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Articles on this Page
- 08/11/17--18:19: _Pressure on Venezue...
- 08/11/17--17:53: _Severe thunderstorm...
- 08/11/17--18:55: _Teen lands job afte...
- 08/11/17--15:23: _Teen tells police t...
- 08/11/17--10:29: _Here’s what Chief S...
- 08/11/17--14:20: _Grandfather found d...
- 08/11/17--08:15: _Judge in Taylor Swi...
- 08/11/17--12:23: _China warns North K...
- 08/11/17--16:16: _Freed Mississauga p...
- 08/11/17--15:10: _SIU clears cop in c...
- 08/11/17--13:13: _Five Toronto sister...
- 08/11/17--17:02: _Canadian Shapovalov...
- 08/12/17--09:17: _Environment Canada ...
- 08/12/17--05:26: _At least 9 killed d...
- 08/12/17--07:16: _Chinese president c...
- 08/12/17--03:00: _Let’s talk about ma...
- 08/12/17--08:41: _Canadian man accuse...
- 08/12/17--08:35: _Released Canadian p...
- 08/12/17--04:00: _How many Ontario po...
- 08/12/17--09:03: _State of emergency ...
- 08/11/17--17:53: Severe thunderstorm watch announced for outer GTA
- 08/11/17--14:20: Grandfather found dead in elevator called for help twice
- 08/11/17--08:15: Judge in Taylor Swift groping trial throws out case against pop star
- 08/11/17--12:23: China warns North Korea: You’re on your own if you go after the U.S.
- 08/11/17--16:16: Freed Mississauga pastor will be back in church for Sunday service
- 08/11/17--17:02: Canadian Shapovalov marches into Rogers Cup semifinals
- 08/12/17--03:00: Let’s talk about male infertility
- Clean your house: Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter, mop the floors and clean with a damp cloth to reduce fertility-impairing chemicals that may be in the dust, such as flame-retardants, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and phthalates. Particles may come from household products, construction materials in older homes and the outdoors.
- Avoid plastic containers and metal cans: Plastic containers may have phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA), which can leach into food or water. Opt for glass kitchenware and glass jars. Metal canned foods are often lined with BPA, so cut back and opt for fresh ingredients.
- Check labels on body care products: Many contain phthalates, a class of toxic chemicals that aren’t usually listed but can lurk under non-specific ingredient fragrance. Read the labels and avoid lead acetate, phthalates and any product with the generic word fragrance.
- Shop organic: Studies have found elevated rates of infertility among farm workers and agricultural communities exposed to high amounts of pesticides. Buy organic food as much as possible.
- Be aware of cellphone radiation: Some studies suggest cellphone radiation can affect sperm quality. Since levels decline with distance, keep your phone out of the front pocket and away from your genitals.
CARACAS, VENEZUELA—Peru expelled Venezuela’s ambassador on Friday as regional pressure built on President Nicolas Maduro’s government for allegedly trampling his country’s constitutional order.
Peru gave Ambassador Diego Molero, a former Venezuelan defence minister, five days to leave the country. As part of what it said was a firm commitment “to help restore Venezuela’s democracy,” Peru’s administration also refused to accept a diplomatic protest made by Maduro over Peru’s hosting this week of foreign ministers from 17 regional nations who refused to recognize the new, loyalist-packed special assembly that is to rewrite the constitution.
The diplomatic action by Peru, which was the strongest yet from a Latin American government, came as the Trump administration weighed putting economic sanctions on Venezuela to punish Maduro for what Washington calls an illegitimate power grab.
In an escalation of rhetoric, U.S. President Donald Trump said Friday that he hasn’t ruled out military action against Venezuela.
Speaking to reporters at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club, Trump bemoaned the country’s growing humanitarian crisis and declared that all options remain on the table — including a potential military intervention.
“We have many options for Venezuela and by the way, I’m not going to rule out a military option,” Trump volunteered, adding, “A military operation and military option is certainly something that we could pursue.”
On Thursday, Trump said he discussed Venezuela along with North Korea and Afghanistan in a security briefing with top national security aides and U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence. Pence is travelling to Colombia on Sunday to begin a regional trip that is expected to include discussions on how to deal with Maduro.
Maduro has tried to deflect the pressure from Washington, and on Thursday he said he wants to meet with Trump, perhaps next month at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
“Mr. Donald Trump, here is my hand,” the socialist president told delegates at the constitutional assembly, adding that he wants as strong a relationship with the U.S. as he has with Russia.
But the apparent olive branch was undermined in the same speech by an angry rant in which Maduro accused Trump of being behind a failed attack on a Venezuelan military base early Sunday.
The Trump administration in turn has called Maduro a “dictator” and imposed sanctions on him and more than two dozen other former and current Venezuelan officials.
Reaction in Latin America has been far more subdued, reflecting long-held reluctance by much of the region to encroach on a neighbour’s sovereignty and some lingering ideological affinity for the anti-imperialist revolution started by the late Hugo Chavez. Several attempts to punish Venezuela at the Organization of American States have failed due to a lack of consensus.
Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has been until recently a lonely exception in openly condemning Maduro.
Meanwhile, Maduro’s government has sent mixed signals about how much more confrontation it is willing to accept.
This week, the government-packed Supreme Court ordered the arrest of two Caracas-area mayors for protecting protesters in their districts. And on Friday, Tarek William Saab, installed as chief prosecutor after the constitutional assembly ousted his outspoken predecessor, warned that he would reopen investigations against protesters for the use of violence and even destruction of trees used to build barricades at demonstrations.
At the same time, the constitutional assembly on Friday said it would debate a proposal to push up to October elections for governors in all of Venezuela’s states. It’s a possible sign that the government is looking to negotiate a deal with the opposition, although many question if the constitutional assembly, which has a free hand to upend institutions, will even allow elections that were originally slated to take place last year will be allowed to go forward.
Also on Friday, Venezuelan Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino said security forces have captured the mastermind of a failed assault on a military base a week ago.
Former national guard Capt. Juan Caguaripano was captured in Caracas along with an active-duty soldier who allegedly collaborated with a small group of civilians and former officers that last Saturday raided a major military base in Valencia and walked off with a cache of weapons.
Padrino called the arrests a “major blow to the fascist terrorism put in place by the Venezuelan right-wing in the past few months” of anti-government protests.
Last Saturday’s attack left two people dead and came after Caguaripano, who went into exile after denouncing Maduro in 2014, released in a video in which he stood before a group of heavily-armed men in fatigues and called on the armed forces to rebel.
A severe thunderstorm watch has been posted by Environment Canada for Halton, Peel, Dufferin, Innisfil, York and Durham regions.
At 8 p.m., the watch was put into effect, warning that conditions are favourable for severe thunderstorms to develop, possibly bringing strong gusts of wind, heavy rain and large hail.
Environment Canada reports that scattered thunderstorms have occurred today across Southern Ontario before the watch was posted.
Some of the specific regions affected include Burlington, Oakville, Caledon, Milton, Mississauga, Brampton, Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Markham, Northern York Region, Southern Dufferin County and Northern Dufferin County.
A teenager who wore the shirt and tie that a Toronto cop bought for him after he allegedly attempted to steal them for a job interview has been hired.
Const. Niran Jeyanesan thought he was responding to a routine shoplifting call on Aug. 6 at a Walmart in the city’s north end. The 18-year-old who had allegedly attempted to make off with some clothes had picked out a long-sleeved shirt, a tie and a pair of socks. He told the officers they were meant for a job interview.
Jeyanesan said the teen told him he didn’t have the clothes he thought would land the “service industry position” he had applied for. He said his father had fallen ill and he wanted to help provide.
“He was very remorseful, very ashamed,” Jeyanesan said of the teen at the time. “I could see that this is truly a mistake and this person wanted a chance at life.”
Jeyanesan decided to purchase the shirt and tie for the teenager, who left the police station without charges following questioning. He also referred the teenager’s father to a job.
Police spokesperson Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook said the teenager called Jeyanesan, who gave the teen his number, and let him know that the outfit worked — he landed the position and starts work on Monday.
“There was already a sense of pride and admiration that I had toward the officer’s actions to begin with,” Douglas-Cook said. “(It) just added to it that much more when I heard the end result of how his actions have paid off thus far.”
With files from The Canadian Press
The young man alleging a Toronto officer punched him then drew his gun during a 2011 police stop in Lawrence Heights said he looked to other cops for help during and after the fateful encounter, but no one stepped up.
On the second day of testimony from the main complainant at the ongoing disciplinary hearing of two Toronto police officers, the young man — 15 at the time of the incident, and whose name is protected by a publication ban — was cross-examined on his account of the ordeal.
Const. Adam Lourenco and Const. Scharnil Pais each stand accused under Ontario's Police Services Act of unlawfully arresting the main complainant, his twin brother, and two of their friends, boys all 16 or under at the time. The arrests happened immediately after they left their homes inside a Toronto Community Housing Corp. complex on Neptune Dr. and walked toward an after-school program called Pathways to Education.
Lourenco faces two other charges of disorderly conduct for allegedly using unreasonable force, one for punching the main complainant and another for pointing his gun at three of the boys.
The officers have pleaded not guilty to all charges, and none of the allegations have been proven at the tribunal.
The four teens were criminally charged after the encounter but all charges were later withdrawn. The Star is not identifying any of the teens, now 20 and 21, because of an ongoing publication ban under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
The tribunal heard earlier this week that the officers told the group they matched the descriptions of suspects in a recent robbery. When the main complainant asked if he was under arrest and free to go — putting to use knowledge he’d recently gained at a seminar on his rights in police encounters — he alleges Lourenco became violent, punching him, knocking him to the ground, then drawing his weapon.
Under cross-examination by Lourenco’s lawyer, Lawrence Gridin, Friday, the young man went into greater detail about the events that night, and his encounters with other officers.
The witness testified that after Lourenco knocked him to the ground, the officer deliberately cut his own thumb on something sharp on his police belt, showed the young man and said: “Look, you just assaulted a police officer.”
The young man then said he and his friends looked to Pais, who was standing nearby and who he said was deliberately averting his eyes.
“I could tell by looking at him that that he knew this was wrong. That’s why he wasn’t looking . . . he didn’t do anything,” the witness said.
The young man then testified that moments later, after Lourenco handcuffed him and violently placed him into the car of another unit called for backup, he tried to explain what happened to the Black officer driving the cruiser.
“He was Black and I was trying to appeal to him . . . (I was saying) ‘I swear to God, I saw him cut his thumb,’” the witness said.
The officer was respectful, the witness said, but told him to “forget about the rights stuff,” in reference to defending his constitutional right to walk away from police under certain circumstances and asking questions such as “Am I under arrest?”
“He said . . . basically don’t use it. It’s not going to work in real life,” the witness said.
Gridin, Lourenco’s lawyer, took the witness through each of his allegations in a highly detailed manner, noting that the young man was alleging a significant amount of mistreatment by his client, Pais and “a lot of different officers.” Gridin later said there were a number of claims made by the young man that “I intend to impeach him on.”
The hearing continues next week.
Wendy Gillis can be reached at email@example.com
Wendy Gillis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Liars. Sots. Creeps.
Swinging dicks who took free drinks and free food — comped to the badge.
Palsy-walsy with strip club bouncers and barkeeps.
Puking in the bathroom, on the street, in a hotel lobby.
A disgrace to the uniform they weren’t wearing.
Oh, but not rapists. Acquitted of sexual assault, the lot of them, because guilt was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
They. Must. Go.
Leslie Nyznik, Sameer Kara, Joshua Cabero: Police officers who can never again possibly be trusted to do a job that demands integrity and reputability and basic decency.
How can they possibly work alongside female colleagues after the brass-balls hokum they pulled on a waitress at the Brass Rail, pretending to be with a porno film crew from Miami? How can they possibly respond to potential vice crimes when their own off-duty behaviour was so execrable? How can they possibly investigate a sex assault complaint?
Hey, now that we’re done with this broad — the parking officer colleague who testified she hadn’t consented to sex with them in a hotel room in the early morning hours of Jan. 17, 2015 — should we call a hooker?
No, they’re not rapists. Criminal trials demand a high standard of proof. But they are reprehensible human beings who shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a vulnerable, traumatized victim — regardless of the offence committed — or exercise their deeply flawed judgment at a crime scene.
I wouldn’t trust them as far I could throw them. Which is what Police Chief Mark Saunders should do — throw them off the force. Or go down trying, amidst a group of defence lawyers who make a specialized well-heeled career out of springing bad cops.
It is unclear what Saunders will do with these pathetic little men, only one of whom — Nyznik — took the stand at trial, point-cop just as he was on Rookie Buy Night. And isn’t that a fine tradition, introducing the newbie to perks of the law enforcement trade, like bar managers who will offer up a drink — even though the joint isn’t open — and access to the special-special vodka fridge elite level of service. This week Saunders called for an immediate end to such events.
The three 51 Division officers have been suspended with pay since across-the-board sex assault charge were laid in February, 2015. There would likely be legal hurdles to overcome but Saunders can still have them all charged with discreditable conduct under the Police Act. If so, it would be interesting to see if the police union would pay for their lawyers, which they didn’t do at the criminal trial because the alleged offence occurred off-duty.
If Saunders wants to be viewed as a police chief of substance — and thus far he hasn’t scored high marks — he absolutely must take disciplinary comeuppance to its farthest reaches. It is vital he sends a message to the men and women under his command, and the city they police, that, no, no, no, these individuals don’t deserve to wear the uniform. Employment as a police officer is both duty and privilege. None of these men deserve to exercise the authority granted them against you or me or anybody else. Not for the charges they were acquitted of, but for what they did throughout that dissolute night and how they (and their lawyers) spun it afterwards.
Let me quote Justice Anne Molloy, in her verdict rendered Wednesday, on the subject of Nyznik’s stilted testimony, which she characterized as “less than forthright” in places, specifically his contention that the complainant (AB a pseudonym) initiated each and every sex act that took place.
“Some of this simply did not ring true. Further, his description of how the group sex was carried out, particularly with the complainant purportedly servicing all three of them at once without Mr. Nyznik so much as touching her to provide assistance, seems improbable. As the Crown pointed out, AB would have to be some kind of contortionist to accomplish all of that at once.”
Even on the small stuff, Molloy was dubious. For example, when the prosecutor was trying to make the point that AB was a parking enforcement officer but aspired to become a full police officer, “Mr. Nyznik refused to agree that there was any hierarchy between police officers and parking enforcement officers. However, later in his evidence, he said that he knew of some police officers who ‘dropped down’ to parking enforcement, clearly a reference to his belief that police officers are higher on the chain. Similarly, he refused to acknowledge the possibility that there would ever be any career repercussions or ‘blacklisting’ if a woman within the force reported she had been sexually assaulted by police officers. I find it hard to be accept this as an honestly held belief.”
Crucially, Molloy said she did not “necessarily believe” Nyznik’s evidence but “making a determination that someone has lied under oath is not an easy task.” In the end she was left with a he-said she-said scenario, so typical of sex assault trials, and a complainant whose testimony was riddled with inconsistencies, contradictions, memory lapses and a narrative often in conflict with the limited objective evidence, such as surveillance video.
“On the sole contentious issue of consent, her evidence stands alone,” Molloy wrote. “In order to convict, I would need to be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that her evidence was both credible and reliable with respect to the issue of consent. Given the frailties in her evidence, I simply cannot be sure of that important fact to the degree of certainty necessary to make a finding of criminal responsibility.”
But this isn’t about AB anymore, wherever she is now and however she’s managing to pick up the shreds of her life and career.
It’s about an ugly peek inside the lives of these three cops and the blow they’ve dealt to the force’s reputation.
Their continuing presence is intolerable.
Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
On the afternoon of July 5, Isaak Komisarchik, 82, was seen in a Denver nursing home, wearing pyjama pants and a grey and white striped shirt. He walked to his mailbox and stopped by the office to pick up a few things, his daughter said.
Then, his daughter told a local television station, “he just disappeared.”
Days went by with no one seeing or hearing from the elderly man, who had begun showing signs of dementia and would become “disoriented at times,” his daughter told KUSA.
His disappearance perplexed authorities and relatives, who said Komisarchik was physically incapable of walking very far from home.
Posters and flyers were distributed throughout the southeast Denver area — pictures of the grey-haired, brown-eyed man’s face could be seen plastered on light posts and on news sites. Firefighters scoured the quiet neighbourhood, searching through five nearby ponds for the beloved father and grandfather.
“We are really worried and really, really anxious to get him back,” his daughter, Yelena told KUSA after he had been missing for three days. “He should be safe, so where is he?” his granddaughter, Elina said.
Weeks went by, and authorities couldn’t find him. Then, several residents of a nearby apartment building — less than a mile from the nursing facility where Komisarchik was last seen — began complaining to management about a stench coming from the building’s parking garage.
On Aug. 2, nearly a month after he went missing, maintenance workers reported to fire authorities a discovery: a decomposed body in an elevator car in the parking garage. The body was soon identified as Komisarchik’s.
And this week, authorities began to unravel what may have happened in Komisarchik’s final moments.
At some point on or before July 6, Komisarchik stepped inside the parking garage elevator. For reasons that remain unclear, he struggled to get out.
So in an attempt to seek help, Komisarchik pushed the elevator’s emergency button — twice over the course of eight minutes, a Denver Fire Department spokesperson told the Denver Post. But no one responded.
Electronic records show that the elevator’s emergency alarm was pressed at 9:09 p.m. and 9:17 p.m. on July 6, the day after Komisarchik was last spotted, according to KUSA. Pushing this emergency button should trigger an alert to an elevator monitoring group or the fire department. But during the time Komisarchik was in the elevator, the fire department received no emergency calls from that car, the Denver Post reported.
“Something is not right,” Capt. Greg Pixley, a Denver Fire Department spokesman told the Denver Post.
Denver Police told a local ABC affiliate that the elevator management company received an alert from the elevator and notified the apartment building management. Apartment workers checked two of the elevators, the ABC affiliate reported, but not a third elevator, where Komisarchik’s body was eventually found.
That specific elevator was not in use in recent weeks because it was in an area of the parking garage that was under renovation, according to a statement from Greystar Management Services, which manages the apartment complex, Woodstream Village.
“We are saddened by the tragic loss of life and extend our deepest condolences to Mr. Komisarchik’s family and friends,” said the statement released to local news outlets by spokesperson Lindsay Andrews.
Now police and fire officials are working to figure out exactly what happened in the elevator car, and why Komisarchik’s calls for help went seemingly unanswered.
Although some tenants told local media the elevator was not working, a spokesperson for Denver police said it was indeed operable. It was last inspected in December and deemed to be in working condition, fire officials also said.
“How he got in there and when he got in there is obviously what we’re trying to figure out,” police spokesperson John White told the Denver Post.
City codes require that all elevator cars have an emergency alert system including an alarm switch and a phone or intercom. Emergency calls from an elevator car must be able to connect either with on-site security, with an elevator monitoring company or directly with the Denver Fire Department, the Denver Post reported. Code also mandates that elevator operators must monitor emergency alerts at all times.
The discovery of Komisarchik’s body and the revelations about his calls for help have left his relatives with intense grief and many still unanswered questions.
A number of family members declined to give interviews. One relative, Komisarchik’s cousin’s wife, Svetlana Komisarchik, said in a written message, “it’s hard for me to talk about him.”
“He had a great sense of humour,” she told The Washington Post, adding that she was very close with him. He liked to tell jokes and write poems, she said, and he loved his family deeply, “especially his grandchildren,” she said.
Other relatives, speaking to KUSA while Isaak Komisarchik was still missing, also spoke fondly of his witty personality and his poems, brilliantly written in Russian.
“There was no event or celebration without him scribbling any lines,” his daughter, identified only as Yelena, told KUSA.
Family pictures showed him playing chess and pool with his family, and enjoying time outside.
“He was always the one sharing slightly inappropriate jokes with us, a little bit of bathroom humour,” his granddaughter, Elina, told KUSA.
“We are still trying to come to terms with his horrible death,” Svetlana Komisarchik said.
DENVER—The judge in the groping trial between Taylor Swift and a former radio host has thrown out the case against the pop star, says the DJ can’t prove that she got him fired.
U.S. District Judge William Martinez determined Friday that the pop star could not be held liable because David Mueller hadn’t shown that she personally set out to have him fired after the backstage meet-and-greet in 2013. Mueller’s identical allegations against Swift’s mother and her radio liaison will go to the jury.
Mueller sued the Swifts and their radio handler, Frank Bell, seeking up to $3 million as compensation for his ruined career.
The singer-songwriter said in her countersuit that she wanted a symbolic $1 and the chance to stand up for other women.
Jurors are to return Monday to hear closing arguments about whichever claims remain.
Earlier Friday, Swift’s former bodyguard testified that he saw Mueller reach under her skirt a moment before a photographer snapped their picture during the pre-concert meet-and-greet at Denver’s Pepsi Center.
Security guard Greg Dent, who no longer works for Swift, said he was standing a few steps away but did not intervene because he generally took his cues from the pop star, and she gave him no signals during the 2013 pre-concert encounter at a Denver arena.
Seated at her legal team’s table in a federal courtroom, Swift chuckled when Dent testified that, after the photo was taken, he suspected that Mueller would be at the bar of the arena — and another guard found him there.
A day earlier, Swift spent an hour on the witness stand herself defiantly recounting what she called a “despicable and horrifying and shocking” encounter.
“He stayed attached to my bare ass-cheek as I lurched away from him,” Swift testified.
“It was a definite grab. A very long grab,” she added in her testimony.
Swift’s testy exchange with Mueller’s attorney occasionally elicited chuckles — even from the six-woman, two-man jury. She got a laugh when she said Dent saw Mueller “lift my skirt” but someone would have had to have been underneath her to see the actual groping — “and we didn’t have anyone positioned there.”
Swift testified that after the photo was taken, she tried to get as far away from Mueller as she could. She said she told him and his girlfriend, who was also in the photo, “thank you for coming” in a monotone voice before they left.
She also said she was stunned and did not say anything to Mueller or halt the event after he left because she did not want to disappoint several dozen people waiting in line for photos with her.
In the image, shown to jurors during opening statements but not publicly released, Mueller’s hand is behind Swift, just below her waist. Mueller’s then-girlfriend, Shannon Melcher, is on the other side of Swift. All three are smiling.
Melcher testified Friday that she saw nothing happen during the brief encounter and that she and Mueller were rudely confronted and escorted out of the arena that evening.
Melcher testified Mueller was devastated by the accusation.
She said she and Mueller started out as co-workers at country station KYGO-FM and became romantically involved in February 2013, a few months before the concert. They drifted apart late in 2013, but Melcher says they remained friends.
BEIJING—China won’t come to North Korea’s help if it launches missiles threatening U.S. soil and there is retaliation, a state-owned newspaper warned on Friday, but it would intervene if Washington strikes first.
The Global Times newspaper is not an official mouthpiece of the Communist Party, but in this case its editorial probably does reflect government policy and can be considered “semi-official,” experts said.
China has already warned both Washington and Pyongyang not to do anything that raises tensions or causes instability on the Korean Peninsula.
In an editorial, The Global Times said China should make it clear to both sides: “when their actions jeopardize China’s interests, China will respond with a firm hand.”
“China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten U.S. soil first and the U.S. retaliates, China will stay neutral,” it added. “If the U.S. and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.”
The Global Times warning comes at the end of a week of threat and counter-threat between Washington and Pyongyang, and as the United States weighs up its options to deal with the threat of North Korea’s nuclear and missile program.
The Global Times said both sides were engaging in a “reckless game” that runs the risk of descending into a real war.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump threatened to respond to further threats from North Korea by unleashing “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” Pyongyang in turn threatened to strike the U.S. territory of Guam in the Western Pacific with ballistic missiles.
The Global Times also cited reports that the Pentagon has prepared plans for B-1B strategic bombers to make pre-emptive strikes on North Korea’s missile sites, and a strongly worded ultimatum from Secretary of Defense James Mattis that North Korea should not consider “actions that would lead to the end of its regime and destruction of its people.”
The paper’s comments also reflect the 1961 Sino-North Korean Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance, which obliges China to intervene if North Korea is subject to unprovoked aggression- but not necessarily if Pyongyang starts a war.
“The key point is in the first half of the sentence; China opposes North Korea testing missiles in the waters around Guam,” said Cheng Xiaohe, a North Korea expert at Renmin University of China in Beijing.
With the situation on the Korean Peninsula sliding dangerously towards the point of no return, Chinese media are starting to declare their positions on any potential war, he said. “Secondly, in a half-official way, China is starting to review and clarify the 1961 treaty.”
China has become deeply frustrated with the regime in Pyongyang, and genuinely wants to see a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. But it has always refused to do anything that might destabilize or topple a regime which has long been both ally and buffer state.
That’s because Beijing does not want to see a unified Korean state allied to the United States right up against its border: indeed, hundreds of thousands of Chinese soldiers died during the 1950-53 Korean War to prevent that happening.
So for now, the current uneasy status quo for China still seems better than the alternatives.
That is doubly true ahead of an important Communist Party Congress in the fall, at which President Xi Jinping wants to project an aura of stability and control as he aims to consolidate his power at the start of a second five-year term.
Nevertheless, experts said debate is underway behind the scenes in China about its support for the North Korean regime.
In an article on the Financial Times China website in May, for example, Tong Zhiwei, a law professor at the East China University of Political Science and Law in Shanghai, argued that China should make terminating the 1961 treaty a near-term diplomatic goal, because North Korea, also known as the DPRK, had used it as cover to develop its nuclear program and avoid punishment.
That, he wrote, was not in China’s interests.
“In the past 57 years, the treaty has strongly protected the security of the DPRK and peace on the Korean Peninsula, but it has also been used by the North Korean authorities to protect their international wrongful acts from punishment,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, China has reacted strongly to the United States sending a warship close to an island it controls in the South China Sea.
The U.S. navy destroyer, USS John S. McCain, travelled close to Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands on Thursday, in the third “freedom of navigation” exercise in the area conducted under the Trump administration, Reuters reported.
China’s Defense Ministry said two Chinese warships “jumped into action” and warned the U.S. ship to leave, labelling the move a “provocation” that seriously harms mutual trust.
China’s Foreign Ministry said the operation had violated international and Chinese law and seriously harmed Beijing’s sovereignty and security.
“The Chinese side is strongly dissatisfied with this and will lodge solemn representations to the U.S. side,” the ministry said in a statement.
On Saturday, Hyeon Soo Lim will be reunited with his family in Toronto.
And on Sunday, Lim will return to his church family — the congregation of the Light Presbyterian Church in Mississauga, which has wept, prayed and organized vigils for their beloved senior pastor during the 2 ½ years he was detained in North Korea.
The reception for Lim is expected to pack the 2,000-seat facility where Lim used to preach weekly.
Lim’s family is requesting privacy but their reaction to his freedom was “relieved, grateful, excited and anxious to see him home,” according to church spokesperson Richard Ha.
Lim has been able to phone church colleagues, who say he is doing well.
“He is in good spirits,” said Jason Noh, an associate pastor at the Light Presbyterian Church.
In video footage taken Thursday by a Japanese television crew, Lim is on the tarmac of a U.S. military base in Fussa, Japan. His hair is shorn, he looks thinner but appears to be smiling and walking unaided with the Canadian delegation, led by Justin Trudeau’s national security adviser, Daniel Jean.
The delegation reportedly flew to Japan from Pyongyang after North Korea’s Central Court on Wednesday granted Lim “sick bail” on humanitarian grounds.
The delegation did not head straight home. The group jetted to Guam for a layover, according to sources. The return flight path is not known but Lim was expected to be in Toronto by Saturday.
In January 2015, Lim was detained by North Korean authorities while on a charitable mission to the country’s northern region. Later that year, the pastor was convicted of attempting to subvert the authoritarian regime of Kim Jong Un and was sentenced to life in a labour camp.
Trudeau confirmed Lim’s freedom in a statement sent out by email at 1:13 a.m. Thursday. It read, in part: “The Government of Canada was actively engaged on Mr. Lim’s case at all levels. In particular, I want to thank Sweden, our protecting power in North Korea, for assisting us.”
The Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang serves as Canada’s protecting power in North Korea because Ottawa does not have an embassy there. Swedish ambassador Torkel Stiernlöf was able to meet with Lim a few times and, with North Korean approval, delivered family letters and prescription medication to him. Lim has high blood pressure that requires medicine.
On July 14, the North Korean state news agency reported that authorities had arranged a meeting between an unnamed Swedish embassy official and Lim“on the basis of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and in the humanitarian spirit.”
It has been reported that Lim was in poor health and had lost a lot of weight.
According to English-language reports citing the Korean Central News Agency article, Lim asked the Swedish diplomat in that July 14 meeting “to convey his request to the Canadian government for making active efforts to settle his issue.”
On Thursday, Global Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland wrote to thank her Swedish counterpart, Margot Wallstrom, on her Twitter account: “Thank you for your tremendous support, @MargotWallstrom. Canadians are so grateful for #Sweden’s long-standing, heartfelt friendship.”
Freeland also said she spoke briefly with her North Korean counterpart about Lim in Manila, Philippines on Sunday, Reuters reported. The two were gathered there for an Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting of foreign ministers.
“We were clear with North Korea that Pastor Lim needed to be released, and we are very, very glad that happened,” Freeland said Friday, according to Reuters.
In Toronto, it’s expected Lim’s wife, Geum, their son James, his wife and 10-month-old daughter will be waiting for him. James, 34, and his family live in the United States. Geum Lim has spent a good deal of time in Seoul during her husband’s detention and imprisonment.
All three Lims are natives of South Korea. The family immigrated to Canada, settling in Toronto, in 1986 when Lim had the opportunity to study at the University of Toronto’s Knox College.
A police officer involved in a car chase in 2016 that resulted in a stolen vehicle colliding with an UberX vehicle and sent eight people to hospital did not drive in a dangerous manner, according to the Special Investigations Unit.
In a news release on Aug. 2, the SIU, which investigates incidents where police officers may have been involved in a serious injury, death or sexual assault, declared that their investigation into the car chase lead them to believe the officer involved acted lawfully in the pursuit.
The following details of the chase and subsequent collision were explained in an SIU report on the incident:
It was around 3 a.m. on Mar. 20, 2016, when a police officer, identified by the SIU as a witness to the incident, not an officer under investigation, began following a black vehicle that the officer suspected was stolen. When a check of the license plate proved to corroborate this, the officer signaled for backup and attempted to stop the stolen vehicle by cutting off its path.
The stolen vehicle drove into the side of the police cruiser and sped away.
There were no injuries as a result of that collision.
Other officers that responded to the call took up the chase, headed by the officer the SIU would end up investigating.
That cruiser followed the stolen vehicle up the wrong way on an exit ramp and also the wrong way down a three-lane one-way road.
The stolen vehicle turned north onto Bay St. from the one-way road, ran through a red light at Wellington St. W., and collided with an UberX taxi going west.
There were five occupants in the stolen vehicle: two 16-year-old boys, one of whom was the driver, two 17-year-old girls and one 15-year-old boy.
The UberX carried a 39-year-old driver, a 38-year-old man, a 32-year-old woman and a 27-year old woman. The two female passengers and the driver of the Uber sustained serious injuries, as did two passengers in the stolen vehicle.
In total, eight people were transported to the hospital, some with fractured bones.
A witness to the chase, estimated that the stolen car sped by at about 100 kilometres per hour, and compared the sound of it colliding with the UberX to “an oil tanker exploding.”
The SIU declared that the pursuit was lawful as the officers involved were aware that the vehicle was stolen and that the occupants had resisted arrest by pushing past and striking one cruiser already. Although the police officer under investigation drove the wrong way on several roads in the pursuit, she was said to have proceeded with caution and obeyed the speed limit.
The officer was far enough behind the stolen vehicle, the SIU said, that her driving did not spur the suspects on to more dangerous driving, and didn’t contribute to the eventual collision with the UberX vehicle.
With files from Verity Stevenson
The automatic doors glide open at the Paul Coffey Arena and nearly half the players on the “red” ball hockey team — five Azmi sisters, ages 16 to 24 — rush in and down a few stairs to a change room.
The other team is warming up on the floor. So are the Azmis’ teammates.
It’s Thursday night in the Toronto Women’s Ball Hockey Association and Asiyah, 24; Nuha, 22; Husnah, 20; Sajidah, 17 and Haleemah, 16, don’t want to be late for the faceoff.
Ball hockey is the Azmis’ sporting passion. As sisters. As athletes. As young Muslim women working to break down stereotypes.
“We really want to grow the sport in the Muslim community,” said Husnah, who is studying environment and sustainability science at Ryerson. “Like, we really want to.”
A fledgling Muslim ball hockey league the sisters once played in died and the Azmis — now suiting up in two leagues, year-round — are hoping to revive it.
But on this night, a new game awaits.
Game jerseys are tugged into place. Helmets slide over hijabs. Gloves on. Sticks in hand. They jog to the floor just in time for the 7 p.m. ball drop.
Then the Azmis run. And run and run and run. There’s a lot of running in ball hockey — one of the sisters’ strengths, even on a hot, humid summer evening inside an old hockey barn.
“I love running,” said Haleemah, who, with her siblings, will also compete on a second team at the Ontario ball hockey championships Aug. 18-20 in Oshawa.
“When I run, when I get the speed in there, I love to feel the rush of the running.”
The sisters play a strong game using skills acquired during years of organized ball hockey. Quick passing. Shot blocking. No shrinking from body contact when battling along the boards. And they are stealthy, notching turnovers by swiping the orange ball off opponents’ sticks.
The red team wins; fist bumps all around between the Azmis and their teammates. Then the two sides shake hands.
Having family as teammates is fun and reassuring, said Sajidah — known as Saj.
“It’s just super comforting,” Saj said of strategizing with her sisters.
“We can talk to each other and discuss what the issue is (on the floor). We know each other so well and we can play better together, too. It’s just more fun.”
Michelle Rosenberg is a veteran player in the 34-year-old summer league. She plays against the Azmis’ red team and said she’s “blown away by their skill” and discipline.
“They’re very aggressive on the floor — not aggressive in a nasty way but they play the game fully,” said the 54-year-old. “They don’t play it meekly.”
In the spring, Rosenberg competed on a charity tournament team with the Azmis. She enjoyed the spirited, hard-working siblings so much, she volunteered to coach their “C” division team at provincials.
Amy Davidson, 40, is an Azmi teammate this season. Last year, she played against them, recalling “they’re tough.”
“They’re fast and they’re good and it’s hard to beat a player who’s better than you,” Davidson said.
“They’re quite helpful, they give a lot of advice on the bench and they’re very motivating.”
But how are they with each other? Ever bicker on the bench?
Let’s ask the Azmis.
“Oh ya, a lot,” the chorus of five answered, laughing — and noting any squabbling usually happens when the game’s not going well.
“We can hear our teammates saying, ‘Uh oh, the sisters are arguing,’” said Asiyah, lowering her voice dramatically as her siblings giggled and nodded.
“Then on the ride home, we say ‘OK, next week we have to keep it super-positive.’”
Playing ball hockey has been a family tradition since the children were young.
There are nine Azmi siblings, who all grew up playing ball hockey on the street or in the driveway. The two eldest are sons Yusef, 28, and Salih, 27. Then the roster of five athletic sisters, followed by brother Tayyib, 14, and the youngest sister, Mubeenah, 13.
On Thursday nights, Tayyib and Mubeenah pile into the family’s resilient 2008 van — a 15-seater with the back bench removed and 255,000 kilometres on the speedometer — with their five sisters. Nuha drives. Tayyib, who plays ice hockey at Goulding Park, and Mubeenah, who hopes to join the ball hockey team when she’s older, stand at the arena glass near the benches. They quietly cheer the red team.
All the siblings can skate but not all played ice hockey; it was too expensive an option for father Shaheen and mother Fara to manage with a large family. Ball hockey was more practical.
“It’s one of those sports you can play on the street or with your friends just casually and that’s what got us interested originally,” said Asiyah, who still practises on their North York street with her sisters.
It was also Dad’s sport. Shaheen Azmi, who immigrated to Canada from Pakistan as a toddler, was an avid ball hockey player (and remains an ardent Toronto Maple Leafs fan) and encouraged all his children to try the sport. Fara, who arrived in Canada from her native Guyana at 26, supported her children’s healthy, active lifestyles.
Shaheen is the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s director of policy, education, monitoring and outreach. Fara operates an at-home child-care centre.
The sisters’ passion for the game grew in 2012 when a group of mothers from Tayyib’s hockey team invited the three eldest sisters to play in an all-female league at Downsview Park. They lost many games that rookie season at The Hangar — and by a lot of goals — and eventually, the ice hockey moms drifted away.
“We stuck with it (and) we kept playing,” said Husnah. Soon, Saj and Haleemah joined their sisters at Downsview for fall and winter seasons.
And the Azmis improved, quickly. That progress was meaningful to the sisters, not just as athletes but as Muslims, to challenge stereotypes and “prove a point,” said Nuha.
“We wanted to get better, we didn’t give up after (losing) 10-0 games,” said Nuha, a fashion design graduate.
“People thought (at first) that maybe these girls are really (weak players); then when we got better, they were like ‘Oh, hijabi girls playing and they’re good.’ That’s an important thing for us.”
The sisters — who are also devoted Leafs fans — would like to encourage the Muslim community to learn their favourite game. They hope to help form a league in Scarborough or develop drop-in training sessions for Muslim women to generate interest.
“We want to be good representatives, we want to encourage other people too, which would be awesome,” said Asiyah, who works in the financial industry.
The sisters’ dedication to ball hockey and their teammates was evident during Ramadan.
During the Muslim holy month, the fasting sisters did not bail out on their sporting obligations. The league moved all their games to 9 p.m. during Ramadan so the Azmis could then have water and eat (often a quick snack in the Coffey parking lot, post-game) after sunset.
Was it tough to play two 16-minute halves (with stop time) in a stuffy arena without food or drink since dawn?
“I think it was willpower because we really wanted to fast,” said Husnah.
The Azmis, who joined the summer house league’s west division in 2016, are now focused on preparing for the provincial championships. They’ve joined a gym to improve their overall fitness and with Rosenberg on their bench, they feel confident.
“We’ve definitely improved from last year,” said Nuha, referring to the Azmis being a little overwhelmed at their first trip to the provincial tournament.
“It was a much more competitive and faster pace. We know what to expect and we’ve been training hard.”
MONTREAL—Canadian Denis Shapovalov advanced to the Rogers Cup semifinals with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Adrian Mannarino on Friday night.
The 18-year-old from Toronto was coming off a second-round win over 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro and a thrilling three-set upset of top-seeded tennis legend Rafael Nadal in the round of 16.
Shapovalov will meet fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev, who knocked off Kevin Anderson 7-5, 6-4 in the late match.
The 29-year-old Mannarino knocked out Canada’s top player, Milos Raonic, in the second round, although the big-server from Thornhill played with a swollen wrist.
Shapovalov started out looking low on energy despite the encouragement of the packed centre-court crowd.
He double-faulted on break point in the opening game en route to a quick first-set loss.
The two left-handers were on serve in the second when play was halted 20 minutes for a light rain but the crowd sprang to life, chanting “Let’s go Denis” on the changeovers as he broke serve and then served out the set.
As it was against Nadal, Shapovalov spent much of the match alternating between errors and impressive winners, consistently fighting off break points on his serve. He had nine aces and seven double faults.
He broke service for a 2-1 lead in the third, only to hand it back in the next game, but a roar went up when Mannarino wasted a chance to put away a game point and Shapovalov jumped on the chance to break for a 5-4 lead. He leapt in the air as he closed out the match.
Earlier, second-seeded Roger Federer continued his mastery over 12th-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut with a 6-4, 6-4 victory. The 36-year-old Swiss will face unseeded Robin Haase, a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 winner over Diego Schwartzman.
Federer has won all seven career matches and taken all 16 sets against the 29-year-old Bautista Agut. He is 1-0 against Haase — a straight-sets win in Davis Cup play in 2012.
Federer said he knows Haase well from serving with him on the ATP player council and from practising together.
“I’m looking forward to a tough match because he can serve very well and he mixes up his tactics a lot,” said Federer. “Sometimes he tends to just roll the ball in and use the big serve, or he uses a slice a lot and comes in.
“So I don’t quite know with Robin what I’m going to get. But, as I have practised with him quite a bit, maybe I am better prepared than if I would have never hit with him before.”
Environment Canada is investigating reports of two tornadoes that may have touched down in southwestern Ontario during dramatic thunderstorms yesterday evening.
Residents in the area of Leamington and Hawkesville took to social media last night just after two storms hit to post pictures and testimony of what they witnessed.
One resident in Leamington caught a photo of their possible tornado that Kuhn called “clear-cut.”
“In my opinion, that’s going to be a confirmed tornado,” said Rob Kuhn, a severe weather meteorologist with Environment Canada.
“Public reports come in, and if there’s enough of them and if they look like they bear some weight … we try and send out an investigative team to check it out,” Kuhn said.
A damage survey team is looking into a tornado that may have touched down in Hawkesville, near Waterloo, Kuhn said, adding that “there is damage in the area: downed power lines and debris in open fields.”
There was also “structural damage” found in the area, of a “two by four constructed wall that was ripped up and tossed,” possibly a part of a barn, as well as aluminum siding and “some kind of silo.”
“Something was destroyed,” Kuhn said.
The damage in the Hawkesville area continued east towards Elmira and possibly stretched south towards the village of Maryhill as well, he said.
Thunderstorms moved over Leamington at 5:40 p.m., and over Hawkesville at 7:30 p.m. If confirmed, these will be the seventh and eighth tornadoes in Ontario since March, following two tornadoes that touched down in Muskoka only last week.
Another resident posted a video on Twitter of the funnel cloud in the distance.
The Leamington tornado is currently called “probable” by the weather agency.
“There are some reports of damage there to solar panels and a greenhouse,” Kohn confirmed, stating that the Hawkesville reported tornado is the current priority. “The one in Hawkesville may have more damage associated with it than Leamington.”
Environment Canada put out a severe thunderstorm watch just after 1 p.m. on Friday for the Waterloo-Wellington area, which was upgraded to a warning at 6:51 p.m. The severe thunderstorm warning included a mention of a possible “isolated, brief tornado” touching down, forty minutes before that warning turned into an official tornado warning at 7:30 p.m.
Waterloo Regional Police confirmed that they got a call at 7:36 p.m. for a possible tornado passing through, and said there were no injuries.
“Any severe thunderstorm can produce a tornado without warning,” Kuhn said.
Although they don’t know yet how powerful the potential tornadoes could have been, Kuhn said that the current damage assessment indicated that there were likely winds gusts within the thunderstorm of at least 90 km/h.
The two tornadoes didn’t spring from the same thunderstorm, but from the same cold front, Kuhn said. The outer regions of the GTA also felt the pressure from this storm system, with several severe thunderstorm watches announced around 8 p.m. last night.
Kuhn was driving home to Kitchener into the same thunderstorm that affected Hawkesville yesterday evening, and said it had “one heck of a lot of lightning.”
The constant lightning lasted for around half an hour, he says, but storms continued in the area until “at least 11 p.m.”
“When you were outside, you could see it to the north, and it was just non-stop rumbling. It just kept going, it’s really quite amazing.”
At home, his dog did not appreciate the spectacle: “when there’s continuous thunder, (he) just sits there and barks at it.”
NAIROBI, KENYA—In an escalation of Kenya’s deadly election violence, police on Saturday fired live ammunition at rioters and used tear gas on vehicles carrying opposition officials trying to enter a Nairobi slum where they have strong support. A young girl was killed by a stray bullet, nine bodies with gunshot wounds were brought overnight to the capital’s main morgue, and a watchdog group said police gunfire has killed 24 people since Tuesday’s disputed vote.
The chaos in the Nairobi slums of Mathare and Kibera, as well as in the opposition stronghold of Kisumu city, contrasted with widespread calm — and celebrations in some areas — in the country of 45 million after Kenya’s election commission said late Friday that President Uhuru Kenyatta won a second term. Protests, often violent, began soon after voting when Kenyatta’s main challenger, Raila Odinga, alleged vote-rigging.
The government said life was returning to normal and that those challenging security forces were criminals intent on looting and destroying property. However, the police came under scrutiny for what the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, which monitors government institutions, described as the “unlawful and unacceptable” use of excessive force.
Seventeen of the two dozen people shot by police died in Nairobi, the commission said. It cited allegations of police breaking into homes, beating people, threatening them with rape and demanding money. The watchdog group also lamented “the destruction of private property by both civilians and allegedly by security personnel in the course of their duty.”
Police shot and killed two people during riots by opposition supporters on the outskirts of Kisumu, a regional police commander, Leonard Katana, said Saturday. Another five people were injured by gunfire in Kisumu, Katana said.
In Mathare, where Odinga has significant support, police opened fire to disperse protesters who blocked roads and set up burning barricades. Associated Press photographers saw police charging demonstrators and firing live rounds and tear gas.
One Mathare resident, Wycliff Mokaya, told The Associated Press that his 9-year-old daughter was killed by a stray bullet while on the third-floor balcony of their home.
“I was watching her play with her friends when she suddenly fell down,” Mokaya said. “She was my only hope.”
Nine bodies with gunshot wounds were brought to the Nairobi morgue from Mathare, a mortuary official said Saturday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
An Associated Press photographer said police used tear gas on a large opposition convoy trying to enter the Kibera slum. Police also fired shots in the air.
The Kenya Red Cross said it helped a total of 93 people who were injured during the clashes since the election results were announced.
Police harassed and assaulted at least four journalists covering the violence, witnesses said.
The unrest followed a victory speech Friday in which Kenyatta, whose father was Kenya’s first president after independence from British colonial rule, said he was extending a “hand of friendship” to the opposition.
Kenyatta won with a decisive 54 per cent of the vote to nearly 45 per cent for Odinga, but the bitter dispute over the integrity of the election process tempered what many Kenyans had hoped would be a celebration of democracy in a regional power known for its economic promise and long-term stability. The opposition said the election commission’s database had been hacked and results were manipulated against Odinga.
The unrest also exposed divisions in a society where poverty and government corruption have angered large numbers of Kenyans, including those who have been protesting in the slums and see Odinga as a voice for their grievances.
Adding to the rift is ethnic loyalty. Kenyatta is widely seen as the representative of the Kikuyu people, the country’s largest ethnic group, while Odinga is associated with the Luo group, which has never produced a head of state.
But reconciliation efforts and the introduction of a progressive constitution in 2010 have helped to defuse fears of the kind of ethnic-fueled violence that followed the 2007 election in which more than 1,000 people were killed. Odinga ran unsuccessfully in that election; he also lost the 2013 vote to Kenyatta and took allegations of vote-tampering to Kenya’s highest court, which rejected his case.
Recalling its failed legal challenge in 2013, the opposition has said it will not go to court again. It has not directly urged supporters to stage protests, instead telling them to stay safe.
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA—Chinese President Xi Jinping made a plea for cool-headedness over escalating tensions between the U.S. and North Korea in a phone conversation with U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday, urging both sides to avoid words or actions that could worsen the situation.
The call came after Trump unleashed a slew of fresh threats against North Korea on Friday, declaring the U.S. military “locked and loaded” and warning North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that he “will regret it fast” if he takes any action against U.S. territories or allies.
Trump has pushed China to pressure North Korea to halt a nuclear weapons program that is nearing the capability of targeting the United States. China is the North’s biggest economic partner and source of aid, but says it alone can’t compel Pyongyang to end its nuclear and missile programs.
The White House said in a statement that Trump and Xi “agreed North Korea must stop its provocative and escalatory behaviour.” It also said that the two “reiterated their mutual commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
State-run China Central Television quoted Xi as telling Trump the “relevant parties must maintain restraint and avoid words and deeds that would exacerbate the tension on the Korean Peninsula.”
But restraint was not the word of the day on Friday as Trump sent out a cascade of unscripted statements, including what appeared to be another red line — the mere utterance of threats — that would trigger a U.S. attack against North Korea and “big, big trouble” for Kim.
North Korea’s Minju Joson newspaper, meanwhile, lashed back at the U.S. in an editorial Saturday.
“The powerful revolutionary Paektusan army of the DPRK, capable of fighting any war the U.S. wants, is now on the standby to launch fire into its mainland, waiting for an order of final attack,” it said. DPRK stands for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The tough talk capped a week in which long-standing tensions between the countries risked abruptly boiling over.
New United Nations sanctions condemning the North’s rapidly developing nuclear program drew fresh ire and threats from Pyongyang. Trump, responding to a report that U.S. intelligence indicates Pyongyang can now put a nuclear warhead on its long-range missiles, vowed to rain down “fire and fury” if challenged.
The North then came out with a threat to lob four intermediate-range “Hwasong-12” missiles near Guam, a tiny U.S. territory some 3,200 kilometres from Pyongyang.
At the epicentre of the rhetoric, Trump’s New Jersey golf course, the president seemed to put Kim on notice, saying, “If he utters one threat in the form of an overt threat — which by the way he has been uttering for years and his family has been uttering for years — or he does anything with respect to Guam or anyplace else that’s an American territory or an American ally, he will truly regret it and he will regret it fast.”
Asked if the U.S. was going to war, he said cryptically, “I think you know the answer to that.”
But Trump’s comments did not appear to be backed by significant military mobilization on either side of the Pacific, and an important, quiet diplomatic channel remained open. As a precaution, Japan deployed missile defence batteries under the path a North Korean missile might take.
Life on the streets of the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, also remained calm.
There have been no air raid drills or cars in camouflage netting as has been the case during previous crises. State-run media ensures that the population gets the North Korean side of the story, but doesn’t convey any sense of international concern about the situation.
U.S. officials say they will be going ahead with long-scheduled military exercises with South Korea. Pyongyang says it will be ready to send its missile launch plan to Kim for approval just before or as the drills begin.
Called Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, the exercises are expected to run Aug. 21-31 and involve tens of thousands of American and South Korean troops on the ground and in the sea and air. North Korea claims the exercises are a rehearsal for war, but Washington and Seoul say they are necessary to deter North Korean aggression.
Trump began his Friday barrage with an especially fiery tweet: “Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!”
He later retweeted a posting from U.S. Pacific Command that showed B-1B Lancer bomber planes on Guam that “stand ready to fulfil USFK’s #FightTonight mission if called upon to do so.” “Fight tonight” has long been the motto of U.S. forces in South Korea to show they’re always ready for combat on the Korean Peninsula.
Trump also brushed away calls for caution from other world leaders, including Germany’s Angela Merkel.
“I don’t see a military solution and I don’t think it’s called for,” Merkel said Friday, calling on the UN Security Council to continue to address the crisis.
“I think escalating the rhetoric is the wrong answer,” Merkel added.
“Let her speak for Germany,” Trump said, when asked about the comment. “Perhaps she is referring to Germany. She’s certainly not referring to the United States, that I can tell you.”
By evening, he seemed to have mellowed a bit.
“Hopefully it’ll all work out,” Trump said. “Nobody loves a peaceful solution better than President Trump.”
Speaking to Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo, he promised: “You are safe. We are with you a thousand per cent.”
After six years of trying to have a baby, Daren Herbert and his wife were stunned to discover he was the reason they were having difficulty.
He and Joanne were in their late 30s and both had suspected the issue was with her. But it turned out that his “catastrophically low levels of sperm” were the problem.
“(I was) afraid, shocked, surprised and feeling guilty because all that time we had assumed it was something to do with her,” recalls the Toronto actor. “I remember thinking, ‘Is it something I did through the course of my life that made my numbers drop so drastically? Or have they always been low?’ ”
A growing number of men are asking such questions as they grapple with fertility issues.
For Herbert, 41, and Joanne, 40, the journey to parenthood culminated happily in May with the birth of daughter Ori, after they underwent two cycles of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). But across Canada about 16 per cent of couples struggle with infertility — a figure that has doubled since the 1980s.
Men are solely responsible for infertility in about 30 per cent of those cases, and contribute to half the cases overall, according to Health Canada. Factors affecting male fertility include genetics, a history of sexually transmitted infections, and environmental and lifestyle influences, such as exposure to pesticides, chemicals and smoking, excessive alcohol and stress.
It’s an issue that doesn’t get as much attention as female infertility — in part because women see doctors more regularly than men and are conscious of their biological clock. But a man’s age also affects sperm quality and count. Some do become fathers later in life — former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, artist Pablo Picasso, rocker Mick Jagger — but they’re the exception.
Acomprehensive study published this summer shows sperm counts of Western men dropped by more than 50 per cent in less than four decades. Sperm count is the best measure of male fertility. Researchers from Hebrew University of Jerusalem looked at data from 185 studies of almost 43,000 men done between 1973 and 2011. They found a 52. 4 per cent decline in sperm concentration and a 59.3 per cent decline in total sperm count in men from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. There was no significant decline in counts in men from South America, Asia and Africa, where fewer studies have been done.
“(Infertility) can be a very painful thing for a lot of people — and it was for us,” Herbert says. “But our pain was short-lived …. We were very lucky.”
That’s because couples can go through numerous IVF cycles and never have a baby.
The meta-analysis didn’t examine the cause for the decline, but the authors say the fact that it’s occurring in the West suggests chemicals used in commercial products play a role. They warn the decline has implications beyond fertility and reproduction, saying it may be a “canary in the coal mine” for male health across the lifespan.
“In the industrialized world we’re seeing a very definite and clear decline in sperm counts, in quality, even among fertile men, and as the world becomes more toxic, the effect will be greater,” says Dr. Art Leader of The Ottawa Fertility Centre and a board member of Conceivable Dreams, an Ontario-based infertility patient advocacy group.
“I think as well as The Handmaid’s Tale we’re going to have a sequel to it called The Manservant’s Tale.”
Although men can’t change the burden of global pollution there are things they can do to optimize fertility, says the professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine at the University of Ottawa.
He suggests minimizing alcohol, smoking and exposure to smoke, increasing exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, eating organic foods, taking an adequate dose of Vitamin D and not using anabolic steroids. And be mindful of endocrine disruptors, which are chemicals found in everyday products that interfere with the body’s naturally occurring hormones. Examples include bisphenol A (BPA), dioxins, phthalates and fire retardants.
Even medications used by men to stop hair loss — finasteride and minoxidil — have been shown to lower sperm counts. But once men stop taking these drugs, sperm counts bounce back.
Men should also be wary of reproductive hazards on the job, says Leader. For instance, bakers and chefs who work in hot places; mechanics and industrial workers who handle the metal degreaser Trichloroethylene (TCE), and farmers who work with herbicides and pesticides may be at risk.
If someone is really concerned, they can freeze their sperm before age 40, says Leader, noting: “Men have a best-before date of 40.”
For Herbert, learning in 2014 that he had a low sperm count was a difficult blow. The normal range is 15 million to 200 million sperm per millilitre of semen — he had about one million.
But infertility wasn’t something he felt comfortable talking about with his buddies.
“There is a taboo attached,” he says. “What’s the stigma? That you’re shooting blanks. It just doesn’t feel manly. This is the one thing that should be easy for us to do.
“We go through so much of our life trying not to get somebody pregnant ... And then you get to this stage and it’s like, ‘What? I need help? It’s not working? I don’t have enough?’ ”
In hindsight, Herbert says, it would have been “a lot more helpful for me to talk about it.” But he didn’t, except with his wife, who happens to be a psychotherapist.
Jan Silverman, a fertility counsellor who also works at Create Fertility Centre in Toronto, says men don’t easily open up about infertility. But when given the chance they will.
“We get all kinds of guys coming out with sperm issues,” says Silverman, who runs an infertility support group. “Wives will say ‘Oh, he’ll never talk.’ And you get them in the room, with a couple of other guys there, and before you know it they are talking.”
Often what surfaces are feelings of shame, embarrassment and sexual inadequacy. And there’s guilt because even though they’re infertile, it’s their female partners who undergo the invasive and uncomfortable fertility treatments.“I’ll never forget having this huge police officer — a six-foot-five, big, burly guy — who found he had a sperm count of zero. He sat in my office weeping, asking ‘Me?’
“That was so poignant and telling because you never know. That’s the interesting thing about sperm. Just because you ejaculate you don’t know what’s in there. So for men, there is such a sense of shock.”
Even popular culture is tackling the topic. Recently on the HBO hit Ballers, the main character Spencer Strasmore, a retired football player portrayed by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, is worried he may not have swimmers and seeks a referral to a fertility specialist. It’s still unclear how that storyline will unfold because moments before he goes into a collection room to ejaculate, he gets called away for work.
Dr. Keith Jarvi, director of the Murray Koffler Urologic Wellness Centre and Head of Urology at the Mount Sinai Hospital, says a sperm test should be the first thing a couple undergoes as part of fertility testing.
“It’s not any statement about your manhood,” says Jarvi, who heads the biggest centre in Canada for male infertility. “The frequency with having a lower sperm count is not uncommon.”
The test checks to see if there is sperm, how much of it there is, how it moves and if it appears healthy and normal. The test is covered by OHIP, relatively easy to do and may spare the female partner from undergoing treatments.
“Guys are often ignored,” says Jarvi. “But if you ignore the guy you might not find a fertility problem that could be fixed.”
Sometimes the fix is simple. Avoiding regular exposure to heat, such as hot baths and saunas, wearing looser underwear and keeping the genital area cool have all been shown to help.
“There’s a whole series of new techniques and new treatments that we can now offer men that we couldn’t offer them 15 years ago,” he says. “We’re now taking on more and more patients who we thought before had no hope.”
For the Herberts, fertility doctors suggested a type of IVF called Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection, which is commonly used to treat severe male factor infertility. It’s a laboratory process involving eggs extracted from the female, and semen retrieved from the man. An embryologist takes a single healthy sperm and injects it into the egg to create an embryo that is then transferred to the uterus.
Herbert and his wife also made lifestyle changes. He started taking vitamins, improved his diet, stopped doing hot yoga, started acupuncture and eliminated soaps, shampoos, deodorants, toothpaste and household products with potentially harmful chemicals.
In total, they spent about $30,000 during that first IVF attempt.
“Once we said, ‘We’re going for this,’ then we were all in,” says Herbert.
But it wasn’t enough. In November 2015 they were devastated to learn that first cycle of IVF didn’t work. They tried again in 2016. By then the Ontario Fertility Program was up and running and they were eligible for provincial funding, which cut their costs by half. The procedure is covered, but not the drugs. Conceivable Dreams, where Herbert is a member, is trying to persuade insurance companies to add the drug cost to their standard plans.
About 8,200 patients have received government funded IVF treatments since it was introduced in December 2015, says the health ministry. There is a database tracking how many funded IVF cycles are the result of male infertility, but the figures are not yet available.
Doctors warned that IVF was a crap shoot, but the Herberts hit the jackpot on their second attempt.
“If it had been unsuccessful, I would’ve spent the rest of my life having to carry that: We spent our lives childless because of me. That’s pretty intense.”
But then Ori came along. Herbert now looks forward to a life filled with discovering the joys of fatherhood: Playing with her, teaching her to walk, speaking with her.
“She’s like a book that I’m anxious to read.”
Protecting your Sperm
Source: Environmental Working Group
The lawyer for a Canadian man accused in a massive hack of Yahoo emails says his client will bypass the extradition hearing and go directly to the United States to face the charges.
The hearing for Karim Baratov, 22, was scheduled for next month.
Baratov was arrested in Hamilton in March under the Extradition Act after U.S. authorities indicted him and three others — two of them allegedly officers of Russia’s Federal Security Service — for computer hacking, economic espionage and other crimes.
After several months planning to fight the extradition, his lawyer Amedeo DiCarlo said in June that Baratov was considering bypassing his extradition hearing in an effort to speed up the legal process.
DiCarlo has previously said Baratov is getting bored behind bars — where he’s been since his arrest in March — and that he doesn’t want his client to spend more time than necessary in custody if it looks like he could be exonerated or spared incarceration in the U.S.
He has stressed that waiving the extradition hearing does not mean admitting guilt.
Hyeon Soo Lim, a Toronto-area pastor who was detained in North Korea for over two years, is back in the city after catching a connecting flight in Ottawa.
Lim arrived in Toronto in the late morning Saturday, and is “landed and resting,” according to a press release from his family.
Lim was detained by North Korean authorities in January 2015 while in the country on a charitable mission. He was later convicted of attempting to subvert the authoritarian regime of Kim Jong Un and sentenced to life in a labour camp.
North Korea’s Central Court on Wednesday granted Lim “sick bail” on humanitarian grounds.
It has been reported that Lim was in poor health and had lost a lot of weight.
Lim was seen in video footage taken Thursday at a U.S. military base in Fussa, Japan, appearing thinner but walking unaided.
Lim is expected to attend a Sunday service at his church, the Light Presbyterian Church in Mississauga, which had fought and prayed for his release.
With files from Mary Ormsby
Students at the University of Waterloo know Chase Graham took his own life.
They may never have met him. They may not know he was a brilliant student or that he had a sharp sense of humour under a shy, quiet exterior.
But they know he died by suicide at school on March 20.
“We hear about the ones like Chase, who die on campus,” Graham’s mother, Andrea Graham, said.
“But he very well could have waited a month and done it when he was in his apartment in Toronto while on his co-op placement and then people wouldn’t have associated it with a student death.”
The attention Chase Graham’s death received is rare, though his story is not. Countless successful, promising young students struggle to adapt to the major change of starting post-secondary school.
But nobody — not the Chief Coroner, nor the Ontario government nor university officials — can say how many university and college student die by suicide each year.
The Office of the Chief Coroner should be responsible for tracking student suicides, Andrea Graham said.
“We need to start doing some things to stop these (suicides) happening, and part of it is having an accurate view of what’s actually going on.”
Public health authorities in Canada and around the world have called for comprehensive tracking of suicide deaths, arguing that better, more available statistics make it easier for professionals to prevent suicides.
But Ontario has an inconsistent patchwork of tracking systems which does not come close to being comprehensive.
The Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario tracks suicides by age group, but does not keep track of whether people who die by suicide are students or what their profession was.
Steps are being taken to make suicide data more accurate and available, Deputy Chief Coroner Dr. Reuven Jhirad said.
The Chief Coroners office will work to standardize the information collected by each regional coroner during investigations, and to create a database where details about a death, such as whether or not someone was a student, can be easily searched, Jhirad added. There is no specific date for when these measures will be in place.
In a survey of Ontario’s 20 universities, the Star found that only about half keep any kind of formal statistics on the number of student suicides. Of those universities, several track only suicides that occur on their campus, meaning that any deaths that occur at a student’s off-campus residence or their family home does not get included in their tally.
“As can be appreciated, we are only aware of the nature of a student death as indicated to us by the family or police,” said Brenda Whiteside, Associate VP of Student Affairs at Guelph, one of the schools that tracks on and off-campus suicides. “The numbers represent the best information we have.”
In February, Whiteside confirmed that four Guelph students had died by suicide in the 2016-17 academic year, after a student petition and social media backlash demanded more attention be paid to mental health.
At the times the deaths occurred, the university did what many schools do — they released a statement saying the student had died, in some cases mentioning the student’s name, but never mentioning the cause of death.
“It is generally agreed upon by experts that suicide data are under-reported due to misclassification issues (including) the stigma associated with suicide, and provincial and territorial differences in the type of information collected by coroners or medical examiners reports,” said Rebecca Purdy, a spokesperson for the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Suicide has long been a taboo topic that, until a couple of decades ago was hardly spoken about at all, even in private, said Robert Whitley, a psychiatry professor at McGill University, who has researched the coverage of suicide in media.
Not even newspapers covered suicides, largely out of fear that the news could inspire copy-cat deaths. But those attitudes are changing.
Recent research has shown that increasing public attention paid to suicide is a positive, if it is handled sensitively. It helps raise awareness and start discussions, Whitley said.
“(Now) suicide is something which we can talk about. It’s the tragedy which everyone’s trying to avoid but ... it’s something people can have empathy and compassion for and respond to,” Whitley added. “That’s much better than a society where people think it’s a crime and a sin that you shouldn't even talk about or think about.”
The start of university or college can be a particularly difficult time for young people’s mental health.
Beginning post-secondary school often means moving away from home for the first time, and being far from family and friends. The majority of mental health issues begin to surface during a person’s teens or 20s. But age restrictions on youth programs force many young people to abandon the mental health services they have accessed for years around the age of 18 — leaving them on their own to find new sources of help in the adult health care system.
In 2016, researchers from the Public Health Agency of Canada consulted with over 350 community organizations, government officials and indigenous groups, to identify priorities for suicide prevention in Canada.
One of the key findings from the consultation was that Canadian suicide statistics, “including suicide ... data and research results, is fragmented, complex” and often difficult to access.
“Data and research results provide the basis of evidence needed to define the scope of the problem in Canada... track changes in suicide rates, better understand risk and protective factors, inform policies and programs, and evaluate prevention efforts,” the Public Health Agency wrote.
Similarly, in a 2014 report, the World Health Organization, called for improved availability and quality of data on suicides and suicide attempts globally, saying they were “required for effective suicide prevention.”
In the days after Graham’s death, the second on-campus suicide at the University of Waterloo since January, the school’s President Feridun Hamdullahpur announced the creation of an advisory committee on mental health, citing “the recent suicide of a first-year student” as a catalyst.
It was the first time the university had ever publicly acknowledged a specific student suicide, said Walter Mittelstaedt, the university’s director of Campus Wellness.
“What we said this time was in response to a growing concern and misinformation,” Mittelstaedt said.
“(Social media users) were repeatedly saying the University of Waterloo has the worst suicide rate of all campuses, which I mean, we have no way of knowing that.”
The Waterloo president’s statement on Chase Graham’s suicide “makes me feel hopeful that the university will be taking a different approach in terms of communication and public relations on issues like these,” Waterloo student and mental health advocate Dia Rahman said.
It was disappointing, however, that the statement only came after a student petition and social media discussion called attention to the suicide, she added.
“For the betterment of the community, as well as helping universities... maintain wellbeing, I think student suicides should be better tracked,” Rahman said.
“How else would you figure out whether there’s a dire need for something to be changed in the community?”
Asked whether Waterloo will publicly disclose all student suicides in future, Mittelstaedt said it was “something for us to think about” as the school’s mental health advisory progresses.
“Each university has to decide how much of a problem mental health and suicide is for them and will have a unique response to it,” he added. “I don’t think (the right approach) is necessarily an overall public response.”
Mental health-related data is “severely lacking” across the board, not just for suicide and not just for university students, said Eric Windeler, whose son Jack died by suicide in 2010 during his first year at Queen’s University.
“Writ large, the system is not tracking that stuff and you can’t function in a system properly without data, that’s for absolute certain,” said Windeler, who sits on the provincial government’s Mental Health and Addictions Leadership Advisory Council and co-founded with Jack’s mother the youth mental health organization Jack.org.
Focusing on suicide data alone, though, misses the bigger picture of mental health challenges on campus, Windeler added.
“You have to look at the whole mental health piece not just suicide to understand the amount of struggle that’s going on there,” he said.
“Suicide is kind of the tip of the iceberg. A school can go a whole year with zero suicides... but that doesn’t mean that 20 per cent of the population at that school isn’t struggling at a level that is affecting their day-to-day life.”
Andrea Graham wants to see universities’ approach to mental health change. She has called for more convenient and proactive access to mental health services for students who may feel isolated at school. She has expressed great frustration with what she said was Waterloo’s lack of communication with her family. She wants schools to do a better job of responding after a student has died by suicide, to ensure that other students are coping.
But tracking of student suicides is needed if we want to understand the scope of the problem, Andrea Graham said.
“I just hope some things change,” she added. “I just dread the day that I hear of something else happening.”
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA.—After a morning of violent clashes between white nationalists and counter protesters, police ordered hundreds of people out of a downtown park — putting an end to a noon rally that hadn’t even begun.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency shortly before 11 a.m.
Using megaphones, police declared an unlawful assembly at about 11:40 a.m., and gave a five-minute warning to leave Emancipation Park, where hundreds of neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klans members and other white nationalists had gathered to protest the removal of a Confederate statue. They were met by equal numbers of counterprotesters, including clergy, Black Lives Matter activists and Princeton professor Cornel West.
But fighting broke out way before the noon rally, starting Friday night and then again Saturday morning.
Men in combat gear, some wearing bicycle and motorcycle helmets and carrying clubs and sticks and makeshift shields fought each other in the downtown streets, with little apparent police interference. Both sides sprayed each other with chemical irritants and plastic bottles were hurled through the air. Colleen Cook, 26, stood on a curb shouting at the rally attendees to go home.
A large contingent of Charlottesville and Virginia state police in riot gear were stationed on side streets and at nearby barricades but did nothing to break up the melee.
A group of three dozen self-described “militia” — men who were wearing full camouflage and were armed with long guns — said they were there to help keep the peace, but they also did not break up the fights.
There were vicious clashes on Market Street in front of Emancipation Park, where the rally was to begin at noon. A large contingent of white nationalist rallygoers holding shields and swinging wooden clubs rushed through a line of counterprotesters.
By 11 a.m., several fully armed militias and hundreds of right wing rally goers had poured into the small downtown park that is the site of the planned rally.
At about 11:40 a.m., police appeared and ordered everyone to vacate the park. Columns of white nationalists marched out of the park, carrying Confederate flags and Nazi symbols, and headed down Market Street in an odd parade, as counterprotesters lined the sidewalks and shouted epithets and mocked them. At various points along the route, skirmishes broke out and shouting matches ensued.
Charlottesville officials, concerned about crowds and safety issues, had tried to move the rally to a larger park away from the city’s downtown.
But Jason Kessler, the rally’s organizer, filed a successful lawsuit against the city that was supported by the Virginia ACLU, saying that his First Amendment rights would be violated by moving the rally.
Tensions began Friday night, as several hundred white supremacists chanted “White lives matter!” “You will not replace us!” and “Jews will not replace us!” as they carried torches marched in a parade through the University of Virginia campus.
The fast-paced march was made up almost exclusively of men in their 20s and 30s, though there were some who looked to be in their mid-teens.
Meanwhile, hundreds of counterprotesters packed a church to pray and organize. A small group of counterprotesters clashed with the marchers shortly before 10 p.m. at the base of a statue of Thomas Jefferson, the university’s founder.
One counterprotester apparently deployed a chemical spray, which affected the eyes of a dozen or so marchers. It left them floundering and seeking medical assistance.
Police officers who had been keeping a wary eye on the march jumped in and broke up the fights. The marchers then disbanded, though several remained and were treated by police and medical personnel for the effects of the mace attack. It was not clear if any one was arrested.
The march came on the eve of the Unite the Right rally, a gathering of groups from around the country whose members have said they are being persecuted for being white and that white history in America is being erased.
The Saturday rally was scheduled for noon at Emancipation Park, formerly Lee Park, home to a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee that the city of Charlottesville voted to remove earlier this year. The statue remains in the park pending a judge’s ruling expected later this month.
Many city leaders and residents have expressed concern about the prospect of violence at Saturday’s event.
Saturday marked the second time in six weeks that Charlottesville has faced a protest from white supremacist groups for its decision to remove the statue. On July 8, about three dozen members of a regional Ku Klux Klan group protested in the city.
The torchlight parade drew sharp condemnations from Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer and U-Va. President Teresa Sullivan.
Sullivan described herself as “deeply saddened and disturbed by the hateful behaviour”shown by the marchers.
Signer said he was “beyond disgusted by this unsanctioned and despicable display of visual intimidation on a college campus.” He called the chanting procession a “cowardly parade of hatred, bigotry, racism, and intolerance.”