hate to tell you Puerto Rico but you’ve thrown our budget a little of whack because we’ve spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico.”

    Less than a hundred helicopters sent to the hurricane-ravaged island, an American territory, in the abysmally slow emergency reaction by Washington. Six thousand troops deployed, compared to 10,000 on the ground in Louisiana under the command of U.S. army Lieutenant General Russel Honore who, now retired, has been scathing in his indictment of the inadequate response.

    Trump was scheduled to descend on Vegas next, Wednesday. I can think of hardly anyone more morally unfit to bind a nation’s wounds in the aftermath of Sunday night’s slaughter by a retired accountant sniper, firing from his makeshift fortress room in the Mandalay hotel. Dozens from among the more than 500 wounded remain in critical condition.

    This is the president who, in February, put his signature on a measure that nixed a regulation, initiated by his predecessor in the wake of other mass shootings, that would have kept guns out of the hands of some severely mentally ill people. That law required the Social Security Administration to disclose information quarterly to the national gun background check system about individuals with a documented mental illness — specifically and narrowly those receiving full benefits because of a mental illness and those requiring the assistance of third parties because they were incapable of managing their own benefits.

    Even that was too much for Republicans, deeply beholden to the National Rifle Association — the NRA endorsed Trump in the last election — to swallow. (Although it should be noted that loved-by-the-lefty-left Bernie Sanders, Mr. Progressive, was so leery of alienating supporters in his rural Vermont state that he’d five times voted against the Brady Bill in the ’90s and in 2005 voted in favour of a special immunity law protecting gun makers and sellers from being sued when their weapons are used in a deadly attack.)

    Gun control, yearning for it, is in fact a non-partisan issue. Respectable polling has shown that a huge majority of Americans — 94 per cent — wanted, at the very least, to restrict the mentally ill from purchasing weapons.

    Vegas, Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Orlando — massacres that seize a nation’s attention. But only a tiny fraction of gun deaths — about three per cent — are attributable to such rampages.

    Mass murder in the U.S. is defined as the killing of four or more people. It’s a poor way to frame gun violence. Thirteen thousand miles away from Vegas, on the same day that Stephen Paddock sprayed a crowd of concertgoers with rapid-fire lethality, three individuals were killed and two injured at the University of Kansas. It hardly merited a news digest.

    The numbers are staggering.

    So far in 2017, 326 killed in mass shootings, 432 in 2016, 369 in 2015.

    Since Sandy Hook five years ago — 26 slain at an elementary school, including 20 children — there have been some 1,500 mass shootings in America, according to the Gun Violence Archive: 1,715 killed, 6,089 wounded.

    And that’s just the tip of the bloodshed.

    A country where it’s estimated that 300 million guns are in the hands of 320 million people, highest in gun possession among 178 countries, according to the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey, a global research agency. Americans comprise 4.4 per cent of the global population but account for fully half of civilian owned guns around the world.

    Number of Americans killed in battles in all wars in history: 1,396,733. Killed by firearms in the U.S. since 1968: 1,516,863.

    The war is on a homeland battlefield.

    The Center for Disease Control and Prevention provides these gruesome statistics: 406,496 killed by guns in the U.S. between 2001 and 2013. Of those, 237,052 were suicides. Because in a society where guns are so readily available, it is the preferred means for taking one’s own life.

    Homicides accounted for 153,144 of those gun deaths, 4,778 were police shootings, 8,383 categorized as “accidental” and 3,200 where no cause was determined.

    Some 25 children killed by guns every week.

    The Second Amendment guarantees Americans the right to bear arms and the intent was aimed at raising a “regulated” militia. It doesn’t guarantee the right to semi-automatic weapons, to high-powered rifles, to personal arsenals such as the 48 guns that the Vegas shooter possessed.

    This is NRA-generated hokum. Such bristling caches are not for the purpose of self-defence.

    There was a time when even Trump understood this. In the 1990s and early 2000s, he expressed support for a ban on assault weapons and long rifles with military-style features that made it easier to fire multiple rounds. In his 2000 book, The America We Deserve, Trump wrote: “I generally oppose gun control but I support the ban on assault weapons and I support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun.”

    Two years later Trump praised president Barack Obama for introducing, after Sandy Hook, slightly tighter firearm regulations. But in the election campaign, and certainly since he assumed the Oval Office, Trump has lost his marbles on the subject of guns, even railing against government-mandated gun-free zones in places such as schools, churches and military bases. Better, he’s argued, that civilians should arm themselves against the potential of such attacks, than go down with hands empty as “target practice for the sickos.”

    Maybe he knows his country better than we realize.

    One final fact: After every mass shooting in America, the sale of guns spikes.

    Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.


    On gun control, Donald Trump has lost his marbles: DiMannoOn gun control, Donald Trump has lost his marbles: DiManno

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