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    WASHINGTON—After six months of infighting, investigations and legislative failures, U.S. President Donald Trump is trying to combat new signs of weakness in his Republican base and re-energize his staunchest supporters.

    White House officials have been urging the president to refocus on immigration and other issues that resonate with the conservatives, evangelicals and working-class whites who propelled him to the Oval Office. The president has ramped up his media-bashing via Twitter, long a successful tactic for Trump, and staged rallies hoping to marshal his base to his defence.

    The effort underscores Trump’s shaky political positioning not yet seven months into his presidency. Trump has remained deeply unpopular among Democrats, and there are signs that his support among Republicans may be softening. His advisers are aware that a serious slip in support among his core voters could jeopardize hopes for a major, early legislative accomplishment and would certainly increase Republicans’ worries about his re-election prospects.

    Read more:

    GOP shadow campaign for 2020 begins to take shape as doubts grow about Trump

    Special counsel Robert Mueller using grand jury to help probe Russian meddling

    Trump set to leave for an extended vacation — flouting his own advice

    White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway acknowledged the concerns Sunday on ABC, saying the president’s approval rating “among Republicans and conservatives and Trump voters is down slightly.”

    “It needs to go up,” she said.

    In a Monday morning tweet, Trump dismissed his adviser’s statement. “The Trump base is far bigger & stronger than ever before,” he wrote on Twitter. He later insisted that his support “will never change!”

    But polling doesn’t support Trump’s claim. A recent Quinnipiac University survey showed the president’s approval dipping into negative territory among whites without college degrees — a key group of supporters for the president. The percentage of Republicans who strongly approve of his performance also fell, with just over half of Republicans saying they strongly approved of Trump. That’s down from the two-thirds of Republicans who strongly approved of the president’s performance in June.

    Just one-third of all Americans approved of his job performance, a new low in the poll.

    The president’s struggles already have prompted public speculation about his political future. The White House pushed back angrily Sunday against a New York Times report about Republicans preparing for 2020 presidential race that may not include Trump. The report described Vice-President Mike Pence as laying groundwork in case Trump does not run. Pence called the report “disgraceful.”

    The chatter has been fuelled by Trump’s unsuccessful attempt to shepherd health care legislation through Congress, the drip-drip of revelations about his associates’ ties to Russia and the churn of turnover and turmoil at the White House. The president’s advisers have tried to drown out the bad news by focusing on his agenda.

    “They are telling him just enact your program,” Conway said of the president’s base. “Don’t worry about a Congress that isn’t supporting legislation to get big ticket items done. And don’t worry about all the distractions and diversions and discouragement that others, who are trying to throw logs in your path, are throwing your way.”

    In a televised event at the White House last week, the president endorsed legislation that would dramatically reduce legal immigration to the United States. The bill is unlikely to ever become law, but that mattered little to Trump’s advisers. Their barometer for success was the reaction from conservatives like commentator Ann Coulter, who called the White House’s embrace of the controversial legislation “the best moment of the Trump presidency since the inauguration.”

    Immigration is expected to continue being a focus for Trump in the coming weeks, including a push for the border wall. Officials also are weighing a more public role for White House policy adviser Stephen Miller, a favourite of Trump backers whose hard-line immigration policies irritate some congressional Republicans.

    The appointment of White House chief of staff John Kelly also fits in to that effort. While Kelly was brought in primarily to bring much-needed discipline to the West Wing, officials note that he, too, is viewed favourably by some Trump loyalists for his early execution of the administration’s immigration policy as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Kelly’s appointment was particularly welcomed by senior strategist Steve Bannon, who has taken on the task of ensuring Trump doesn’t drift from the promises he made to his base during the campaign.

    Several White House officials and Trump advisers insisted on anonymity in order to discuss the ways the administration is moving to shore up support for the president.

    Like Trump’s embrace of the legislation curtailing legal immigration, some of what the president has to offer his core supporters is more show than substance. In late July, Trump announced on Twitter that he was banning transgender people serving in the military — a policy shift sought by social conservatives — despite the fact that the Pentagon had no plans in place to enact the change. The policy is now being crafted.

    Alice Stewart, a conservative who worked for the presidential campaigns of Sen. Ted Cruz and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, said Trump is right to make overtures toward his coalition of loyal supporters, even if some of his moves are incomplete.

    “I think people realize half a loaf is better than none,” Stewart said.

    Mitch Harper, a former GOP state legislator and Republican activist in Indiana, said Trump will get credit from conservatives even for partial measures simply because he is “articulating things that they have not heard anyone articulate in a long time.”

    And what about the results? Harper said Trump supporters “are willing to wait.”

    Indeed, even some of Trump’s advisers still marvel at the loyalty of the president’s supporters. For now, conservatives are pinning the blame on Washington’s failure to get health care done not on Trump, but on the handful of Republican senators who blocked legislation aimed at overhauling “Obamacare.”

    “I think on health care the president is viewed as someone who did everything they could,” said Matt Schlapp, who heads the American Conservative Union.

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    LONDON—For a couple of minutes Monday night, Aaron Brown believed perhaps Canada’s luck at the world track and field championships was turning.

    He’d raced to a victory in his 200-metre heat in a season’s best time, three days after he’d been quarantined for the stomach virus that has slashed through the team.

    Then the results flashed up on the scoreboard. Beside his name was the dreaded “DQ.” Brown was disqualified for a lane violation.

    “I hope the tide’s turning,” Brown said, just a minute or two before hearing the bad news. “Brandon McBride made the final (in the men’s 800), we’ve got some other people waiting in the wings. Go Canada, we’re going to do this.”

    Athletics Canada immediately appealed the disqualification, but after video review, the appeal was rejected. Runners are disqualified for stepping on the line.

    Four days into the world championships, the Canadian team has lost stars Andre De Grasse and Derek Drouin to injury, and Eric Gillis dropped out 30 kilometres into the marathon, three days after he’d been ill with what is believed to be Norwalk.

    The 25-year-old Brown, meanwhile, raced to a season’s best 20.08 seconds — what would have been the second fastest time on the night — and, yet to learn of his disqualification, was all smiles when he went through the media interview area.

    Brown, who’d been disqualified for a false start in the 100 at last month’s Canadian championships, was happy he’d recovered from the bug that has flattened athletes from several teams staying at the same central London hotel.

    “I was in my room the entire day in the dark like I was a vampire,” he said. “It hit at night, couldn’t sleep, aching stomach. Felt like the movie Alien , when they breed the alien and the thing’s running around inside. It felt like that. I was holding my stomach the entire night.”

    Canadian team doctor Paddy McCluskey had said Sunday that seven Canadian team athletes and team members had been ill.

    “There have been a number of cases of gastroenteritis reported by team members residing within one of the official team hotels,” the local organizing committee said in a statement Monday night. “Those affected have been supported by both team and LOC medical staff.”

    Brown and De Grasse are the only two Canadian sprinters in history that have recorded both sub-10 second times in the 100 and sub-20 in the 200.

    Brown said he’s drawn inspiration from his Canadian teammate, who was a medal threat in both the 100 and 200 in London before tearing his hamstring a week ago in training.

    “Why not me? That’s been my slogan for the championship, ‘Why not me?’” Brown said. “I know I have the talent and the capabilities.”

    He just needed some better luck.

    Sage Watson fared better than Brown on Monday night, advancing to the semifinals in the women’s 400-metre hurdles. Watson was second in her heat in 55.06, the fifth fastest time of the night.

    The 23-year-old from Medicine Hat, Alta., who won the NCAA title for the Arizona Wildcats, said there were some things she needs to clean up for the next round — she relaxed on the corner too much, and didn’t come off the hurdles as smooth as she would’ve liked over the final 100 metres.

    A few small fixes, and she believes she’s “ready to do something special,” she said.

    Special, she said, would be making the final and breaking the Canadian record of 54.39, set by Rosey Edeh (now a Canadian television personality) at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

    Watson’s best time is 54.52, set at the NCAA championships in June.

    Canada has four athletes in finals on Tuesday night, including Shawn Barber, the defending champion in pole vault. McBride races the 800, Matt Hughes races the 3,000-metre steeplechase, and Liz Gleadle throws the javelin.

    Read more:

    Andre De Grasse to miss world championships with hamstring injury

    Derek Drouin hoped to be ‘that person’ who stepped up for Canada and Andre De Grasse

    Canadian track team hopes virus and medal goose egg don’t last

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    MAFRAQ, JORDAN—Married at 15 and divorced at 16, a Syrian teen says she regrets having said yes to a handsome suitor — a stranger who turned into an abusive husband.

    Yet the reasons that transformed her into a child bride have become more prevalent among Syrians who live in Jordanian exile because of a six-year-old civil war back home. More families marry off daughters to ease the financial burden or say marriage is the way to protect the “honour” of girls seen as vulnerable outside their homeland.

    Figures from Jordan’s population census document the long suspected increase for the first time. In 2015, brides between the ages of 13 and 17 made up almost 44 per cent of all Syrian females in Jordan getting married that year, compared with 33 per cent in 2010.

    With Syrians expected to remain in exile for years, it’s a harmful trend for refugees and their overburdened host country, U.N. and Jordanian officials say.

    More Syrian girls will lose out on education, since most child brides drop out of school. They typically marry fellow Syrians who are just a few years older, often without a steady job — a constellation that helps perpetuate poverty. And they will likely have more children than those who marry as adults, driving up Jordan’s fertility rate.

    “This means we will have more people, more than the government of Jordan can afford,” said Maysoon al-Zoabi, secretary general of Jordan’s Higher Population Council.

    The figures on early marriage were drawn from Jordan’s November 2015 census and compiled in a new study.

    The census counted 9.5 million people living in Jordan, including 2.9 non-Jordanians.

    Among the foreigners were 1.265 million Syrians — or double the number of refugees registered in the kingdom since the outbreak of the Syria conflict in 2011. The other Syrians include migrant labourers who came before the war and those who never registered as refugees.

    The figures on early marriage include all Syrians in Jordan, not just registered refugees.

    Many came from southern Syria’s culturally conservative countryside, where even before the conflict girls typically married in their teens. Still, the study shows a higher rate of early marriage among Syrians in exile than in their homeland.

    The teen divorcee fled Syria’s Daraa province in 2012, along with her parents and four siblings. The family eventually settled in a small town in the northern Mafraq province.

    The parents and the teen, now 17, spoke on condition of anonymity because of the stigma of divorce. They said they wanted to speak out, nonetheless, in hopes of helping others avoid the same mistake.

    Child brides are traditionally shielded from outsiders, and the family provided a rare glimpse at what drives early marriage.

    “When we came here, our lives were disrupted,” said the teen’s mother, sitting on a floor cushion in the living room of their small rented home. “If we had remained in Syria, I would not have allowed her to get married this young.”

    The family scrapes by on small cash stipends and food vouchers from U.N. aid agencies, along with the father’s below-minimum-wage income as a labourer.

    Worse, the family feels adrift.

    The parents, fearful their children would be harassed, especially the girls, did not enrol them in local schools, typically overcrowded to accommodate large numbers of Syrians.

    In such a setting — girls sitting at home without a seeming purpose — the push to have them get married becomes stronger.

    An older sister of the teen also married as a minor. The mother said she often feels regret about her daughter having been robbed of her childhood.

    The younger girl spent most of her time at home, brooding. She had no girlfriends since she didn’t go to school and was only allowed to leave the house with her mother, in line with traditions. In any case, there was nothing to do in the small desert town.

    Two years ago, a young Syrian man asked for the teen’s hand, after introductions had been made by a go-between. The intermediary talked up the stranger, saying he had job prospects and could afford his own apartment.

    The teen, 15 at the time, accepted. “I was bored and sad,” she said. “I wanted to get married.”

    The parents said the young man seemed immature, but that their daughter insisted. The wedding took place a month later, and the bride wore a white dress.

    The marriage contract was sealed by a Syrian lawyer, not a Jordanian religious court judge, meaning it was not officially recognized in Jordan.

    Local law sets the minimum age of marriage for girls at 18, though Jordanian judges often allow exceptions for brides between the ages of 15 and 17.

    In 2015, 11.6 per cent of Jordanian females who married that year were minors, compared to 9.6 per cent in 2010, indicating a slight rise that al-Zoubi believes is down in part to Jordanians being influenced by Syrian customs.

    After marriage, the Syrian teen moved to a different town with her husband, and his promises quickly evaporated. The couple moved in with his extended clan, and the teen turned into a maid, according to her parents. The teen said her unemployed husband beat her.

    Despite the abuse, she said she wanted to stay in the marriage, fearful of the shame of divorce. Her father eventually insisted on divorce to extract her from what he felt was a harmful situation.

    After returning home, the teen briefly attended an informal education and children’s support program called Makani that is run by the U.N. child welfare agency and other aid groups at centres across Jordan. She started making friends, but stayed away again when a new group of students signed up.

    Robert Jenkins, the head of UNICEF in Jordan, said that by the time girls are married, it’s often too late to get them back to education.

    “Our absolute first line of defence is prevention (of early marriage),” he said, adding that the agency tries to support families and teens so they won’t opt for early marriage.

    In the Zaatari refugee camp, such intervention appears to have had an impact, said Hussam Assaf, 32, who rents and sells white bridal gowns and colourful engagement dresses in the local market.

    Assaf said the typical age of his customers in Zaatari is 16 or 17, compared with 14 or 15 in his hometown in rural Syria, crediting counselling programs by aid groups with the change.

    The young divorcee, meanwhile, hasn’t ruled out marriage in the future. She said it’s unlikely she’ll ever go back to school because she has already missed five years of learning.

    Still, she thinks about what could have been.

    “If I had continued my education, it would have been better,” she said. Her trauma of her brief marriage “has made me weaker,” she said.

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    BRIDGEWATER, N.J.—U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence has pushed back against a news report suggesting he is laying groundwork for a possible presidential bid in 2020 if President Donald Trump does not run.

    In a statement released by the White House, Pence said Sunday’s story in the New York Times“is disgraceful and offensive to me, my family, and our entire team.” He added that “the allegations in this article are categorically false.”

    The formal rebuttal of a news report by the vice-president was an unusual move. In it, Pence also said his team will “focus all our efforts to advance the president’s agenda and see him re-elected in 2020.”

    Read more: Read the New York Times story that prompted Mike Pence’s response

    The report details efforts of several Republicans looking ahead to 2020, calling it a “shadow campaign.” It notes Pence’s political schedule and active fundraising, though it also says unnamed advisers have signalled that he’d only run if Trump doesn’t.

    Trump, meanwhile, insisted his support is stronger than ever. In a flurry of early morning tweets Monday, Trump says “the Trump base far bigger & stronger than ever before (despite some phoney Fake News polling).” He specifically criticized the “failing @nytimes.”

    The New York Times article noted Pence has set up a fundraising committee. Called the Great America Committee, it can accept checks of up to $5,000 U.S. from individual donors. Pence raised about $1 million at a Washington fundraiser last month, attended by dozens of lawmakers and featuring remarks from White House adviser Ivanka Trump.

    Trump has not suggested he won’t seek a second term. But his first six months in office have been turbulent, marked by staff infighting, legislative struggles and a series of investigations.

    White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway also dismissed the report and said Pence is readying to run in 2020 “for re-election as vice-president.”

    “Vice-President Pence is a very loyal, very dutiful, but also incredibly effective vice-president, and active vice-president, with this president,” said Conway on ABC’s This Week. “He is a peer to the president in the West Wing.”

    New York Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha said in an emailed statement: “We are confident in the accuracy of our reporting and will let the story speak for itself.”

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    Step inside a stadium or club on a concert night and you’re usually inundated with cellphone-armed fans blocking your view in pursuit of grainy video, or libation-laden crowds aggressively jostling to be nearest the stage.

    But that didn’t happen when Toronto-born flamenco artist Tamar Ilana took to the floor at the newly opened Broadview Hotel’s Lincoln Hall event space on a recent Sunday afternoon.

    About 130 music lovers sat enraptured by her Sephardic love songs, so engaged that few reached for their phones — an impressive feat considering they had flocked to the spot never having heard her music and not even knowing who would be performing.

    They were there because they had scored an invitation to a secret show put on by Sofar Sounds, a global organization that has quietly crept into Toronto, arranging clandestine performances in living rooms, community centres and offices, and attracting local phenoms Royal Wood, Great Lake Swimmers and Donovan Woods.

    It works like this: music lovers apply online to attend a show, knowing only the date and neighbourhood it will be held in. Guests are selected from a pool of 100 to 400 applicants and, a day or two before the show, those chosen are sent an address. They don’t find out who will hit the stage until showtime.

    The secrecy element — popularized by Prince and Mumford and Sons — means attendees get to brag about their exclusive night of music, while up-and-coming artists still struggling to build a fan base get connected with crowds they haven’t be able to attract on their own.

    “It’s not a shtick,” says Sofar Sounds Toronto director Jon Campbell. “We’re trying to get people to experience their city as much as possible, and we take that to mean both geographically and artistically. The motto is to put the magic back into live music.”

    To date they’ve attempted to conjure up that magic at dozens of spots, once even bringing guests to the centre of the Woodbine Racetrack to jam. Their performers have been an eclectic bunch, including indie rockers, rappers, spoken-word performers and gypsy singers who dabble in beatboxing.

    They’ve taken their cues from the movement’s founders, two Brits who became annoyed at a London gig in 2009.

    “The noise around them was distracting their ability to actually see the show at a bar somewhere, and so they just said this is crazy and they brought the show to their home, where people would sit down, shut up and listen,” said Campbell.

    Now the U.K. chapter hosts three intimate shows a night almost every day of the year and the initiative has expanded to 366 cities, including Bogota, Lima, Brussels, Sydney and Shanghai. (Plans are underway to bring it to Guelph, Kitchener and Waterloo soon.)

    The Sofar Sounds movement (an acronym for “sounds from a room”) has even been credited with giving the National, Hozier, James Bay, Leon Bridges, Bastille and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs a platform before they became radio regulars.

    “It’s not easy to get access to big names. It’s a money thing and it’s a scheduling thing,” says Campbell, of why you’re more likely to see an emerging artist than Beyoncé at Sofar Sounds.

    But he insists the events are still of value because “you’re going to be among the next generations of big artists.”

    He and the other volunteers behind Sofar Sounds Toronto often discover potential performers at their day jobs in the music industry or through agents pitching new artists, but the Broadview Hotel show’s second act, duo The Visit, requested their slot after performing at one of the organization’s previous shows.

    “They bring out great crowds, and it’s a good and rare opportunity to connect with the audience. You can talk with them and get to know them,” said The Visit’s cellist Raphael Weinroth-Browne.

    After The Visit came Catriona Sturton, a contact from Campbell’s university radio show days and the former bassist for Halifax teen-rockers Plumtree, whose 1997 song “Scott Pilgrim” helped inspire the cult favourite books and movie.

    She had the audience giggling as she blew on her bedazzled harmonica and sang short ditties about the “romance of poutine” and a time when a friend gave her a sweater riddled with moth-chewed holes that the pal’s mom covered up with bee stitching.

    As she capped the evening, a handful of guests approached the artist merchandise table with wallets in hand, while others murmured about wanting to add some of the performers to their Spotify rotations.

    Many, including IT worker Murugi Murai, vowed they’d be back.

    Murai attended her first Sofar Sounds show at a condo in Nairobi last month. It took no coaxing for her to get her bartender pal Christopher Smith to join her at the Broadview Hotel show.

    “I’m an adrenalin junkie, so I was really attracted to it being a secret. I am already thinking about people I know that are interested in doing something off the beaten track that I can invite next time,” said Smith.

    Ilana also predicted she would come back, though she griped that performers were offered so little to play that her group Ventanas decided to send just her and one other member.

    “I considered even not doing it. It is a lot of artists performing for almost free, but we love playing so we will almost always do it in the end,” she said, requesting the Star not publish her earnings.

    Tickets for the Toronto shows, which last around three hours and include three sets, cost $15. The artist’s take is a function of the small audience, the affordable cover and the equipment, crew and venue costs, said Campbell.

    Still, not having to book the venue, sell tickets, set up light and sound equipment, and arrange filming on top of performing was a treat for Ilana, who like most burgeoning artists takes on most of those responsibilities herself. She added that the audience was a perk, too, because Ilana often plays festivals and for crowds that skew much older than her.

    “We were playing to our peers. It was a new audience for us and you really feel the difference,” she said. “It was impeccable. Cellphones were away, everyone listening and the focus was really on the music.”

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    OTTAWA—U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has an issue with getting agricultural products to Canada, and it might not be the ones you think.

    “It’s an extraordinary problem for those people who are affected,” Lighthizer said June 22 when he appeared before the House of Representatives ways and means committee to talk about trade priorities. “And there is no justification for it.”

    Much of the spotlight on Canada-U.S. trade leading up to the new North American Free Trade talks has been on dairy products.

    This time, though, Lighthizer was not talking about cheese, but what you pair it with: wine.

    Two days before President Donald Trump entered the White House, the U.S. launched an aggressive trade challenge by asking the World Trade Organization to examine how the B.C. government was allowing only wine produced within the province to be sold in grocery stores.

    Lighthizer told the committee in June that WTO consultations — the first stage of the process — had not resolved things, so the administration was thinking about whether to press ahead with a dispute settlement panel in Geneva.

    Then he mentioned another, perhaps friendlier, way to go: the new NAFTA.

    “In this case it would make more sense to negotiate and do it in a less hostile way,” he said.

    A month later, Lighthizer published the list of goals the Trump administration has for a renegotiated trade deal with Canada and Mexico, in advance of the first round of talks on Aug. 16.

    Canadian wine got a mention in the accompanying news release.

    The move to allow only B.C. wines to be sold in B.C. grocery stores, which the U.S. argues is discriminatory, is not the only issue the Trump administration has with the way Canada imports and sells wine.

    The U.S. government’s annual report on trade barriers highlights a complaint that would be shared by many Canadian consumers who have long chafed at limited access: in many parts of the country, province-run liquor control boards restrict the sale of wine, beer and spirits.

    Restrictions on listings, cost-of-service mark-ups, maximum or minimum price points, distribution policies, labelling requirements and making suppliers discount their prices to meet sales targets were all mentioned as things getting in the way.

    The report said the U.S. government is reviewing the situation in Ontario, where about 70 grocery stores are now allowed to sell both domestic and imported wine, under certain conditions that include country of origin.

    It also suggested a recent move to allow Quebec wine to be sold in Quebec grocery stores could give craft wineries an unfair advantage.

    The fledging Canadian wine industry won some concessions in the 1987 Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (CUSFTA), which meant they were allowed to grandfather in some protectionist measures to support domestic wines in exchange for opening up the Canadian market to more U.S. wines.

    Those protections were integrated into NAFTA.

    Tom LaFaille, the vice-president and international trade counsel for the Wine Institute, an advocacy organization for the California wine industry, argued the Canadian wine industry is now big enough that it should not be able to get away with such supports.

    “We just feel that it’s important to end those practices, some of which may have been imposed when Canadian wine was in its infancy,” said LaFaille.

    The Canadian Vintners Association, meanwhile, is treading carefully when it comes to NAFTA.

    Asha Hingorani, the director of government and public affairs for the industry association, said the organization is keeping the details of its position secret until talks begin, but said the complaints coming from the U.S., which has a $450-million wine trade surplus with Canada, should be put into perspective.

    “Our industry generates $9 billion in economic impact to the Canadian economy and we produce 37,000 jobs, but compared to the size of the U.S., it’s like a David vs. Goliath scenario,” she wrote.

    She said the U.S. wine industry has a 67-per-cent share of its home market while Canadian wines have a 32-per-cent share of the market here.

    And while U.S. wines have a 14.2-per-cent share of the wine sales in Canada, up from 6.5 per cent the year before the CUSFTA took effect, Canadian wines have practically none of retail sales market share below the border.

    “It’s important we have a fair deal that benefits both,” she said.

    Global Affairs Canada did not respond to a request for comment on the role it expects wine to play in the NAFTA talks, but Hingorani said her association has been “in constant contact” with departmental officials working on the wine file.

    Miles Prodan, president and CEO of the British Columbia Wine Institute, expressed some anxiety that the small size of the Canadian wine industry could end up meaning Canadian products get lost in the shuffle.

    “I guess our concern is that with all the stuff on the table, wine isn’t used as a bargaining chip somehow,” he said.

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    LONDON—Chloe Ayling’s ordeal sounds like a tale spawned by nightmares of the evil that lurks online.

    The 20-year-old British model says she was lured to Italy with the promise of a photo shoot, then drugged, stuffed into a suitcase, transported to an isolated farmhouse and held, at times in handcuffs, for almost a week.

    Ayling has told police the “terrifying experience” ended when her captor, who had threatened to hold her for ransom or advertise her as sex slave on the criminal “dark web,” decided instead to drop her off at the British consulate in Milan.

    As made-for-the movies as the young woman’s account sounds, Italian police have arrested a suspect: a 30-year-old Polish man who claimed to be a paid killer for a group called the Black Death.

    Ayling’s lawyer while the case is under investigation — standard procedure in Italy — acknowledged Monday that aspects of the case seem bizarre. He said investigators initially had “more than understandable doubts” about the model’s story.

    “It seems incredible,” lawyer Francesco Pesce told The Associated Press — “a man kidnaps, together with others, a girl, and after a week, citing particular reasons, accompanies her inside a consulate . . . (and) practically hands her over to police.”

    “This at first was doubted also by investigators — but the story later turned out to be true,” he added.

    Pesce, Ayling’s agent, and Milan police have all given broadly the same account of the sensational events.

    The model — whose nascent career includes topless shoots for British tabloid newspapers — went to Milan on July 11 for a photo shoot at what her agent, Phil Green, said was “a recognized studio in the city centre.”

    When she got there, her lawyer said, a man grabbed her by the neck while another injected her with a dose of the anesthetic Ketamine “strong enough to knock her to the ground.”

    “Then she was stuffed in a black sports bag, like she was an object, and then transported over winding, unpaved roads for more than two hours . . . bound hand and foot and with tape across her mouth,” Pesce said.

    Milan police said Ayling was taken to a rural house near Turin in northern Italy, where she was kept handcuffed to a wooden dresser.

    They said the suspect in custody, Lukasz Pawel Herba, advertised her “sale” online, while at the same time demanding $300,000 ransom from her agent. Authorities said as far as they know, no ransom was paid.

    Then, on July 17, Ayling was dropped off at the British consulate in Milan. The next day, police arrested Herba, a Polish citizen with British residency.

    Milan police officer Lorenzo Bucossi said Herba described himself as a “paid killer” for a mercenary organization. Others have suggested he is a fantasist.

    According to Italian media reports, Ayling said she was released when her captor discovered she had a small child. He said abducting a mother was against the rules of his shadowy criminal organization.

    Britain’s National Crime Agency said British police are working with Italian authorities and searched a house in central England linked to Herba.

    On Sunday — almost three weeks after she says she was released — Ayling returned to Britain.

    Green said Italian police held Ayling’s passport and wouldn’t let leave the country until she gave evidence at a pretrial hearing and visited the crime scene with detectives last week.

    “I’ve been through a terrifying experience,” Ayling told reporters on the doorstep of her home in south London on Sunday. “I’ve feared for my life, second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour.”

    Green, who runs the Supermodel Agency with which Ayling is affiliated, said Monday that she was undergoing “debriefing” with government officials and the police and could not speak further to the press.

    He asked the media to “respect the fact she does need some time alone.”

    Pesce said he had “never seen such strength and such courage in a girl of 20 years,” describing how Ayling accompanied detectives to the farmhouse and recounted her ordeal.

    “The most beautiful moment was to see her emerge with a real smile” after showing investigators what happened in the house, he said.

    Pesce said Ayling was able “to describe exactly the places she was held, to recount everything, barely shed a tear, and then feel finally free.”

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    In the past month, Roxanne messaged more than two dozen Ontario women on Facebook to warn them that their photos had surfaced on the image-sharing site Anon-IB.

    It’s something the Toronto resident has been doing on and off since she learned four years ago that her own photos had cropped up on the site — a place where users gather to share images, many of which are sexually explicit.

    “Part of me felt like a little bit of a creep doing this,” said Roxanne, who didn’t want her full name published out of concern her experience would affect her career in social work. “But … if I can track them down this easily, somebody with a worse motive can too.”

    Roxanne, 24, typically finds the women she warns by searching on Facebook for their first names, the first letter of their last name and the community they’re believed to live in — all information that accompanies the photos posted on Anon-IB, which boasts the tag line “Best Anonymous Image Board.”

    The site — which did not respond to a request for an interview — has sections for various countries, including Canada, the U.S. and the U.K., and pages specific to cities and even universities. The level of detail can allow users to come across images of people they may actually know.

    The Canada forum on Anon-IB is currently 15 pages long, with threads for women at various universities and more than 30 Ontario communities.

    The website has rules prohibiting the posting of images of minors and a ban on the posting of “personal details like addresses, telephone numbers, social networks links, or last names.” But some users work around the rules by posting messages like, “(first name) L anyone? Surname rhymes with mammoth.”

    The photos of Roxanne that appeared on the site in 2013 were taken in 2011, she said. She had sent two photographs — taken in a crop top and underwear — to someone who befriended her on Facebook.

    Roxanne thought the person was a woman named Mary, who described herself as a queer feminist, a survivor of sexual violence and a women’s studies student. But when she began badgering Roxanne for explicit photos, Roxanne said she grew suspicious. After an internet search revealed that Mary’s profile photo appeared to be that of a pornography performer, Roxanne blocked the person.

    Nearly two years later, Roxanne said the photographs she sent to that person appeared in the Ontario sub-forum on Anon-IB, where users were specifically requesting “wins” — slang for nude photos — of her.

    Roxanne said she found out about the images only after an acquaintance pointed them out. The photos had been up for two days by that point, she said.

    “I (was) in shock,” she said. “Then terror and a sense of dread set in.”

    Roxanne tried to get her photos taken down by filling out a form on the website, but said her request was ignored.

    Under the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act, it’s a crime to post or distribute an “intimate image” of another person without their consent.

    Roxanne decided to go to York regional police in Newmarket, Ont., a month after learning of her photos on Anon-IB.

    She knew it was unlikely they could get the images removed but she wanted to have a police record in case the matter escalated. She also wanted police to look into what she said were images of underage girls on the website.

    “The (officer) just looked bewildered,” she said.

    York regional police said they are aware of Roxanne’s case, that her file is still under investigation and no charges have been laid.

    Other police forces have also received the occasional complaint related to the website — RCMP in Antigonish, N.S., said they’ve been conducting an investigation related to Anon-IB since April, and police in Peterborough, Ont., said they became aware of the site after one complaint in the last two years. In both cases, no charges have been laid. Hamilton police said they had one investigation that involved the website but not a direct complaint against it.

    Ontario provincial police, Toronto police and Ottawa police said they have not received complaints about Anon-IB.

    Read more:

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    Sex trafficking case turns on whether websites can be held liable for content created by users

    Toronto lawyer Gil Zvulony said Roxanne’s photographs would not be considered “intimate” under the Criminal Code because they do not appear to depict any explicit sexual activity or nudity. He said women who find themselves on Anon-IB should still go to the police but noted that it’s unlikely charges would be laid if those who post the images remain anonymous on the website.

    Roxanne’s photos stayed on the site for about a year, she said, until it went offline briefly in 2014. When the site came back online, her images were gone.

    After her experience, Roxanne continued to think about what happened to her.

    “My coping mechanism was to go back on the website, find as many girls as I could, tip them off and go to bed,” she said.

    Katelyn, 23, was one of the women Roxanne messaged. She said she was 16 and 17 in most of the photos that she learned were on the site in August 2013.

    Katelyn said she has no idea who took photos from her Facebook and Plenty of Fish dating profile and edited them to make her shirts appear see-through, which was possible because she was wearing light-coloured tops without a bra, she said.

    After learning about her images, she asked the site to take them down. The photos were removed within 24 hours, she said, which is why she didn’t go to police.

    “I’m grateful that Roxanne reached out to me,” she said. “It’s important for women to keep mobilizing and looking out for one another.”

    0 0

    There’s a tall brick building between Richmond and Queen, just west of Spadina, where Darwin the Ikea monkey climbs the CN tower to reach Drake, who’s perched on top Views-style. Meanwhile, ”crane girl” hovers overhead.

    The newest mural in Toronto’s ‘graffiti alley,’ an established haunt for local photographers and artists, reads like a smorgasbord of Toronto stories.

    Monday, passerby Kelly Sveinson chuckled as he recognized the iconic Sam the Record Man sign in the corner. But other more obscure local references — like “dart guy” or red touring helicopters — were lost on Sveinson, his wife Susan and their daughter Kya, who were in visiting from Vancouver.

    Stella Hsu, who hustled through the alley with headphones on, paused her music to consider the mural. “There are a lot of elements,” she mused, her eyes darting up and down, left then right. A few feet away, a group of teenagers stopped to snap photos with the bustling references as a backdrop.

    The wall is a Where’s Waldo of Toronto’s stories. But the real secret comes from the artist himself — an east-coaster who goes by the moniker Uber 5000. The city is the final piece of a larger concept, which began in 2012 when he also painted two other sides of the same building.

    The original murals are washed over with technicolour fish. But to Uber 5000, images of a coral reef and images of Toronto go hand-in-hand.

    “Originally the idea of the reef section of the wall was it was sort of a metaphor for the city,” he said. While reefs make up a tiny fraction of ocean space across the earth, they’re home to enormous populations of marine life.

    The same ideas apply to the city, and especially Toronto, he explained. When he sat down to talk to the owner of the building about how to tackle the third side, a depiction of the city seemed to tie everything together.

    The process, which is still underway with a strip left to paint at the bottom, took place largely upon a 15-by-six foot lift that the owner of the building rented, and hoisted into the air with the artist aboard.

    Making art is Uber 5000’s full time job, he explained over the phone from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia — where he’s just completed a mural for a local waterfront festival. His work didn’t start with murals — in fact, it began while taking a political studies class, when he took to scrawling political slogans he learned on the school walls.

    After school, he moved to Vancouver, where a more experienced artist taught him more about mural art. His first mural there was a 3-storey high depiction of the Ewok Village from Star Wars near Granville Island. After it was finished, he was hooked.

    After a year in Vancouver, he moved back to the east coast, where he was approached by a local group in Halifax to do a mural for them. But, neither he nor the group had enough money to fund it. On his way back from that meeting, he passed a wall in the city he’d always thought would look nice as a mural.

    Mustering up his courage, he walked in and asked if he could paint it. “And if I got shot down, I already got shot down once today,” he reasoned.

    But, to his surprise, the answer was yes.

    The building housed an engineering firm, so he set his mind on a “photorealistic” image of Halifax’s Angus L. Macdonald Bridge. “They would come out and smoke, and just point out all the mistakes,” he said.

    But with another mural under his belt, Uber 5000 began to build a portfolio. Earlier this year, he worked on a piece for Toronto’s Humane Society, and now has several commissions from local businesses.

    The work was exhausting, he said, noting that on the last day he worked on the Toronto city mural, he worked through the night, then had to deal with a broken lift so he didn’t get to sleep until 3 p.m. He woke up that evening, packed everything up, and met his 5 a.m. flight to paint more in Cape Breton.

    To him, it’s worth it to live the life he does. “I like zipping around and renting equipment and jumping up on stuff,” he said happily. “And leaving a big, colourful picture in my wake.”

    Can you spot the references?

    Dart Guy

    Crane Girl

    Sam the Record Man

    Darwin the Ikea Monkey

    Drake on the CN Tower (“Views”)

    Queen Street West

    Blue jay flipping the bat

    Red touring helicopters

    Canada 150 airplane

    Wayward fish from the 2012 murals

    Bonus: Uber 5000’s real-life dog Hubble, who appears in nearly all his murals!

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    A little girl, a stuffed animal and the social media campaign to reunite them.

    Calling her daughter “heartbroken,” a mother’s Facebook post imploring for help to locate a stuffed pink dog has been shared on the social media site over 7,130 times.

    The family of four visiting Toronto from the U.K. was killing time in the Eaton Centre on Aug. 4 before their flight back home to Exeter.

    Phoebe, 6, had her beloved stuffed animal, Sleepy Dog, with her, wrote Julie Letton, Phoebe’s mother, in an email.

    When Phoebe noticed her toy was missing, Letton said her stomach flipped. The family retraced their steps and searched the mall. “Phoebe was with me and was inconsolable. She cried constantly for about two hours,” Letton said.

    The family had to leave without finding Sleepy Dog, despite their search and speaking with staff at the Eaton Centre.

    In the taxi on the way to the airport, Letton made her Facebook post, and has since made a Facebook group.

    One of the people aiding in the search is Toronto Police Sgt. Wendy Drummond who enlisted the help of Twitter users. “We are all pulling together to bring this little guy home,” she tweeted.

    Drummond was inspired to tweet after she saw Letton’s online post. She has children of her own and said she knows what this situation is like with toys that carry meaning.

    “As adults we’ve all experienced heart break at some point in our lives, so we know what it feels like, and it’s awful to see (Phoebe) going through such an emotional time,” Letton said. “Sleepy Dog has been her number 1 since he came into her life when she was less than a year old.”

    “Phoebe is amazed by the amount of people who are trying to help her,” Letton continued. “We are all very grateful.”

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    NEW YORK—Stung by onerous new sanctions from the UN Security Council, North Korea has threatened retaliation “thousands of times” and hinted at a possible attack on the United States.

    In its first major response to the sanctions drafted by the United States and adopted Saturday, North Korea said Monday it would never relinquish its missile and nuclear arsenals, and called the penalties a panicky U.S.-led response to its growing military might.

    The North Korean response, in statements from its official news agency, foreign minister and UN mission, suggested that the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, was doubling down on his goal of developing a nuclear-armed missile that could hit the continental United States.

    The warnings began with a statement from North Korea’s official news agency, threatening to make the United States “pay the price for its crime thousands of times,” referring to the new sanctions.

    “There is no bigger mistake than the United States believing that its land is safe across the ocean,” the news agency said.

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    North Korea’s foreign minister, Ri Yong-ho, echoed the hostility later in a statement released at an annual meeting of foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Manila that was attended by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

    Ri described North Korea’s missiles and nuclear weapons as defensive measures against what he called the threat of annihilation by the United States.

    “We will, under no circumstances, put the nuclear and ballistic missiles on the negotiating table,” Ri said in the statement released to reporters at the conference.

    “Neither shall we flinch even an inch from the road to bolstering up the nuclear forces chosen by ourselves unless the hostile policy and nuclear threat of the U.S. against the DPRK are fundamentally eliminated,” Ri said, using the initials for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the official name of North Korea.

    Lim Eul Chul, a North Korea expert at South Korea’s Kyungnam University, said the comments by the North demonstrate how angry it is over the UN sanctions, but that the country is not likely to launch a pre-emptive strike against the United States. He said the North could still carry out further missile tests or a sixth atomic bomb test in the coming months under its broader weapons development timetable.

    Pyongyang’s UN mission also issued a lengthy statement denouncing the sanctions, which were meant to dissuade North Korea from pressing ahead with its missile and nuclear weapons programs.

    The statement called the sanctions, which include prohibitions on North Korean exports of coal, iron and seafood, “a flagrant infringement upon its sovereignty.”

    The response came two days after the Security Council approved the measures in a 15-0 vote that basically left Kim bereft of any powerful supporter on the issue, including China, which helped the United States draft the new penalties.

    If enforced, the measures could lop an estimated $1 billion (U.S.) annually off North Korea’s meagre export revenue of $3 billion. The resolution also bans countries from giving any additional permits to North Korean labourers, another source of foreign currency for the North, and prohibits all new joint ventures with North Korean companies.

    The resolution was a direct response to North Korea’s successful tests last month of two intercontinental ballistic missiles that for the first time demonstrated an ability to reach the U.S. mainland.

    The sanctions are the toughest of the seven Security Council resolutions adopted since 2006 aimed at curbing North Korea’s nuclear militarization.

    North Korea’s UN mission said the sanctions revealed that the United States and its allies, instead of accepting North Korea and learning to coexist with it, had become “more frenzied and desperate” over the country’s growing military strength.

    Lim, the North Korea expert, said the North will probably squeeze its ordinary citizens to help finance its nuclear and missile programs. Shin Beomchul of the Seoul-based Korea National Diplomatic Academy said sanctions that can force a change from North Korea would include a ban on China’s annual, mostly free shipment of 500,000 tons of crude oil to North Korea and the deporting by UN member states of the tens of thousands of North Korean workers currently dispatched abroad.

    With files from The Associated Press

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    A “loud, thunderous noise” was all Christopher Palumbo heard before the water started rushing down Albion Falls toward him and his five buddies Monday afternoon.

    The 19-year-old Vaughan man road tripped to Hamilton on the long weekend to hike the trails and shoot some photos of the falls, but a quick turn in the weather changed those plans.

    Thunder and rain prompted the group to take cover under a rock ledge, and that’s when the water came.

    “We heard a loud, thunderous noise, and we all looked up and saw that all the water had started rushing down the waterfall,” he said. “It was like this water had come out of nowhere.”

    At first, they were amazed by the beauty and power of the flow, he said.

    “Then we realize, this thing’s coming right towards us.”

    The friends picked up their gear and fled downstream. The flooding started, and people got split up from one another and stuck on cliff sides, he said.

    He and his friends managed to cross the water and get to high ground but then he got stuck. While looking for ways to get back on the trail and find his way out of the falls, he ran into a couple of people stuck on the same side as him.

    “We all kind of stayed together just to figure out how we were going to get across,” he said. “Some people were from out of the province, so they were really unfamiliar with the area.

    “They had no idea what they were walking into.”

    About 30 people were down at the base of the falls when the water started rushing, Palumbo noted, including a man who got stuck in the water as it was flowing.

    Palumbo said the man managed to hold on to his dog despite getting washed down shore.

    With the help of emergency personnel, Palumbo was walked to safety. Neither he nor his friends suffered any injuries, he said.

    Immediately after the misadventure during his first visit to Albion Falls, Palumbo said he was shocked. But a few hours later, that initial panic had already subsided.

    “We’re all calmed down,” he said. “I don’t think it’s something we’ll let bother us in the future.”

    But he did have a few words of advice for anyone thinking of travelling down the sleep slopes anytime soon: “Be prepared. Plan … Know what you’re getting yourself into.”

    Hamilton fire prevention officer Steve McArthur said a total of 10 hikers needed assistance getting out of Albion Falls after an “excessive amount of water” came Monday afternoon. No one was injured, he said.

    Albion Falls has been at the centre of the public and political backlash lately over people ignoring safety warnings and trespassing.

    This has led the city to bolster safety features, including adding $75,000 worth of fencing and increasing ticketing enforcement of trespassers.

    Palumbo, who was informed afterwards that he was in a restricted area, said he didn’t receive a ticket. He said bylaw told him that was because there was “no signage” in the area he was in.

    Monday’s rain also prompted another rescue at Lower Chedoke Falls about a half hour before crews were called to Albion Falls.

    At Chedoke, a family of five — three adults and two kids — became stranded on rocks because of fast moving water, McArthur said. No one was injured, he added.

    Hamilton Police Service’s marine unit was called in to help with that rope rescue using a portable water rescue craft because of their “swift water” training, said Const. Ben Rushton.

    “The rapids were quite swift when we first got there,” said Rushton.

    People need to be aware of the potential hazards around them, Rushton said.

    “When they’re hiking, especially when they’re near steep cliffs obviously you need to stay back from that and obey any signage and fences and stay on marked trails,” he said. “And then when there’s rain, definitely stay away from water’s edge.”

    The Hamilton Spectator

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    Canadian health officials have extensive plans to ensure people survive a future influenza pandemic, but they’ve also made macabre recommendations for the nation’s funeral homes for those who don’t.

    “In a pandemic, each individual funeral home could expect to handle about six months’ work within a six- to eight-week period,” the Public Health Agency of Canada warns on a web page about the management of mass fatalities during a pandemic flu.

    “That may not be a problem in some communities, but funeral homes in larger cities may not be able to cope with the increased demand.”

    One of the agency’s recommendations is that funeral homes make advance plans for what to do if their staff get sick, including making arrangements with volunteers from service clubs or churches to dig graves.

    Storage space for corpses could also be a problem, the agency notes, and it says refrigerated trucks or ice rinks could be pressed into service if needed.

    “Funeral service providers, I can assure you, throughout their history, have responded to these sorts of tragedies and would do so again to the very best of their ability,” said Allan Cole, a board member with the Funeral Services Association of Canada and president of MacKinnon and Bowes, a company that provides services for the funeral industry.

    But finding a funeral home that’s willing to talk about its own pandemic planning is difficult. The Canadian Press reached out to numerous funeral homes in several Canadian cities and asked whether they were prepared for a pandemic, but not one returned the calls.

    Cole has been serving on committees for about a decade that deal with infectious diseases and how they affect the funeral profession.

    He said interest in planning rises when diseases such as SARS or Ebola are in the news, but wanes when pandemics fade from the headlines.

    Cole said it’s also difficult for funeral homes to stock many of the extra supplies they would need if business unexpectedly picked up.

    “Anything that you buy and save for some horrible eventuality, these are items that have a shelf life. You couldn’t buy, for instance, latex gloves, put them on the shelf and expect 15 years later that they’re in good condition. They simply aren’t,” Cole said.

    “Subsequently, for a private enterprise to go and undertake that sort of an investment for a potential community requirement would be hugely onerous and, as a result, I don’t think many really embarked on any sort of a program to upgrade their inventories for some sort of potential requirement.”

    The public health agency’s 2015 guide for the health sector on planning for a pandemic notes that historically, pandemics have occurred three to four times per century. However, it says there is no predictable interval.

    It says the last four pandemics demonstrated that the effect on the population can vary from low to high.

    The agency says that during a pandemic, some families could experience multiple deaths at the same time, straining financial resources for high-end funerals. It recommends funeral homes stock an extra supply of inexpensive caskets.

    Diseases like Ebola can spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of victims or corpses. During the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, traditional funerals, in which mourners touch the body, were a source of virus transmission.

    The Canadian agency says special infection control measures are not required for the handling of people who die from influenza, as the body is not contagious after death. But mourners who attend funeral homes could be contagious, and it says it would be up to provincial health officials to decide if restrictions are needed on the type and size of gatherings.

    The agency notes the average attendance at a visitation in Prince Edward Island is 1,000 to 1,400 people.

    No special vehicle or driver’s licence is needed for transportation of the deceased, the agency states.

    “Therefore, there are no restrictions on families transporting bodies of family members if they have a death certificate.”

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    Authorities in Toronto have seized a dog that police say was seen in an online video being hit by its owner while on a subway train.

    The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals took the dog after executing a search warrant on Monday, OSPCA spokeswoman Alison Cross said Tuesday, noting that charges are pending in the case.

    “This is a concerning video that we wanted to have an opportunity to investigate,” Cross said.

    The alleged incident caught on video took place on Friday afternoon.

    Police said they were called to St. George Station in downtown Toronto for a report of a dog being abused.

    Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook said officers interviewed a woman and witnesses and ultimately issued her a warning, releasing her with the dog.

    “We couldn’t do anything because the dog appeared to be unhurt and we didn’t have access to any video of the incident at the time,” Douglas-Cook said.

    A video appearing to show the incident surfaced later that day, Douglas-Cook said.

    In the video, which has been viewed more than a million times on YouTube, a woman appears to hit, pull and bite a small dog sitting on her lap on a subway train.

    “You hear me? Stop it, stop it right now,” the woman yells at the dog, which is on a leash and is seen trying to move away several times.

    “You’ve got to stop hitting your dog,” a man is seen saying to the woman when the train is stopped and its emergency alarm is going off.

    “Stop what? Pardon?” the woman says to the man before hurling expletives.

    Roxy Huang, who said she shot the video and posted it online, said she watched the incident unfold as she sat on the subway train.

    “I was terrified and worried she might punch me in the face if she noticed I was recording her,” Huang said in an email. “I have heard too many stories about abused animals, I know it is important to have evidence, that is why I started to record her.”

    Huang said she left the train as its emergency alarm went off and didn’t immediately see any police, so she uploaded the video to YouTube.

    Police said they grew concerned for the dog after watching the video and notified the OSPCA, which opened an investigation.

    The OSPCA said the dog, a Chinese crested dog, has seen a veterinarian and is doing well.

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    SAINT JOHN, N.B.—Six Americans have been charged with bringing handguns across the New Brunswick border so far this summer, as a Canadian prosecutor says it’s proving difficult to let otherwise law-abiding people know they can’t bring firearms on vacation.

    “The offences continue to occur with alarming frequency during the summer months,” federal prosecutor Peter Thorn said from Hampton, N.B.

    Five men — three from Florida, two from New England — pleaded guilty and were fined between $1,500 and $2,000, he said.

    Thorn, who has prosecuted these cases for years, said most of the people caught are "respectful and law abiding citizens of the U.S.A." who are unaware handguns are either restricted or prohibited in Canada.

    He said many don’t realize they can legally declare firearms and leave them behind as they enter the country. Many of the tourists are 60 and older, and from the South.

    The Canadian government has issued travel advisories, and there is signage at the border, but some Americans keep bringing their guns and lying about it, he said.

    Thorn said each time he handles a case, he asks the judge for a sentence that will deter others from travelling armed, but word doesn’t seem to filter back to the U.S.

    “Unfortunately, whereas the offenders reside in the U.S.A., it is highly unlikely that the sentencing message will ever reach those who could take heed or notice of the message,” Thorn said in an email to The Canadian Press.

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    The first case at St. Stephen, N.B., this summer came May 20. A 69-year-old New Hampshire man admitted he had a .357 Magnum in his glove compartment as border guards inspected his SUV. He was fined $1,500.

    Two days later, a 27-year-old Maine woman was charged with failing to declare a prohibited handgun at St. Stephen. She has pleaded not guilty and will face trial in Saint John, N.B., on March 23, 2018, Thorn said.

    On June 9, a 66-year-old Tavernier, Fla., man denied having a gun in his motor home — until border officers found a Smith & Wesson 9 mm in a locked safe. He was fined $1,500.

    On June 23, a Hampton, Fla., man arrived with two undeclared guns, including a prohibited .25 calibre Raven Arms handgun. He was fined $2,000.

    On July 11, there were two cases within hours.

    A 59-year-old New Hampshire man heading for Roosevelt Campobello International Park denied having guns while entering Campobello, N.B., from Lubec, Maine, and was targeted for a search.

    He told officers he wanted to return to the U.S. but it was too late. Officers found a .38 in a storage case in his motor home, as well as undeclared alcohol and two grams of suspected marijuana. He was fined $2,000.

    That same day, a handgun was seized from a 64-year-old Jacksonville, Fla., couple at St. Stephen. It was found, undeclared, in the woman’s suitcase, where her husband had hid it without telling her, Thorn said.

    “(The woman) stated that she specifically told her husband not to bring his handgun into Canada,” said Thorn.

    The man pleaded guilty, telling Judge Andrew LeMesurier of the New Brunswick provincial court they were coming to Canada to escape the heat.

    The judge joked the “heat” found him — and that he should know by now to listen to his wife. The Jacksonville man was fined $2,000.

    The Canadian Border Services Agency said such seizures are common.

    In 2015, the agency seized seven guns in St. Stephen, up from five the previous year, it said. Nationally, it seized 671 firearms in 2015, 313 of which were prohibited in Canada, mostly in Ontario and B.C.

    Last summer, Thorn said border agents seized a gun about once a week at St. Stephen.

    On one weekend in August last year, two Texas men separately tried to bring hidden guns across at St. Stephen. On one October weekend, two retirees in their mid-60s from southern states arrived hours apart, both carrying weapons and both denying it.

    0 0

    Glen Campbell, a guitar prodigy and ballad singer who dominated the polished, string-swelling countrypolitan sound of the late 1960s and 1970s and cultivated a clean-cut image at odds with his once-stormy personal life, died Tuesday in Nashville, Tenn. He was 81.

    His publicist confirmed the death to The Associated Press. Campbell announced he had Alzheimer’s disease in 2011 and performed what he called the Glen Campbell Goodbye Tour shortly thereafter. In 2015, he won his sixth and final Grammy Award, honoured for best country song “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” which he co-wrote for a documentary about his life and deteriorating health.

    Photo gallery: Glen Campbell, his life in photos

    In a career that spanned six decades, Campbell made dozens of albums, sold more than 40 million records and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

    At a time when the grittier “outlaw” movement of Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson was on the rise, Campbell vaulted to fame as an unabashed sentimentalist whose songs were aimed squarely at the American heartland.

    His best-known recordings included John Hartford’s “Gentle on My Mind” (which became his theme song) and Larry Weiss’s “Rhinestone Cowboy.” His most frequent collaborator was songwriter Jimmy Webb, who provided expressive, wistful hits such as “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Galveston” and “Wichita Lineman.”

    “My approach is simplicity,” Campbell told Time magazine in 1969. “If I can just make a 40-year-old housewife put down her dish towel and say ‘Oh!’ — why then, man, I’ve got it made.”

    Campbell was 4 when an uncle bought him a $5 mail-order guitar from a Sears Roebuck catalogue. He taught himself to play as an escape from sharecropping, explaining, “Picking a guitar was a lot easier than picking cotton.” He grew to admire the Belgian-born jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, whom he called “the most awesome player I ever heard.”

    Read more:

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    Glen Campbell lived the pain of his Oscar-nominated song ‘I’m not Gonna Miss You’

    Without any formal training, Campbell became by the early 1960s part of the so-called Wrecking Crew of Los Angeles, studio musicians who were known for their versatility and skill.

    He played rhythm guitar on more than 500 jazz, pop, rock and country records, backing entertainers such as Frank Sinatra, Nat “King” Cole, Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard and the Beach Boys. When Beach Boy Brian Wilson had a breakdown in 1965, the band asked Campbell to fill in on tour. Singing falsetto and playing bass, he got his first taste of crowd frenzy.

    “Right after one concert,” he told The New York Times, “the Beach Boys ran for the cars like mad, but I didn’t care. I took my time, figuring nobody would pay any attention to me, since I wasn’t really a Beach Boy. Well, I want to tell you, they jumped on me with all four feet — started yankin’ my hair, stole my watch, tore off my shirt. From then on, I was the first one in the car.”

    Campbell broke through as a solo act in 1967 with a flurry of Grammy Awards for “Gentle on My Mind.” Strapping, clean-cut, farm-boy handsome and with an easygoing charisma, he was soon in demand as a television guest star.

    Through a friendship with comedian Tommy Smothers, Campbell co-hosted The Summer Brothers Smothers Show on CBS in 1968. He acquitted himself so smoothly — despite his aversion to the program’s liberal politics — that the network hired Campbell to hosted a variety show, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, which aired from 1969 to 1972.

    He also was cast as a supporting actor in the John Wayne movie True Grit (1969), whose theme song he sang.

    In interviews, he could be quick-witted and charming, tossing off one-liners and country-fried quips.

    On his upbringing in rural Arkansas: “If we grew it, we ate it. If Daddy shot it, Mamma cooked it.” On his vault to movie, TV and record fame in the late 1960s: “Woooowheee! Ah been busier than a three-headed woodpecker!” On his movie role: “True Grit was fun to do, but I wasn’t cut out to be an actor. I made John Wayne look so good, he won his only Oscar.”

    Campbell remained a top country act for many more years. “Rhinestone Cowboy” brought him a No. 1 country and pop hit in 1975, and he duplicating that success in 1977 with the rollicking and infectious “Southern Nights,” written by Allen Toussaint.

    Campbell said the demands of celebrity and a series of troubled marriages led to his prodigious drinking and cocaine use. “I didn’t hold back in those days,” he later told the London Independent, recalling how he trashed hotel suites and got into other messes.

    There was a time, he said, that he boarded a plane, got into a seating dispute with an Indonesian government official and drunkenly told the man he would “call my friend Ronald Reagan and ask him to bomb Jakarta.”

    His most-chronicled escapade was his tumultuous relationship with country and pop singer Tanya Tucker, who projected a wildcat, man-eating persona and, at 22, was half Campbell’s age.

    They performed the national anthem together at the 1980 Republican National Convention. The next year, their tawdry row outside a hotel near Shreveport, Louisiana, attracted the attention of local authorities and then the media. It was not the last time their differences surfaced loudly and publicly.

    In 1982, Campbell wed his fourth wife. He announced he was a born-again Christian and that he had given up drugs and drinking. He had a relapse in 2003, when he was arrested for a hit-and-run incident in Phoenix after plowing his BMW into another car. He later pleaded guilty to drunken driving and was sentenced to 10 days in prison.

    His police mug shot — looking zoned out, craggy and unkempt — became a public sensation on the internet. He vowed never to touch alcohol again. His musical reputation had survived more than intact, and, in 2005, he was named to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

    That year, he joked with a reporter that he couldn’t imagine he was in any hall of fame. “They could never put me in a slot,” he said. “They couldn’t say Glen was ‘country,’ ‘pop’ or ‘rock.’ I’m crock, OK? A cross between country and rock. Call me crock.”

    Glen Travis Campbell was born on April 22, 1936, in Delight, Arkansas, and grew up on a family farm with 11 siblings. He played guitar at church picnics, on local radio shows and at nightclubs in cities as far away as Houston by the time he left school in 10th grade to perform full-time with an uncle’s Albuquerque-based country band.

    In the late 1950s, Campbell started his own Western combo and, encouraged by the positive reaction, decamped for Hollywood in the hope of a major solo career. He wound up as a session player, backing up other stars in the music studio.

    He played on Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night,” the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” album and the Monkees’ “I’m a Believer.”

    He bonded with Presley while recording the Viva Las Vegas soundtrack. “Elvis and I were brought up the same humble way — picking cotton and looking at the north end of a southbound mule,” he once quipped.

    It was profitable work for Campbell, but he felt he was delaying his ambitions. He had a minor hit as a singer with the 1961 pop single “Turn Around, Look At Me.” But he did not fully emerge as a headliner until recording “Gentle on My Mind” in Nashville. Soon came The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, with Steve Martin and Rob Reiner among the writers.

    His marriages to Diane Kirk, Billie Jean Nunley and Sarah Barg Davis — the former wife of singer Mac Davis — ended in divorce. In 1982, he wed Kimberly Woolen, a dancer at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

    Survivors include a daughter from his first marriage; three children from his second marriage; a son from his third marriage; and three children from his fourth marriage. A son from his first marriage died in infancy.

    After his final marriage, he turned out gospel and devotional music while also maintaining a steady outpouring of country music that included Top-10 hits such as “I Have You” (1988) and “She’s Gone, Gone, Gone” (1989). In 1994, he published a memoir, Rhinestone Cowboy, written with Tom Carter.

    The singer drew fresh critical attention for Meet Glen Campbell (2008), a recording session that included covers of songs by such disparate rock bands as Green Day, U2 and the Velvet Underground. He followed with the well-received Ghost on the Canvas in 2011, featuring admirers such as the Smashing Pumpkins guitarist Billy Corgan and Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen.

    The next year, Campbell received a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement, and he continued to record new music despite his failing health.

    “I don’t know if I got it,” he told the Chicago Tribune, referring to Alzheimer’s. “That’s what the doctor said, but I don’t know what it is. I said, ‘I’m going to go on and live my life. And to heck with that.’ ”

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    OTTAWA—The classic romantic date is in danger of disappearing if the federal government reduces the legal alcohol limit for licensed drivers, a spokesperson for Quebec’s restaurant lobby said Tuesday.

    François Meunier said if Ottawa passes such a law, it would be a disaster for the restaurant industry — and for lovers.

    “The (change would) mean a woman can have one drink and a man, in most cases, two,” Meunier said. “Forget about a bottle of wine for two, for a Valentine’s Day dinner — that’s over.”

    In a letter to provincial and territorial justice ministers dated last May, federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould suggested lowering the limit to 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood from the current 80 milligrams.

    The federal minister said the change would “make it easier to fight the danger posed by drivers who have consumed alcohol.”

    Meunier, who works for an association that represents restaurateurs in Quebec, said his members are less worried about losing alcohol sales and more concerned with seeing a significant drop in total revenues, as people choose to stay home.

    “It’s about food sales that go with the alcohol,” he said.

    “When it comes to celebrations, parties, all that will be done at home as people change their behaviour. It’s easy to talk about taking a taxi or public transportation, but in the (outlying) regions it’s not as easy.”

    Wilson-Raybould responded to the reaction to her letter through a spokesperson on Tuesday.

    “I believe that lowering the federal limit to 50mg would better respond to the danger posed by impaired drivers, by sending a strong message through the criminal law and changing drivers’ behaviour,” Wilson-Raybould said.

    “I have therefore sought the input of my provincial counterparts, in order to solicit their views. At this stage, no decision has been made.”

    Wilson-Raybould says the current rules were established after research indicated the risk of being involved in a car crash was twice as likely when a driver has 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood in his or her system.

    “More recent research indicates that this data underestimated the fatal crash risk,” she said Tuesday. “In fact, the risk is almost double at 50mg, almost triple at 80mg, and rises exponentially above that level.”

    In her letter to her provincial and territorial counterparts, Wilson-Raybould cited Ireland as a case study in the dissuasive effect a reduction in blood/alcohol limit levels can have.

    “The reduction to 50 milligrams of alcohol (per 100 millilitres of blood), combined with obligatory testing for alcohol, produced a 50 per cent reduction in deadly road accidents,” she wrote, “and a reduction of about 65 per cent in the number of (criminal) charges.”

    Quebec is the only jurisdiction in Canada that has no sanctions in place for drivers who register a blood/alcohol level of more than 50 milligrams. The province tried twice to impose penalties for such drivers, but failed.

    Last spring, at the same time the federal government tabled legislation to legalize marijuana, it also introduced a bill increasing penalties for drivers caught under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

    Bill C-46 allows police to demand drivers submit to a breathalyzer even if they don’t suspect they are under the influence.

    Peter Sergakis, the head of an association representing bar owners, said the government should focus on stopping repeat drunk drivers, not penalizing responsible adults.

    “Police are only applying the current laws during the holiday season,” he said.

    Sergakis said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not being consistent in his approach.

    “Trudeau wants to legalize marijuana — he wants to get everyone high,” said the bar owner. “It’s a double standard. He wants to get everyone high but prevent them from drinking. Where is the logic?”

    CAA-Quebec called Ottawa’s proposal “commendable,” but said it would be bad timing to introduce such a measure while provinces are preparing for the marijuana legalization bill to become law in 2018.

    “With the reduction of the alcohol limit to 50 milligrams, we think it’ll be too difficult for governments to handle and it’s a pill too big for drivers to swallow,” said CAA-Quebec spokesman Marco Harrison.

    Theresa-Anne Kramer, a spokeswoman for the Montreal branch of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said her organization has been lobbying since 2001 for a reduction in the legal alcohol limit.

    “In Germany, they haven’t stopped their beer festivals,” she said. “And in Ireland, I never heard that they had to close a pub — and both those countries have the 50 milligram limit.”

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    A Canadian government delegation is in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang to discuss the case of imprisoned Canadian pastor Hyeon Soo Lim, the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed Tuesday.

    The delegation is reportedly led by Daniel Jean, national security adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

    It’s the second time in about nine months that a Canadian envoy has been sent to Pyongyang to discuss the release of the 62-year-old senior pastor of the Light Presbyterian Church in Mississauga. The last delegation travelled to North Korea in late 2016.

    “Pastor Lim’s health and well-being remain of utmost importance to the government of Canada as we continue to engage on this case,” said Cameron Ahmad, media relations manager for the Prime Minister’s Office, in an email.

    “As this is an active case, we will not provide further comment at this time.”

    This government visit comes less than a month after North Koreans arranged a July 14 meeting “in the humanitarian spirit” between the imprisoned Lim and a Swedish Embassy diplomat in Pyongyang, according to state media outlet Korean Central News Agency.

    Lim has high blood pressure and requires medication, which the North Koreans have allowed to be sent to him. Lim is reportedly in failing health and has lost upwards of 60 pounds.

    The pastor, who has made more than 110 humanitarian missions to North Korea on behalf of his church, has been in detention since January 2015. He went missing during a routine visit in a northern region where the Canadian was a familiar face. Local officials had granted him a frequent access visa.

    Weeks after his disappearance, North Korean authorities confirmed they’d arrested Lim, purportedly for scheming to overthrow Kim Jong Un’s authoritarian regime. The pastor was sentenced to life in a hard labour camp in late 2015.

    Read more:

    Trump says North Korea will be met with ‘fire and the fury like the world has never seen’ if it doesn’t stop threatening the U.S.

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    If there were any questions about whether or not Josh Donaldson was, in fact, heating up, the Blue Jays’ third baseman quelled them in Tuesday’s 4-2 win over the New York Yankees.

    Donaldson — who had homered in three of the six games heading into the series against Toronto’s American League East rivals — struck a pair of two-run dingers in the victory, his fourteen and fifteen long balls of the season good for a 12th career multi-homer game.

    It’s been an injury-ridden, up-and-down year for Toronto’s 2015 AL MVP, but manager John Gibbons always sees the potential danger in his star player.

    “He’s one guy, when he steps in the box, you feel like something could happen,” Gibbons said.

    Roberto Osuna adding to that joy in the end. After blowing four saves since the all-star break, the young closer bounced back for his 29th save of the year.

    “No doubt Osuna’s been in a little bit of a rut, so that was a big one for him,” Gibbons said. “He’s feeling good, we’re feeling good. We played a good ballgame.”

    Donaldson’s early homer, which scored Jose Bautista in the first frame, went opposite field. His third and fourth RBIs, cashing in Russell Martin in the third, came after a 111.4 mph laser to left field, Donaldson’s hardest hit homer since last April according to Major League Baseball’s Statcast.

    They Yankees’ lefty CC Sabathia demise, pulled by the fourth frame. The starter has managed four or fewer innings in three quarters of his outings against Toronto this year.

    Toronto’s J.A. Happ faired better. The veteran allowed four hits and a lone run through 5 2/3 innings, an impressive feat when facing the AL’s home run pacesetter, Aaron Judge.

    The Yankees’ rookie right fielder - averaging .182 between last month’s All-Star break and Tuesday’s first pitch - was New York’s first player to reach the bag on Tuesday on a fruitless two-out walk. Judge finished the night 0-for-3 with a pair of walks.

    Quicker off the mark was Donaldson, his first homer of the night giving Toronto a 2-0 bump after Bautista led off the first frame with a double, moving to third on a sacrifice bunt by Martin.

    Adding on to that tally was within reach for Toronto after a walk from Justin Smoak and a double by Steve Pearce bookended a Kendrys Morales strikeout, but Sabathia got Kevin Pillar to strand both runners and hold Toronto’s lead at 2-0.

    It was cut in half soon after. Happ managed to get himself out of an early jam in the top of the second, with Yankees’ Todd Frazier grounding into a double play after back-to-back singles to right field by Chase Headley and Didi Gregorious. But a third bloop to Bautista’s area of the field - this time by Garrett Cooper - scored Headley, slicing into the home team’s lead.

    Donaldson’s second multi-run homer came not long after, following a single to left-centre field by Martin to start the bottom of the third.

    It proved one of the Blue Jays’ final hits of the night. Bryan Mitchell, Sabathia’s replacement, allowed just three hits and a walk over four innings.

    Happ left the game with two on and two out in the sixth, handing the ball over to Dominic Leone who loaded the bases before Cooper flew out to Bautista. Danny Barnes, who took the ball off Leone in the seventh, allowed two hits and notched a pair of outs against the top of the Yankees’ order before Ryan Tepera took over, delivering an inning-ending strikeout against Judge.

    Things got nervy for the reliever in the eighth, when Tepera hit both Sanchez and Headley with pitches before allowing a one-out walk to Frazier to load the bases. Cooper scored the Yankees’ catcher with a sacrifice fly, but Tepera got Ronald Torreyes to protect the win.

    Osuna came in to face the top of the Yankees’ order, going 1-2-3 against centre fielder Brett Gardiner, pinch hitter Jacoby Ellsbury and Judge himself to guarantee the win.

    Gibbons chalked Osuna’s recent struggled up to “part of baseball.”

    Has there ever been a closer that didn’t cough up a save?,” he said. “I know it’s been a little rough road the last couple of weeks but maybe we’re a little spoiled.”

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    OTTAWA—The national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls has lost another high-profile member of its entourage.

    Waneek Horn-Miller, a former Olympian who was working as the inquiry’s director of community relations, is the latest person to leave the commission tasked with exploring the root causes of violence toward Indigenous women and girls.

    A spokesperson for the inquiry says Horn-Miller’s departure is due solely to family reasons.

    Read more:

    Head of murdered and missing Indigenous women inquiry will not resign and defends progress

    Executive director of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls inquiry resigns

    Feminists should work to secure justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women: Mochama

    For weeks, the commission has faced questions from concerned family members who say they have lost faith in the process, which is expected to take at least two years and cost $53.8 million.

    In an open letter released today, additional family members called on the commission to start over from scratch, citing the resignation last month of one of the commissioners, Marilyn Poitras.

    The commissioners say they are moving ahead with their work and receiving feedback from families, including through a national advisory circle.

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