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    WATERLOO—Canada has once again stripped Helmut Oberlander, 93, of his citizenship for serving in a Nazi death squad and lying about it to enter Canada.

    It’s the fourth time the government has taken this step after Oberlander defeated the government in court three times to restore his citizenship.

    For the fourth time Oberlander is going to court to overturn the political decision, made this time by the federal cabinet of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

    Read more:

    Helmut Oberlander, ex Nazi death squad member, once again wins chance to keep Canadian citizenship

    Father was never charged with war crime, family says

    “We are determined to deny safe haven in Canada to war criminals and persons believed to have committed or been complicit in war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide,” Pierre Deveau, spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, said in a statement.

    Liberal and Conservative governments have been pursuing the retired Waterloo developer since 1995 in a case that’s into its third decade and fourth prime minister.

    Oberlander’s lawyers suspected the government was poised to announce its decision when two RCMP officers surprised Oberlander last month by appearing at his door and asking to speak with him.

    “I suppose they were trying to determine if he was still of sound mind and health and could receive the decision,” said Ron Poulton, Oberlander’s lawyer.

    Poulton said Oberlander felt intimidated and called his daughter to his home. The pair asked police why they came. “They were kind of cagey about it and we couldn’t really get any answers on it, but we knew something was coming,” he said. The police left.

    In 1995, the government announced its prosecution days after two RCMP officers surprised Oberlander by visiting him at home to talk about the Second World War.

    Oberlander is an ethnic German born and raised in Ukraine under Soviet rule. He served as a decorated, low-level interpreter in a mobile death squad that murdered at least 23,000 civilians, mostly Jews, between 1941 and 1943.

    He says he was conscripted by invading Germans the month he turned 18 in 1942. He denies participating in war crimes and denies lying about it to immigrate in 1954.

    Oberlander was made a German citizen in 1944 to honour his service. Canada made him a citizen in 1960.

    No evidence was presented to a court that Oberlander personally participated in war crimes. In 2000, a court found that he lied about his membership in the death squad before entering Canada, where he pursued a successful career as a developer.

    “We thank and applaud the Government of Canada,” Shimon Koffler Fogel, chief executive of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said in a statement.

    Fogel said Oberlander has “been exploiting our judicial process to avoid prosecution in Germany. There is no statute of limitations for such heinous crimes, and the government deserves credit for its tireless efforts in this case.

    “This latest development is an important milestone in bringing a measure of justice to his many victims and their families.”

    The decision distressed Ernst Friedel, a director with the German-Canadian Congress, who said Oberlander is being unfairly prosecuted for translations he provided as a young man without a choice.

    “This has nothing to do with justice,” Friedel said. “I compare it to the Middle Ages, to declare someone something bad, and to go after that person relentlessly.”

    Trudeau said in 2016 that his government is committed to prosecuting immigrants such as Oberlander who lie about their past to become citizens.

    “There is one condition in which citizenship can be revoked, and that is when it was acquired based on fraud, misinformation and not representing clearly who one was,” Trudeau said while visiting Waterloo.

    “And that is at the core of this case I’m sure . . . Canadians are rightly proud, not just of our citizenship, but of the values that are articulated by that citizenship, and we have to make sure that we’re doing everything to defend the principles and values that it mean to be Canadian.”

    Poulton said it’s remarkable the government is still pursuing Oberlander after he defeated them in court three times.

    “Given his age and the number of times they’ve lost, I’ve never seen the government pursue someone like this to such a degree,” he said.

    While the federal cabinet argues it has the right to strip Oberlander’s citizenship because he lied to get it, courts have repeatedly told cabinet it must also weigh other factors, such as Oberlander’s level of complicity in the death squad.

    Poulton said the government’s latest decision “ignores and misstates evidence. They really stretched this time to try to find him complicit.”

    Last fall, the government gave Oberlander 90 days to respond to a government report and to explain why his citizenship should not be revoked. He did this and cabinet chose to revoke his citizenship again, on June 20.

    “We also know the value of Canadian citizenship and cannot allow anyone to defraud the system or diminish its integrity,” said Deveau, spokesperson for the government. “We don’t take citizenship revocation lightly, but it is necessary in cases of fraud and serious misrepresentation.”

    Oberlander is seeking a judicial review of cabinet’s decision, as he has done previously. A court hearing is expected in the fall or early 2018.

    Bernie Farber, former chief executive of the Canadian Jewish Congress, blames Federal Court of Appeal rulings rather than government failures for a case that’s dragged on for decades. He’s heartened that governments have not given up, but expects Oberlander may die before the prosecution concludes.

    “The government sends a strong message in this day and age to would-be war criminals and would-be alleged war criminals that they will be hunted ’til their dying days,” he said.

    Farber argues against seeing Oberlander as 93. “We ought not to think of him as he is today. We ought to remember him and those others who participated in the murder of tens of thousands of people as they were: young, vibrant bullies and alleged murderers,” he said.

    “To think about them in their old age denies really the sweet lives of those that were caught up in the web of mass murder that the Nazis perpetrated. They never got to live. He did.”


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    An anatomy scan is routine for pregnant women at 20 weeks. That was when Kristine Barry learned her baby had a heart defect that would require what’s believed to be the world’s first use of in utero surgery to treat this condition.

    Doctors at the Hospital for Sick Children and Mount Sinai Hospital were quick to assure Barry, 25, and her husband, Christopher Havill, 27, that they could fix the problem.

    They diagnosed the couple’s first child, Sebastian Havill, now 9 weeks old, with severe complete transposition of the great arteries (TGA). It’s a congenital heart defect that occurs when the pulmonary artery and aorta are switched, and the heart can’t adequately circulate blood through the body.

    Barry said her first thoughts were “Why me, why my baby?”

    To fix the problem, surgeons normally perform open-heart surgery on the infant to switch the arteries within a week of birth. But there was a complication in this case.

    All the walls in Sebastian’s heart were closed shut, meaning his blood wouldn’t get oxygen after his birth, which could have led to severe brain damage or death within minutes.

    “Previously, doctors had the baby born by C-section and then rushed it over to Sick Kids for a balloon procedure,” Barry said. “If he was born over at Mount Sinai, he wouldn’t have enough time to be moved to Sick Kids. He likely wasn’t going to make it.”

    So the doctors — Edgar Jaeggi, Rajiv Chaturvedi and Greg Ryan — devised a different plan to save her baby.

    On May 18, Barry went into the operating room, and Sebastian had what’s believed to be the world’s first balloon atrial septoplasty surgery in utero to treat TGA.

    With ultrasound guidance, the doctors inserted a needle into Barry’s uterus and into Sebastian’s heart to blow up a tiny ballon, making a hole about 3.5 millimetres wide in his atrial septum. This allowed the blood and oxygen to circulate properly, a temporary fix until they could perform surgery after birth.

    About 30 medical staff were there to assist in the procedure, including surgeons, cardiologists, a person with an incubator and a doctor to do a caesarean section in the likely case that Barry had to give birth early.

    “I was weirdly calm. I put all my belief in that it was going to work, but I went in with the mindset that I was having a baby that day,” Barry said. “The way they described our options for that day, I had a two-out-of-three chance for having a baby, so I went in thinking, ‘I could be meeting my son today.’”

    Just 20 minutes later, the surgery was over and the room erupted in applause, said Barry, who cried when she realized that her baby could be born healthy.

    Five days after the surgery, Barry was induced into labour and gave birth to Sebastian only 10 minutes in.

    “He came out pink and screaming, and I was just in shock. I didn’t believe that was what was going to happen,” she said.

    A week after his birth, Sebastian successfully underwent the open-heart surgery that babies with congenital TGA must have, and he was sent home the week after.

    About three babies a year in Ontario have the same extreme case of congenial heart defect that Sebastian has.

    His parents will take him to a neuro-development program at Sick Kids to make sure he’s hitting all his milestones at 6, 12, 18, 24 and 36 months old.

    Barry and Havill have been told that Sebastian may run into issues at any stage in his development, but in general he is expected to lead a normal life.

    If Sebastian has any development problems, Barry said, the doctors at Sick Kids can help by teaching them exercises to do at home, or sending a support worker to help with speech or physiotherapy.

    “They want us to let him be a kid and run around and get his blood pumping and his heart working really well. They don’t want us bubble-wrapping him and being too protective,” Barry said. “They want him to live a normal life as much as possible.”


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    The federal housing agency says the current downturn in Toronto’s housing market is expected to be short-lived.

    Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) says Toronto property prices, which have fallen over the last couple of months, should pick up again as demand bounces back.

    The Ontario government introduced measures in the spring, including a 15 per cent tax on foreign buyers, to cool down a market that many regarded was overheating.

    Read more:Toronto housing market’s downturn may have an upside

    CMHC says similar policy changes introduced in Vancouver last year reduced the number of foreign buyers in that city, but Greater Vancouver’s housing market has since pushed back up.

    In its latest housing market assessment released today, CMHC kept its overall risk rating for the national housing market at strong.

    The report, which is based on data from the first three months of this year, precedes the Ontario government housing rules introduced in the spring.


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    Toronto’s east end “Beach” neighbourhood is home to more than a few yoga studios, but this doesn’t mean its residents are particularly flexible.

    For proof, look no further than the paddleboard-kiosk dispute plaguing the boardwalk at Balsam Ave. and Hubbard Blvd.

    It’s here that a small group of residents who live directly across from the lake are upset about the present location of iPaddle Adventures, a new business that rents paddleboards and kayaks to beachgoers, a business the residents say is obstructing their view of the water.

    “Paddleboard kiosk dispute” may sound like the lowest stakes event in human history, but I assure you, it’s of great consequence to anyone who believes a city’s main attractions should serve all of its inhabitants, as opposed to a lucky few.

    Among those who hold this view is Brian Quinn, the CEO of iPaddle Adventures. The city recently granted Quinn permission to park his kiosk on the grass behind the boardwalk. Today, that business is thriving. He says he rents paddleboard and kayak equipment to a minimum of 40 people everyday, beachgoers from all over the city and several tourists as well. (I looked at the binder in his office and it was jam-packed with rental slips.)

    But, says Quinn, some residents continue to complain that their view of the lake has suffered as a result of his being there. One resident in particular, a woman named Viola Bracegirdle, a beach resident with a formerly unobstructed view, described the situation to the CBC like this: “It’s terrible. He (Quinn) should have been down someplace else. They can go down further. Why are they picking on us? We are the most expensive houses here and the taxes are the highest here. I’m fed up.”

    Quinn alleges that some residents are so fed up they’ve “screamed profanities” at him and frightened his customers; he even called the non-emergency police service, and told the complaining residents to expect a letter from his lawyer if they continue to interfere with his business.

    I took the streetcar to the Beach this week, so I could see for myself the alleged blight that is iPaddle Adventures, but here’s what I saw instead: Quinn sitting on a bench eating a sandwich, a Bluetooth radio of some kind humming quietly beside him. And behind him, the kiosk itself, modestly sized, decorated with Canadian flags and upright kayak paddles. It was hard to believe this was the blemish on the horizon that beach residents are so incensed about.

    But then I remembered I was in Toronto, possibly the NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) capital of the world. “(Residents) came out with a sign saying they wanted us removed from the beach and that I was an eyesore,” Quinn told me.

    An eyesore! God forbid anyone should have to abide an eyesore from his or her porch, so that families from all over the city and, presumably, all over the world can enjoy a boat ride on a public beach. NIMBYism of this order makes me think Torontonians are so averse to so-called “eyesores” we’d probably reject a city proposal for a giant ray gun if an asteroid were hurtling toward the downtown core, because the thing might obstruct somebody’s view of the CN Tower.

    In other words, in Toronto, we seem to love nothing more than cutting off our nose to spite our face.

    It doesn’t help that in addition to NIMBYism we have an obsession with so-called “villages.” In his book Frontier City, urbanist and Toronto Star columnist Shawn Micallef writes, “Toronto has what might be called a village fetish, where neighbourhoods insist, despite all evidence to the contrary, that they are indeed a village.”

    You could argue that one of Toronto’s most attractive features — its network of distinct neighbourhoods — is also the very thing that stalls its progress. If you have a village mentality in a big city, as some residents in the picturesque Beach evidently do, you forget that your “village” belongs to a sprawling metropolis and the populace at large is entitled to the attractions and resources therein.

    You forget that your view of the lake is not in fact, your view. It’s everybody’s view. The Beach is a neighbourhood in Toronto, it’s not Muskoka.

    “They don’t own this boardwalk,” Quinn says about the residents who want him to move his kiosk out of their line of sight. “The city owns this boardwalk. This is for people. This is to get people out doing things.”

    Amen. Let the people paddleboard.

    Emma Teitel is a national affairs columnist.


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    Premier Kathleen Wynne is pledging to minimize the impact on small business of the looming increase to the minimum wage.

    “We’re going to work with small businesses and in the fall, we’ll bring forward some initiatives that will help business to get through this transition,” Wynne told Newstalk 1010 on Wednesday.

    “There are some other things that we can do to support small businesses through the transition,” the premier said without offering specifics.

    As part of the government’s sweeping labour reforms, the $11.40-an-hour minimum wage will rise to $14 on Jan. 1 and to $15 in 2019.

    That hike has many business groups worried.

    “With a planned 32 per cent increase in the minimum wage over the next 18 months, business owners are predicting a struggle to quickly generate the revenue required to match rising labour costs,” warned the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s Ashley Challinor.

    “This means that a significant number of businesses fear they cannot keep their doors open,” Challinor told an all-party legislative committee studying the reforms last Friday.

    “The pending legislation will create winners and losers, job losses, increased costs of consumer goods, and economic hardship.”

    Loblaw chair and CEO Galen Weston Jr., whose company operates Loblaws and Shoppers Drug Mart, predicted Wednesday the company’s labour costs could jump by $190 million next year.

    “We are flagging a significant set of financial headwinds and the organization is mobilizing all of its resources to see whether or not it can close that gap,” he said.

    At Friday’s legislative hearing at Queen’s Park, veteran restaurateur Fred Luk said small businesses simply cannot afford such a rapid rise in labour costs.

    “My only concern is to survive past Jan. 1, 2018. How do I raise my menu prices to pay for this increase? I don’t know how to do it,” said Luk, owner of Fred’s Not Here on King St. West.

    “Out of the 25 employees that I have, two employees are less-skilled employees and are still paid above minimum wage. The rest are paid above the new proposed minimum wage already. I’m paying my employees $15, $16, $17 right now,” he told the committee.

    Even so, once the minimum wage rate jumps, Luk said his wage tab will jump.

    “This is what small business is all about. You can make money one year; the next year, you might not, because of the razor-thin margins you run on.”

    Small Business Minister Jeff Leal insisted the province is listening to such concerns and will act upon them as the legislation is fine-tuned this fall.

    “As we always do, we have been meeting with small businesses and stakeholders like the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to listen directly to their suggestions and ideas about how we can further grow Ontario’s economy and build strong local economies,” said Leal, who is also agriculture minister.

    “We were also actively monitoring the presentations being made to the standing committee on Bill 148 and will be undertaking a review of the submissions made for ideas on how we can better support small businesses,” he said.

    With files from The Canadian Press


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    Mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus have been found on the Toronto Islands, which are set to reopen Monday following extensive flooding throughout the spring and summer.

    An email from a Toronto Public Health official sent Tuesday informed an Island residents’ group of the latest development in a summer that has left attractions rained out, parks underwater and businesses without customers.

    “For your information, mosquitoes collected from our traps on the Toronto Islands tested positive for West Nile virus this week,” the email stated.

    “We are continuing to work with Parks, Forestry and Recreation in identifying and remediating mosquito breeding sites on the Islands on a regular basis. It is not only a local problem, as West Nile virus and vector mosquitoes are spread across Toronto and Ontario, but we did want to share this finding with you.”

    The email included a fact sheet about measures islanders can take to steer clear of the virus.

    The city recommends wearing light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors and applying bug spray. Residents should also make sure their homes have tight-fitting screens on windows and doors to prevent mosquitoes from getting inside.

    The warning comes less than a week before the islands are supposed to reopen to the public, as the city has been working towards a July 31 target.

    Toronto Island Park has been closed to the general public since May and ferry service to the Ward’s Island Dock has been restricted to residents.


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    The woman at the centre of an extraordinary case, in which a split-second decision left one man dead, says she would not be alive today if it weren’t for the “angel” who ran her alleged assailant down with his car.

    Alicia Aquino says that Anthony Kiss, the man who hit and killed Dario Romero in June, and who now faces charges of manslaughter in his death, was the only passerby to answer her calls for help.

    “I owe my life to him,” Aquino told the Star in an emotional interview Tuesday. “He has four children, and it’s not fair to charge this man.”

    Aquino, a hotel room attendant who was on her way to work in the early hours of June 7, said she decided to speak to the Star after hearing how the charges have negatively affected Kiss’s life.

    She felt compelled to tell her story, she said, because she could not imagine Kiss being sent to prison, away from his four children, for several years. She also wanted to add her perspective to a story that has been playing out, and debated, online.

    In a previous interview with the Star — details of which were corroborated by his girlfriend, who was in the car at the time — Kiss, 31, said he ran Romero down because he saw him wielding a knife and chasing a woman into the street. He did it, Kiss said, to save her life.

    Neither Kiss’s nor Aquino’s version of events have been tested in court.

    Kiss is charged with impaired operation of a motor vehicle causing death, over 80 mgs operation of a motor vehicle causing death and failure to stop at scene of accident causing death. Kiss told the Star he had a few beers at a concert that night, but wasn’t impaired.

    He said he blew just over the legal limit. He said he left the scene of the crash before he was arrested because he was in “straight shock” and panicked. He is out on bail and will return to court Aug. 3.

    In her telling of the story, 59-year-old Aquino did not provide granular details of what happened during the alleged attack out of respect for police requests to not compromise evidence in the case. She was advised by criminal lawyer, Daniel Brown, whom her family reached out to after seeing his comments on the case in a Star article.

    “She wanted a lawyer to help her tell the story within the boundaries of what she was allowed to share, but without compromising the integrity of the investigation,” said Brown, who is not being paid for his work.

    Romero’s brother-in-law, who didn’t want to be named citing the nature of his work with children, said the public can’t know the full story because Romero is dead.

    “People should remember that Dario isn’t here to give his account of the story,” he said. “These stories can influence potential jurors.”

    The alleged attack took place around 4:30 a.m. at the bus stop near Eglinton Ave W. and Black Creek Dr. Aquino said she was on her way to work at a downtown hotel, where she has been working for 27 years. She had been taking this particular route for seven years. At the time, she was standing by the bus stop texting with her girlfriend, who was asking her to pick up two coffees — one black, one double double.

    “Usually I will go and stay in the shelter, but this time something told me ‘no, stand at the bus stop don’t go to the shelter,’ ” she said.

    That’s when she noticed a man approaching. Initially, she thought nothing of it.

    “When I see this gentleman coming towards me, I don’t think (anything) because I meet all kinds of people in the morning,” she said.

    Romero, 37, spoke to Aquino, she said, but “he wasn’t making any sense.” Romero’s family has previously told the Star that he was a wonderful father to a young son, and that he had been diagnosed with extreme paranoia.

    He said two sentences to her, Aquino said, adding she did not respond to him. She had never seen him before.

    Aquino said that Romero then pulled out a knife and tried to slash at her. She says she ran away from him, but he knocked her to the ground on the street and kicked and stomped her.

    “I’m screaming and I see cars passing by, nobody stopped,” she said, through tears. “I was calling for help.”

    She fought with Romero on the ground and managed to get away. Romero continued to chase her and tripped her, and she fell down again, this time on the median, she said.

    “And I hear this thing, ‘boom!’ behind me,” she said. At that point, Aquino, a single mother of five and grandmother to seven, said she thought it was over.

    “I just crossed my arms, and I said ‘I’m dead, I’m not going to see my grandchildren and my kids,’ ” she said, adding that she had not yet seen her youngest granddaughter, who had just been born and was still in the hospital.

    “A few seconds later I open up my eyes and I can feel that I was in a lot of pain. I have no idea what had happened.”

    Aquino was not stabbed during the altercation. Her injuries to the lower half of her body were caused by the attacker kicking and tripping her, she said. The “boom” she heard, she now knows, she said, was Kiss driving into Romero.

    The next thing Aquino said she remembers were three men surrounding her, two of them construction workers.

    “It’s okay, you’re okay,” she remembers one of the men telling her. She asked them to call the police, and they told her they already had.

    Aquino said she then asked one of the men helping her to take her to the driver of the car, but he told her to wait for an ambulance instead. She says she yelled in the direction of where she believed Kiss was — but she doesn’t know for sure if it was him because her glasses were knocked off and she could only see shadows.

    “ ‘You’re my angel, you saved me!,’ ” Aquino said she remembered shouting. Of Kiss, she added, “he’s the only one who put his family on the side to save me, to do something for me.”

    An ambulance took Aquino to St. Joseph’s hospital, where she stayed for a couple of hours. She says that she has trouble walking and that her physical injuries have prevented her from returning to work — a job that requires physical exertion. The hotel where she works provided her sick leave at a portion of her salary for six weeks, but it has now expired and she is struggling to pay basic bills. She has had to give up her weekend jobs cleaning houses.

    The incident has also taken a drastic toll on her mental health, she said.

    She is not eating or sleeping properly and is afraid to leave the house alone.

    “I’m 59, I feel like 80 now,” she said. “I have sweats, I wake up sweating, I have to have someone around 24/7.”

    Adding to her stress is her knowing that Kiss is facing jail time for what he did, she said, adding she would be “devastated” if he was convicted: “It’s not fair when somebody stood up to the plate.”

    In response to online comments the public has made that Kiss should have just honked his horn, Aquino said she does not believe it would have made a difference.

    “I was the target, so no matter what other people did, I don’t think so,” she said.

    Brown, the lawyer who advised Aquino, said he believes that what Kiss did was “well within the boundaries of the law.”

    “In Canadian law, the use of deadly force is only permitted in very rare circumstances — for example, where it is necessary to protect someone from death or serious bodily harm,” Brown said in an email to the Star.

    “Some of the factors a judge will consider in assessing this defence include whether the use of force was imminent and whether there were other means available to respond to the potential use of force. In this case, Mr. Kiss could not have done anything less to stop this vicious attack. While tragic, the facts completely support Mr. Kiss’s response to this violent encounter.”

    Toronto police declined to comment on the case.

    Aquino said she has made it clear to the Toronto police officers investigating the case that she would like to meet Kiss. The police told her that would compromise the case.

    Said Aquino: “I feel this (interview) is the only way for now to get it out there so people can understand why he did what he did.”


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    WASHINGTON—On Twitter Wednesday morning President Donald Trump announced a ban on transgender people serving in the military, citing “medical costs” as the primary driver of the decision.

    “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” the president wrote.

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

    While Trump didn’t offer any numbers to support this claim, a Defense Department-commissioned study published last year by the Rand Corp. provides exhaustive estimates of transgender servicemembers’ potential medical costs.

    Considering the prevalence of transgender servicemembers among the active duty military and the typical health care costs for gender transition-related medical treatment, the Rand study estimated that these treatments would cost the military between $2.4 million and $8.4 million (U.S.) annually.

    The study didn’t include estimates of these costs for reservists, due to “their highly limited military health care eligibility.” It also didn’t include estimates for retirees or military family members, because many of those individuals may also have “limited eligibility” for care via military treatment facilities.

    “The implication is that even in the most extreme scenario that we were able to identify ... we expect only a 0.13-per cent ($8.4 million out of $6.2 billion) increase in health care spending,” Rand’s authors concluded.

    By contrast, total military spending on erectile dysfunction medicines amounts to $84 million annually, according to an analysis by the Military Times— 10 times the cost of annual transition-related medical care for active duty transgender servicemembers.

    The military spends $41.6 million annually on Viagra alone, according to the Military Times analysis — roughly five times the estimated spending on transition-related medical care for transgender troops.

    Looked at another way, the upper estimate for annual transgender medical costs in the military amounts to less than one-tenth of the price of a new F-35 fighter jet. Or, a thousandth of 1 per cent of the Defense Department’s annual budget.

    The price of providing medical care to transgender servicemembers, in other words, is negligible, and hardly “tremendous” as the president put it.


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    Justin Trudeau is on the new cover of Rolling Stone and please don’t beat yourself up for experiencing a rush of conflicted feelings.

    On the upside, it’s always refreshing when the U.S. media glances over the border and devotes ink — in this case, nearly 7,000 words — to what is a foreign story.

    There is no free trade when it comes to media coverage.

    In Canada, we cover America as if it’s our most important province.

    But in America, unless a story is sensational enough to elbow its way into the domestic spotlight — a vicious road-rage beating in Peterborough, say, that’s captured on video — the U.S. media tends to ignore us the way a high-school quarterback might brush past the treasurer of the chess club on his way to wolfing down a burger and fries in the caf.

    America gorges on itself and we are starved for attention.

    So when the mics and the cameras do clear customs, when Canada is filtered through the prism of stateside outlets, we are on high alert for any distortions and errors, big and small. (In the Rolling Stone opus, there was a reference to the “Royal Canadian Mountain Police,” which I suppose should not be confused with CSIS, or the “Canadian Security Igloo Service.”)

    You see, when it comes to covering Trudeau, the U.S. media is now so grateful he’s not Donald Trump, it continues to lionize him in a way that is failing readers on both sides of the border who may believe incompetence is not a zero-sum game.

    Sure, your guy is a demonic clown. We get that.

    But you know what? Our guy is not exactly keeping his promises or doing anything that might place this country on a solid footing for future generations.

    This is something the U.S. media can’t grasp in the fog of Trump.

    From the opening paragraphs to the unending subtext to the panting cover-line query — “Why Can’t He Be Our President?” — the Rolling Stone profile of Trudeau that landed on Wednesday is so glowingly submissive, so blindingly quixotic, that even if you tool around in a T-shirt that reads “Sunny Ways,” you might be wise to put on shades while skimming to avoid damaging your retinas.

    This two-state media dynamic is clear: It’s much easier for Canadian media to cover Trump than it is for U.S. media to cover Trudeau.

    Trump is so detached from all reasonable standards of decency and intelligence that he is a cartoon villain. He is a fool on the hill who hurls thunderbolts from his social-media citadel, insults that are invariably powered by paranoid scorn and delusions of grandeur because, in the absence of any real accomplishments for this White House, unhinged tweets are all he’s got left.

    Trump is presidential in the same way my cat is a tiffany lamp.

    His supporters believe the fake media is on a witch hunt — that their beloved leader is under siege by diabolical elites who are waging partisan warfare. They are mistaken: from the start of this doomed odyssey, Donald Trump has been under siege by Donald Trump.

    His ineptitude, naked greed, lunatic ego-cravings and severe allergies to both policy and hard work have exposed intractable failings as both an elected official and a human no sensible person would now choose to defend.

    This makes covering him easy, albeit exhausting: watch him shoot himself in the foot and document the bloodshed. Repeat. Repeat again.

    Anything less is journalistic malpractice.

    But for the U.S. media, which finds itself in both the crosshairs of Trump’s incontinent rage and the vortex of his death spiral, covering Trudeau is not as straightforward. There is no obvious monster.

    Whether he’s on the cover of GQ, in an issue devoted to “The Most Stylish Men Alive” or brooding in black-and-white in Vogue as “The New Young Face of Canadian Politics,” the U.S. media has already chalked out Trudeau’s silhouette in a fairy tale imagining that continues to endure.

    In style and temperament, Trudeau is the anti-Trump. He projects idealism on the world stage. He is not vile, at least not in any personal sense. And this yearning for an anti-Trump to call their own means the U.S. media is glossing over or ignoring the troubling similarities between both leaders, not the least of which is an obsession with celebrity that is ultimately counterproductive to governance.

    Yes, Trump is obviously repulsive. But is there not something also repulsive in walking back electoral reform or dithering on Indigenous crises or blowing through taxpayer dollars with the fiscal restraint my young daughters exhibit at Toys ‘R’ Us? If Trudeau ever spends a little less time sitting for cover stories or making cameos on award shows and podcasts, he might start breaking fewer promises.

    In Canada, day after day, the media holds a flame-thrower to Trump’s toes. But as we can see from this Rolling Stone profile, America only has a concert lighter it holds up in the darkness while cheering on Trudeau.

    The attention might be nice.

    But a bit more neighbourly honesty would be even better.

    vmenon@thestar.ca


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    Catching someone clipping their toenails on the GO train may be gross, but it’s not a reason to push the emergency alarm.

    Nor is realizing you’ve forgotten your lunch. Or seeing someone put their feet on the seats. Or being annoyed by the smell of another passenger’s food.

    Yet amazingly, these are all reasons that riders cited over the past year for why they hit the emergency strip and stopped the train, according to Metrolinx, the provincial agency that operates GO Transit.

    Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins published a list of 10 bizarre excuses in a series of Twitter posts on Wednesday. They were culled from a canvass of GO control centre employees, transit safety officers, and train staff that she performs each year.

    Other strange justifications included passengers talking in the train’s “quiet zone,” the washroom running out of toilet paper, and “testing to see if it works.”

    The list is unscientific, but Aikins makes it public each year in order to educate passengers about the consequences of not using the emergency strip appropriately.

    Each time someone presses the strip, it can cause a delay of five to 10 minutes as staff attend to the coach and make sure nothing is seriously wrong. Pulling the emergency brake, which brings the train to a sudden stop, can cause delays of 30 minutes or more.

    In 2016, there were over 650 train trips affected by emergency alarms or emergency brakes, causing close to 150 hours in delays. It’s not clear how many of the alarms were for illegitimate reasons, but Aikins said a majority weren’t genuine emergencies.

    “Honestly, it’s pretty shocking,” Aikins said, of the excuses passengers give.

    She said one man who recently pushed the strip told train staff he simply wanted to test their response time.

    “He congratulated our staff that they arrived very quickly, and he got an appropriate lecture,” she said. “He was very apologetic.”

    That passenger got off with a warning, but not everyone is so lucky. Customers who hit the alarm without legitimate cause can be fined at least $150. The penalty can be into the thousands of dollars for more serious cases, such as if pulling the brake results in an injury to a passenger.

    Some people who mistakenly pull the alarm are genuinely confused about what it does. Customers often say they were trying to request the train to stop at the next station — which is appropriate on a TTC bus or streetcar but not on a GO train, which only makes scheduled stops.

    In other cases, passengers seem to instantly regret what they’ve done. GO staff report that in many instances when they attend to an emergency alarm, no one wants to own up to pressing it. “You get there and everybody’s looking out the window, up on the ceiling, down on the floor,” Aikins said.

    There are legitimate reasons to press the alarm or pull the train’s emergency brake, such as if a passenger needs medical attention, witnesses vandalism or a fight, or sees a suspicious package.

    But if the situation doesn’t fall into one of those categories and customers are still considering pushing the alarm, Aikins has a message: “Don’t do it.”

    “All it’s going to do is delay everyone, including yourself. It can cause a dangerous situation, and you could be fined. It could cost you money.”


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    The condo is continuing its ascent of the Toronto area real estate market with the average price of re-sale apartments cracking the $500,000 barrier in the second quarter this year.

    The average condo cost $532,032 — 28.1 per cent higher than the second quarter last year, according to a report from the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) this week.

    In Toronto, which accounted for 72 per cent of second quarter condo sales, the average price was $566,513.

    Read more:

    New home sales soar in June, as condos dominate market

    Ontario to roll out new rules for condo boards

    Where the most (and least) expensive condo areas are along the subway

    Prices climbed as sales dropped 8 per cent in the same period and the number of listings increased less than 1 per cent.

    Their relative affordability makes condos attractive to many households, especially first-time buyers, said TREB.

    While the Toronto area is a buyer's market overall, sellers are still in the driver's seat of the condo sector, said Gurpreet Thind, director of business development for Condos.ca.

    Even with fewer sales of detached and semi-detached homes, prices for low-rise housing remain out of reach for many buyers, he said.

    There are areas where condos will sit on the market for two or three weeks. But every week there are stories among his fellow agents of competitive bids that raise prices over asking, said Thind.

    Those properties tend to be in more desirable neighbourhoods or buildings. Liberty Village and King St. W. are popular, especially buildings with good layouts and premium touches such as gas stoves.

    Two-bedroom units are sought after, said Thind.

    "Size is king. The expectation is (the buyer) is probably staying longer. They won't be able to afford a house. Whether they're first-time buyers or moving up, they want to try and buy as much square footage as possible," he said.

    The TREB report showed that one-bedroom and one-bedroom-plus-den apartments accounted for half of all sales and two bedrooms, including two-bedroom-with-den units, comprised 46 per cent of transactions.

    The average price of a one-bedroom-plus-den was about $450,000, about $200,000 less than a two-bedroom-plus-den unit.

    TREB points out that the condo rental market is also highly competitive.

    Rents on one- and two-bedroom apartments rose nearly 9 per cent but the number of lease transactions on the board's Multiple Listings Service remained about the same as the second quarter of 2016.

    "Average rents increased by much more than the rate of inflation," said Jason Mercer, the board's director of market analysis, in a news release. "Generally speaking, it has become harder to find a place to rent this year compared to last."

    The average one-bedroom condo rented for $1,861 a month and two-bedroom apartments went for $2,533 between the beginning of April and the end of June.

    Condos are also the leading new construction home product, representing 91 per cent of the new homes sold in June in the Toronto region, the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) reported on Tuesday.


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    At the conclusion of the coroner's inquest testimony Wednesday of the officers who were at the scene of the police shooting death of Michael MacIsaac, his family's demand for answers remained unchanged.

    MacIsaac, 47, was shot dead on an Ajax street on Dec. 2, 2013 by Durham region police Const. Brian Taylor, who said a naked MacIsaac was advancing on him with a metal table leg. Taylor was cleared of criminal wrongdoing by Ontario's police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit.

    On Tuesday, Const. Jeffrey Williams, who was parked behind Taylor on Dring St. that day, said he could not recall if MacIsaac said anything to Taylor before being shot, but that he was “marching” toward the police cruisers. Williams testified he did hear Taylor say something to MacIsaac, however.

    “I don't know what he said, I know it was his voice, and just after I heard two pops,” Williams testified.

    Then on Wednesday, Const. Mark Brown, a designated “mental health response officer” who was parked behind Williams, testified he heard Taylor identify the men as police officers and that he heard MacIsaac shouting.

    “I did hear him yell something, but didn't hear what he actually yelled,” Brown testified, saying MacIsaac was “running slightly faster than a jog” down a driveway toward police and holding the table leg like a baseball bat.

    Taylor himself testified last week that he remembered issuing and hearing the police challenge — “Police. Don't move.” And he testified that MacIsaac was saying to him, “Come on, come on.”

    It has also been previously pointed out at the inquest that Taylor cannot be heard shouting commands and MacIsaac cannot be heard saying anything on a 911 call that was placed by a civilian at the scene of the shooting and that the call was analyzed by a forensic scientist for the family, who found no breaks or alterations in the recording. Taylor has speculated that the call dropped and did not capture everything that was said.

    “I think none of their stories match,” MacIsaac's sister, Joanne, told reporters Wednesday. “I'd like to say it's surprising that the SIU didn't have a lot more questions with this, but it seems to be the way the SIU handles these situations.”

    The SIU does not comment on probes that are the subject of a coroner's inquest, and it has also never said in the past if it listened to, or even obtained, the 911 call.

    Wednesday was an especially emotional day for the MacIsaac family, sitting in the front rows of the courtroom. Some family members, overcome by emotion, left during parts of Brown's testimony.

    Like Williams the day before him, Brown testified that his focus, after the shooting, was on helping MacIsaac. He said that once MacIsaac fell to the ground, he removed the table leg while the other officers remained with their guns drawn.

    “I took control of Mr. MacIsaac, I took hold of his hands and he was actively resisting and not listening,” Brown testified, saying he was trying to administer first aid along with Williams. He said the only word from MacIsaac that he could make out was “pain.”

    The term “actively resisting” sparked a wave of sobbing from the MacIsaac family.

    “Michael was met with such a lack of compassion, empathy and caring by these three men, right after he was shot,” Joanne MacIsaac told reporters. “When he's naked, and cold and on the ground and you're pushing in on his abdomen after he's been shot, to use the phrase that he was still ‘actively resisting,’ my God, what is the matter with these people? What is the matter with each of them?”

    Williams testified Tuesday that he retrieved first aid kits from the police vehicles and attempted to speak to MacIsaac, who was yelling but was incomprehensible.

    “At that point it was my job to save his life,” Williams said. “He did eventually start speaking to me, he told me his name was Michael. I told him ‘I'm trying to help you, we have help on the way’ . . . I asked him what had happened. He told me he was hot.”

    Coroner's counsel Troy Harrison asked how long it took for an ambulance to arrive.

    “I couldn't tell you,” Williams said. “It was upsetting and chaotic.”

    Williams said that when the ambulance did arrive, he jumped in the driver's seat, offering to drive to the hospital so that the two paramedics could focus on MacIsaac. But one of his superiors at the scene had another officer drive and ordered Williams back to the police division because of his involvement in the shooting.

    Under cross-examination by Anita Szigeti, lawyer for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health's Empowerment Council, it was pointed out to Williams that the first time an officer tried to calm MacIsaac down by asking his name and talking about help was after he had already been shot.

    On Wednesday, Szigeti questioned Brown on his knowledge of mental health issues and individuals in crisis, suggesting he has stereotyped or negative perceptions of persons with mental health issues, which he denied.

    The officer testified earlier that he received a 40-hour training course in either 2005 or 2006 to be designated a mental health response officer, which consisted largely of meeting the various agencies that can help individuals in crisis. He said he hasn't taken any refresher courses since then.

    Szigeti listed some of the observations Brown made to the SIU as to why he believed MacIsaac may have mental health issues, including glossy eyes and speaking gibberish.

    “(These observations) could also be consistent with being shot, though,” she said.

    After her cross-examination, Szigeti turned and quietly apologized to the MacIsaac family.

    The inquest continues.


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    The White House wants America to know that U.S. President Donald Trump has the support of a 9-year-old named Dylan.

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who was last week named Trump’s new press secretary, opened Wednesday’s White House press briefing by reading a letter of praise she said was from the child.

    “I’m 9 years old and you are my favourite president,” Sanders read. “I like you so much I had a birthday about you.”

    With reporters looking on, Sanders then answered a few questions Dylan had posed in his letter, including, “how big is the White House?” and, “how much money do you have?”

    “I don’t know why people don’t like you,” she continued reading. “You seem really nice. Can we be friends?”

    Read more:Trump’s attacks on Sessions, Mueller raise concerns about ‘authoritarian’ tactics

    Sanders spent much of Wednesday’s briefing addressing questions about Trump’s plan to bar transgender individuals from the U.S. military. In a series of morning tweets, Trump had earlier said he wants transgender people barred from serving “in any capacity.”

    Sanders described the move as a “military decision” and said Trump was concerned the current policy “erodes military readiness and military cohesion.” She said the secretary of defence was notified yesterday after Trump made the decision.

    Later in the press briefing, Sanders said she would end proceedings early if reporters continued to ask questions about the transgender issue.

    Here’s the full text of Dylan’s letter, complete with spelling errors:

    Dear President Trump

    My name is Dylan (redacted) but every body calls me pickle. I’m 9 years old and you are my fovrit President. I like you so much I had a birthday about you. My cake was the shap of your hat. How old ar you? How big is the white hose? Ho much monny do you have? I dont now why people don’t like you. You seme nice can we be friends? My pitcher is in here so if you see me you can say hi.

    Your friend

    Dylan

    With files from The Associated Press


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    When Katie Mohammed turned to Facebook to air concerns about her community — as millions of people do every day — she didn’t think she’d ever be sued for libel, and become the centre of a precedent-setting case in Ontario’s laws protecting speech in the public interest.

    A libel lawsuit against Mohammed was dismissed under relatively new provincial rules targeting “strategic lawsuits against public participation,” known as anti-SLAPP measures. The Stouffville resident was the first defendant to be awarded damages under the legislation.

    “I’m just relieved that it’s over,” Mohammed said Wednesday. “It’s like a weight’s been lifted off my shoulders.”

    Mohammed, a teacher, was asked by United Soils Management Ltd. for a retraction and apology on the first day of school last year after she posted to two Facebook groups, “Stouffville Mommies” and “Stouffville Buy and Sell,” criticizing the company’s plan to deposit fill in an in-town pit.

    She complied with the request two days later, but was still served with a statement of claim for libel totalling $120,000 at the end of that week.

    “As a mom and a teacher to receive something like that it’s just devastating as most people don’t have the means to fight a case like that,” she said.

    Justice Thomas Lederer ruled in a decision Tuesday that the case would be dismissed under the anti-SLAPP legislation, which was passed in October 2015.

    The legislation allows such lawsuits to be dismissed using the faster simplified procedure route, as long as a judge concludes that the case passes certain tests.

    “There is no merit to this action much less ‘substantial merit,’ ” Lederer’s decision reads.

    That ruling, along with the conclusions that Mohammed could have mounted a defence, and that United Soils Management wouldn’t suffer sufficient harm to justify limiting her expression, informedLederer’s decision to dismiss the case.

    He awarded $7,500 in damages to Mohammed, to be paid by United Soils Management.

    Alec Cloke, owner of United Soils Management, was reached by the Star but declined to comment because his lawyer, William A. Chalmers, was on vacation.

    The company’s case focused on Mohammed’s use of the words “poison” and “children” in her Facebook posts, and argued that the choice of words falsely implied that the company was committing a crime, Lederer’s decision summarized.

    Sabrina Callaway, Mohammed’s lawyer, said she is happy that damages were awarded, but not because the amount itself is likely to be seen as a deterrent to corporations considering strategic lawsuits.

    “It just kind of reiterates that my client was doing the right thing by speaking out,” she said of the award.

    Rob De Luca, a spokesperson for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, said that the more likely deterrent to arise from cases like this is companies’ fear of bad publicity.

    “Attempts to silence individuals with frivolous litigation is going to itself be something that’s discussed in the public realm,” he said.

    In addition to being used as a precedent in future anti-SLAPP cases in Ontario, De Luca said that the decision in Mohammed’s case may attract the attention of other jurisdictions considering similar legislation.

    “Other jurisdictions are watching Ontario to see our case law developments on this,” he said. “These kinds of decisions will have a wider influence than simply in Ontario.”

    Mohammed said that she hopes that her case encourages other Canadians that their rights to free speech will be protected in court.

    “I just hope that Canadians realize that it’s important for people to speak up on matters of public interest and that there’s a law to protect them now,” she said.


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    The nursing home where Elizabeth Wettlaufer murdered seven patients released a statement Wednesday outlining the home’s actions following the ex-nurse’s 2014 termination.

    Caressant Care Woodstock said it sent a 20-page report outlining 10 workplace violations in two and a half years — three of which included suspensions — to the Ontario College of Nurses on April 17, 2014 after it fired her two weeks earlier for making a medication “error” that put a patient at risk.

    A lawyer for the college, Mark Sandler said after Tuesday’s misconduct hearing that the director of nursing at Caressant told college staff in an interview following her termination, that there were no underlying concerns about Wettlaufer.

    But in statement on Wednesday, Caressant said they had no record of staff making those comments.

    “Caressant Care has no records indicating that its leadership or staff believed or said this in response to any inquiry following the termination,” the statement from Caressant said.

    In a statement Wednesday, Sandler, said the regulatory body has documentation of its conversation with Caressant’s director of nursing.

    The alleged statements by the director of nursing at the time were the regulatory body’s main rationale for not investigating Wettlaufer further in 2014, lawyers for the college said Tuesday.

    During the hearing in which the college revoked Wettlaufer’s nursing licence the college did not disclose the 20-page report outlining Caressant’s concerns during the hearing.

    Following Wettlaufer’s sentencing last month, Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi and Health Minister Eric Hoskins released a statement saying they would establish an independent public inquiry to look into the circumstances of the case.

    Sandler’s statement also said Caressant’s accounts of Wettlaufer’s actions were inconsistent in 2014, when the former nurse was fired, and in 2016, after she confessed.

    “In 2016, only after Ms Wettlaufer’s criminal activities were already known and two years after the termination, Caressant Care wrote to the college,” said Sandler’s statement. “The characterizations it made in that letter for the first time were different than in its earlier verbal and written reports to the college.”

    The college has been criticized for not investigating Wettlaufer after Caressant reported her insulin error in May 2014. Wettlaufer murdered one victim and harmed two others after the firing.

    Sandler said the college stands by the decision it made at the time.

    “Caressant Care provided a notice of termination to the college in 2014 together with the errors it identified on Ms Wettlaufer’s part,” said Sandler. “None involved an allegation of deliberate abuse or deliberate over-administration of drugs.”

    Caressant fired Wettlaufer on March 31, 2014 for giving one patient insulin meant for another. She had already killed seven of her eight murder victims.

    In the statement, Caressant said it received notice in July 2014 that the college had received its report and didn’t hear from the regulatory body again until Wettlaufer was charged last fall.

    In Tuesday’s hearing, the college also revealed it restricted Wettlaufer’s nursing licence after a 1995 incident where she was caught stealing medication, which left her intoxicated at work. The restrictions lasted a year and were posted publicly for six, the college said.

    Wettlaufer is currently serving life in prison for the murder of eight patients, attempted murders of four others and aggravated assaults of two. She has no chance of parole for 25 years.


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    Residents of a Markham neighbourhood want a towering cow sculpture installed 10 days ago by the city to just moooove on.

    The unhappy people gathered Tuesday night to give local councillor Alan Ho, who voted last year to approve the chrome statue, a piece of their collective mind.

    Ho was in huge backtrack mode as resident after resident slammed him for supporting the statue in a large parkette on Charity Cres. in the Cathedraltown neighbourhood. He urged them to gather a petition opposing the artwork and to head to council at its first meeting in September to tell elected officials exactly what they think.

    The cow, called Charity, Perpetuation of Perfection, was apparently a prize-winning milker for the donor and the statue is dubbed “Brookview Tony Charity.”

    Under intense questioning from residents at the site of the statue, Ho admitted the donation of the statue was valued at $1.2 million.

    But he insisted the donation cost the City of Markham and taxpayers nothing.

    Residents were udderly unimpressed.

    Tammy Armes, a member of the Cathedraltown Ratepayers Association, said the sculpture caught everyone by surprise.

    “This is really a shock for us; it’s not a small cow. It does not belong in this community,” Armes said.

    Danny Da Silva, who lives right in the sightline of the sculpture, was blunt in his assessment of it: “I hate it. I don’t like to be forced to look at this, but I have to unless I don’t want to come out of my house anymore.

    “I think it’s actually kind of disturbing looking. I come from a Christian background and this is actually one of the worst things you can do, is to raise a calf; it’s facing the cathedral. Who’s going to want to buy the house, there’s very little to admire,” he added.

    Da Silva suggested it be moved to another location, like the carousel in downtown Markham.

    Ho said he believed the statue belonged in another location but that the donor insisted on the current location and council agreed. He said if the statue does get moved it’s not clear whether the donor or the city will have to pay the cost.

    Markham Economist & Sun


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    WASHINGTON—His grandfather served and his older brother served. He’s a natural helper and leader. So when two recruiters from the U.S. Marines came to Lucas Rixon’s English class last year to make their patriotic pitch, he was a quick sell: he decided he would become a soldier, too.

    His tattoos got him rejected when he tried to sign up in the winter. He planned to try again.

    Until the president declared him permanently unfit for duty.

    Rixon, an 18-year-old in North Carolina, learned Wednesday that he would need to pursue some other career goal. In a three-tweet morning statement, Donald Trump announced that he would not “accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”

    Trump’s abrupt decision left Pentagon officials, Congress and transgender advocates scrambling for answers. When would the policy take effect? What did the policy actually say? What would happen to transgender soldiers currently serving? Trump’s press secretary had no further information, pledging that the details would be worked out later.

    Rixon had heard enough. The president, he said, is a bigot.

    “It makes us seem like we’re not humans. Any human can get into the military. But we can’t,” he said. “Now we can’t go into the military, so people are going to look at us like, ‘Oh, they are really much, much different from us.’ When we’re really not.”

    Trump announced the decision on the 69th anniversary of Harry Truman’s decision to desegregate the military, in the middle of his administration’s “American Heroes Week,” and the month after his White House declined to acknowledge Pride Month.

    If the decision is indeed implemented — and there was lingering uncertainty about the outcome given that there was no formal policy ready to go — it will reverse a decision made one year ago by Barack Obama.

    That decision allowed existing transgender soldiers, who number somewhere between 2,500 and 15,000, to serve openly for the first time. As of July 1 of this year, openly transgender recruits were supposed to be allowed to enlist.

    Instead, Defence Secretary James Mattis gave the military another six months to study the issue. Then, with Mattis on vacation, Trump reversed the entire initiative via Twitter.

    “After consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” he wrote. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

    U.S. allies including Canada, Israel, the U.K. and Australia all welcome transgender troops. A 2016 study by RAND Corp. found that research on the subject was limited but that these countries had experienced “little or no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness, or readiness.”

    Shane Ortega, a transgender Marine and army veteran who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, said he was “outraged, disgusted and heartbroken” by the suggestion that transgender people are impeding military success.

    He said Trump, who obtained student and medical deferments to avoid serving in Vietnam, “has no authority or knowledge base to make any sort of tactical decision.”

    “All you have to do is look at my military record. I’ve deployed five times, in two combat zones, I had no tactical issues. Zero,” said Ortega, 30, who joined in 2005. “I’m completely furious because: here’s a man who isn’t willing to step up himself to sacrifice his own body, and yet he wants to police the bodies of people who are willing to do that very sacrifice which he holds in supposed high regard.”

    Ortega said his military peers knew he was transgender for years. He came out to his commanders in 2014, he said, then served as a staff sergeant until 2016.

    He said active transgender soldiers were “panicking” Wednesday. He worried about whether troops booted from the military under Trump’s directive would receive honourable discharges.

    “Who is good enough?” he said. “Who is human enough to be human in this government?”

    Trump’s decision was widely seen as a strategic attempt to excite the social conservatives among his political base. One senior official in Trump’s administration told the website Axios that they were attempting to force Democratic candidates in the Rust Belt to “take complete ownership of this issue.”

    But it also seemed possible that Trump had blundered into a problem. Several Republican senators came out against the move. House Republicans, Politico reported, had sought Trump’s help with their attempt to get the military to stop paying for gender reassignment surgery — but never asked him to ban transgender troops entirely.

    Regardless of his motive, Trump set alight any goodwill he had managed to earn in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities with his campaign promise to “fight for” LGBT people.

    He had differentiated himself from his Republican rivals by expressing support for the right of Caitlyn Jenner, the transgender Republican former Olympian, to use the bathroom of her choice at Trump Tower. And he had boasted of becoming the first Republican nominee to have an openly gay person, businessman Peter Thiel, speak at his convention.

    But LGBT communities were always skeptical.

    Activists noted that he mentioned LGBT people almost exclusively in the context of justifying his policies to discriminate against Muslims. He surrounded himself with social conservatives hostile to LGBT interests. And his words of support were always followed by criticism and hesitation.

    In October, Trump declared Obama’s policy on transgender troops “ridiculous.” Despite his comfort with Jenner, he deferred to party activists who wanted to deny transgender people the right to use the bathroom matching their gender identity. In February, he rolled back Obama’s bathroom instructions to schools.

    “I knew the entire time. He’s with the Republican Party, and that is the party that — while some of them are more moderate — stands against everything that trans people and LGBT people are,” said Destiny Clark, a transgender woman who is president of Central Alabama Pride. “That was just for TV, to try to get a little bit of publicity.”

    Rixon will soon enter college to study criminal justice. If he can’t serve in the military, he said, he will try to serve in another way: joining the FBI.


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    Sure, the real estate market is down. But in 47 per cent of 905-area neighbourhoods and 34 per cent of Toronto neighbourhoods, detached home prices continued to rise in the second quarter of the year.

    A Re/MAX analysis of 65 Toronto region neighbourhoods tells a story of two markets — a blockbuster in the first quarter and a slumped second quarter, following the province’s Fair Housing policy announcement in April — said Christopher Alexander, Ontario-Atlantic region director for Re/MAX Integra.

    Affordability is a big part of the picture, he said.

    “The vast majority of upward-trending markets in the 905 were under $1 million. With interest rates still low, under $1 million is affordable for a lot of households,” said Alexander.

    Read more:

    Toronto housing market downturn will be short-lived, CMHC says

    Average price of a Toronto condo cracks $500,000

    New home sales soar in June, as condos dominate market

    Affordability in the Toronto region often comes with a commute to the city. Brock, near Lake Simcoe, had an 11.73 per cent increase in the average price of a detached home from the first to the second quarter.

    Caledon was up 8.61 per cent and Halton Hills saw a 7.75 per cent average price rise.

    In Toronto, detached home prices south of Bloor St. west to the Humber River dropped about 20 per cent and the Rosedale/Moore Park area saw a 22 per cent price decline.

    But Alexander cautions those area averages could be skewed by the sale of some luxury homes. In the first quarter, the majority of Rosedale sales, for example, were over $5 million, he said.

    More typical would be moderate price increases of 7.59 per cent in the zone that includes Riverdale, Greenwood-Coxwell and Blake-Jones. The Junction-High Park area saw a similar rise of about 7 per cent.

    The Re/MAX analysis is based on the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) map which divides the city into zones — most incorporate multiple neighbourhoods.

    The report is a snapshot of an extraordinary year in Toronto-area house sales, said Alexander. But the real picture is a year-over-year price comparison and, year over year, prices are up, he said.

    The Re/MAX report is based on TREB statistics, which are published monthly. The board reported that the average detached home price rose about 8 per cent year over year in June in the Toronto region.

    Alexander acknowledged there were areas that went down in price between the first and second quarter. But, he said, as a realtor that just means there are opportunities for buyers who have more choices than they did a couple of months ago and can negotiate with conditions on their offers.


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    WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump has never gone a full week without a false claim, but some weeks are worse than others.

    The past week was his worst yet. From last Thursday, the six-month anniversary of his presidency, to this Wednesday, he made 33 false claims. That’s about five every day. Starting Saturday, when this barrage really began, it’s about seven per day.

    Trump made the false claims in every possible venue: an interview with the Wall Street Journal (11 false claims) to a campaign rally in Ohio (five false claims) to a speech to the National Boy Scout Jamboree (four false claims).

    Over six months in office, Trump has proven uniquely willing to lie, exaggerate and mislead. By all expert accounts, he is more frequently inaccurate than any of his predecessors.

    Read more: How Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale fact-checks Trump

    We are keeping track. Below is a list of every false claim Trump has made since his inauguration on Jan. 20.

    Trump is averaging 2.4 false claims per day.

    Why call them false claims, not lies? We can’t be sure that each and every one was intentional; in some cases, he may have been confused or ignorant. What we know, objectively, is that he was not telling the truth.

    Last updated: July 27, 2017


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    The first six months of 2017 haven’t been kind to Toronto’s homeless.

    From January through June, 46 homeless people have died across the city, according to new information released Wednesday by Toronto Public Health in an ongoing initiative to monitor these deaths.

    Read more: Mississauga library receives federal funding to help fight homelessness

    Second-quarter data from an expanded tracking program, led by Toronto Public Health and supported by about 200 health and social service agencies, reported that 19 deaths occurred from April 1 through June 30. The median age for the deceased during this period was 48.5.

    “The numbers are shocking and deeply disturbing,” said Councillor Joe Cressy (Trinity-Spadina). “If the test of a city is how well it cares for the most vulnerable, these deaths show we are failing.”

    While the city collects a broad range of information about the deceased, such as gender, unofficial cause of death, and location of death, it only makes public the number of homeless dead and the median age. Advocates for the homeless say more data should be made public so that citizens have a better understanding of who is dying and why.

    “It’s like the city has put this (death tally) up there without fanfare, without any data to help anyone understand it except for the (median) age,” said long-time Toronto street nurse Cathy Crowe, also a distinguished visiting practitioner at Ryerson University’s department of politics and public administration.

    She said she believes sharing other category information with the public “would help put a picture out there of who’s homeless” in Toronto.

    “I don’t think we want names but I think we want gender breakdown, I think we want to know some categories of cause of death; how many opiate overdoses? How many suicides? How many trauma-related? Were any related to weather?” Crowe continued.

    “We know zero.”

    In the initiative’s first-quarter statistics, collected from January to the end of March, 27 homeless deaths were reported via the city-wide data network. The median age during that time was 51.

    The total of 46 deaths — from January through June — produced an average rate of 1.8 deaths per week, with a median age of 50 over the first half of the year.

    “Life expectancy in Toronto is approximately 80 years. While these are early results, the age at death for the homeless population represents a serious health inequity,” said Paul Fleiszer, manager of surveillance and epidemiology at Toronto Public Health.

    He said research and “lived experience” have shown that factors such as unaffordable and poor-quality housing, and housing instability, are associated with a range of poor mental and physical health outcomes, including injuries, and chronic and communicable diseases.

    “As a result, homelessness represents a major contribution to the loss of potential years of life,” Fleiszer said.

    Crowe said that the median age of the deceased “means that some very, very young people died and that’s not normal.”

    “It’s scary,” she said.

    Advocates for the homeless have long protested that previous attempts to accurately count the dead have underreported the extent of the tragic situation.

    Previously, the city has recorded deaths only in city-administered shelters; that number for all of 2016 was 33.

    The new initiative’s third-quarter results are scheduled for release in October, with the 2017 report finalized by January 2018.

    The tracking of homeless deaths across the city, which began on Jan. 1, 2017, was spurred in part by a 2016 Toronto Star investigation that found the province and most Ontario municipalities have no mandate to track homeless deaths comprehensively, if at all.

    Volunteers with the Toronto Homeless Memorial, at the Church of the Holy Trinity, next to the Eaton Centre, have been compiling an unofficial list of homeless people in the GTA who have died since the 1980s. There are now more than 850 names on the memorial. Its highest annual toll was 72 in 2005.

    “These numbers should be a wake-up call to politicians of all stripes,” said Cressy, referring to the new Toronto Public Health data.

    “With increased supports we know that many of these deaths are preventable.”


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