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    Canadian pastor Hyeon Soo Lim has been in North Korean detention since January 2015.

    That was 900 days ago. And counting.

    The leader of Mississauga’s Light Presbyterian Church went missing during a humanitarian mission in a northern region where Lim was so well-known for his charity work, he’d been granted a frequent access visa.

    Weeks later, North Korean authorities confirmed they’d arrested Lim, now 62, ostensibly for plotting to overthrow Kim Jong Un’s authoritarian regime. The pastor was sentenced to life in a hard-labour camp where he told an American journalist, given unique access to Lim, that he digs holes eight hours a day, six days a week.

    Now, there is renewed — but cautious — hope for Lim’s release.

    Read more:

    Community rallies for release of GTA pastor jailed in North Korea

    U.S. to ban American citizens from visiting North Korea after Otto Warmbier’s death

    Last Friday, North Korean officials arranged a meeting “in the humanitarian spirit” between the imprisoned Canadian and a Swedish Embassy diplomat in Pyongyang, according to state media outlet Korean Central News Agency.

    The timing of the July 14 meeting has also commanded attention: It came four weeks after American university student Otto Warmbier was released from a North Korean prison, in a coma, and died just days after arriving home.

    “Any type of contact is always good,” said Toronto lawyer Jack Kim, a special adviser at HanVoice, the largest Canadian organization advocating on behalf of North Korean human rights and refugees.

    “It means the North Koreans haven’t forgotten about Rev. Lim and are at least continuing the dialogue, even if it’s on humanitarian grounds.”

    Details surrounding Lim’s disappearance more than two years ago have been scant. The Star has since learned the pastor vanished the same day he entered North Korea after two men approached him and invited him to the capital, Pyongyang.

    Kim described the North Korean regime as “one of the most opaque countries in the world” and noted last week’s meeting did not include an official from Global Affairs Canada, the ministry tasked with securing Lim’s release.

    “The fact that it was not someone from Global Affairs, but the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang, to a certain degree, tempers my enthusiasm about this,” said Kim, who has met Lim.

    “I think you could look at this (meeting) with guarded, perhaps minimal, optimism.”

    North Korean officials have permitted two prior Canadian consular visits, the last one in December 2016.

    Lim has also met previously with Swedish Ambassador Torkel Stiernlöf, who is based in Pyongyang. It’s unknown if Stiernlöf was in the Friday meeting; the Swedish Embassy did not respond to an email from the Star. Canada does not have a diplomatic presence in North Korea and the Swedish Embassy acts as Canada’s protecting power.

    Canadian Senator Yonah Martin, deputy leader of the opposition in the Senate, is a friend of Lim’s. She said the North Korean gesture in arranging the meeting provides an opening for Canada to engage the regime more urgently “because there is great and growing concern about Rev. Lim’s health.”

    Lim has high blood pressure and requires medication. The North Koreans have allowed medication to be sent to him.

    “Rev. Lim has lost a considerable amount of weight — between 60 to 80 pounds — and he isn’t well,” Martin said from her Burnaby, B.C., home.

    “I hope this is an opportunity for Canada to follow up in whatever way will bring Rev. Lim home. I don’t want to say ‘now or never,’ but I hope something can come out of this,” she continued.

    The North Korean news story also invited the Canadian government to resolve Lim’s case.

    Lim asked the unnamed Swedish diplomat “to convey his request to the Canadian government for making active efforts to settle his issue,” according to an English language report citing the original article. In addition, the story stated the meeting was organized “on the basis of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and in the humanitarian spirit.”

    Global Affairs has said little publicly during Lim’s detainment other than to state frequently that his imprisonment “is absolutely a priority.”

    The ministry did not answer a list of questions about the July 14 meeting from the Star or confirm that it occurred. Instead, ministry spokesperson Jocelyn Sweet emailed this statement: “The Government of Canada is very concerned about the health, well-being, and continued detention of Mr. Lim. This case is absolutely a priority for us. We have been actively engaged on this difficult case and consular officials are ‎working actively to secure Mr. Lim’s release.

    “As there are privacy considerations and this is an active case, we are unable to disclose further details,” Sweet added.

    Lim’s wife, Geum Young Lim, and son, James, have remained silent since the pastor disappeared; friends say mother and son have long trusted the Canadian government to handle the sensitive negotiations and don’t want to be distractions by granting interviews.

    However, Warmbier’s death appears to have deeply affected the Lims. The mother and son released a statement through family spokesperson Lisa Pak two days after the 22-year-old died in Cincinnati.

    “We are heartbroken at the news of Otto’s passing. What has happened is tragic. We strongly urge the Canadian government to place more attention on Reverend Lim’s case,” according to the June 21 statement.

    “Canada’s political leadership must stand up for the rights of a Canadian humanitarian. We are desperate to see our husband and father home, and we are pleading for an active escalation in diplomatic efforts. Our hearts and prayers are with the Warmbiers. This ordeal of all families involved has to end,” it concluded.

    Martin said with Lim detained for so long — he became a grandfather for the first time while in the labour camp and that grandchild is now 10 months old — the family is now “beyond frustrated.”

    “They are exasperated, they are so exhausted from just hoping and waiting for something to happen,” Martin said.

    Martin also wondered: “It’s been over 900 days. Why has he been forgotten?”

    Lim, his wife and son — the Lims’ only child — are all South Korean natives. The family immigrated to Canada in 1986 when Lim had the opportunity to obtain his Master's degree at the University of Toronto’s Knox College. Lim is a Canadian citizen.

    After graduating, Lim began ministering in Canada with the Light Presbyterian Church, which then had only about five families. He became a strong preacher and, under his spiritual direction as senior pastor, the church grew to 3,000 members. A new, multi-purpose facility for the burgeoning church opened in May 2009 near Goreway Dr. and Derry Rd. in Mississauga.

    Lim’s passion for humanitarian work took him and church associates around the world: Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea. But it was in North Korea where he found his calling, visiting there about 110 times.

    The federal government does not want Canadian citizens travelling to North Korea, which is officially called the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

    There is a warning on the Global Affairs Canada website: NORTH KOREA — AVOID ALL TRAVEL.

    The ministry explains that the advisory exists “due to the uncertain security situation caused by North Korea’s nuclear weapons development program and highly repressive regime” and that “the ability of Canadian officials to provide consular assistance in North Korea is extremely limited.”

    Lim had been travelling to North Korea since 1997 and, according to friends, felt comfortable bringing basic human necessities, including food and other nourishment, to a needy population. Lim’s comfort level was evident in that he brought his son James, now 34, with him on about 28 humanitarian missions, friends said. James now lives in the United States.

    Lim visited two places on missions: The capital of Pyongyang (via flights from Seoul and Beijing) and in the north, Rajin, which is in a region known as Rason (via flights from Seoul to the Chinese autonomous prefecture of Yanbian, then a two-hour drive to a North Korean border entry point near Rajin).

    To piece together Lim’s final trip, the Star interviewed his friends, reviewed documents related to his humanitarian travels and obtained a missing persons profile filed to Toronto Police Services. Some of Lim’s friends asked not to be identified for fear of jeopardizing Lim’s safety or discussions regarding his release.

    Based on new information, this is how the pastor’s 2015 mission unfolded:

    On Jan. 27, 2015, Lim flew from Seoul to Yanbian in China.

    On Jan. 30, Lim and a Canadian colleague, who was already in Yanbian, drove two hours in an SUV to the North Korean border point. The men were cleared to enter Rajin as representatives of the Light Presbyterian Church and an associated program, Global Assistance Partners.

    Their plan was to check on a seniors’ nursing home and orphanages sponsored by the church and the assistance program.

    The Canadian men had only been in Rajin for a few hours when they met with two men; one a local, the other possibly from Pyongyang, according to the missing person’s profile. The missing persons profile (filed to police by Pak on behalf of the family) contained information relayed by Lim’s Canadian companion, who declined to be interviewed for this story.

    Information submitted to Toronto police stated one North Korean man “suggested Rev. Lim make a visit to Pyongyang with him in a car; he assured that a necessary visa and exemption from the (Ebola) quarantine will be arranged.”

    At that time, North Korea apparently had a mandatory 21-day Ebola quarantine period for all foreigners, according to information in Lim’s missing person’s profile.

    The two Canadian men became separated, friends say, and Lim’s companion did not see Lim get into a vehicle. Lim had not visited Pyongyang “in some time,” the missing persons profile noted.

    On Jan. 31, the other Canadian returned to China.

    On Feb. 4, Lim was scheduled to depart from North Korea and return home but did not appear in Rajin or Yanbian. His whereabouts were unknown and “after repeated attempts, as of Monday Feb. 23, 2015, there has been no news” of Lim, according to the missing persons report.

    Senator Martin said she hopes Canadians “are paying attention” to Lim’s plight as much as his family and congregation — which held a public prayer vigil in June — are.

    “He’s a man of God, a man of great faith and a man of deep conviction; there is a real presence about him when you meet him,” Martin said of Lim.

    “The fact that he has such a large congregation and he had people across the country and around the world supporting his (humanitarian) work speaks to his character.”


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    SOUTHPORT, ENGLAND—Jordan Spieth is the British Open champion, just like expected, though not like anyone could have imagined.

    On the verge of another meltdown in a major, so wild off the tee that he played one shot from the driving range at Royal Birkdale and lost the lead for the first time all weekend, Spieth bounced back with a collection of clutch shots, delivering a rally that ranks among the best.

    A near ace. A 50-foot eagle putt. A 30-foot birdie putt.

    Spieth played the final five holes in 5 under par and closed with a 1-under 69 for a three-shot victory over Matt Kuchar, giving him the third leg of the career Grand Slam and a chance to be the youngest to win them all next month at the PGA Championship.

    Li Haotong of China shot a remarkable 63 and finished third. Austin Connelly (73), a dual Canadian-American citizen who was born in Irving, Texas, tied for 14th at 2 under after entering the final day in a tie for third.

    Spieth joined Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win three different majors at age 23, and even the Golden Bear was impressed.

    “Is Jordan Spieth something else?” Nicklaus tweeted during a wild back nine.

    Spieth missed four putts inside eight feet on the front nine and lost his three-shot lead. Then, he looked certain to lose the British Open — and the reputation he craves as a reliable closer — when his tee shot on the par-4 13th was some 75 yards right of the fairway, buried in grass on a dune so steep he could barely stand up.

    He took a penalty shot for an unplayable lie, and when he realized the practice range was in play, headed back on a line so far that he was behind the equipment trucks. He still had a blind shot with a 3-iron over the dunes to a fairway littered with pot bunkers, stopping just short of one of them near the green.

    Kuchar, who had to wait 20 minutes for Spieth to get his situation sorted, missed his 15-foot birdie putt. Spieth pitched over the bunker to seven feet and made the putt to escape with bogey, falling behind for the first time.

    And that’s when the show began.

    Spieth hit a 6-iron that plopped down in front of the pin at the par-3 14th and came within inches of a hole-in-one. He rolled in a 4-foot birdie putt and tied Kuchar. Given new life, he holed a 50-foot eagle putt and turned to caddie Michael Greller and said, “Go get that!”

    Emotions rolling, Spieth followed with a 30-foot birdie at the 16th and was ahead by two. And after Kuchar holed a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-5 17th, Spieth assured himself a two-shot margin up the final hole by pouring in yet another birdie.

    From the driving range to the claret jug, Spieth put himself in hallowed territory just days before his 24th birthday. Nicklaus was about six months younger than Spieth when he won the 1963 PGA Championship for the third leg of the Grand Slam.

    Spieth goes to Quail Hollow in North Carolina next month with a chance to get that final portion of the Grand Slam.

    Kuchar closed with a 69 and did nothing wrong. He just had no answers for Spieth’s final blitz. Kuchar had a one-shot lead leaving the 13th green. He played the next four holes with two pars and two birdies and was two shots behind.


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    PARIS—Riding a bright yellow bike to match his shiny leader’s jersey, defending champion Chris Froome won his fourth and most challenging Tour de France title on Sunday.

    The 32-year-old Kenyan-born British rider finished 54 seconds ahead of Colombian Rigoberto Uran overall, the smallest margin of his wins.

    This was the third straight win for the Team Sky rider. His first in 2013 came the year after former teammate Bradley Wiggins sparked off an era of British dominance.

    Read more: 4 riders battle to spin victory at thrilling Tour de France

    Frenchman Romain Bardet, runner-up last year, placed 2 minutes, 20 seconds behind in third place, denying Spaniard Mikel Landa — Froome’s teammate — a podium spot by just one second. Italian Fabio Aru finished fifth.

    As per tradition, the 21st stage was reserved for sprinters and mostly a procession for Froome and the other overall leaders.

    Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen won the final stage in a dash to the line, edging German rider Andre Greipel and Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen.

    Moments later, Froome and the rest of the peloton crossed the line after eight laps of an eye-catching circuit around the city’s landmarks, finishing as usual on the famed Champs-Elysees.

    Froome now needs only one more title to match the Tour record of five shared by Jacques Anquetil, Eddie Merckx, Bernard Hinault, and Miguel Indurain.

    Froome sealed his win on Saturday, finishing third in the time trial in Marseille where he put more time into Uran and Bardet, who dropped from second to third.

    After more than three weeks of stressful racing, it was a relaxed and easygoing atmosphere as riders set out from Montgeron in the Essone suburb south of Paris to the evening finish 103 kilometres (64 miles) away.

    Froome chatted casually with two-time champion Alberto Contador, the Spanish veteran, as if they were on a sight-seeding ride.

    Right in front of them, Frenchman Warren Barguil — wearing the best climber’s red-and-white polka dot jersey — swapped race anecdotes with Australian Michael Matthews, wearing the green jersey awarded for the Tour’s top sprinter.

    Matthews became the third Australian to win the green jersey, all this decade, following Robbie McEwen and Baden Cooke.

    Froome’s teammates wore a yellow stripe on the back of their Team Sky shirts. They allowed themselves a flute of champagne, chinking glasses with leader Froome, as they casually rolled through the streets under cloudy skies beside cheering fans packing the roads into Paris.

    Everyone was in high spirits, happy to be make it through a grueling race that saw Australian Richie Porte, one of the pre-race favourites, and Froome’s teammate Geraint Thomas both crash out. Britain’s Mark Cavendish, a 30-time Tour stage winner, and Marcel Kittel — winner of five stages this year — pulled out injured after crashes.

    As the slow-moving peloton passed near where Frenchman Yoann Offredo grew up, a television camera moved alongside, asking what it was like to be riding so close to home.

    “I might nip to the bathroom,” he said, jokingly.

    Another rider, Cyril Gautier, asked his girlfriend Caroline to marry him: the proposal scrawled on a piece of paper held up by the smiling Frenchman as he blew a kiss to the camera.

    Barring a crash, Froome was virtually assured of winning.

    The route to another victory continued to unfurl before him without mishap — although he did have to change bikes at one stage. Barguil had a brief hiccup, needing to catch up after a puncture, but generally the peloton took in the sights.

    Riders passed the Hotel des Invalides — a magnificent, sprawling set of buildings ordered by King Louis XIV in the 17th century — and actually rode through the resplendent Grand Palais exhibition hall, then past the golden statute of Joan of Arc, up the famed Champs-Elysees from the iconic Place de la Concorde and its towering 23-meter Egyptian obelix, and around the Arc de Triomphe.

    Some might say Froome did not shine too brightly because he didn’t win a stage, but neither did American Greg Lemond when clinching his third and final Tour in 1990.

    For Froome, consistency and a dogged ability to respond when put under pressure were the keys to his latest success.


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    SAN ANTONIO—Authorities At least nine people died after being crammed into the back of a sweltering tractor-trailer found parked outside a Walmart in the midsummer Texas heat, authorities said Sunday in what they described as an immigrant-smuggling attempt gone wrong.

    The driver was arrested, and nearly 20 others rescued from the rig were hospitalized in dire condition, many with extreme dehydration and heatstroke, officials said.

    Authorities were called to the parking lot late Saturday night or early Sunday and found eight dead inside the 18-wheeler. One more victim died at the hospital, Thomas Homan, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told The Associated Press.

    Based on initial interviews with survivors, Homan said there may have been more than 100 people in the truck at one point. Thirty-eight were found inside, and the rest were believed to have fled or been picked up, authorities said.

    Homan said some of the survivors told authorities they were from Mexico.

    It was just the latest smuggling-by-truck operation to end in tragedy. In one of the worst cases on record in the U.S., 19 immigrants locked inside a stifling rig died in Victoria, Texas, in 2003.

    “We’re looking at a human-trafficking crime,” Police Chief William McManus said, adding that many of those inside the 18-wheeler appeared to be in their 20s and 30s and that there were also apparently two school-age children.

    He called it “a horrific tragedy.”

    Authorities did not say whether the rig was locked when they arrived, whether it was used to smuggle the occupants across the border into the U.S., or where it might have been headed. San Antonio is about a 240-kilometre drive from the Mexican border.

    There was no immediate word on any charges brought against the driver, whose name was not released. The U.S. Homeland Security Department stepped in to take the lead in the investigation.

    The victims “were very hot to the touch. So these people were in this trailer without any signs of any type of water,” San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said.

    The temperature in San Antonio reached 101 degrees (38 Celsius) on Saturday and didn’t dip below 90 (32 C) until after 10 p.m. The trailer didn’t have a working air conditioning system, Hood said.

    The tragedy came to light after a person from the truck approached a Walmart employee in the parking lot and asked for water late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, McManus said.

    The employee gave the person water and then called police, who found the dead and the desperate inside the rig. Some of those in the truck ran into the woods, leading to a search, McManus said.

    Hours later, after daybreak, a helicopter hovered over the area, and investigators were still gathering evidence from the tractor-trailer, which had an Iowa license plate and was registered to Pyle Transportation Inc. of Schaller, Iowa. A company official did not immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment.

    Investigators checked store surveillance video, which showed vehicles arriving and picking up people from the truck, authorities said.

    “By any standard, the horrific crime uncovered last night ranks as a stark reminder of why human smuggling networks must be pursued, caught and punished,” Homan said in a statement.

    In the May 2003 case, the immigrants were being taken from South Texas to Houston. Prosecutors said the driver heard them begging and screaming for their lives but refused to free them. The driver was sentenced to nearly 34 years in prison.

    The Border Patrol has reported at least four truck seizures this month in and around Laredo, Texas. On July 7, agents found 72 people crammed into a truck with no means of escape, the agency said. They were from Mexico, Ecuador, Guatemala and El Salvador.

    Authorities in Mexico have also made a number of such discoveries over the years.

    Last December, they found 110 migrants trapped and suffocating inside a truck after it crashed while speeding in the state of Veracruz. Most were from Central America, and 48 were minors. Some were injured in the crash.

    Last October, also in Veracruz state, four migrants suffocated in a truck carrying 55 people.


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    Toronto police have potentially hundreds of witnesses but no leads after a shooting at a Scarborough birthday bash left two men dead and a woman, the party’s host, in hospital with serious injuries.

    When police arrived at the two-storey brick home on Gennela Square around 1 a.m. on Sunday, guests were flooding into the street from the backyard, Toronto Police Det. Rob North said.

    The home, near Morningside and Sheppard Aves., backs onto the Toronto Zoo.

    Despite there being “upwards of 200 people” at the party, North says police are struggling to find witnesses.

    “They were actually invited to celebrate the birthday of the female victim,” North said.

    He urged those who captured video of the shooting on their phones or iPads to come forward or, at the very least, send their recordings to CrimeStoppers.

    “We’ve had very little co-operation from people,” North said.

    All three victims are “known to police,” North said. He would not provide additional details.

    Rinaldo Cole, 33, and Dwayne Campbell, 30, both of Toronto, were pronounced dead at the scene. The woman, in her 20s, was taken to hospital with serious injuries, paramedics confirmed. She is now in stable condition, North said. She was described as a frequent visitor to the home. Neither of the deceased men lived at the residence.

    The police K9 unit and emergency task force are on scene investigating.

    This was not the only shooting before Sunday’s sunrise.

    Another incident took place near Danforth Rd. and Eglinton Ave. E.

    Before midnight, there were reports of four or five shots fired. Police confirmed there were two victims. One was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

    Again, around 2:45 a.m., five people were shot inside a bar near Ellesmere Rd. and Victoria Park Ave., Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook said. All five victims had serious but non life-threatening injuries.


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    Sears Canada is facing a social media campaign calling for a boycott after the company said it planned on paying millions in bonuses to keep executives on board during restructuring, despite not offering severance to laid-off workers.

    The retailer’s Facebook page has been flooded with comments from people vowing not to shop at Sears, and the hashtag #BoycottSearsCanada has been gaining traction on Twitter.

    Sears Canada, which is operating under court protection from creditors, began liquidation sales on Friday at 59 department and Sears Home stores slated for closure.

    The company has said it plans to cut approximately 2,900 jobs, without severance, while paying $9.2 million in retention bonuses to key staff.

    Several people participating in the boycott say they’re not spending their hard-earned dollars at a store they say rewards mismanagement at the expense of front-line retail workers.

    A retail analyst says that the boycott could impact people still working at the stores, but it may not make a difference if the retailer goes out of business.

    Sears Canada declined to comment on the matter.

    Read more: Sears liquidation deals may be disappointing to consumers

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    WASHINGTON—The White House indicated Sunday that President Donald Trump would accept new legislation imposing sanctions on Russia and curtailing his authority to lift them on his own, a striking turnaround after a broad revolt in Congress by lawmakers of both parties who distrusted his friendly approach to Moscow and sought to tie his hands.

    Congressional leaders said Saturday that they had reached an agreement on legislation intended to punish Russia for its interference in last year’s presidential election and its aggression toward its neighbours, despite objections raised by the administration that it would inappropriately infringe on the president’s ability to direct foreign policy.

    The new White House press secretary said Sunday that adjustments made to the bill were enough to satisfy the president’s concerns.

    “The administration is supportive of being tough on Russia, particularly in putting these sanctions in place,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who was promoted to press secretary Friday, said on “This Week” on ABC News. “The original piece of legislation was poorly written, but we were able to work with the House and Senate, and the administration is happy with the ability to do that and make those changes that were necessary and we support where the legislation is now.”

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    Still, there seemed to be confusion among the president’s advisers. Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House communications director, said on another show that the president had not made up his mind about whether to sign the measure.

    “You’ve got to ask President Trump that,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

    “It’s my second or third day on the job. My guess is he’s going to make that decision shortly.” He added, “He hasn’t made the decision yet to sign that bill one way or the other.”

    That may reflect nothing more than Scaramucci’s still getting up to speed in his new role, as he suggested. Privately, White House officials said they saw no politically viable alternative to the president signing the bill and so Sanders seized on the changes made to lay the predicate.

    In reality, while the changes made the measure somewhat more palatable to the White House, they mainly provided a face-saving way to back down from a confrontation it was sure to lose if the sanctions bill reached the floor of the House. The Senate passed the original version of the bill, 97-2, and Republicans and Democrats expected a similarly overwhelming, veto-proof majority in the House if it came to a vote.

    Not only would a veto by Trump have presumably been overridden by Congress, but White House advisers conceded it would have been politically disastrous.

    While other presidents might also have resisted legislation taking away their power to have the final say on sanctions, for Trump such a stance would be untenable given investigations into whether his team colluded with Russia during the election.

    Administration officials said Trump supported the array of sanctions that have been imposed on Russia over the last three years since its annexation of Crimea and intervention in eastern Ukraine. While he has talked of improving relations with Moscow, aides noted that he had done nothing in his first six months in office to lift the sanctions.

    But aides prepared a plan in the early days of his administration to reverse some sanctions imposed by President Barack Obama in his final weeks in office in retaliation for Russia’s meddling in the election. The plan discussed by Trump’s aides was throttled after Republican congressional leaders publicly and privately warned against it.

    The stand-down on the sanctions fight came at the start of a week in which the president’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner and his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, are set to talk with congressional investigators. White House aides on Sunday sought to explain the president’s assertion on Twitter on Saturday that he has the “complete power to pardon” his relatives and advisers — and possibly even himself.

    Jay Sekulow, one of the private lawyers representing Trump, said the president was simply asserting his authority after a Washington Post report that he was discussing it. But Sekulow denied that pardons were being considered.

    “We’re not researching the issue, because the issue of pardons is not on the table, there’s nothing to pardon from,” he said on ABC.

    Asked if Trump could pardon himself, Sekulow said it was a matter of debate among legal scholars. “From a constitutional, legal perspective you can’t dismiss it one way or the other,” he said. “I think it’s a question that would ultimately, if put in place, would probably have to be adjudicated by the Supreme Court to determine constitutionality.”

    Still, even as Sekulow said pardons were not being considered, a senior administration official acknowledged that the president has raised the matter.

    “I’m in the Oval Office with the president last week; we’re talking about that,” Scaramucci said on “Fox News Sunday.” “He brought that up. He said, but he doesn’t have to be pardoned. There’s nobody around him that has to be pardoned. He was just making the statement about the power of pardons.”

    Scaramucci said the Russia investigations were a distraction.

    “I worked intensely on that campaign, and I think that the Russian situation is completely overblown,” he said. “I was falsely accused of things related to Russia. I know other people are being falsely accused of things related to Russia. And I’m confident that tomorrow when Jared Kushner speaks, and I’ll keep my fingers crossed in saying this to you, it’ll probably be the last time that he has to talk about Russia.”


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    COLUMBUS—Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said President Donald Trump would trigger “a cataclysm’’ if he fires Special Counsel Robert Mueller or pardons himself, even as one of the president’s lawyers said pardons aren’t being discussed.

    Schumer said he can’t imagine his Republican colleagues, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, “just standing by” if Trump moves to dismiss Mueller or pardons himself or someone close to him who’s under investigation.

    “It would be one of the greatest, greatest breaking of rule of law, of traditional democratic norms of what our democracy is about,” Schumer said on ABC’s “This Week’’ on Sunday. “It would cause a cataclysm in Washington.”

    While the president has the constitutional power to grant pardons — though the U.S. Supreme Court probably would have to decide whether he could pardon himself — his legal team isn’t having conversations with him about it, Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s personal attorneys, said on ABC.

    “We’re not researching the issue because the issue of pardons is not on the table,” Sekulow said. “There’s nothing to pardon from.”

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    The president and members of his inner circle are facing Congressional and FBI investigations of possible collusion with Russia in its interference with the 2016 presidential election. Mueller is also examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, a person familiar with the probe said.

    Trump suggested in an interview with the New York Times on July 19 that Mueller would cross “a red line’’ if he looked into those issues, and the president mentioned pardons as part of a series of early-morning Twitter posts on Saturday.

    “While all agree the U.S. President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is LEAKS against us,” Trump told his 34.3 million followers on Twitter.

    Anthony Scaramucci, whom Trump named his new communications director on Friday, called the focus on Russia “overblown.’’ He said on “Fox News Sunday’’ that the president brought up the issue of pardons in the Oval Office last week and said that he doesn’t need to use it.

    “There’s nobody around him that has to be pardoned,’’ Scaramucci said. “He was just making the statement about the power of pardons.’’

    Trump “in all likelihood” has the power to pardon himself, but it’s not a good idea, Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

    “In a political sphere, I would caution someone to think about pardoning themselves or family members,” Paul said.

    Trump also has suggested on Twitter that Mueller and members of his legal team have conflicts of interest because of donations to Democratic political candidates — something Scaramucci, daughter Ivanka Trump and the president himself have done in the past.

    Sekulow said while Trump’s legal team is monitoring potential conflicts, it hasn’t raised any with Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who appointed Mueller after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation.

    “We’re going to be constantly evaluating that situation,’’ Sekulow said on ABC. “And if an investigation were to arise and we thought that the conflict was relevant, we would raise it without question.’’

    Only Rosenstein can fire Mueller, and he’s said he won’t do it without “good cause.” So Trump would first have to purge the upper ranks of the Justice Department until he finds someone willing to follow his orders and dismiss the special counsel.

    Trump is “clearly worried” about what Mueller may unearth about the Trump Organization and what’s concerning is “anything that could be held over the president’s head that could influence U.S. policy,” Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation on Sunday.”

    Schiff said he’d also be worried if Trump wants Sessions out so he can name a new attorney general to supervise Mueller’s investigation.

    “If this is part of a longer-term stratagem to define or confine the scope of the Mueller investigation, that would be very concerning,” Schiff said.

    Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine said even if Trump is frustrated by the Russian probe, he should stop talking about the special counsel, Mueller’s staff, or the investigation.

    “I know it’s hard, but he needs to step back and not comment, and let Bob Mueller, who is an individual with the utmost integrity, carry out the investigation and make his determination,” Collins said on CBS.

    Meanwhile, Democratic Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he’s not satisfied with an agreement announced by the panel on July 20.

    It would allow Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to discuss handing over documents and be interviewed by the committee members and staff in private, ahead of a possible public hearing later.

    The panel previously had scheduled a hearing Wednesday and invited Trump Jr., Manafort and other witnesses. Trump Jr. has said he’s willing to testify under oath.

    “I think that they need to be under oath,” Franken said. “And they need to release all the documents.”


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    The year Sebastian Commock spent waiting for his refugee hearing was the most “agonizing, frustrating” year of his life.

    “I’m still not fully recovered from that year, and that was just one year,” he said.

    With his own experience of being in limbo behind him, Commock has turned his attention to refugee claimants who’ve been waiting five years — or in some cases more — for hearings to decide whether they can remain in Canada.

    As of March, there were 5,514 so-called “legacy” refugee claimants whose cases haven’t been decided. Their claims were filed before Dec. 15, 2012, which means they aren’t subject to tighter timelines established by the former Conservative government.

    Over the last five years, the Immigration and Refugee Board has worked through more than 26,000 of those claims. More than 13,000 were rejected, almost 8,700 were accepted, and the rest were either abandoned or withdrawn.

    In September, the board’s legacy task force will embark on a two-year process to decide the remaining claims.

    To help support legacy claimants through that process, Commock founded a new advocacy and support group in March. Four months later, the Canadian Legacy Refugee Advocacy and Alliance (CLRAA) is working to support more than 150 legacy claimants. They’ve been able to reach hundreds of others through the 519, an organization that advocates for LGBTQ inclusion, where Commock and another member of the executive committee work.

    While the organization is mostly supporting LGBTQ legacy refugee claimants, the group is open to legacy claimants who have come to Canada for any reason, Commock said.

    Last week, Commock and another member of the CLRAA executive met with the head of the Immigration and Refugee Board’s legacy task force to discuss the upcoming process and get the wheels turning.

    In the next week about 450 legacy claimants will be given a date for their hearings, Commock said. It’s news they’ve been waiting years to hear.

    Though the head of the task force, Gaétan Cousineau, could not agree to offer amnesty to legacy refugees, he did commit to look through the remaining claims to determine if any could be decided based on their paper application, Commock said.

    The Immigration and Refugee Board has an expedited policy which allows claims from Syria, Iraq, Eritrea, Burundi, Egypt, Afghanistan and Yemen to be decided without a hearing and a process to allow certain “straight forward” claims to be addressed through shortened hearings, a spokesperson for the board explained.

    With hearings finally within reach, Commock said the task force is urging legacy claimants to touch base with their lawyers and legal aid.

    Legal aid case files automatically close after three years if no work has been done of them, said Graeme Burk, a communications adviser for Legal Aid Ontario.

    That means any refugee claimants who were relying on legal aid for support through their claims process need to be have their financial eligibility reassessed.

    While Commock reported there is momentum from the legacy task force, Janet Dench, the executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees, remains concerned about the whole process.

    It’s “deeply disappointing” and “grossly unfair” to refugees who have been waiting years for Canada to decide if they can stay, she said.

    The Canadian Council for Refugees, like CLRAA, wanted to see a simplified process, with minimum criteria, that would have allowed refugee claimants to become permanent residents without going through the hearing process.

    “This is a population that has been seriously neglected by the government, which brought into effect a process where they were basically put to the back of the queue.”

    For Lucas, a legacy refugee claimant whose name has been changed to protect his identity, the years of waiting for a hearing have made him question whether he made the right choice in coming to Canada.

    In Saint Lucia, “fear and shame” took over his life. As a gay man, “you’re considered nasty, you’re a nasty person,” he told the Star.

    He was forced to leave his home community when his family was attacked with machetes, but the threats followed him when he moved to a larger centre.

    “I left home every day with fear, fear and shame.”

    Though challenges in Canada aren’t the same, his life hasn’t been easy since he came here.

    “Sometimes honestly I feel like I jumped out of the frying pan into the fire,” he said.

    As a gay person in Canada, he doesn’t feel the same fear and shame that he felt at home, but his unsettled refugee claim means he still can’t be open about it, for fear he may have to return.

    The waiting game has taken on a toll on his professional life as well. His status as a refugee claimant has left him unable to pursue higher education and better job opportunities, he said.

    It’s an emotional roller-coaster Commock knows too well.

    As a gay man in Jamaica, Commock said he faced “shame, ridicule and scorn.” He felt constant fear for his safety.

    “I wanted to be able to live free, express myself, love who I wanted to love, and I wasn’t given that opportunity in Jamaica,” he said.

    So he came to Canada.

    But the uncertainty he faced as he waited for his hearing made his first year here, “the worst year of my life.”

    For those still waiting for certainty, Commock and the rest of the CLRAA executive hope their support can make it a little bit easier.


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    Working out on your period is known to ease PMS and cramps, not to mention help battle fatigue, but many women are put off by the threat of leaks and the uncomfortable nature of wearing tampons or pads while in movement.

    While for decades, tampons and pad makers have touted the protection of their products, there’s been little innovation specifically around gear to keep ladies active during menstruation. But in recent years, there’s been a boom in period panties (underwear designed with additional layers of special fabric to trap menstrual flow) and cotton pads (natural-fabric pads with a Velcro fastener that can be washed out and reused each month).

    And amid this wave of new ways of dealing with periods, a number of companies are rolling out products designed to protect women as they keep active with leak and period-proof sportswear.

    Sport Shorts from Lunapads

    In August, the Vancouver-based company, which has been making period panties since the early ’90s, is rolling out a new line of sport shorts geared at teen girls. If successful, it’ll introduce a similar product for all ages. The shorts are designed to be worn alone or with tampons and pads, and have an absorbent layer to trap up to two tampons worth of menstrual flow. $60 to $80, lunapads.com.

    Yoga pants and Dancewear from Dear Kate

    Last year, New York period-panty maker Dear Kate unveiled its first line of yoga pants and followed it up with a pair of dance leotards, launched this past June. The yoga pants are available in a variety of patterns and invite wearers to “go commando,” while the dancewear leotards come in black. Both the pants and leotard have an absorbent gusset that can hold one teaspoon of liquid — usually enough for a short workout. Leggings, $143; Leotard, $65, dearkates.com.

    Training shorts from Thinx

    New York period-panty maker Thinx unveiled a newer line of training shorts, ditching the tight-fitting look of so much gym-wear in favour of a pair of baggier traditional-looking health class-inspired shorts. Lined with a pair of its signature undies, the shorts can hold up to two tampons worth of liquid in its four layers of moisture-wicking fabric. $86, shethinx.com.

    PantyProp leak proof leggings

    New York-based PantyProp rolled out a pair of leggings that are undies, period protection and gym-wear (or lounge wear) all in one. It can be worn with a pad, tampon, cup or all alone, and will hold up to four teaspoons worth of flow. And with proper care promises to last up to three years. The product is made in the U.S. and ships to Canada with no duty or fees. $66, pantyprop.com.

    Seamless panties from Knixwear

    Made from a carbon-based cotton, Toronto-based Knixwear bills itself as additional protection against period leaks, founder Joanna Griffiths says. The underwear itself can hold upwards of 15 mL of liquid — roughly two tampons worth — and can be worn with a tampon or pad. The fast-drying cotton makes it ideal for women while they work out, Griffiths adds, while its seamless cut means it can easily be worn under tight-fitting yoga pants. $26 to $32, knixwear.com.


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    It’s not Brexit, really, that Brits are talking about down at the pub. It’s the baby.

    Because the life of one very sick infant is a common denominator, a horror that can strike any family. More morally confounding, at least in the moment, than the great befuddlement of disentangling from Europe and how much that’s going to cost.

    Everybody wants what’s best for Charlie Gard. There’s far less agreement on what that might be for the terminally ill 11-month-old at the centre of a power struggle between medical authorities, the baby’s parents, a hospital of tremendous renown, a judge who’s expected to pronounce with the wisdom of Solomon and a platoon of lawyers.

    Though Charlie’s mom and dad weren’t the only parties astonished to discover last week that the barrister who’s speaking for their little boy in front of the bench — appointed to the role by a publicly funded state body that acts in the best interests of children in court cases — is also chair of Compassion in Dying, a sister organization to Dignity in Dying, a charity that advocates to make assisted dying legal in the United Kingdom.

    The conflict of interest is obvious and galling, though few involved in this long-running drama seem to appreciate that fact.

    (As an aside, why do death activists always attach terms like “dignity” to their campaigns? As if death, however messy and agonizing, is ever undignified, except perhaps as a public execution. Even then, the indignity accrues to the state that embraces capital punishment.)

    A private tragedy has turned into Grand Guignol theatre, sloshing beyond the walls of the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London where Charlie is being “treated” — except there’s been no treatment beyond keeping the baby alive on a ventilator while Justice Nicholas Francis considers a last-chance appeal that might persuade the judge to reverse his April decision that life support should be switched off.

    The Pope has weighed in, with a Vatican-owned hospital in Rome offering to take Charlie into its care. U.S. President Donald Trump has said he would help the family if they want to pursue experimental treatment in the U.S. Editorial writers have delicately taken sides, always posited within a framework of compassion and mercy.

    Charlie is allegedly in the terminal stage of mitochondrial depletion syndrome, a gene mutation disorder that affects muscles, organs and the brain. There is no cure and the condition is astronomically rare — only 16 known cases have been recorded, according to the literature.

    This baby, specialists say, cannot see, cannot cry, cannot move, cannot breathe on his own, suffers seizures and is on a low dose of morphine because doctors believe he’s in pain. It’s the pain factor — if true, which nobody can assert unequivocally — that’s most distressing and far more convincing an argument for ending Charlie’s existence than inchoate postulating about quality of life, an issue that rightfully alarms the old, the frail and the severely disabled.

    For Charlie’s parents — indeed, for anybody ever confronted with life-or-death decisions on behalf of a loved one — their son is warm to the touch. They can hold him. They can love him. They can desperately seek experimental treatment, a fragile lifeline that might be available and which could perhaps alleviate some of the symptoms, with a small — maybe 10 per cent — chance of improving brain function.

    The hospital argues that Charlie has already suffered irreversible brain damage and the proposed therapy — Dr. Michio Hirano, professor of neurology at Columbia University Medical Centre examined the baby last week for the first time — would not improve Charlie’s quality of life.

    On Friday, during a procedure before the same judge — he’s said he will reopen the hearing only if presented with compelling new evidence — the hospital’s lawyer revealed that the latest MRI scan made for “sad reading,” information that had not been shared with the parents in advance. Charlie’s mom fled the courtroom in tears; the baby’s father shouted: “Evil!”

    The lawyer apologized. “I didn’t mean to cause distress.”

    It has been nothing but distressful, lo these many months. Charlie’s parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, have lost their battle at every level of the legal process: High Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights.

    More than $1.7 million has been raised via a public funding campaign to help the parents access treatment in the U.S. Meanwhile, the case grows ever more toxic with the hospital complaining on the weekend that its staff and patients are being constantly harassed and death threats have been received. There’s an irony there — indignation over hothead death threats when death, Charlie’s death, is precisely what the hospital has deemed humane.

    The hospital has not been shy about parading its own suffering. But its professed empathy for the suffering parents rings hollow. Most abominably, after the judge sided with the hospital in his April decision, hospital authorities refused the parents’ entreaty that they be allowed to take their baby home to die. They would not permit even that small mercy.

    Charlie’s parents may be grasping at straws. Yet their greater sin, it seems, is a refusal to capitulate to monolithic medical authority and to the state, which has aligned itself with that establishment. It was the hospital that turned to the courts for permission to end the baby’s life. The judge is expected to rule on this last-ditch gambit Tuesday.

    Why such adamant opposition to even the faintest-hope therapy? What does the hospital have to lose? How can what’s “best” for Charlie equal death? There is no best in death.

    Charlie’s case may indeed be hopeless. But the hospital is insisting the baby die on its terms.

    That is insufferable.

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


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    Unless you are a liar, you won’t be able to say you were not warned.

    You cannot plead ignorance to the perennial, century after century cannibalization of Black humanity and dignity in the pursuit of western civilization.

    You cannot say no one told us there is a problem; that the descendants of enslaved Africans are still considered less than human. That even as they walk among us, in Toronto the Good, in the burgeoning suburbs from Burlington to Bowmanville and up to Barrie, an off-duty cop allegedly stopped a young Black man for no apparent reason, fabricated evidence, beat him up and no one in the police chain of command reported it to the agency that investigates police. The cop faced no repercussions until the young Black man’s lawyer reported it. The young Black man was left with several broken bones and an eye that is so badly damaged it will have to be taken out.

    Our Black citizens are:

    • Carded by police – in case there’s some future, maybe, possible, potential indiscretion.

    • Racially-profiled – cause, y’know, they are up to no good. Right?

    • Disengaged and discouraged in the halls of learning.

    • Overlooked in the workplace, their credentials undervalued and competencies discounted.

    • Under-paid, over-worked, over-incarcerated, victims of higher unemployment, poorer health and more likely to be victims of violence.

    • Invisible everywhere except in the bulging tenancy of the prison complex where membership costs as little as smoking a joint, the kind of indiscretion that earns white citizens a shrug of the shoulder, not the long arm of the law.

    These are not the wild musings of Black Lives Matter (BLM) radicals we tolerate for a moment before we tune out and return to a world dominated by the colonizer. (Those European empire builders who traversed the world to “discover” indigenous and established civilizations, capture land, enslave the inhabitants and appropriate their labour for economic gain — all the while denigrating the captured as heathen or not fully human.)

    These are the lived daily experiences of Black folk — our friends and lovers, our teacher and accountant, our surgeon and carpenter and insurance broker. These are the stories laid bare again Wednesday by the latest report, called the Black Experience Project, chronicling Black life in the GTA.

    And, give me a shake, the next generation of Black people in Toronto feel more victimized than the previous one.

    Astonishingly, half of Black youths aged 16 to 24 identify racism as the greatest challenge facing the Black community. These are kids born here. In 2011, for the first time, the majority of young Black adults in the GTA were Canadian-born, outnumbering those born in the islands. But instead of building security on top of their parent’s angst, they report anxiety beyond that of their elders.

    And still you wonder why Black Lives Matter has such resonance.

    Hundreds filled the auditorium of the downtown Y on Wednesday night to receive the report, six years in the making. Black folk interviewed themselves, in depth, 250 questions over two or more hours, each posed to more than 1,500 respondents in the GTA, buttressed by the polling expertise of the Environics Institute.

    Findings? No surprises here. The gathering had a vibe of self-prescribed group therapy where victims comfort each other with nodding heads and sighs that breathe, “the story of my life.”

    Validation is good, one woman said, providing feedback. “Now I know it’s not just me; I’m not crazy,” she said.

    Another summed up the daily toll of racism encountered in a society steeped in the ethos of colonized and colonizer. “It drains you,” she said.

    Then she asked the tough question. “How are you getting this information in front of the people who need to hear — so it’s not just us talking to ourselves, telling us what we already know?”

    Almost 40 years ago when I took pictures and wrote stories for Contrast Newspaper, the parade of headlines had a numbing sameness: Man beaten by police. Mother says school discriminates. Youth says racism kept him from job.

    In the 1980s when I joined with Toronto Star colleague Leslie Papp to examine life in Metro Toronto for Black folk compared with whites, little had changed. In daily interactions large and small, Black folk endured the slings and arrows of outrageous racism.

    In 2002 the Star unleashed its study on racial profiling, Black pain and suffering finally received an official stamp of institutional and scientific approval. No one who was serious could deny the reality anymore. Black people were being targeted, harassed, arrested, imprisoned and victimized at a rate three to four times their white neighbours — not because of wanton crimes but for the same misdemeanor and behavior that left white citizens free of censure.

    When the Star verified in 2010 what Black youths complained about from my Contrast days — that they are systematically watched, targeted, surveilled, had their movements recorded and “carded” as a matter of police policy — one would have thought the jig was up.

    But no, the racism deniers only got bolder and intransigent.

    Police chiefs and mayors and citizens defended the most outrageous violation of the human and civil rights of its Black citizens — in the name of a safety no one could identify or specify.

    I sat at a police services board meeting and watched my mayor support carding — immediately after Black and white citizens begged the board to please, stop, in the name of God or justice. Former metro councillor Bev Salmon was in tears. Former police board member Roy Williams was near depressed. Desmond Cole renounced his journalism credentials and attempted to shame the bastards into doing the right thing. And they sat there unmoved.

    I wept that day — at police headquarters.

    I wept many other nights that year as I watched the systematic de-humanization of Black people, across America and the globe.

    Why do we matter so little?

    Fowzia Duale Virtue, one of the presenters Wednesday night, in a moment of revelation, put her finger on the trigger:

    “I’ve been Black in a lot of places in the world. I’ve lived on four continents, lived in 22 countries” and encountered racism “so overt that I didn’t want to spend another” dollar in that place. And she’s experienced the “refreshing welcome of humanity in places without the history of colonization.”

    Right here, Black response evolved into Black Lives Matter (BLM) — young, accented in Canadian lilt and vocabulary. Where Dudley Laws and Charles Roach and Black Action Defence Committee (BAD-C) once roamed, BLM occupies. The youths seem more strident, more forceful, direct and impatient and radical.

    And some GTA teacher posted or retweeted the sentiment that says BLM is our local terrorist group.

    Dude! You should be ecstatic. The alternative will be unrecognizable — more combustible and radical and urgent and disruptive than the 2017 version of BLM.

    Consider that the majority of young Black adults is now Canadian born. They have more white friends and connections than their immigrant parents. One might expect their reported experiences in Toronto society would leave them with a more hopeful, less victimized existence. Yet this latest report says:

    “Young Black Canadian-born adults are more likely to identify racism as an obstacle they face; more likely to say they experience some forms of unfair treatment because they are Black; and more likely to be adversely affected by these experiences. It appears, therefore, that young Black adults are more impatient with the failure of Canadian society to deliver on the country’s promise of equality.”

    That’s what should bother us. BAD-C leads to BLM. What will BLM morph into, if current conditions persist?

    Carding had to go because it was just too odious. The disrespect so obvious that regular middle-class folk, Black and white, could see its devilish design. But the racism that’s part of our DNA is so much harder to erase.

    Black people have shown they won’t stop pushing for equality. Toronto’s next wave of Black voices will be more urgent, strident, boisterous and radical. You can count on that.

    Malcolm X talked about the ballot or the bullet, even as Martin Luther King marched in non-violent protest. One day, the idea of Black Lives Matter as an incendiary terrorist group will be as absurd as calling the Black Action Defense Committee dangerous. Current requests will pale in the face of future demands.

    “We are just like everyone else,” Virtue said Wednesday, her form steady, poised, articulate and resolute. “We will fight and demand that our humanity is respected and honoured and received.”

    We won’t be able to send these kids home — back to Africa or Jamaica. They are home. What too many of them are telling us — if we open our ears and hearts — is that our beloved Toronto doesn’t feel like home.

    We have been warned.

    Royson James’ column appears weekly. rjames@thestar.ca


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    NEW YORK—The New York Times is asking Fox News’ morning show Fox & Friends to apologize for what the newspaper calls a “malicious and inaccurate segment” about the newspaper, intelligence leaks and Daesh that aired Saturday.

    New York Times spokesperson Danielle Rhoades Ha said Sunday that she requested an “on-air apology and tweet.” The paper, she wrote, took issue with a Fox host on the segment saying that Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi “was able to sneak away under the cover of darkness after a New York Times story” in 2015 and a host’s comment that the U.S. government “would have had al-Baghdadi based on the intelligence that we had except someone leaked information to the failing New York Times.”

    The segment referred to comments by a top military official noted in a Friday Fox story. In the Fox story, Gen. Tony Thomas, the head of U.S. Special Operations Command, said his team was “close” to al-Baghdadi after a 2015 raid but the “lead went dead” after it “was leaked in a prominent national newspaper.” The Fox story connected Thomas with the Times, saying that Thomas “appeared to be referring to a New York Times report in June 2015 that detailed how American intelligence agencies had ‘extracted valuable information.’”

    The FoxNews.com story was updated online Sunday with a Times statement. Fox & Friends will “provide an updated story to viewers tomorrow morning based on the FoxNews.com report,” the company said in a statement emailed by Fox spokesperson Caley Cronin Sunday.

    The Times wrote a story Sunday saying President Donald Trump was wrong when he tweeted Saturday morning that the “failing” New York Times “foiled” a government attempt to kill al-Baghdadi, apparently a reaction to Fox’s story. The Times also pushed back against Fox’s story, noting that the Pentagon issued a news release more than three weeks before the Times article that could have tipped off al-Baghdadi. The paper also said the Pentagon “raised no objections” with it before the 2015 article on the intelligence gleaned from the raid was published.


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    Spoiler alert: This story contains spoilers for The Big Bang Theory.

    Mayim Bialik, the star of The Big Bang Theory, makes a living with the spoken word.

    On the popular sitcom she plays neuroscientist neurobiologist Amy Farrah Fowler. But vocal chord strain means she is under strict doctor’s orders not to talk for a month.

    That didn’t stop her from conducting an interview with the Star — via email. She agreed to talk about life, that cliffhanger proposal from Sheldon in the Season 10 finale, which garnered record viewership, and even what she really thinks of Donald Trump.

    Bialik, 41, started her career as a child actor, playing the younger version of Bette Midler’s character in 1988’s Beaches, then the title role of the spunky Italian-American teenager Blossom in the sitcom that premiered in 1990 and ran for five seasons.

    Before she was hired as a new Big Bang character in Season 3, she was first mentioned in a scene as that smart “girl from Blossom” who would be a candidate for the physics bowl team.

    Bialik’s life had a major influence on the show’s writers because, like her character, she also happens to have a PhD in neuroscience.

    Bialik has said she thought the series was a game show when she first heard of it. For most folks, it’s hard to be oblivious to Big Bang: it’s the most watched scripted show on broadcast television in Canada and the United States. Season 11 starts in September.

    Needless to say, Bialik makes a bit more change for Big Bang than her 1990 appearance in an episode of Doogie Howser, M.D., for which she posted her royalty cheque on Instagram last week, a grand total of two cents.

    You recently announced that you’re under doctor’s orders not to speak for a month. You have also disclosed that your father also had trouble with his vocal chords. Can you explain what happened, how your medical condition got to this point?

    I’ve got a naturally raspy voice and my job involves . . . talking! I discovered I wasn’t using my voice correctly and had been straining my vocal chords a few years ago.

    My father’s condition had nothing to do with mine; it was simply a coincidence that he had sprained chords as part of his degenerative condition.

    There’s some pretty severe damage lately and my ENT has ordered me to not to use my voice for a whole month, which is going to be very hard as I love to talk and need to talk!

    How hard has day-to-day life been, not being able to communicate with your kids and family, not to mention work?

    Well, my kids are a combination of angry and thrilled. They’ll probably get to watch a lot more movies while I’m on vocal rest. My voice is temporarily gone, but my body is not and I can still communicate in my own way. I use a whiteboard a lot and my computer.

    You’ve said that once you “remove words” you get to see who you really are. What have you found out about yourself?

    I talk too much. I don’t listen enough. I don’t rely enough on those who love me to care for me. I am learning that now.

    The Season 10 finale has a real cliffhanger: Sheldon going down on one knee and proposing to Amy. Was this a surprise for you? Or have they perhaps been milking this a little too long and it’s simply time for the two characters to get together?

    My jaw was on the floor . . . I literally had no idea this proposal from Sheldon was coming. Like: none. So, if you want me to tell you what happens in the season opener of Season 11 . . . I can’t, because I don’t know! Your guess is as good as mine! Sure, I have opinions and ideas . . . as an actor and a writer, I could see this playing out several ways. But that’s not my job right now. My job is to wait through the summer to see what our writers decide!

    How do you think the damage to your vocal chords might impact your role moving forward?

    It won’t affect it at all. I will be back to normal voice by the time we start filming.

    The Big Bang Theory remains the No. 1 show in North America. Fans have been incredibly supportive, but some critics can’t figure out why the longevity and fandom. Why do you think it continues to resonate?

    We show a group of people who are not popular or super attractive; we are a show about how the other half lives. And I think so many people can identify with being an outsider and our show taps into that. Plus, we have amazing writers who have crafted characters people really invest in.

    You’ve always been an outspoken environmentalist. Donald Trump has said global warming is a hoax. As a scientist what’s your response to that?

    He has no idea what he is talking about. With all due respect. Ahem.

    Your latest environmental campaign is with SodaStream to get rid of plastic water bottles. Canada is a net exporter of bottled water to the world. And there has been much debate about whether we should be charging more for our natural resources or perhaps even having an outright ban on bottled water. What’s the solution apart from making your own pop?

    My love affair with the environment started as a teenager: I was fascinated with all animals and with marine animals in particular. Even in high school, I used canvas bags instead of paper or plastic and was ridiculed for it; it wasn’t part of our collective consciousness yet as a society to reduce and reuse yet!

    When the city I lived in began recycling, I cried with joy — finally! Still to this day I try, as much as I can, to reduce my own carbon footprint — I don’t consume animal products, I don’t have a lawn, I take very short showers, I read up on ways to consume less. I buy fewer things, own fewer things, and donate things I don’t need and downsize even in small ways. I’m not trying to be a goody-goody (although I have been accused of that for sure), but being kind to the planet is critical for our health, the health of the planet and the health of generations to come.

    A lot of people feel like, “What’s the use? We’re doomed anyway,” but the truth is that recycling is better than nothing; small efforts do matter.


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    WASHINGTON—Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner denied Monday that he colluded with Russians in the course of President Donald Trump’s successful White House bid, declaring in a statement ahead of interviews with congressional committees that he has “nothing to hide.”

    The 11-page statement , released hours before Kushner’s closed-door appearance before the Senate intelligence committee, details four contacts with Russians during Trump’s campaign and transition. It aims to explain inconsistencies and omissions in a security clearance form that have invited public scrutiny.

    “I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government,” Kushner said in the prepared remarks in which he also insists that none of the contacts, which include meetings at Trump Tower with the Russian ambassador and a Russian lawyer, was improper.

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

    In speaking to Congress, Kushner — as both the president’s son-in-law and a trusted senior adviser during the campaign and inside the White House — becomes the first member of the president’s inner circle to face questions from congressional investigators as they probe Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible links to the Trump campaign. He is to meet with staff on the Senate intelligence committee Monday and lawmakers on the House intelligence committee Tuesday.

    Kushner’s appearances have been highly anticipated, in part because of a series of headlines in recent months about his interactions with Russians and because the reticent Kushner had until Monday not personally responded to questions about an incomplete security clearance form and his conversations with foreigners.

    “I have shown today that I am willing to do so and will continue to co-operate as I have nothing to hide,” he said in the statement.

    The document provides for the first time Kushner’s own recollection of a meeting at Trump Tower with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. to talk about secure lines of communications and, months earlier, of a gathering with a Russian lawyer who was said to have damaging information to provide about Hillary Clinton.

    In the document, Kushner calls the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya such a “waste of time” that he asked his assistant to call him out of the gathering.

    Emails released this month show that the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., accepted the meeting with the idea that he would receive information as part of a Russian government effort to help Trump’s campaign. But Kushner says he hadn’t seen those emails until recently shown them by his lawyers.

    Kushner said in his statement that Trump Jr. invited him to the meeting. He says he arrived late and when he heard the lawyer discussing the issue of adoptions, he texted his assistant to call him out.

    “No part of the meeting I attended included anything about the campaign, there was no follow up to the meeting that I am aware of, I do not recall how many people were there (or their names), and I have no knowledge of any documents being offered or accepted,” Kushner’s statement says.

    Kushner also denied reports he discussed setting up a “secret back-channel” with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. But he did detail a conversation with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, in December at Trump Tower in which retired U.S. army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, then-incoming national security adviser, also attended.

    During the meeting, Kushner said he and Kislyak talked about establishing a secure line for the countries to communicate about policy in Syria.

    Kushner said that when Kislyak asked if there was a secure way for him to provide information on Syria from what Kislyak called his “generals,” Kushner asked if there was an existing communications channel at the embassy that could be used to convey the information to Flynn.

    “The Ambassador said that would not be possible and so we all agreed that we would receive this information after the Inauguration. Nothing else occurred,” the statement said.

    Kushner said he never proposed an ongoing secret form of communication.

    He also said he met with a Russian banker, Sergey Gorkov, at the request of Kislyak but that no specific policies were discussed.

    Kushner also explained that his application form for a security clearance form was submitted prematurely due to a miscommunication with his assistant, who had erroneously believed the document was complete.

    He said he mistakenly omitted all of his foreign contacts, not just his meetings with Russians, and has worked in the last six months with the FBI to correct the record.

    Read more:

    Trump denounces ‘illegal leaks’ in new accounts of his campaign’s contact with Russia

    Sean Spicer resigns, tells Trump his choice for communications director is a major mistake

    Robert Mueller expands Russia probe to investigate Trump businesses

    In addition, Kushner described receiving a “random email” during the presidential campaign from someone claiming to have Trump’s tax returns and demanding ransom to keep the information secret.

    Unlike every other major presidential candidate over the last 40 years, Trump didn’t release his tax returns during the campaign. Since taking office, he has continued to refuse.

    Kushner said he interpreted the late October email as a hoax and that the email came from a person going by the name “Guccifer400.” The name is an apparent reference to Guccifer 2.0, an anonymous hacker who has claimed responsibility for breaking into the Democratic National Committee’s computer systems.

    Kushner said the emailer demanded payment in Bitcoin, an online currency. Kushner says he showed the email to a Secret Service agent, who told him to ignore it.

    Trump Jr. and Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who was also at the June 2016 meeting, were scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. But on Friday their attorneys said they remained in negotiations with that panel. The two men are now in discussions to be privately interviewed by staff or lawmakers, though the GOP chairman of the committee, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, has said they will eventually testify in public.

    The president took to Twitter over the weekend to defend himself and repeat his criticism of the investigations. On Sunday, Trump tweeted: “As the phoney Russian Witch Hunt continues, two groups are laughing at this excuse for a lost election taking hold, Democrats and Russians!”


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    Kyle Ashley, Toronto’s famous bike lane guardian, spotted the Canada Post truck veer into a lane on St. George St. The driver spotted the parking enforcement officer.

    “He jumped out of the truck, trampling a garden, and asked me for two minutes to make his delivery. I said, ‘No, this is a bike lane, you should park legally.’ He called me a jerk, got in his vehicle and drove off to avoid the ticket.”

    On Friday, another Canada Post driver on Runnymede St. pleaded in vain for leniency before he told Ashley: “You're a f------ idiot,” said the parking officer. Ashley later lodged a complaint.

    Ashley has seen a lot in the seven weeks since he started focusing exclusively on lane invaders, unleashing $150 tickets as he pedals around town using social media to spread the word that bike lanes are not convenient pull-over shoulders for motorists who have other options that don’t force cyclists into vehicle traffic.

    He estimates up to 90 per cent of his tickets land on the windshields of delivery vehicles including those of courier companies FedEx, Purolator and UPS.

    In his experience, however, Canada Post— the nation’s mail mover, a Crown corporation — is the worst offender.

    “Of all the ones who are still holding out from engaging in the positive behaviours that we’ve started seeing from Beck Taxi, Mister Produce and others, the one that I’m still seeing the most infractions coming from would be Canada Post,” Ashley said early this week.

    “The flagrant disregard for the bike lanes is strongest from them. I don’t know if they think they have impunity because the trucks say Canada Post, or if they just don’t care about the public image or the public safety.”

    Ashley said two Canada Post drivers recently told him they were told it “‘was okay to block the bike lane and get the parking ticket so long as they weren’t in (front of) fire hydrants or (getting) accessible parking tickets.’ That’s obviously not true — I’ve ticketed city vehicles for parking in a bike lane.”

    He advises delivery drivers who can’t find a legal spot to park in an alleyway, as long as they don’t block it, or block a live lane of vehicle traffic if other vehicles can go around it. Cyclists have only one lane.

    Mayor John Tory called a Canada Post manager Wednesday after being asked for comment for this story.

    “I asked if he could help the city by making clear to people that we really can’t have this going on,” Tory said. “He said that, as a result of a media inquiry they had already picked up on this and sent out a note (to drivers) and were taking it very seriously.”

    Ashley said Thursday that, after a couple of days with noticeably fewer bike lane breaches, Canada Post’s numbers had started to rise again.

    Jon Hamilton, a senior Canada Post spokesperson, said in an interview from Ottawa that drivers are instructed to follow the rules of the road and shown photos of parking examples good and bad shared by Ashley and others on social media.

    The postal operator is constantly examining routes and making other changes to cope with the demands of a rapidly growing city and ongoing surge in delivery demand caused by e-commerce, he said.

    “The vast majority of our drivers don’t have issues. They go the extra mile to find a spot,” in Toronto, he said.

    “We are making changes, and we are talking to our drivers, and we expect them to follow the rules of the road.

    “At the same time, there are challenges, and it’s a balance, and there are a lot of people who depend on Canada Post and the work we do so we can’t just make instant changes that have a huge impact on the small businesses that rely on us or the people that have ordered stuff they need, sometimes medicine and things like that.”

    David Turnbull of the Canadian Courier & Logistics AssociationCanadian Courier & Logistics Association, representing members including FedEx and Purolator, blamed the City of Toronto for “dragging its feet” in creating a sufficient number of courier delivery zones so couriers have an alternative to bike lanes.

    “To have commerce in this city, you have to have deliveries,” he said. “I’m as frustrated as any cyclist.”

    One reason companies can treat such tickets as a cost of doing business is the city’s “global resolution” process. Companies with many tickets can get some cancelled, and pay a fraction of the total possible fine, in exchange for not subjecting the city to court costs and proving they were on delivery.

    Tickets that cannot be cancelled under the process include those for parking too close to fire hydrants or in disabled spots.

    The global resolution process will continue after next month when the city expects to move its parking tickets out of the provincial court system and into a city-run administrative penalty system where screening officers will decide which delivery company tickets’ can be cancelled.

    The new system will offer a benefit for keeping bike lanes clear. Drivers who now leave illegal spots before a parking officer can affix the ticket to their vehicle don’t have to pay it. Under the new system, such drivers will receive tickets in the mail and face the same fines.


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    A Mississauga man who has been charged with willful promotion of hatred says he’s “not going anywhere,” and that he intends to run for mayor of the city.

    The charges come after “a lengthy investigation into numerous incidents reported to police, involving Kevin Johnston and concerns information published on various social media sites,” Peel police said in a news release Monday.

    Johnston, 45, was released on bail after a brief appearance in court Monday. The conditions of his release included an order to have no contact with three people, whose names are under a publication ban. He was also ordered to stay 100 metres away from any mosque or Muslim community centre in Ontario, except for when travelling on the road.

    Johnston, wearing a blue polo shirt and jeans, sat calmly in court as the details of the case were read in court.

    Outside the courtroom, he was defiant.

    “I’m going to run for mayor against Bonnie Crombie next election,” Johnston said. “She can’t stop me through the courts.”

    Johnston does not have legal counsel yet. He will appear next Sept. 8.

    Johnston has previously ran for mayor, and lost to Mississauga Mayor Crombie in 2014. He is best known for his strong views about the Muslim community, having opposed the construction of a mosque in Meadowvale, offered prize money for videos of students praying on Fridays, and protested against the federal anti-Islamophobia motion, M-103.

    Last year, a story published on the Mississauga Gazette site resulted in Crombie filing a hate-crime complaint with Peel police. It was not immediately clear if that complaint prompted Monday’s charges.

    For police to lay a hate-related criminal charge, a criminal offence must have occurred – such as an assault, damage to property — and hate or bias toward a victim must have motivated the criminal offence.

    At Queen’s Park, Attorney General Yasir Naqvi said the government “takes allegations of hate crime very seriously. Ontario prosecutes these cases vigorously, where there is a reasonable prospect of conviction.

    With files from Robert Benzie

    “In a multicultural and inclusive province like Ontario, the promotion of hatred stands in direct opposition to our fundamental values of equality and diversity. Hate divides people and communities,” Naqvi said Monday.

    The consent of the attorney general is required to lay hate-crime charges.

    Naqvi’s office confirmed he received a formal request from Peel police to lay the charge of willful promotion of hatred.

    “Hate crimes are, by their very nature, serious offences because their impacts can be devastating, spreading from the individual, through the social fabric of our communities and society as a whole,” he said.


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    MONTREAL—A newborn who was delivered by emergency C-section after its mother was stabbed multiple times died in hospital Monday, police said.

    A 37-year-old man who is the woman’s partner was arrested several hours later, said spokesman Jean-Pierre Brabant.

    Police were called to a home in the city’s Montreal North borough around 2:30 a.m. and found the woman, 33, stabbed multiple times in the upper and lower body.

    The suspect was not at home when police arrived and the victim, who was eight months pregnant, was transported to hospital.

    “The woman is in stable condition,” Brabant said. “Unfortunately the baby did not survive its wounds and was pronounced dead in hospital.”

    Hours after the attack, around noon Monday, the suspect reappeared and approached a police vehicle not far from the scene of the crime.

    “After a brief discussion, he was arrested,” Brabant said.

    The suspect was known to police.

    It was not the police’s first visit to the home.

    Around 10 p.m. Sunday night, officers responded to a domestic violence call at the couple’s residence, Brabant said.

    The woman’s partner was not at home at the time, and their two children were sent to stay with a relative.

    Brabant said the woman didn’t want to leave the home.

    “Police made a report and strongly suggested to the woman to leave the house but she refused,” he said.

    A neighbour said the woman was yelling and knocking at her door at around 2:30 a.m.

    “I opened my door, she was screaming,” said Noella Bernier. “I called 911. She was wounded and there was blood all over her. Blood on her stomach. She was pregnant, she told me she was in her last month.”

    Brabant said police will question the man, with an arraignment likely Tuesday.

    With files from Cogeco Nouvelles


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    It’s a public agency that controls a $1-billion operating budget and is in charge of a once-in-a-generation expansion of transit in the GTHA.

    But Metrolinx has a problem — most people don’t know what it does.

    That’s why the provincial organization has embarked on a rebranding effort it hopes will help it connect with the transit-riding public.

    For the past year Metrolinx has been gradually rolling out a new “visual identity” across its divisions. The agency said the new brand will cost $250,000 to research and design.

    Agency spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins said the public’s lack of understanding of Metrolinx’s role is “an ongoing struggle” for the organization.

    Research conducted in 2016 revealed that 47 per cent of GTHA residents didn’t know what Metrolinx was and a majority had a “low understanding of the relationships between Metrolinx” and its numerous divisions.

    “One of the things that branding can do is it can make clear to the public this is what we do. This is what we’re responsible for,” Aikins said.

    Metrolinx’s old circular logo is being replaced with a more austere symbol of intersecting lines. The agency has also ditched its green-and-white colour scheme in favour of a “reduced core colour palette” of black and white, which will be applied to signs, employee uniforms and agency publications.

    Metrolinx says it chose the new simpler colour scheme “to increase clarity of communications” with the public, as well as to comply with accessibility legislation requirements relating to colour blindness.

    The $250,000 cost of the rebrand covers research, brand analysis, design and the creation of a new “identity standards manual,” according to Aikins.

    The figure doesn’t cover the cost of applying the new brand to physical assets such as signs, uniforms and vehicles. Aikins said in order to keep costs down, the new branding will only be applied to Metrolinx’s physical assets as they’re replaced or updated.

    She asserted that the cost of the branding is within industry standards for an organization of Metrolinx’s size.

    At just 11 years old, Metrolinx is relatively young for a makeover. But since the provincial Liberal government created it in 2006 to co-ordinate transit in the GTHA, Metrolinx’s mandate has expanded from what was primarily a planning role to the operation of transit service and the construction of new lines.

    The organization, which reports to the Ontario ministry of transportation, is now responsible for running GO Transit and the Union Pearson Express, as well as overseeing the Presto fare card system used by municipal transit agencies from Hamilton to Ottawa.

    It’s also in charge of constructing Toronto’s $5.3-billion Eglinton Crosstown LRT and the $13.5-billion regional express rail project that will quadruple the capacity of GO rail lines.

    Aikins said deploying a new brand across all its divisions will impress on the public that all these different projects are connected under the Metrolinx umbrella and will signal the agency’s expanded role.

    Many of the changes will be subtle and unlikely to be noticed by customers. Some imagery, like the green-and-white livery of GO Transit vehicles, won’t change significantly. Presto cards are being redesigned however.

    Metrolinx has come under fire in the past for using public funds to burnish its image, including spending $40,000 to have a fashion designer draw up plans for Union Pearson Express uniforms.

    But Alan Middleton, assistant professor of marketing at York University’s Schulich School of Business, said having a strong brand is important to the transit agency’s success, and that the $250,000 cost of the design work is reasonable.

    “Remember, Metrolinx is not a monopoly,” he said, noting that travellers have the choice of using private cars and other transit agencies.

    “What you ideally want is in the future that people automatically include Metrolinx in their travel planning . . . and you want them thinking of it in a positive manner.”

    David Soberman, Canadian National Chair in Strategic Marketing at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, said there’s a misconception that “the only thing that really matters is the service and all this marketing stuff is fluffy.

    “Well, you know, getting consumers to use something is not just affected by what the service is, but it’s what’s in their mind. And sometimes this fluffy marketing stuff can make a big difference.”


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    A controversial New York restaurant opened by a Toronto expat has provoked protests in Brooklyn.

    In late June, Torontonian Becca Brennan opened the upscale restaurant Summerhill in Crown Heights, a predominantly Black neighbourhood. But longtime locals have pushed back against what they see as aggressive gentrification and selling the illusion of slumming it in their neighbourhood.

    Brennan’s marketing for the restaurant, which is named for the affluent Toronto area where she grew up, promoted a “bullet hole” in the wall and drinking wine out of40s in brown paper bags. Cocktails at the restaurant are $12 and one of the dishes bears the hipster-friendly name “Keep Austin Weird.”

    The “bullet hole” in the wall is likely due to moving and construction, reports the New York City blog Gothamist.

    Rally organizers criticized Brennan as out of touch with the neighbourhood and its history.

    A Facebook statement posted by protest co-organizer Justine Stephens said Brennan was “profiting by perpetuating violent and ridiculous stereotypes, all while disrespecting and appropriating a history that does not belong to the owner of this bar.”

    Up to 200 people protested outside the restaurant Saturday, where they carried signs and chanted “Bye-bye, Becky.”

    Brennan declined to do an interview with Metro, but in an emailed statement she apologized for her actions.

    “I deeply apologize for any offence that my recent comments might have caused. I did not intend to be insensitive to anyone in the neighbourhood, and I am sorry that my words have caused pain,” she wrote.

    Brennan also wrote that she would reach out to community organizations such as theCrown Heights Tenant Union, whose members were involved in the protests. “I recognize that I have more work to do to continue healing relationships with my neighbours,” she added.

    Rally organizers made several demands of Brennan, including that she apologize, remove the “bullet-holed” wall and hire local people of colour at living wages.

    Brennan’s marketing pitch for Summerhill has not gone over well on social media.

    New York journalist Brandon Gates tweeted, “This is disgusting. Shame on you, Summerhill.”

    Many others left negative comments on the review site Yelp, although there were also some supporters of the restaurant who stood up for “freedom of speech.”


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