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    They may drive motorists crazy — and initially cause confusion — but municipalities are increasingly turning to roundabouts as a way to keep traffic flowing and reduce serious accidents.

    But with more of these intersections — popular in Europe for over a century, but becoming more common in Ontario only in recent years — it’s time that the Highway Traffic Act is updated to include roundabouts, says a Tory MPP whose Waterloo-area riding is the traffic-circle capital of the province.

    “From a motorist’s perspective, I love roundabouts versus intersections,” said Michael Harris (Kitchener-Conestoga). “They are way . . . safer. The biggest thing, when my family is in the van, are the (traditional) intersections, which scare the hell out of me. Even when I go through them, I’m looking left and right,” worrying about serious collisions.

    But there are issues with roundabouts and drivers unfamiliar with navigating them — particularly pedestrian safety, which some critics say are the weaknesses of roundabouts.

    “Five years ago, there was a major incident in the region where a student was crossing, and she was hit by a bus. And from there we identified that there’s nothing mentioned in the Highway Traffic Act as it pertains to traffic roundabouts,” said Harris, who had been advocating for an update to legislation for several years.

    “People struggle. If they are not used to roundabouts, they struggle. My parents, for years, avoided them.”

    Waterloo Region now has more than 50 roundabouts. While roundabouts lead to higher accident rates, they are almost all minor fender-benders or side-swipes with little damage and few, if any, injuries — no head-on collisions or T-bone accidents. One local study found that despite the higher numbers of crashes, roundabouts are still are the safer bet.

    Ela Shadpour did her master’s thesis at Wilfrid Laurier University on the social cost of roundabouts versus signalled intersections because it was such a hot topic in the local media. The Waterloo Region Record has covered the issue extensively.

    Her study found that accident rates are higher —much higher when roundabouts are first installed, compared to signalled intersections — but most of them were minor. Given the nature of the crashes, roundabouts took much less of a toll on drivers and society — less severe injuries, if any, and no fatalities, she found.

    Changing lanes or knowing what lane to exit in, “that’s what’s very confusing, at the earliest stages,” said Shadpour. “I really believe as time goes by, people learn how to drive in roundabouts.”

    Previous studies have shown that over time, the number of accidents drops.

    Ontario’s transportation ministry is involved with roundabout installation when the intersection involves a provincial highway. Sheri Graham, manager of its traffic office, said the first one opened in Picton in 2009, and the province now has about 19 currently in use and another 50-plus on the way.

    “Typically (with roundabouts) we see lower speeds, and when it comes to collisions, a lower operating speed can result in a better outcome . . . they are less severe type of collisions, and you don’t necessarily have rear-end collisions,” she said.

    Head-on collisions, she added, are eliminated “because all the vehicles are travelling in the same direction. We see more of the side-swipe type of collisions as compared to other types.”

    She said pedestrian rules are the same as any intersection.

    Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca said current legislation covers pedestrians and roundabouts, which are “safer, more efficient and improve the flow of traffic. All of the elements required to navigate a roundabout are in the Highway Traffic Act. New drivers can also refer to the province’s official driver’s handbook, which includes a section on how to safely drive through roundabouts.

    “That being said, we know that there is always more work to be done so we will continue to monitor roundabouts across the province and work with our municipal and road safety partners to make improvements where necessary.”

    In Waterloo Region, planners say the safety and traffic flow benefits are behind the boom in roundabouts, and it also means road capacity and traffic flow can be increased without adding lanes.

    Bob Henderson, manager of transportation engineering, said roundabouts do take up more land, and that can be an issue. And using them isn’t automatic; the region runs collision prediction models “and there might be areas in the region where a signal will perform really well . . . but in general, roundabouts will result in fewer injuries and fewer fatal injuries.”

    He said there is typically about a 20-per-cent increase in collisions with a roundabout versus a traditional intersection, but few injuries.

    “We’ve had roundabouts since 2004, and we haven’t incurred any fatal incidents,” Henderson said.

    While some have said roundabouts are unfriendly to pedestrians, he said they are used in Waterloo by those walking, on bikes and motorists — even area Mennonites travelling by horse and buggy.

    He said the region has asked the province to consider updating driver testing to include roundabouts, in communities where they are located.

    Mississauga has also been moving toward roundabouts, saying they mean less travel delays, lower speeds and “fewer conflict points between vehicles,” said Leslie Green, who is manager of transportation projects. She and road safety supervisor Colin Patterson say roundabouts require less maintenance and have no electricity costs. Land needs, however, and construction present extra costs.

    The city will soon have four roundabouts — the first one opened in 2011, at Duke of York Blvd. and Square One Dr. — and three more are in the works for 2019.

    Like Waterloo, the city launched a public education campaign to help drivers navigate roundabouts, and it says there are fewer collisions at roundabouts than traditional intersections, and no reported incidents involving those on foot or on bike.

    Harris has put forward a private member’s bill, the Safe Roundabouts Act, that he said would modernize the Highway Traffic Act to include roundabouts. The bill asks the government to first consult the experts regarding everything from safety to speed limits to signage — including “uniformity of road design standards” to help ease driver confusion.

    The CAA of South Central Ontario said it first spoke to Harris five years ago when he began to push for clearer roundabout rules. The CAA supports municipalities in choosing what’s right for the communities, and “we’ve always been supportive of the concept that provides additional safety measures for road users,” said spokesperson Elliott Silverstein.

    Harris said there’s inconsistency for pedestrians as well, with some intersections where they have the right of way and others where they yield to traffic.

    “We are seeing more and more communities with roundabouts,” he said. “Now is the time to get it right.”

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    Police have charged a driver following a deadly collision in Mississauga on Wednesday and are asking for the public’s help for information.

    Kasim Khurami, 62, from Mississauga, was crossing the street when a gray Mazda sedan made a turn and hit him. Khurami was pronounced dead on scene.

    The collision occurred at the intersection of Edwards Blvd. and Topflight Dr., near Hurontario St. and the 407, at midnight.

    The driver, who wasn’t hurt, left the scene but returned later, said Peel police Const. Mark Fischer.

    Ramesh Banjara, 55, from Brampton, has been charged with failing to stop at the scene of an accident causing death.

    Police are asking for anyone with information or footage of the collision to contact the Major Collision Bureau or Peel Crime Stoppers.

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    WASHINGTON—The waters of the so-called swamp are starting to rise around Donald Trump, with various creatures of Washington’s political marshes threatening his presidency from multiple angles.

    Consider about nine developments of the last few days in a town derided by the president as an amphibian-infested bog.

    First, the special investigator in the Russia affair has empanelled a grand jury, according to multiple reports. Second, lawmakers from both parties are co-operating to craft different bills that would curb Trump’s ability to fire the investigator.

    Third, the attorney general Trump mused about firing has been promised his job is secure. Republican lawmakers have brushed off three demands from the president: on Russia sanctions, on health care, on adjusting procedural rules — that’s four, five and six. A pair of Republicans have just released books criticizing the president.

    Eight, his own party’s senators have blocked him from making appointments during the summer break; they used a rare parliamentary gimmick to thwart him. And to cap it all off, Trump’s critics have been emboldened by a new dip in his poll numbers.

    Read more: We now know how the Trump presidency will end. Let's hope we survive: Burman

    This is all happening by the end of the first congressional session of the Trump presidency, which is concluding this week with senators heading off on their summer recess. On their way out the door, they stiff-armed questions about their president.

    One Republican walking down the hallway shrugged when asked whether the president understands the health law he wants them to pass: “I certainly wouldn’t want to comment on what the president understands and doesn’t understand.”

    Their mood has been hardening against the commander-in-chief.

    Republicans have made it clear they’re unhappy Trump threatened one of their old colleagues — former senator, now Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump has just fired two party establishment figures from his White House staff. He then fuelled rumours he might fire Sessions out of frustration with his refusal to defend the president in the Russia affair.

    Democrats say they hear the grumbling from Republican colleagues.

    Sen. Ron Wyden, a member of the intelligence committee investigating Russian collusion, says he’s convinced any move to fire special investigator Robert Mueller would trigger a constitutional crisis.

    “I’ve seen a real change in tone (from the Republicans),” he said. “I’ll leave it at that.”

    Mark Warner, another Democrat on the committee, said he’s noticed the same shift: “Republican colleagues have said (firing Mueller) would be the beginning of the end of the Trump presidency.

    “I think you would see widespread bipartisan support to put back in place (a new special investigator).”

    In fact, two groups of senators, from both parties, have already started crafting bills to restore an investigator if Trump fires Mueller. It now appears unlikely that Trump will fire the attorney general to get a new one who might fire Mueller.

    Republicans have rebelled against the idea, saying they will not confirm a replacement for Sessions.

    One Trump-skeptical Republican senator, Lindsey Graham, said in an interview with The Canadian Press that nobody in the Republican caucus would accept the special counsel being fired without just cause.

    Graham is doing his part to protect the investigator — he’s co-sponsored one of the bills that would set limits on the president’s ability to oust him.

    Mueller is under assault from the president’s staunchest supporters.

    Trump boosters are promoting the idea of firing him in part because inquiry staff donated to Democrats. But Graham said that, as a lawyer himself, he doesn’t see that as a disqualifier. He pointed out that most members of the Kenneth Starr team that investigated Bill Clinton were Republicans.

    As for Sessions’s job security, Graham said: “I’ve never felt better about Jeff.”

    Meanwhile, lawmakers thumbed their nose at Trump and voted overwhelmingly to limit his ability to eliminate sanctions. When Russia protested, Trump called lawmakers a bunch of big-talking, do-nothings who can’t even pass a health law.

    In fact, several are now working to protect Obamacare and keep it from collapsing — once again, in defiance of the president’s wishes. One of the lawmakers who voted to preserve Obamacare, Sen. John McCain, even taunted the president over his Russia remarks.

    He responded to a presidential tweet with one of his own: “You can thank Putin for attacking our democracy, invading neighbours & threatening our allies.”

    And then news broke late Thursday in the Wall Street Journal that Mueller had called in a grand jury in his Russia investigation. The probe appears to have grown from a look at election collusion to broader issues involving financial crimes, based on the expertise of the lawyers he’s hired.

    So, what does that mean?

    A former assistant Watergate prosecutor and federal prosecutor says it means 23 people have been selected to be on a grand jury, and rather than simply interviewing witnesses in an office, they can summon them to give formal testimony, then consider charges.

    In case that wasn’t clear enough, Nick Akerman adds: “Because the prosecutors want to take testimony under oath and may be heading toward indictments.”

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    NEW YORK—Martin Shkreli, the eccentric former pharmaceutical CEO notorious for a price-gouging scandal and for his snide “Pharma Bro” persona on social media, was convicted Friday on federal charges he deceived investors in a pair of failed hedge funds.

    A Brooklyn jury deliberated five days before finding Shkreli guilty on three of eight counts. He had been charged with securities fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

    Shkreli, upbeat and defiant outside the Brooklyn courthouse afterward, called his prosecution “a witch hunt of epic proportions” but conceded that maybe the government had found “one or two broomsticks.”

    Read more:

    Martin Shkreli takes to Facebook instead of the stand at his trial

    Judge chastises Martin Shkreli for speaking to the media about his trial

    ‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli has Twitter account suspended for harassing female journalist

    Asked about his client’s social-media antics, attorney Ben Brafman said it was something they would be working on.

    “There is an image issue that Martin and I are going to be discussing in the next few days,” he said, adding that while Shkreli was a brilliant mind, sometimes his “people skills” need work. As he spoke, Shkreli smiled and cocked his head quizzically in mock confusion.

    Brafman predicted that Shkreli would someday go on to develop cures to terrible diseases that afflict children.

    Within an hour of leaving the court, Shkreli was at home live-streaming on YouTube and calling the split verdict a victory, despite his conviction on two of the most serious counts. Prosecutors had a different take.

    “There’s one statement that’s most important and that’s the jury’s statement: guilty on those counts,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget Rohde.

    Prosecutors had accused Shkreli of repeatedly misleading investors about what he was doing with their money. Mostly, he was blowing it with horrible stock picks, forcing him to cook up a scheme to recover millions in losses, they said.

    Shkreli, 34, told “lies upon lies,” including claiming he had $40 million (U.S.) in one of his funds at a time when it only had about $300 in the bank, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alixandra Smith said in closing arguments. The trial “has exposed Martin Shkreli for who he really is — a con man who stole millions,” added another prosecutor, Jacquelyn Kasulis.

    But the case was tricky for the government because investors who testified said Shkreli’s scheme actually succeeded in making them richer, in some cases doubling or even tripling their money on his company’s stock when it went public.

    “Who lost anything? Nobody,” Brafman said in his closing argument. Some investors had to admit on the witness stand that partnering with Shkreli was “the greatest investment I’ve ever made,” he added.

    While the convictions carry maximum penalties of years in prison, Brafman said that the lack of financial harm meant that Shkreli could get no jail time when he is sentenced. A sentencing date has yet to be set.

    For the boyish-looking Shkreli, one of the biggest problems was not part of the case — his purchase in 2014 of rights to a life-saving drug that he promptly raised the price from $13.50 to $750 per pill. Several potential jurors were kept off the panel after expressing disdain for the defendant, with one calling him a “snake” and another “the face of corporate greed.”

    The defendant also came into the trial with a reputation for trolling his critics on social media to a degree that got him kicked off Twitter and for live-streaming himself giving math lessons or doing nothing more than petting his cat, named Trashy. Among his other antics: boasting about buying a one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album for $2 million.

    Shkreli, who comes from an Albanian family in Brooklyn, was arrested in 2015 on charges he looted another drug company he founded, Retrophin, of $11 million in stock and cash to pay back the hedge fund investors. Investors took the witness stand to accuse Shkreli of keeping them in the dark as his scheme unfolded.

    “I don’t think it mattered to him — it was just what he thought he could get away with,” said Richard Kocher, a New Jersey construction company owner who invested $200,000 with Shkreli in 2012.

    Shkreli’s lawyer agreed his client could be annoying but said his hedge fund investors knew what they were getting.

    “They found him strange. They found him weird. And they gave him money. Why? Because they recognized genius,” Brafman said, adding that they had signed agreements that his client wasn’t liable if they lost their money.

    Jurors also heard odd vignettes befitting the quirky defendant: how Shkreli slept on the floor of his office in a sleeping bag for two years; how a drug company board member and former American Express executive wrote an email saying he’d meet with Shkreli “only if I can touch your soft skin”; how Shkreli wrote a letter to the wife of an employee threatening to make the family homeless if the man didn’t settle a debt.

    Shkreli didn’t testify. But rather than lay low like his lawyers wanted, he got into the act by using Facebook to bash prosecutors and news organizations covering his case. In one recent post, he wrote, “My case is a silly witch hunt perpetrated by self-serving prosecutors . . . Drain the swamp. Drain the sewer that is the (Department of Justice.)”

    The judge ordered Shkreli to keep his mouth shut in and around the courtroom after another rant to new reporters covering the trial.

    Prosecutors “blame me for everything,” he said. “They blame me for capitalism.”

    After agreeing to continue Shkreli’s $5 million bail, the judge told him: “I wish you well, Mr. Shkreli. See you soon.”

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    She may have been a prize winner in life, but famous show cow, Charity, had a hard time winning any accolades for her replica version when it had its first showing in Markham two years ago.

    The Markham public art advisory committee said nay, twice, to a proposal for the larger than life stainless steel cow statue on stilts, according to minutes from meetings, which weren’t made public until this week.

    The statue called Charity: Perpetuation of Perfection, was donated and installed last month by local developer Helen Roman-Barber and has attracted hundreds of curious bovine art critics to the quiet Markham suburb of Cathedraltown, near Elgin Mills Rd and Woodbine Ave.

    Read more:

    Cathedraltown cow just one of family developer’s personal design cues

    Markham residents have beef with huge cow sculpture

    It has also drawn the ire of residents, who live along Charity Cres., and now go to sleep with the reflection of hoofs and an udder shining into their homes.

    “There was no consultation done with the community,” said resident Danny Da Silva, who has lived in the area for almost three years. “At first when it was put up, we thought it was a joke,” he said. “But then we realized it’s not going anywhere.”

    Councillors, who unanimously approved the display last summer, said they weren’t given the whole story.

    “We were never told the public art committee didn’t want the cow,” said Ward 4 councillor Karen Rea. “We were deliberately not given information by staff,” she said. “In my opinion, this is enough. It should be brought back for discussion, and frankly, the statue should be moved.”

    The entire cow debacle has left many residents and councillors wondering, in the face of so much opposition, how did the Holstein manage to get hoisted?

    “I felt like from day one, there was something wrong with the process,” said Taleen Der Haroutiounian, vice-chair of the art advisory committee. “Even though the committee said no, it seemed like what we were saying didn’t matter,” she said.

    The proposal for an 11-metre high cow statue to be placed in a small park, in the centre of a crescent surrounded by homes, first came before the public art committee more than two years ago.

    Local developer Helen Roman-Barber proposed the art piece to honour her father, Stephen Roman, who owned Romandale Farm, the land on top of which Cathedraltown now rests.

    He bought the “most perfect cow that ever was” Brookview Tony Charity from a farm in Port Perry in 1985 for a then-record $1.45 million. Charity was a nine-time all-Canadian or all-American show cow — and still regarded as the greatest show cow of all time.

    Despite the history, the committee felt the cow didn’t fit into its surroundings. In March 2015, committee members rejected the donation after being worried about “safety, esthetics, and the choice of location.”

    The next time they said no, in May 2015, the committee said “another location would be suitable” and demanded public consultation.

    And yet, months later, after the artist was to meet with the mayor, city staff said it was moving ahead with the project.

    “A recommendation is being made by staff to accept the donation of the Charity Sculpture,” according to minutes from April 2016. “If council accepts the donation, all costs including installation of the sculpture will be covered by the donor — Helen Roman-Barber.”

    When the matter came to council in June 2016, many of the councillors, including Rea, expressed safety concerns. Deputy Mayor Jack Heath said he wasn’t a “huge fan” and also asked if council was allowed to take a different opinion than the advisory committee. “We wanted to make sure we have the option to say no,” he said, on an audio recording of the meeting, obtained by the Star.

    At the time, staff told him that council normally approves recommendations from advisory committees. But the attached minutes from the art committee only showed the staff endorsement, and did not include two other meetings where committee members expressed opposition to the project and rejected it.

    Staff said another art committee, the Varley Art Gallery Acquisitions Committee, had endorsed it, but the minutes show, they only approved the donation “in principle,” and also had concerns about “its extreme height.”

    Stephen Chait, the director of Culture & Economic Development for the city did not respond to requests for clarification. Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti, did not respond to a request for comment.

    Ward 2 Councillor Alan Ho, who seconded the motion at council, says council “was not given accurate information” and supports the community’s opposition to the project. At a heated community meeting last week, he encouraged residents to start a petition opposing the artwork and to attend council in September to tell officials what they think.

    Ho hopes to come to a compromise with the community and the developer.

    “I think we should try to locate it to a more open space in Cathedraltown or find another creative option,” he said. “I hope the donor will really consider this.”

    Residents, who have started a petition, say they also want to find common ground.

    “They should drop it down, put up landscaping and make it safer,” said Da Silva. “We also value heritage, but we should make it something that fits into the area,” he said. “Right now, people are laughing at it, and taking selfies… It’s disrespectful.”

    But Ed Shiller, a spokesperson for Roman-Barber and her company King David Inc., says the statue was specifically made for this location — and should stay. “Charity is where she belongs,” he said.

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    In a rare move, Ontario’s top court has ordered a third trial in the same first-degree murder case, lambasting the Crown’s key evidence: an expert witness whose testimony about gang members with teardrop tattoos contained “inaccuracies” and even “falsehoods.”

    At the second trial for Warren Nigel Abbey related to the 2004 murder of Simeon Peter in Scarborough, sociologist Mark Totten testified that a teardrop tattoo meant one of the three things: the individual had lost a loved one or fellow gang member, had spent time in prison or had killed a rival gang member.

    The Crown alleged that Abbey was an associate of the Malvern Crew gang who shot and killed Peter, mistakenly believing he was a member of the rival Galloway Boys, and that Abbey had a teardrop tattooed under his right eye about four months later.

    Abbey was acquitted at his first trial— in which Totten was not permitted to give evidence — but the Crown appealed and at the second trial, where Totten did testify, the jury convicted Abbey.

    In a decision released Friday, the Ontario Court of Appeal largely sided with Abbey’s lawyers and found Totten’s evidence “unreliable,” that he “misrepresented” the sample size of gang members in some of his studies, and that statistics he provided on the stand about gang members with teardrop tattoos are nowhere to be found in his studies.

    The court also stated there is a “legitimate concern that Totten’s interview summaries are fabrications” in two of his studies, which contain the same quotes from three participants. Totten had denied in a different court case that he used the same gang members in more than one study.

    “I have concluded that the fresh evidence shows Totten’s opinion evidence on the meaning of a teardrop tattoo to be too unreliable to be heard by a jury. If the trial judge had known about the fresh evidence he would have ruled Totten’s evidence inadmissible,” Court of Appeal Justice John Laskin wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel.

    “And the absence of Totten’s evidence would reasonably be expected to have affected the jury’s verdict. I would admit the fresh evidence, allow Abbey’s appeal, overturn his conviction and order a new trial.”

    Abbey has been in prison since his conviction at his second trial in 2011.

    He will be applying for release pending a retrial, his lawyers told the Star on Friday.

    “We are gratified that the court found, as we had argued, that this Crown witness’s evidence was unreliable and dangerous,” said David E. Harris and Ravin Pillay in an emailed statement.

    “This is another example of how expert evidence can mislead a jury and contribute to an unsafe conviction.”

    Totten did not return the Star’s requests for comment Friday.

    Neither side opted to seek permission from the Court of Appeal to call Totten to respond to the issues with his research and evidence.

    “As Totten has not been directly confronted with some of these deficiencies and inaccuracies in his testimony and research I think it would be unfair to make the positive finding that Abbey urges us to make: Totten fabricated or concocted part of his research, or gave deliberately misleading testimony,” Laskin wrote.

    “But when assessing the reliability of Totten’s opinion, I see nothing unfair in taking into account that the many serious problems in both Totten’s evidence and research, which were identified by the fresh evidence, remain entirely unexplained.”

    It will be up to the Crown to decide if it actually wants to re-prosecute Abbey a third time. A spokesperson for the Ministry of the Attorney General declined to comment because the matter is “within the appeal period.” (The Crown has 30 days to decide if it wants to seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.)

    The Court of Appeal had harsh words for the position of the Crown in the appeal, given the fact that the “fresh evidence” — the issues with Totten’s research — was brought to the forefront under cross-examination by Crown attorney Mary Misener (now a judge) in a separate case, R v. Gager, where that time it was the defence trying to have Totten admitted as an expert.

    The cross-examination took place during a hearing known as a voir dire, to determine if Totten should be qualified as an expert witness for the trial.

    “Totten was the Crown’s witness, a key witness for the Crown (at the Abbey trial). Yet in Gager the Crown sought to impeach Totten’s credibility and the reliability of his evidence on several matters that were relevant to his opinion in this trial,” Laskin wrote.

    “And then on this appeal the Crown made no attempt to contest the deficiencies, inaccuracies, and even falsehoods in Totten’s trial testimony, as demonstrated by the fresh evidence.

    “The Crown is not an ordinary litigant. Its role is not to obtain a conviction, but to try to ensure a fair process and a just result. The Crown has impeached Totten, its own key witness, albeit in another proceeding, and yet by its silence in this proceeding must be taken not to have challenged the many serious problems in Totten’s trial testimony shown by the fresh evidence.”

    The judge in the Gager case ultimately qualified Totten as a witness, despite expressing some reservations with his evidence, but neither side ended up calling him to the stand at trial.

    “I made mistakes, there’s no question about that,” Totten told the Star at the time. “I’ve got no problem stating that. It’s the job of a lawyer to attack you as an expert witness. Some experts can handle it, others can’t. Obviously, I didn’t handle it very well.”

    In Friday’s appeal decision, Laskin pointed out that the defence in the Abbey case could have raised the issues with Totten’s research at Abbey’s previous trial, but that it would be a “miscarriage of justice” not to admit the fresh evidence now because it is so compelling.

    The appeal court went as far as saying that if the Crown had not been permitted to lead with Totten’s evidence on teardrop tattoos at the second trial, “it could reasonably be expected the verdict would have been different.”

    Among the reasons for that conclusion, Laskin noted that the rest of the Crown’s case “was not overly strong,” which included poor eyewitness testimony and “problematic” evidence from three Malvern Crew members whose testimony implicated Abbey.

    Their testimony “was severely compromised” by inconsistencies and “their unsavoury pasts,” Laskin wrote. He said two of them had been granted immunity by the Crown on a number of serious offences in exchange for their testimony, while the third member, who testified at the first Abbey trial, refused to testify at the second. His testimony from the first trial was read into the record at the second trial.

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    A Toronto police constable accused of groping and making lewd comments to a female colleague is facing new disciplinary charges related to another female officer.

    Const. Usman Haroon punched a fellow officer in the arm following a disagreement in April 2009, according to a disciplinary hearing notice. A second hearing notice says Haroon “slapped (the woman) on the buttocks” while responding to a call “sometime between September of 2007 and April of 2009.”

    Haroon made his first appearance at the police disciplinary tribunal on two charges of discreditable conduct contrary to Ontario’s Police Services Act in June.

    All allegations stem from Haroon’s time at 14 Division. He has since been transferred to 11 Division.

    Haroon now faces a total of 11 disciplinary charges, including nine previously reported by Metro.

    They include allegations that he placed his hand on a fellow officer’s upper leg while on duty in November 2015. The following day, he moved her hand toward his groin while travelling in a police car and placed his hand on her buttocks as she left an elevator, according to tribunal hearing notices.

    Haroon also “made comments of a sexual nature” toward the officer and “engaged in unwanted physical contact by grasping a print roller, which was lodged between (the officer’s) legs,” according to tribunal notices.

    Haroon has not responded to multiple requests for comment.

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    Four years after rock legend Ronnie Hawkins failed to sell his 175-acre Hawkstone Manor, it’s back on the market — for $10.65-million less.

    In 2013, Hawkins listed his home and its 3,300 feet of Stoney Lake frontage for $14.9 million.

    This summer, the more than 5,600 square feet of home — split between a main house and two guest cottages — is up for sale for a more modest $4.25 million.

    “My wife says we’re moving closer to the doctors and the hospital. That’s what she says about me because I’ve got one foot in the grave and another in a pile of WD40 so she’s looking after me,” says the 82-year-old Hawkins with his Arkansas twang inside his home of 46 years on a phone he says is “messed up.”

    The home is lined with thousands of framed photos and memorabilia of the famous rocker and his friends, including his Order of Canada medal — one of just a few given to non-Canadians.

    “Well I’ll tell ya, we’ve had an awful lot of people here — superstars — over the years,” he said, laughing. “In fact, if this house could write a book, a bunch of them would have to leave the country!”

    Dubbed “Canada’s Graceland,” it has welcomed John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Oscar Peterson, Blue Rodeo, Garth Hudson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, Mickey Jones, David Clayton-Thomas and Ian and Sylvia Tyson, among others.

    Rush’s double-platinum album Moving Pictures, including its smash hit “Tom Sawyer,” was recorded in Hawkins’s barn while the band lived in his home.

    “It says on the back ‘the best sound they ever got’ and it was the biggest album at the time. They recorded at the Ronnie Hawkins farm right here on Stoney Lake,” he adds of himself.

    Kenny Rogers once recorded music in Hawkins’s living room, too.

    “The Hawk,” who has recently battled pancreatic cancer and is a candidate for cataracts surgery, continues to live life to the full and open his home up to his friends, according to those around him.

    Last year, Gordon Lightfoot — who wrote his hit “Sundown” at one of the property’s cottages — returned to Hawkstone Manor with Kris Kristofferson to record a new version of “Me And Bobby McGee.”

    But now Hawkins, a pioneer of rock and roll and friend to Bob Dylan and President Bill Clinton, is moving on and downsizing with his wife Wanda.

    “It’s time. I can’t look after it anymore and I can’t play any dates. As long as I could play dates I could keep it up but I can’t anymore so we decided to sell this beautiful place baby,” Hawkins said, laughing again. “It’s one of the bestest I’ve ever seen. I’ve got to stop chasing the girls, I guess.”

    Ross Halloran, the couple’s real estate agent, hopes a potential buyer will be someone who intends to build a family compound and continue the property’s rich history of entertainment and hosting in the Kawarthas.

    “They have become synonymous with the area. It’s just a wonderful focal point in Canada,” said Halloran, who describes the home as a museum but understands new ownership may want to knock it down — hence the $10-million discount.

    “When people come and look at Hawkstone Manor, they don’t just see a piece of property, they see a piece of Canadian musical history.”

    Wanda’s convinced theirs is the most beautiful property on Stoney Lake.

    “We have an incredible view. The sun sets here every day and the sky changes colours and it reflects off the water, it’s just the most beautiful place to be,” she said. “We’re excited to pass this beautiful property onto someone who will enjoy it as much as we have.”

    0 0

    NEW YORK—Less than an hour after a U.S. jury convicted Martin Shkreli of securities fraud, the so-called “Pharma Bro” was back at his New York City apartment doing what comes naturally: trash talking in a live-stream on YouTube.

    The brash former pharmaceutical CEO, who’s still out on bail, joked he won’t be going to a hard-core prison — “No shanks” — and predicted his acquittal on some charges Friday will help him recover tens of millions of dollars he claims he’s owed from a drug company he started.

    “It doesn’t seem like life will change much for Martin Shkreli,” he said while drinking a beer and playing with his cat. “I’m one of the richest New Yorkers there is, and after today’s outcome, it’s going to stay that way.”

    Shkreli’s trolling of his own trial has amused some onlookers. But legal experts say it could have serious consequences when it comes time for sentencing.

    “No real good can come from going on YouTube after a guilty verdict,” said Robert Mintz, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice. “This is exactly the kind of behaviour that got him in trouble in the first place.”

    U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto likely will factor in any lack of remorse and contrition at sentencing in federal court in Brooklyn, said Matthew Schwartz, a defence lawyer and former federal prosecutor who once worked for a Securities and Exchange Commission task force.

    “Going into the trial, he had an audience of 12. Now he’s got an audience of one,” Schwartz said, referring to the jury and judge. “He’s putting himself at great risk for a higher sentence.”

    The 34-year-old defendant faces up to 20 years in prison for his conviction on the most serious counts, though the term could be much lower under sentencing guidelines. Shkreli’s lawyer, Ben Brafman, said he would argue for no jail time. No sentencing date was set.

    Read more:

    ‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli has been convicted of securities fraud

    Martin Shkreli takes to Facebook instead of the stand at his trial

    Judge chastises Martin Shkreli for speaking to the media about his trial

    Shkreli was arrested in 2015 on charges he looted a drug company he founded, Retrophin, of $11 million (U.S.) in stock and cash to pay back investors in two failed hedge funds he ran. Investors took the witness stand to accuse him of keeping them in the dark as his scheme unfolded, while the defence argued there wasn’t any harm done because all of them got rich off of Retrophin stock.

    Before his arrest, Shkreli was best known for buying the rights to a life-saving drug at another company in 2014 and promptly raising the price from $13.50 to $750 per pill. He also had a reputation for attacking critics on social media and was barred from Twitter for posts about a female journalist.

    Even during his trial, when most criminal defendants would lay low, Shkreli stayed online commenting about his own case.

    After the verdict, Brafman once again raised hopes he could rein in his client.

    “There is an image issue that Martin and I are going to be discussing in the next several days. Martin is a brilliant young man, but sometimes people skills don’t translate well,” he said.

    Not much later, Shkreli was on YouTube, answering questions about the case and cracking jokes. During his lengthy livestream, he invited one reporter up to his apartment to ask her questions on camera.

    “Ben probably wants me to act and look like your average CEO, but I’m a very individualistic person and I don’t sort of conform to what folks want me to do and not want me to do, and that’s what being an individual is all about,” he said. “As long as it doesn’t interfere with the legal case, it’s my life to live.”

    Without more conformity, Shkreli’s lawyer will have his work cut out for him trying convince the court that he should be cut some slack as “someone who is not entirely normal,” said Schwartz, the former prosecutor. “Whether the judge will buy it or not is another question.”

    The judge’s last words to the defendant as she left the bench offered no clues.

    “I wish you well, Mr. Shkreli,” she said. “See you soon.”

    0 0

    Two 18-year-old men are facing a total of 24 charges following a shooting last week in Chinatown.

    Toronto police said on July 28 four men were involved in a verbal altercation that led to a firearm being discharging multiple times just after midnight at Queen St. W and Cameron St. near Spadina Ave.

    Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook said two 18-year-old men began shooting at the other two men after the altercation.

    No one was injured. Only a vehicle at the scene was struck by the gunshots causing significant damage. It is not know if the car belonged to anyone involved in the shooting.

    On August 2 Kevin Pacheco and Dravid Collis, both 18 and from Toronto, were arrested and are both facing a number of firearm related charges such as unauthorized possession and the discharge of a firearm with intent to injure.

    Police say Pacheco, who is facing 15 charges, was in possession of a loaded firearm and protective body armor, and Collis, who is facing nine charges, was in possession of a knife.

    0 0

    VICTORIA—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to a park near Victoria didn’t quite follow the script today as he accidentally fell into the ocean while trying to get into a kayak.

    A dampened Trudeau joked that he was, in his words, “happy the national media was there to capture that.”

    The prime minister’s kayak voyage at the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve became even more eventful when a bride and groom sailed up beside his kayak to pose for a selfie with Trudeau.

    Michelle Gruetzner was wearing her white wedding dress.

    She said she and her husband, Heiner Gruetzner, were holding their wedding reception on nearby Sidney Spit when they approached the prime minister — Trudeau kissed the bride, twice.

    Trudeau is in Tofino later today to take part in a roundtable with Indigenous leaders.

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    Topless Justin Trudeau photobombs wedding photo

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    HALIFAX—As he turns 30 on Monday, Sidney Crosby will celebrate his third Stanley Cup win parading the cherished mug through the streets of the city where he’s been a star since he was five years old.

    The Pittsburgh Penguins captain will take in the festivities knowing that after 12 years in the NHL, his place is already assured in the pantheon of the game’s greats and that he has fulfilled the promise that many saw in him from almost the first time he laced up a pair of skates.

    In the tradition of Orr, Gretzky, Lemieux and now Connor McDavid, “Sid the Kid,” was a hockey prodigy.

    “He was not only the best player I ever saw, but significantly the best player,” said Brian Newton, a retired lawyer who coached a seven-year-old Crosby as a high-scoring centre on Cole Harbour’s Novice AAA Wings.

    In a recent interview, Newton recalled his first brush with a five-year-old Crosby — it came after getting a phone call from Sidney’s father Troy.

    Newton said the hockey season was about a month old when Troy Crosby asked that his son, who was playing Timbits hockey at the time, be moved up to play with the six-year-old group.

    Knowing how some parents can be, Newton said he agreed to see whether the move should be made, but he asked Troy not to describe his son.

    “I said ‘Well no, if he’s this good a player I’ll be able to pick him out,’” said Newton.

    Newton said shortly after the conversation he went to a Cole Harbour rink one Saturday morning.

    “I just kind of hid myself from the parents and out these guys came and he just stuck out like a sore thumb,” he recalled. “It was just amazing — I’d never seen anyone with that skill level at five years of age.”

    Read more:

    Crosby tuned out concussion debate during NHL playoffs

    Crosby fans celebrate Cup win with pilgrimage to famous dryer

    Sidney Crosby wins back-to-back Conn Smythe Award trophies

    Newton said he was “amazed” to watch the young Crosby control the puck as a gaggle of tiny players frantically tried to get it away from him.

    Crosby was moved up with the six-year-olds and the next year he started playing rep, a level reserved for the best players in each age group.

    Newton said at six and seven years of age, Crosby’s physical skills were clearly recognizable — as were other traits that often separate the great ones.

    “He not only had the physical skills, but when I looked at him he had that inner quality, that desire, that drive and that followed Sidney right through minor hockey,” he said.

    There was also a “quiet confidence” Newton noted, that enabled him to possess the puck in the face of players who were often one to two years older than he was.

    A trace of the trait was evident in one of Crosby’s very first media interviews.

    “They say you have to do your best and work hard and things will happen,” he told the Halifax Daily News in a feature written in April 1995 when Crosby was seven.

    “You can make it if you try.”

    Crosby’s minor hockey dominance continued into peewee, where he announced his arrival on a much bigger stage, the Quebec International Peewee Tournament.

    His coach then and current family friend, Paul Mason, said going into the tournament the media hype surrounded a local boy as the next “must-see” player.

    That all changed after Crosby scored six goals and four assists for Cole Harbour in his first tournament game.

    “We compared him against the best in the world and he was the best,” said Mason. “You knew at that point that you had someone here that was pretty special.”

    Mason said there were times he and the other coaches realized the best thing to do was to sit back and watch.

    “Sometimes you would just sit back and go, ‘Oh my God,’ and just look at each other — did he really do that?” said Mason. “There were several times that you did that during the year — he was that good.”

    Former CBC sports broadcaster Bruce Rainnie first heard the buzz about a young Crosby in 1995 and after initial skepticism, finally decided to check him out at the urging of legendary Halifax sports writer Pat Connolly.

    Rainnie said an undersized Crosby recorded nine goals and two assists in a 13-9 Cole Harbour win over Shearwater.

    “I thought if he develops into any sort of average to larger-sized athlete, this is going to be an NHL legend,” Rainnie recalls. “And it was obvious from, honestly, the age of eight.”

    Crosby’s dominance in Nova Scotia lasted until the age of 14 when he left home to play at Shattuck-St. Mary’s, a prep school in Minnesota. From there it was on to Rimouski in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and finally the NHL, where his numbers confirm his status as a future Hall of Famer:

    • 382 goals

    • 645 assists

    • Three Stanley Cups

    • Two Olympic Gold Medals

    • Two Hart Trophies as the NHL’s most valuable player

    Through it all he’s remained very much the hometown boy. It’s something that’s endeared him to his fans and to those with a personal connection.

    “Fame and fortune I don’t think have really changed him very much at all,” said Newton. “Everybody in Cole Harbour, they respect him so much because he always comes home, he’s always down to earth, he’s running his hockey school here and he’s still part of our community.”

    Halifax’s mayor recently announced that Crosby would be parade marshal of Monday’s annual Natal Day parade, with thousands expected to cheer a favourite son.

    “I know he’s richer and I know he’s more famous,” Rainnie said, “but his fundamental groundings have never changed.”

    0 0

    Flying is harsh — it’s like a dose of naloxone without the initial high — but at least it’s cheap. It would cost me $1,256 to fly return to London next week on Air Canada, or $969 in September after vacation season ends.

    In exchange, I would get to London in under seven hours, which I regard as a triumph of technology, a wondrous wrinkle in time. Imagine taking the train.

    A return subway ride in Toronto costs $6.50, which means that for the same price as a September flight, I could travel to and from the North York Ikea 149 times. Even better, my stop would be Bessarion, the TTC station that time forgot.

    Flying to London is a bargain but a debased one.

    On airlines now, the seats are tiny and hard, the food awful, passengers fight each other over armrests and Seat Defenders, they attack flight attendants and have to be smashed over the head with wine bottles and subdued with zip ties while being sat on, airport police seize passengers and drag them out broken, bloody and screaming, the toilets are horrific (and so few of them), and there aren’t enough flight attendants since the staff-to-passenger ratio was raised from 1:40 to 1:50 in 2015.

    That ratio saves airlines money though. (Never say “Transport Minister Lisa Raitt” to a flight attendant.)

    The latest story is Air Transat keeping two Montreal-bound planes diverted to Ottawa on the tarmac for up to six hot hours after an eight-hour flight from Brussels. Without air conditioning, the passengers finally called 911, and the Canadian Transportation Agency is investigating.

    And then there’s the near-miss at San Francisco International Airport last month. The CBC reports that the tape of the pilots’ conversation has vanished, recorded over when the plane flew out the next morning. We may never know what happened.

    The Canadian government is planning a passenger bill of rights for 2018, but the problem is bigger than that.

    The British comedian Eddie Izzard, explaining why he takes a tour bus rather than fly, says there are five stress points: taxi to the airport; checking in; security; getting on the plane; getting to hotel from airport. A bus offers two, getting on and off.

    That’s just Izzard on the bus. The Greyhound and the flight experience are gradually converging. I don’t fear for my fellow passengers, I simply fear them.

    While understanding the tactics of the modern traveller, which are the same as those of demonstrators arrested by police — just go limp — I don’t see why flyers should need a strategy in order to sit for seven hours.

    Still I go passive. There sits the economy passenger, as Alexander Pope put it, “fix’d like a plant on his peculiar spot, to draw nutrition, propagate, and rot.”

    So my plan is to do that but next time in Air Canada’s premium economy. In August, it will cost $2,731, in September $2,204. This means I can’t afford to go on vacation until next spring, but on the bright side, I’ll have more time to look forward to it, more weeks to salt away dimes.

    Even this skates around a core problem. Flying is not a right, like health care. It’s a purchase. And for some reason, customers think airfares should be cheap. I do go on about how Canadians followed the Americans in worshipping the god of cheap, but this is an extreme case.

    Even reading airfares online apparently makes people burst into tears. So Air Canada can’t raise prices. It prefers to charge for services that used to be free, which maddens unreasonable people, just as digital subscriptions madden readers grown accustomed to free journalism.

    Capitalism demands profit. You’re stuck on the tarmac because it costs Air Transat money to let you off and come back. The Air Canada flight recorder was erased because they likely had to get that plane back in the air and earning its keep. Should there have been a catastrophe in San Francisco, a few more flight attendants might have been able to hustle you off the plane in time, and not on fire either.

    I don’t think flying across the Atlantic should be cheap. Yes, it’s worthwhile flying business class while on business because you can’t negotiate while jet-lagged. You’ll sound like Donald Trump talking to the Australian prime minister.

    But business class is $7,200. My mental stamina is not worth that, even to me. So I’ll fly in the spring and take premium economy. Why don’t more people do that, fly less often but better? If Air Canada evened out their pricing and built those seats, people would come.

    Flying accounts for 4 to 9 per cent of the climate change impact of human activity, says the David Suzuki Foundation. Think of the good you’d do if you took one less flight but found it twice as pleasant.

    Air Canada makes premium economy sound bucolic. More room to sit, lean back and stretch out, priority boarding so people don’t get all snitty, an “amenity kit,” adjustable headrest, ambient mood lighting, a single-pin audio jack (Is that good? It sounds good) and a “next generation entertainment system,” which may very well involve latex gloves and virtual reality, though that doesn’t sound very Air Canada.

    Still not enough? You’ll get hot towels. Mmm baby. I’ve actually considered doing this at home, shoving some wet facecloths in a microwave and serving them on a little tray to my millennials before they dine.

    “Tonight your meal will be chicken or chicken,” I say. “Would you care for a beverage with that? It’s complimentary.” At home or away, it’s premium economy from now on.

    0 0

    What’s a little rain compared to the high spirits of thousands of colourfully-clad masqueraders?

    Not much, Toronto discovered Saturday at the annual Caribbean Carnival Grande Parade.

    Thousands took part in Saturday’s parade, with some travelling long distances to get here.

    Kimberly King and her friends drove from Washington, DC on Friday. They had to sort out a couple of costume mishaps beforehand, but this didn’t dampen their spirits.

    “The great thing about Carnival is that it’s no judgment,” King said.

    She said they’ve been looking forward to the event since Washington cancelled its own version of Caribbean Carnival.

    Participants hailed from Alabama, Montreal and everywhere in between.

    They all shared enthusiasm for celebrating Caribbean culture.

    “It’s an opportunity for the community to come together,” Kayla Beckford, a participant from Toronto said.

    Some took the opportunity to raise awareness of equity. CUPE, which was represented in the parade, handed out “Black Lives Matter” signs to participants.

    Vilma Caceres, who walked with the CUPE group, held a large ‘Equity’ sign.

    Inspiration for the designs for costumes and floats was wide ranging, from Caribbean islands to Canada’s indigenous culture.

    The Grande Parade is an all ages event. The parade is free, but admission to Exhibition Place for continued celebrations costs $20-$25.


    Cool and damp weather expected for Caribbean Carnival’s Grande Parade

    Weekend road closures for Toronto Caribbean Festival

    Most stores open for August Civic Holiday in Toronto

    0 0

    LONDON—Usain Bolt made his last date with a 100-metre final, even though he failed to win his semifinal heat at the world track and field championships on Saturday.

    Bolt was again slow out of the blocks, came back strong and coasted to the line, giving Christian Coleman the win in 9.97 seconds, one-hundredth of a second ahead of the Jamaican.

    His rival from the past years, Justin Gatlin, was also through. He finished second in the first semifinal heat behind Akani Simbine of South Africa.

    The final is set for 4:45 p.m. Eastern time Saturday and will be Bolt's last individual race.

    0 0

    Once camped under mythical bridges, trolls have crawled into every corner of your social life.

    A troll antagonizes people online by deliberately posting inflammatory, irrelevant or offensive comments or other disruptive content, according to Webster’s most recent definition. They aren’t a new phenomenon, but they’re rapidly increasing in numbers and in posts. According to a analysis CBC Marketplace analysis from January 2017, there appears to be a 600-per-cent jump in the past year in “how often Canadians use language online that’s racist, Islamophobic, sexist or otherwise intolerant.”

    As the Star’s social media acrobat, my daily tasks involve extensive scans of trending topics and breaking news on Twitter, and entering dark sub-Reddit holes where troll activity abounds. But when I’m monitoring commenters on the Star’s Facebook page there’s nothing more intriguing and discouraging than seeing how online discourse turns into mutual torment.

    Read more:Finding a way forward in our moment of truths: Age of Unreason

    Our Facebook posts, which are used to notify subscribers and Star readers on the latest news — and hopefully ignite constructive discussion — seem to always transform into a battleground for outspoken commenters to unleash their worst. They aren’t there to find a common understanding, or to share insight, but are intentionally there to cut someone down.

    What’s a day like going through these comments? “You’re fat, go crawl back into a hole!” “Nice photo, your girlfriend is ugly anyways.” “Ew, you like Nickelback, no wonder you’re such a redneck,” are just a few comments I’ve marked as spam. But as hurtful and seemingly off-topic as these comments are, they are the most watched, liked, engaged comment threads.

    In our recent story on Anthony Scaramucci’s removal as White House communications director, our Facebook post reached more than 100,000 people — 10 per cent of whom engaged (commented, liked, shared). Our top comment that amassed 16 replies read, “Like him or not if he doesn’t like what you are doing or saying you are gone. Unlike our PM who doesn’t have the nerve to drop the ‘architect’ and fake citizen Monsef.” The final argument in the chain ended like this: “Lol, you only have 60 friends.”

    Another top comment read, “When is Trump going to get removed . . . he is a clown,” and ended up with this response: “I know this is hard for a Trump supporter to grasp (what with all of you being such dimwitted buffoons and all), but we don’t have a president.”

    On a news page, which should be a platform for elevating conversation and debate, why does it always come back to a primal level?

    “Some people start out well, but then they go off the rails because they get very emotional, they lose track,” says Guy P. Harrison, an award-winning author, psychologist and social media researcher.

    “Once we get angry or fearful … the fear centre takes over, and literally clouds the prefrontal cortex where all our higher reasoning goes,” he continues. “You actually become more animalistic, not so reasoned and thoughtful.”

    He notes trolls cover the political spectrum. “It may seem that conservatives make the best trolls given the success of Donald Trump in the recent U.S. election, but liberals troll, too. Jerks come in all flavours and even the best of us are capable of sometimes veering into troll territory.”

    From my observation, the posts that become most heated involve politics, race, crime, or anything to do with Trump.

    Sometimes those who initiate these hateful online attacks are good people (off the Internet), but because of the online platform, treat these posts like they’re playing a virtual reality game, Harrison continues.

    “They think they’re playing Sims or Second Life or something. Like a game where they can go around tormenting people and abusing people as if they aren’t real people,” he says.

    In a book coming out in November, Think Before You Like: Social Media’s Effect on the Brain and the Tools You Need to Navigate Your NewsfeedThink Before You Like: Social Media’s Effect on the Brain and the Tools You Need to Navigate Your Newsfeed, he also explores the idea of false-consensus effect, a type of cognitive bias where people overestimate the legitimacy or belief of their own opinions, another reason why trolling online is so prevalent.

    “Users online often don’t think they’re being weird or inappropriate, because they think they have a million people behind them,” he says.

    This also feeds into filter bubbles, seen in online groups, friend lists, and societies users surround themselves with, a factor that boosted Donald Trump’s election win, Harrison says.

    “Filter bubbles work so well with Trump supporters. Those fake news stories on Hillary Clinton, like how she sold weapons to ISIS, had million of likes and shares within these little universes.”

    Trump is no stranger to trolling. In a recent New York Times article “Trump Seems Much Better at Branding Opponents Than Marketing Policies,” an interactive map of his tweets shows how his troll-like tactics against political opponents have influenced millions around the world.

    For Hillary Clinton, the words “crooked, terrible!” resonated with millions. Ted Cruz, “lyin, liar, LIARS!” Elizabeth Warren, “goofy.” These words, the Times article states, helped him brand his policies and “propel his candidacy.”

    As humans, we like to think of ourselves as reasonable and logical, but we’re emotional creatures, Harrison says, and we unleash our subconscious activity online. “When you’re trolled, it’s not a time to play chess, it’s a time to fight or run.”

    So how do we deal with the trolls and get back to the discourse?

    Recently, I felt my own potential troll emerge against a Facebook commenter who turned what I thought was a lovely pun into an insult. On a Star post about a man who allegedly bought 18 grills from Home Depot for a lower price and resold them, I decided to add some wordplay. The result?

    “You didn’t just … ‘a grilling in court?’ I hate you,” the comment read.

    Responding with another jab was my first instinct, or even a passive-aggressive comment, but I took Harrison’s advice to take a step back and close the page.

    “If you’re angry, really fired up and all, calm down before you post that comment because you might regret it later,” he shares. “Don’t feed the trolls.”

    Read more in the Age of Unreason series:

    To agree to disagree on racism, sexism has become a cowardly cop-out: Age of Unreason

    Does truth matter in Ontario politics in the Trump era?: Age of Unreason

    Buy now, rationalize later. This is how emotional advertising works: Age of Unreason

    The science of why we won’t stop believing: Age of Unreason

    How minds were changed on pot, same-sex marriage, assisted death and GMOs: Age of Unreason

    0 0

    MONTREAL—Groups of men and women walk toward the metal security barrier outside the stadium, shielding their faces from media cameras with their hands or T-shirts. Others pass by dragging suitcases, carrying babies. Still more exit crowded buses, squinting through the sunshine at the underbelly of the giant stadium.

    Fleeing danger, fleeing poverty, fleeing anxieties of America and the dead end of their hopes there — all to wind up at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, sleeping on cots in a structure that looks like a concrete spaceship. Thanks to an attention-grabbing government decision this week, the centrepiece of the ’76 Summer Games has become the first Canadian home for scores of asylum seekers with origins in Haiti, Nigeria, Turkey, Mexico and elsewhere who’ve come here to try to start a new life.

    Inancien Milien appeared overwhelmed as he tried to explain what it feels like. He was brought to the stadium Wednesday after walking into Canada at the Lacolle border crossing, south of Montreal. Originally from Haiti, he said he lived in the U.S. for 17 years before he decided to join the surge of his compatriots entering Canada.

    Like many others, Milien said he was propelled by the disquiet of immigration policy under President Donald Trump. There is also a distinct impression, held by many asylum seekers, that Canada, with its refugee-hugging prime minister, will be a more welcoming place.

    “It’s a dream. This is what we are looking for,” said Milien, who was leaving the stadium with two other men to meet a refugee lawyer in the city.

    “I have no anxieties since I’ve arrived here in Canada.”

    That contrast between the U.S. and Canada, in perception and reality, has been a central theme in the ongoing saga of asylum seekers who are breaking the law by walking across the border into this country. Quebec has borne the brunt of their arrival; according to federal government figures for the first half of the year, 3,350 of the 4,345 people intercepted by RCMP as they crossed into Canada were in Quebec.

    In recent weeks there has been a surge of hundreds more. The agency that supports these asylum claimants in Quebec, PRAIDA, took on 1,674 new people in July — more than double the number in June. And on Thursday, Quebec’s immigration minister said the number of asylum seekers entering the province tripled to 150 from 50 a day last month.

    PRAIDA said many of the people arriving recently are from Haiti, which again has drawn attention to Trump. In May, the White House announced it would lift an Obama-era policy that prevented Haitians seeking asylum in the U.S. from being deported to their home country. An estimated 40,000 people could be affected when this policy expires in January, prompting some to seek safe haven in Canada.

    Shelters in Montreal reached their capacity in July, hence the need for the Olympic Stadium. Mayor Denis Coderre told reporters Thursday they’re working to make sure there are 600 beds in the Olympic Stadium, though as of Friday afternoon 132 people were staying there, said PRAIDA spokesperson Emmanuelle Paciullo.

    The situation has fuelled continued calls from refugee advocate groups— as well as the federal NDP — to suspend the Safe Third Country agreement. The accord says asylum seekers arriving in Canada or the U.S. must claim refuge in the first country in which they land, but a loophole exists that critics of the agreement say encourages people to take desperate measures by walking into the country: the agreement doesn’t apply to people who “cross irregularly” by avoiding border posts.

    But for people from Haiti trying to avoid deportation in the U.S., Canada isn’t a sure bet either. Last summer, Ottawa lifted its own order that allowed asylum seekers from Haiti who would otherwise be deported to stay because of poor conditions and potential danger in that country.

    In an email Friday, Hursh Jaswal, spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Ahmed Hussen, said that the deportation suspension for Haitians was briefly reinstated last fall after a hurricane, but the government now treats asylum seekers from the country the same as any other.

    However, he said deportation orders can be appealed and that “the decision to remove anyone from Canada is not taken lightly.”

    It was all just wind to Frantz Eustache Saint Jean. The 30-year-old walked into Canada at the Lacolle crossing with his pregnant wife last weekend. He shrugged as he explained how the police officers at the border patted down his wife and him, searched their belongings and brought them to an inspection station for processing.

    After spending three months in the U.S., he said he was relieved to be in Montreal and felt confident that he would be able to stay. It’s just too dangerous in Haiti, he said, where his wife was “extremely persecuted.”

    He didn’t want to elaborate.

    “I’d prefer to keep silent,” he said. “There is a crisis in that country.”

    Moments later, Thelyson Orelien ambled down a concrete ramp to the entrance of the Olympic Stadium. At 29, the blogger and library worker said he came to Canada from Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, which killed an estimated 160,000 people and left hundreds of thousands more sick, injured and homeless.

    He was among several people who came to the stadium to help. He’d just spent the morning with one of its new denizens, helping him convert money into Canadian currency and figure out how to navigate Montreal’s bus system.

    “It’s certain that there are many who will be returned (to Haiti),” Orelien said, arguing that the U.S. is no longer respecting international law and Canada should accept people fleeing that country.

    “There are people who have already built a life in the United States, who have bought a house, who work there, who already have a family . . . . Should those people have to sell everything, to cancel everything?”

    As he spoke, three others approached the stadium — Montrealers from the local Haitian community who’d heard news stories about what was happening. Among them was Célienne François, who was pushing her daughter, Oriana, in a stroller.

    “I know there are young mothers inside,” she said. “It touches my heart because, these are children here, (and) they have to start again at zero.

    “If I can volunteer, or give some food, or give them a roof over their heads — whatever to help. I felt they are my compatriots.”

    Meanwhile, in Montreal’s north end, Marjorie Villefrance was also busy trying to figure out how to support these newcomers. As executive director of the city’s Maison d’Haïti community centre, she said she’s been alarmed in the past eight weeks — since the U.S. move to change its policy on temporary Haitian residents — to see the rising number of asylum claimants walking into Canada.

    “At the beginning it was three, four families per week, then it was 20 per week and now it is 20 per day,” she said, speaking in her office Thursday.

    There have been surges like this before, she said, but what makes this one different are the rumours. Social media is abuzz with conversation that Justin Trudeau promised to “welcome everybody” into Canada — a falsehood possibly derived from his much-discussed statement on Twitter, when Trump unveiled his first refugee and immigration restrictions, that Canadians would welcome “those fleeing terror, persecution & war.”

    “People are recounting this, so they enter. This is a new phenomenon,” Villefrance said.

    To solve the situation for Haitians, she’d like to see the government institute a special program similar to the push to bring in Syrian refugees.

    “I see people risking everything to travel, to come here — fleeing from their country,” she said, arguing that Ottawa’s decision to lift the moratorium on Haitian deportation was wrong.

    “We can officially say the situation (there) has improved, but that’s not what we’re finding.”

    On Friday, Trudeau urged would-be migrants to respect Canada’s border with the U.S.

    The prime minister took pains to reassure Canadians that the country has the resources and the capacity to deal with the sudden spike in asylum seekers crossing into Quebec, but he also made it clear that anyone who is caught trying to enter the country illegally would be required to navigate the proper immigration channels.

    “We want migration to Canada to be done in an orderly fashion; there’s border checkpoints and border controls that we need to make sure are respected,” Trudeau said at the Glengarry Highland Games in eastern Ontario.

    Across town in Montreal, Aristide Joseph leaned on a wooden bench outside a YMCA that is packed with newcomers from Burundi, Brazil, Haiti and elsewhere. Joseph, 40, said he fled Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and lived in Orlando, Fla., for three years. But he couldn’t find work, and a lawyer there told him he likely wouldn’t get citizenship, so he walked across the border to Canada a few weeks ago, he said.

    Like many others on the benches around him, and in the stadium across town, Joseph said he feels better being in Montreal, even though he’s alone. His eyes glazed over with tears as he spoke about his wife, two 14-year-old sons and 7-year-old daughter. They’re still in Haiti, he said.

    “There is a lot of trouble and insecurity there,” he said.

    One day he hopes to bring them here, to be Canadians together.

    With files from The Canadian Press

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    A Toronto man working on the opposition’s presidential election campaign in Kenya has been deported after being detained ahead of Tuesday’s contentious vote, his wife says.

    “As far as we know he boarded the plane (in Nairobi),” Jennifer Mary Bell said of her husband, Andreas Katsouris.

    “I’ve spoken to him twice today, both very, very briefly, like maybe 60 seconds at the most,” Bell said Saturday in an interview from the Netherlands, where he is expected to join her after the flight to Germany.

    “I spoke to him early this morning and he was on a monitored call, he couldn’t really talk. He sounded fine, he sounded very calm. He said they were treating them fine. And then I spoke to him just as he was getting on the plane a couple hours ago. He sounds upset.

    “He’s been there since late June, they’ve been working their hearts out on this campaign and of course it’s really disappointing to have it end this way.”

    Katsouris is senior vice-president of global services at Aristotle, Inc., a political consulting firm that provides various services to campaigns, including strategy and data analysis.

    He and the company’s CEO, John Aristotle Phillips, an American, were detained Friday night in the capital, Nairobi, said Aristotle spokesperson Brandi Travis.

    Travis said the two men were in Kenya assisting opposition candidate Raila Odinga, and had become involved in the election because they thought it had the potential for irregularities.

    “I was originally just informed that they were missing and that they had been taken somewhere,” said Bell, who works in public health as an epidemiologist.

    “That was last night. I got an urgent call to say that they had been apprehended and taken to some building, but nobody knew where.”

    Bell said the men went out for dinner with a member of the campaign staff, but were apprehended. The campaign staff member was the one who sounded the alarm.

    Bell said her husband was safe and had been well-treated, despite reports that Phillips had been assaulted and put in the trunk of a vehicle.

    James Orengo, a senior member of the opposition National Super Alliance, told reporters that Phillips was “very adamant about his rights under the constitution, civic rights, was molested, thrown into the boot, and taken away with his colleague.”

    Though Bell said she had a feeling Katsouris would be OK — going into potentially dangerous countries during elections is “kind of his thing” — she called her MP to make sure the incident was on the Canadian government’s radar.

    But the incident does raise questions.

    “To me the interesting question is why this happened, and why the (Kenyan) government would choose to do something so visible with an American and a Canadian,” she said. “It suggests a motive that isn’t necessarily pure.”

    President Uhuru Kenyatta — the son of Kenya’s first president — will face longtime opposition leader Odinga, the son of the country’s first vice-president.

    Odinga has run unsuccessfully for the top post in three previous contests.

    Recent elections in Kenya, East Africa’s high-tech and commercial hub, have been hotly contested; more than 1,000 people were killed in post-election violence a decade ago. Kenyatta prevailed over Odinga in a 2013 vote that was mostly peaceful but tainted by opposition allegations of vote-rigging.

    Travis said Katsouris and Phillips knew there were risks associated with working for the opposition in Kenya, but they thought Odinga’s cause was worth it.

    “They do go into countries that aren’t always safe,” she said, “but they think it’s the right thing to do.”

    James Orengo, a senior member of the opposition National Super Alliance, told The Associated Press that the detention of Katsouris and Phillips happened around the same time that armed and masked police raided an opposition vote-counting centre, intimidating workers and seizing equipment. He also said two Ghanaians working on the opposition campaign have been deported.

    Kenyan police denied allegations that officers broke into political party offices on Friday, saying no report of a burglary has been made to any police station.

    With files from Emily Fearon and The Associated Press

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    CARACAS, VENEZUELA—Ruling party chief Diosdado Cabello said Venezuelan troops quashed a “terrorist” attack at a military base Sunday, shortly after a small group of men dressed in fatigues released a video declaring themselves in rebellion.

    Cabello reported on Twitter that troops quickly contained the early morning assault at the Paramacay base in the central city of Valencia. Military officials said seven people were detained.

    The announcement came after the group of men, some armed with assault rifles, announced they were disavowing the government of embattled President Nicolas Maduro and said any unit refusing to go along with their call for rebellion would be declared a military target.

    “This is not a coup d’etat,” a man who identified himself as Capt. Juan Caguaripano said in the video. “This is a civic and military action to re-establish the constitutional order.”

    Read more:

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    Cabello, a former military man and vice-president under the late President Hugo Chavez, called the attackers “mercenary terrorists.” Socialist party loyalists also regularly use the term “terrorist” to describe opposition leaders and protesters.

    The South American nation has for months been in the throes of a political crisis with protests that have left more than 120 dead, nearly 2,000 wounded and over 500 detained. The political standoff heightened this week with the installation of an all-powerful constitutional assembly that opposition members fear Maduro will use to tighten his grip on power, install a one-party state and remove foes from office.

    Caguaripano, the leader of the alleged plot, has a history of rebellion.

    In 2014, while a captain in the national guard and amid a previous wave of anti-government unrest, he released a 12-minute video denouncing Maduro. He later reportedly sought exile after a military tribunal ordered his arrest, appearing in an interview on CNN en Espanol to draw attention to dissatisfaction within the ranks over Venezuela’s demise.

    He returned to Venezuela to lead Sunday’s uprising, said Giomar Flores, a mutinous naval officer who said he is a spokesman for the group from Bogota, Colombia.

    Videos circulating on social media showed a police convoy speeding down a road amid the sound of apparent gunfire.

    The Paramacay base, surrounded by a residential neighbourhood in Valencia, is one of Venezuela’s largest and houses some of the country’s most important armaments including Russian-made tanks.

    Cabello is the first vice-president of the ruling socialist party and a member of the constitutional assembly. He has been a vocal proponent of using the legislative super-body to strip lawmakers in the opposition-controlled National Assembly of the immunity from prosecution that comes with office.

    While in the military he took part in a failed 1992 coup led by Chavez, and he has held various high-ranking positions in the government. U.S. officials have accused him of involvement in drug trafficking, a charge he denies.

    On Twitter Sunday, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said the fact that Cabello had announced the news of the attack “shows who’s in charge of security forces” in Venezuela.

    Maduro is widely considered to still have the backing of the military, though it is difficult to know whether any discord may be brewing among the rank and file.

    The rebellion took place a day after the constitutional assembly voted unanimously to remove the nation’s chief prosecutor, a longtime government loyalist who has become one of Maduro’s most outspoken critics. Delegates shouted “traitor” and “justice” as they proceeded with her removal.

    Luisa Ortega refused to recognize the decision to oust her and vowed to continue fighting “with my last breath” against what she considers unconstitutional overreach by the government.

    The assembly later swore in as her replacement Ombudsman Tarek William Saab, who was recently sanctioned by the Trump administration for failing to protect protesters from abuses in his role as the nation’s top human rights official.

    Also Saturday prominent opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez was returned home to serve his sentence under house arrest, days after being hauled back to prison in the middle of the night in a move that drew international condemnation.

    The activist’s wife Lilian Tintori said in a message on Twitter that she and her husband remained committed to achieving “peace and freedom for Venezuela.”

    Lopez was released from prison July 8 and placed under house arrest after serving three years of a 13-year sentence on charges of inciting violence at opposition rallies. Many human rights groups considered him a political prisoner.

    But he was taken back into custody last Tuesday along with former Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma in what many believed was a renewed crackdown on the opposition following the election of delegates to the constitutional assembly.

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    A 21-year-old Toronto man is dead after he lost control of his motorcycle and crashed into the side of a building at a shopping plaza in Vaughan, York Regional Police say.

    At 3:10 a.m., police responded to a call about the crash in a parking lot at Weston Rd. and Colossus Dr., south of Hwy. 7.

    They found the man, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

    His motorcycle appeared to have struck the side of a Marshalls department store, next to a furniture store.

    Police anticipate the parking lot will be closed for up to five hours.

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