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Published: Sat, 29 Apr 2017 17:30:10 EDT

Last Build Date: Sat, 29 Apr 2017 17:30:10 EDT

Copyright: Copyright Toronto Star 1996-2013 ,

On 100th day in office, Trump says he’s brought ‘profound change’ to Washington

Sat, 29 Apr 2017 13:07:26 EDT

WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday marked his 100th day in office by saying he had brought “profound change” to Washington and reaffirming that “my only allegiance” is to those he governs.On a threshold that Trump has both derided and tried to define, the president also said he is putting Americans first even as he learns on the job.“My only allegiance is to you, our wonderful citizens,” Trump said in his weekly radio address.Read the latest on U.S. President Donald TrumpIt was a preview of a day on which Trump was travelling to Pennsylvania to emphasize such priorities as American manufacturing, better trade deals for the U.S. and his underdog victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton in November. He also was promoting a still-to-be defined tax cut plan and the nation’s strong economy, on which many of his political fortunes rest. Meanwhile, North Korea’s missile launch Saturday signalled its continued defiance against the U.S., China and other nations, on which Trump tweeted: “Bad!”Trump’s 100th day events are set in politically important Pennsylvania, which he won with 48 per cent. It was the first time the state had voted for a Republican presidential candidate since George H.W. Bush in 1988.Trump planned to sign an executive order directing the Commerce Department and the U.S. trade representative to conduct a study of U.S. trade agreements. The goal is to determine whether America is being treated fairly by its trading partners and the 164-nation World Trade Organization.Read more: Donald Trump’s 100-day gong show mostly plays by the rulesTrump was scheduled to visit the AMES Companies in Pennsylvania’s Cumberland County, which has manufactured shovels since 1774. He was then to hold a campaign-style rally in Harrisburg, the state capital. Democrats are planning their own rally nearby.Trump’s 100-day rally was a bit of counterprogramming from the former reality television star. Back in Washington, media organizations and a few stars were gathering on Saturday for the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner. Trump, who has derided journalists as “dishonest” and even enemies of the American people, is the first president since 1981 to stay away from the event. That year, Ronald Reagan was recovering from an assassination attempt.At the 100-day mark, Trump chose instead to spend the evening with people who helped elect him and, polls show, remain largely in his corner. Though the White House created a website touting its accomplishments of the first hundred days, Trump has tried to downplay the importance of the marker, perhaps out of recognition that many of his campaign promises have gone unfulfilled.“It’s a false standard, 100 days,” Trump said while signing an executive order on Friday, “but I have to tell you, I don’t think anybody has done what we’ve been able to do in 100 days, so we’re very happy.”His rally Saturday in Pennsylvania will give him a chance “to talk to voters about what he has done over the past 100 days and how he sees the next 100 days and the 100 days after that,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said.Read more: ‘I thought it would be easier’: Trump laments that being president is ‘more work than in my previous life’A failed effort to overhaul president Barack Obama’s health care law behind him, Trump is turning to what he’s billed as the nation’s biggest tax cut. It apparently falls short of Reagan’s in 1981, and tax experts are skeptical that the plan would pay for itself, as Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has claimed.The economy, so far, has been Trump’s ally. Polls show that Americans feel slightly better about his job performance on that subject than his job performance overall.“Together we are seeing that great achievements are possible when we put American people first,”[...]

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Harjit Sajjan apologizes for claiming he was architect of Canada’s largest Afghanistan battle

Sat, 29 Apr 2017 13:45:56 EDT


OTTAWA—Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says he is truly sorry after claiming in a recent speech to have been the architect of Canada’s largest battle in Afghanistan.

The mea culpa follows what some saw as a half-hearted apology for the comments Sajjan made in India earlier this month.

In a Facebook post, Sajjan says he made a mistake by describing himself as the architect of Operation Medusa in 2006.

Read more:

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan pays price for rash battlefield boast

Sajjan’s battles wage on social media

He goes on to retract the comments and offer his sincere apologies to all the soldiers he served with in Afghanistan.

That includes then-major general David Fraser and his team, whom Sajjan credits for the operation’s success.

Sajjan does not say why he made the comments about Operation Medusa, during which hundreds of Taliban were killed.

Twelve Canadian soldiers also died during the two-week battle.

Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan before a meeting with Indian officials in New Delhi on April 18. In a Facebook post, Sajjan says he made a mistake by describing himself as the architect of Operation Medusa during a speech in India.

Media Files:

Donald Trump’s 100-day gong show mostly plays by the rules

Sat, 29 Apr 2017 06:00:00 EDT

WASHINGTON—The president of the United States would not stop talking about the fraudulence of the election he had just won. It was only three days into Donald Trump’s presidency, the very beginning of what should have been his honeymoon, but he was still consumed by his inconsequential loss in November’s popular vote. In interviews, on Twitter, in private meetings, Trump kept repeating the lie that more than three million people had voted illegally. Not only that, he announced he was launching a “major investigation.” Here was a troubling breach of democratic tradition. The president was casting doubt on the legitimacy of the electoral process. The president was sending the federal government on a taxpayer-funded fishing expedition because he believed nonsense from conspiracy websites. And then the whole thing disappeared. No investigation ever materialized. The president got distracted by other grievances. That was that.If there is a perfect metaphor for Trump’s first 100 days, it is the vanishing saga of the imaginary illegal voters. Sound and fury, revealing impulsiveness and dishonesty and a tenuous connection with reality, resulting in a media storm and nothing else.The story of Trump’s gong show of a young administration is a tale of broken norms of presidential behaviour. But it is also, just as importantly, about substantive norms prevailing. All the chaos has distracted from a whole lot of continuity.Read more: Trump at 100 days: The biggest, funniest and weirdest moments so farHere’s everything important that’s happened in Trump’s first 100 days‘Trump has accomplished more in his 100 days than any other President since Franklin Roosevelt,’ White House says, falselyDonald Trump said 16 false things in that bizarre Oval Office interview with the Associated PressThe man who promised that transformative change would be “so easy” has either failed in his attempts at big moves or declined to try them at all. The early tenure of the first reality-television president has been dramatic in the way that old soap operas are dramatic: captivating characters, multiple convoluted plotlines, not much changing any time soon. It sure feels like things are happening. The Trumpman Show is an all-day, all-night, all-consuming spectacle, can’t-miss TV even if you desperately want to miss it. There he is in the Oval Office, making another grandiose pronouncement. There he is in Kentucky, holding another campaign rally for some reason. Ignore Twitter for half an hour and you might miss Trump scolding an American ally, threatening a Republican congressman, casually suggesting a new international order.The impression of pandemonium thrills Trump’s supporters, who see a take-no-prisoners dynamo shaking up the old elite order, and frightens Trump’s opponents, who see a swindler destroying decades of progress. Yet the defining feature of his presidency has been abject nothingness. Trump, master showman, has been performing the appearance of doing things more than he has been doing things.He has not a single legislative accomplishment of significance. He has been oddly slow to fill senior positions. His first budget included such cartoonish cuts that it was dead on arrival in Congress. Though he has busied himself issuing executive orders, many have been more like press releases than immediate acts. His most important order, an incompetently written travel ban targeting Muslim countries, was blocked by the courts. His 100-day “Contract with the American Voter,” a commitment list to which he affixed his black-Sharpie signature, remains mostly unfulfilled.One by one, he has discarded pledges to revolutionize U.S. foreign policy, shifting in almost every case to the status quo. Ripping up the nuclear deal with Iran? He’s not doing it. Taking on Cuba’s Castro regime? He has shown no interest whatsoever. Moving the U.S. emb[...]

Media Files:

What’s ailing SickKids? How Toronto’s world-class children’s hospital missed the warning signs

Sat, 29 Apr 2017 07:30:00 EDT

When Brenda Waudby pulled up the article on her cellphone, she could barely process what she was reading. She can no longer remember the headline, but the words took her back to the most horrifying time in her life. The Hospital for Sick Children. Evidence. Unreliable. “I felt like throwing up,” she said. “It was like, ‘Oh my God. Here we go again.’” In 1997, Waudby was a single mom in Peterborough, Ont., recovering from cocaine addiction and the violent death of her 21-month-old daughter, Jenna Mellor, when SickKids pathologist Charles Smith ran a bulldozer through her life. Smith’s flawed opinions led police to charge Waudby for Jenna’s murder. It took years to regain custody of her two other children, clear her name and bring the real killer — Jenna’s 14-year-old babysitter — to justice. Smith’s faulty autopsy analyses tainted more than a dozen cases, including that of William Mullins-Johnson, who was jailed for 12 years after being wrongfully convicted in the 1993 death of his niece.In late April 2007, the province launched the Goudge Inquiry into pediatric forensic pathology in Ontario and Smith. In the months that followed, Waudby was a regular in the public gallery on the 22nd floor of a grey office tower on Dundas St. West, as the evidence untangled a knot of systemic failings at some of the province’s most trusted institutions, including SickKids.“I was really hopeful that they’d learned,” she said. “I was hopeful that the systems had corrected their issues.”That hope faded with news of Motherisk, another scandal involving a SickKids doctor, flawed forensics, marginalized parents and families torn apart.“It’s like we were disregarded. All we went through, that didn’t matter,” she said. “How could they forget so quickly?”Ten years after the Goudge Inquiry got underway, an investigation into what went wrong at SickKids with Motherisk reveals missed opportunities to contain the scandal brewing in its corridors.While Motherisk was actively marketing its drug and alcohol tests to child protection agencies across Canada, SickKids was cashing the cheques but didn’t seem to appreciate that what was being sold was a forensic test, used in legal cases to help determine parental substance abuse. From 2005 to 2015, Motherisk performed its hair-strand tests for 16,000 individuals at the request of Ontario’s child protection agencies — 54 per cent of whom tested positive for drugs or alcohol. Motherisk’s tests were also used in thousands of cases in B.C., Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Between January 2007 and March 2015, the lab’s revenues topped $11 million, $6.8 million of which came from children’s aid organizations, according to information released by SickKids through freedom of information legislation.Then in late 2014, an Ontario Court of Appeal ruling raised doubts about the accuracy of Motherisk’s hair-testing evidence in a criminal case. Concerns were warranted. In her blistering December 2015 report, retired Court of Appeal Justice Susan Lang, appointed by the province to review the reliability of Motherisk’s tests, eviscerated virtually every aspect of the lab’s operation. The lab did not double-check results before August 2010, until which point it reported screening-test results despite “an explicit warning” that the results were preliminary and must be confirmed. All the while, staff lacked the forensic training needed to meet the high bar for evidence presented in court. Lang also found SickKids failed to provide “meaningful oversight” or draw “clear lines of accountability”— both factors identified in the $10-million inquiry into Smith led by Justice Stephen Goudge. Goudge’s 169 recommendations dramatically improved expert [...]

Media Files:

Why are millennials flocking to Toronto’s C3 church?

Fri, 28 Apr 2017 00:00:00 EDT

You can hear the bass from the sidewalk, but it’s not until you walk up Central Technical School’s front steps, through the small lobby and into the auditorium that the EDM beats really hit you. The scenery matches the sound: a crowd consisting mainly of mid-20 to early 30-somethings is filtering in as lighting rigs project ever-moving, abstract designs onto the ceiling. There’s also a huge screen in the middle of the stage playing a countdown superimposed on what looks like slow-motion concert footage – an out-of-focus stage, people waving their hands in the air, a laser show… That is, until the reel switches to a shot of a woman with her arms crossed across her chest being dunked backwards into a giant metal tub of water, looking positively euphoric as she resurfaces from the waters. And as the timer runs down, the EDM (electronic dance music) fades out, replaced with a live nine-piece Christian pop-rock band that kicks off the Sunday morning church service with a 20-minute-long set. Welcome to the Toronto branch of the Christian City Church, better known as C3 - church led by, and made for, the young, progressive downtown resident in 2017. “I think that, without sounding judgmental … sometimes the presentation of religion can be tailored more towards irrelevance,” C3 pastor Sam Picken, 32, told the Star in an interview. “I think it seems like (Jesus is) un-relatable because we picture him in his surroundings, in his context from back in the day, but if he was alive today, I would think that he would have an Instagram account, I think he would wear similar clothes to what we wear, I think he would hang out at Trinity-Bellwoods and he’d probably drink coffee from many of the cafes that we go to today… What we try and do at C3 is talk about the Bible and talk about Jesus and make the (services) relatable and real.” C3 identifies itself as a “movement” that, according to its website has more than 450 churches in 64 countries. It was founded by couple Phil and Chris Pringle back in 1980, who were “living in a hippie commune” in New Zealand when they “happened upon a small Pentecostal church where they were radically saved and set free.” From there, they moved to the Northern Beaches area of Sydney where they established what would eventually become C3.C3’s dressed-down approach to Sunday services – Picken delivers his sermons wearing skinny jeans and t-shirts – and its active presence on social media appears to have struck a chord: in the five years since it set up in Toronto, its congregation, made mostly of millennials, has grown from eight to a steady 800 (it has to hold two Sunday services at Central Tech to accommodate everyone), and 1,100 people attended its 2017 Easter Sunday service. Kwesi Thomas, 21, is one of the newer members of the congregation. He began attending Sunday services about four months ago, and, on the Sunday the Star visited, was among the dozen or so people baptized on stage wearing black t-shirts with “#AllIn” emblazoned across the chest. “I think there’s a lot of cool young people here, so that just being the case, you attract people that you like,” he said. “… It’s like a social club, but there’s some substance to it, it’s not just a party. There’s something significant (and) interesting young people can do together, so it’s cool.”Churches using technology to stay relevant isn’t new, said Joel Thiessen, professor of sociology at Calgary’s Ambrose University and director of its Flourishing Congregations Institute. “You can go back to the early and mid 20th century and (see churches) using the radio, for example, to engage listeners and the audience, and then when television came into existence, you see this pro[...]

Media Files:

Couple transform ‘gross’ building into their home and studio

Sat, 29 Apr 2017 10:00:00 EDT

Christopher Guest and Lichia Liu were strolling the streets of East York in the summer of 2015, dreaming of finding their perfect work-live space.The two were engaged to be married and keen to buy a building that could double as a studio-shop for Gotamago, Liu’s stationary and gifts brand, as well as a home to begin their new life together. At the corner of Woodbine and Mortimer Aves. they stumbled upon a run-down, two-storey building painted wasabi green with a “For Sale” sign in the window. It had been a fast-food restaurant that went bankrupt and all the cooking equipment sat idle inside, old grease left to rot in the deep fryers. “We were like, ‘Ugh, it’s so ugly, who would ever buy that?!” recalls Guest, 41, a video editor. “We looked through the window and it was so gross!”“The windows weren’t actually windows, just a piece of glass with some trim holding them in!” adds Liu, 33.If someone had told them this would be the site of their wedding the following year — and the home they would be bringing their first child into — they would have laughed them off the block.They walked away, barely giving the big green building another thought, and continued with their hunt. Liu and Guest spent months becoming more and more disillusioned by Toronto’s competitive real-estate market, and even started looking at residential properties, ready to give up on their dream of a work/live space. After being outbid by $300,000 for a bungalow, they said enough is enough.“We got to the point where we thought this place wasn’t such a bad deal, after all,” says Guest, sitting inside “The Green Beast,” the nickname the couple now have for the 100-year-old building they have completely transformed.The building had been listed for $650,000, but since it sat on the market for 18 months, Guest and Liu put in a lowball offer of $500,000. The parties eventually settled on $540,000.Possession took place in December of 2015 and the couple set a modest renovation budget of $100,000. “We set the budget in the dark!” says Guest, who laughs and adds they’ve already spent $150,000 and counting. “It was a horror show,” he says. The roof had to be redone, the foundation needed to be reinforced and there had been a lot of water damage. Over the years, the building had been totally neglected; the couple found ads from the 1930s on old broken pieces of glass in the support ledge underneath the replacement windows. “The front windows were propped up by the old windows,” says Liu.They set out to overhaul the main floor and upstairs levels, leaving the basement as command central for the massive construction project. They decided to switch from expensive commercial gas heating to electric after sourcing a company in Quebec that refurbishes and electrifies old radiators. They removed the asbestos from the basement, took down the chimney and added a new $15,000 roof. Guest acted as the general contractor, and learned as he worked alongside the many tradespeople hired for specific tasks. Since his father worked in construction, he came and helped out, too, as did Liu when she wasn’t busy running her own business.By last June, studio renovations were completed and in October they opened the doors to Gotamago’s storefront, the company Liu first started years ago as a hobby on She now employs four part-time employees who work out of the shop.Since Liu previously worked as an urban designer, the couple drafted and designed the renovation plans themselves. They put in an exposed brick feature wall along the whole length of the studio, painted the original tin ceiling white and added several eclectic hanging light fixtures, all of which work together to brighten and warm the space. Liu is thrilled to fin[...]

Media Files:

Family holds funeral for Thai toddler killed in Facebook video

Sat, 29 Apr 2017 10:12:10 EDT


PHUKET, THAILAND—The funeral was held Saturday for an 11-month-old Thai girl who was killed by her father in a video broadcast live on Facebook before he then hanged himself.

Mourners buried the girl along with some of her toys in the grounds of a temple Saturday on the southern island of Phuket. Friends and family had to support her grieving mother, 21-year-old Chiranut Trairat, as she stood crying at the graveside.

The video livestreamed Monday evening showed Wuttisan Wongtalay, 20, killing his daughter by hanging her at an abandoned hotel before killing himself. After the funeral service his mother issued a tearful apology for her son’s actions and appealed to young people who were troubled to speak with their parents.

Read more: Thai man kills baby daughter, then himself on Facebook Live

“I want to apologize with all my heart for the video that was shared and for the likes that people clicked on it. I apologize for what my son did,” Jinda Raksakham said. “I want to tell young people who are having difficulties in their family life that they can talk to their parents. Don’t let your current state of mind overwhelm you.”

The video of the child’s death was apparently available for viewing online for almost 24 hours until Facebook pulled it down. Facebook has been seeking ways to quickly block videos after a series of gruesome events were livestreamed on the site, including murder and sexual assault.

The Thai case came less than two weeks after a man in Cleveland, Ohio, posted on Facebook a video of himself shooting a man to death.

Jiranuch Trirat, left, looks at a photograph of her 11-month-old daughter Natalie during the last funeral rites at a temple in Phuket on April 29, 2017.

Media Files:

Thrill-seeking in the age of social media: DiManno

Sat, 29 Apr 2017 07:00:00 EDT

Here, can you hold my brain until I get back?Because I’m going to do something really, really stupid.Of course, that brain might end up splattered all over the pavement, with crushed bones and torn flesh and an explosion of blood.So, a low-functioning brain, seems clear to me.Read more: Woman rescued from crane faces six criminal mischief chargesCrane climber, described as an ‘adventurous girl,’ released on bailWhat’s not at all clear is why Crane Girl — 23-year-old Marisa Lazo — went up the construction derrick in the middle of the night (need I really insert the word “allegedly” when her exploits were watched on social media around the world?) and then presumably shimmied down the cable, where she sat patiently on the hook device awaiting rappelling rescue by a Toronto firefighter.When Lazo appeared before a judge on Thursday — ultimately released on a piddly $500 surety, humping half a dozen mischief charges and bail conditions that forbid her from “attending construction sites and rooftops” — the procedure unfolded in a courtroom reserved for people with mental health issues. There were, however, no mental health review orders attached to her release and friends have come forward to assure that the young woman doesn’t have any screws loose.No, she’s maybe just an adventuress.Hey, I generally admire the gutsiness of adventurers even though we often end up peeling them off mountain sides or risking the lives of soldiers to retrieve idiots from combat zones where they’ve inexplicably gone tourist walkabout and got themselves abducted for ransom.Frenchman Philippe Petit gained international fame and cultural iconography when, in August 1974, he rigged a cable across New York’s Twin Towers at the World Trade Center — at that time the tallest buildings on the planet — and executed his jaw-dropping, illicit performance, making eight passes across the wire. Petit, a high wire performance artist, had spent six years planning the stunt, which spawned books and movies.A sophisticated world no longer oohs and aahs at roustabout circus entertainment. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey are closing up their big tent in May, after completing their remaining bookings. More than a century in the business and nobody is captivated anymore by aerialists and trained animals, albeit Cirque du Soleil has reinvented the genre in terms of diverting human kinetics.On social media, though, we can’t tear our eyes away from heart-pounding human melodrama, especially when it includes the prospect of disaster unfolding. Some seek an audience for suicide, even homicide, such as the Facebook-posted murder of an innocent, elderly man in Cleveland a couple of weeks ago.We have become voyeurism addicted.Where thrill-seeking intersects with social media, enter the extreme selfie subculture.Roofers and urban climbers, they’re called, a fringe fad, 2.0 version of train-surfing — riding atop fast moving railway cars as a lark. I’ve spent the day watching daredevil freaks on YouTube — often teenagers or people in their 20s, male and female — doing stupid stuff as they scrabble up cranes, clamber unharnessed across high buildings from Moscow to Dubai to Shanghai, ride bicycles across narrow struts, hang one-handed from the edge of skyscrapers. One couple taking turns dangling stop to kiss from their construction perch before descending. Bet they had hot sex afterwards.A 25-year-old from Southampton who travels the globe performing such stunts — climbing the Eiffel Tower and Moscow Bridge, often on behalf off high-profile corporate clients who pay for the vicarious thrill — describes his performance as an “art form.”A group of Moscow teens who became In[...]

Media Files:

Kayakers find body in Credit River

Sat, 29 Apr 2017 12:31:13 EDT


A male body was found in the Credit River on Saturday morning, and has been removed and sent for autopsy, Peel police said.

Kayakers found the body just south of the QEW in Mississauga and called police around 9:30am.

The man has not yet been identified.

Police did not know if the death is suspicious.

Peel police say a body has been found in the Credit River.

Media Files:

Doctor testifies only ‘miracle’ would have kept patient alive

Fri, 28 Apr 2017 16:24:29 EDT

It would have taken a “miracle” for Deanna Leblanc to have recovered, a doctor testified Friday.Leblanc, 39, was admitted to the Georgian Bay General Hospital in the early hours of March 2, 2014 after having heart attack at home, two days after a routine knee operation at a Newmarket hospital.Her nurse, Joanna Flynn, is on trial for manslaughter, accused of causing Leblanc’s death by taking her off life support without a doctor’s order and coercing Leblanc’s husband Michael Leblanc into consenting. Flynn has pleaded not guilty.It has been admitted that Flynn took Leblanc off life support without the authorization of a doctor and that by doing so she hastened Leblanc’s death.Michael Leblanc testified earlier in the trial that Flynn was the first person to inform him that his wife was on life-support, that she was brain-dead and that there was no chance of recovery. Before Flynn came on shift at 7 p.m., he said the doctors and nurses had told him his wife had severe brain damage but that she was young, healthy and not to give up.Dr. James Fahy, however, testified Friday he told Michael Leblanc his wife was brain-dead, that she was being “artificially supported” by machines and medication, and that “she is almost certainly not going to survive this.” He said he could not remember his exact words to Michael.Fahy has worked at the intensive care unit at the Georgian Bay General Hospital since 1989. He was the doctor in charge of the unit when Leblanc was moved after she was resuscitated after two-and-a-half hours of CPR in the emergency department. He handed off care to another doctor around noon when his shift ended. The jury has heard Leblanc died at 8:15 p.m.The difference between severe brain damage and brain-dead is a critical issue at this trial.When Fahy was asked by Crown prosecutor Sarah Tarcza what the difference is between severe brain damage and brain-dead, he testified there was almost no difference. Tarcza then asked why he never noted “brain-dead” on the medical charts.Fahy said that considering the time her brain was without oxygen during the resuscitation, “it was a given. It just wasn’t written into the record.”(The emergency doctor has testified he considered Leblanc to be brain-dead as well and that it was an oversight that it was not noted on the chart.)Under cross-examination by Flynn’s lawyer Samantha Peeris, Fahy said Leblanc was deemed brain-dead before she was moved to intensive care and that her kidneys were failing. He agreed that he did not send her to an acute care facility via helicopter because he concluded there was nothing more to be done.“You expected she would die,” Peeris said.“Yes, I did,” Fahy said.He said the various scans and tests were only ordered to try and provide answers to the family as to what happened to her. His diagnosis was that there was a blood clot in her lungs resulting from the surgery to her knee two days prior.He testified he ordered hourly doses of morphine and sedatives to keep her comfortable.Tarcza asked why do that, if patients who are brain-dead cannot feel anything.Fahy said that patients in that condition are sedated because they can involuntarily make jerking movements that are hard for relatives to watch and can cause IV lines to be pulled out.Fahy testified he did not bring up terminating life support because he felt it was not appropriate to start talking about it so soon. But it was something he was thinking about, he said.You have to “go very slowly” with families who have never met you before and are being faced with a situation where their loved one is unlikely to survive, he told the jury.Especially, he said, when that person is young a[...]

Media Files:

First comes fire, then comes marriage — one Fort McMurray couple had a busy year

Sat, 29 Apr 2017 10:48:05 EDT


FORT MCMURRAY, ALTA.—It’s been a busy year for Elise Phillippo and her husband Brandon.

They got hitched, bought a house and had a baby — all against the backdrop of the costliest natural disaster in Canadian history.

Four days before her May 7 wedding, the bride-to-be was planning to pick up her dress from the seamstress after work.

Instead, she was among the more than 88,000 Fort McMurray residents caught in bumper-to-bumper traffic as a fierce wildfire forced the entire northeastern Alberta city to empty.

Phillippo would never see that dress again. It was inside a home that burned in the hard-hit Abasand neighbourhood.

In Toronto, where the wedding was to take place, the couple’s photographer, Alex Neary with Wild Eyed Photography, asked if there was anything she could do to help.

“And I said, ‘I need a dress,’” recalls Phillippo, 30.

She thought perhaps Neary could scrounge up a second-hand one from a friend.

“All of a sudden she messaged back and said she had all these dresses,” Phillippo says.

“I was taken aback. What do you mean: ‘All these dresses?’”

Word got around on social media.

“People just started offering dresses one after another. I just couldn’t wrap my head around people being as generous as they were. They had no idea who I was, so they definitely didn’t have to do that for me.”

Read more:

Toronto shop steps up for Fort McMurray bride whose dress was lost in wildfire

Fort McMurray bride whose dress burned in wildfire gets her perfect day in Toronto

A shop in downtown Toronto, Lea-Ann Belter Bridal, gave Phillippo one dress and loaned her another.

The couple tied the knot on Toronto Island on the same day they had planned all along.

At the ceremony, Phillippo wore the loaner, a lacy number with spaghetti straps and a train. The donated dress got some use months later, when she let a friend, who was trying to save money, wear it for her wedding.

From Toronto, the newlyweds went to Edmonton and waited for the evacuation order to lift. Phillippo, a massage therapist, spent that time working at the Active Life Centre clinic in St. Albert, where she says she was treated like family.

The home the couple was renting in Fort McMurray’s Thickwood neighbourhood was undamaged by the fire. They have since bought it.

Phillippo expects her first wedding anniversary to be low key. Their two-month-old son Kellan Xavier takes up all the time and attention.

The one-year anniversary of the fire is looming a bit larger in her mind.

“I’m actually kind of looking forward to the anniversary of the fire, as strange as that sounds,” she says. “I’m kind of hoping that it gives people some peace.”

Elise and Brandon Phillippo at their wedding in Toronto on May 7.Elise and Brandon Phillippo were wed at The Rectory Cafe on Toronto Island Saturday, May 7. Her original wedding gown was burned in the Fort McMurray wildfire.

Media Files:

Jailed seven years by Canada, Kashif Ali now walks free

Fri, 28 Apr 2017 17:01:00 EDT

In a forceful rebuke to Canada’s practice of indefinite immigration detention, an Ontario court has ordered the release of Kashif Ali, a West African man who spent more than seven years in a maximum-security jail because Canada was unable to deport him.Superior Court Justice Ian Nordheimer called the lengthy detention “unacceptable” and said that it violated Ali’s charter rights.“One thing is clear, and that is that Canada cannot purport to hold someone in detention forever,” Nordheimer said, reading from his decision. “Mr. Ali has not been convicted of a criminal offence, and yet he has been held for over seven years in detention facilities, facilities that, if he had been convicted of a criminal offence, would have entitled him to a credit of more than 10-and-a-half years against any sentence that might be imposed.”Ali, 51, was the longest-serving immigration detainee still being held. He was one of two detainees profiled in Caged by Canada, a recent Star investigation.Wearing a white dress shirt and dark slacks — rather than the orange prison jumpsuit he had previously worn to court — Ali hugged his tearful 26-year-old daughter as soon as he was released from police custody.“I don’t know what to say right now,” Ali said outside court on Friday, standing next to his daughter, Sakina Millington. “It was very, very tough to be in there seven years without knowing when you’re coming out. I went through a lot, man.”As part of his court testimony, Ali described the often brutal conditions of his detention, which included beatings from guards and fellow inmates, near-daily lockdowns and one period during which he was placed in solitary confinement for 103 consecutive days.Ali’s lawyer Jared Will, who is also in the midst of a Federal Court challenge to the entire immigration detention system, said he was pleased with Nordheimer’s decision. “What’s clearest is that it was an emphatic rejection of indefinite detention for removal even if the detainee could be found to not have been co-operating,” Will said. “That’s significant, and that’s something that we think is a positive development.”Ali says he was born in Ghana to a Ghanaian father and Nigerian mother, but his birth was never registered. As a child he moved with his mother to Nigeria and later Germany and the U.S. before entering Canada with a fake passport in 1986. He says he has never had legitimate identity documents.The former taxi driver has a long record of mostly petty crimes, which he attributes to drug addiction. Because of his criminal record, Canada has been trying to deport him for more than 20 years. Ali has always insisted he is willing to be deported, but he can’t prove his citizenship in either Ghana or Nigeria, so neither country will take him back.Government lawyers were seeking Ali’s continued detention, alleging that he is intentionally thwarting his removal by withholding information that would help Canada deport him. Nordheimer disagreed. He said the government “can point to nothing more than skepticism and speculation” to support that allegation and there was “no reasonable prospect” that Ali’s situation would change if he continued to be detained.Even if an immigration detainee was being unco-operative, Nordheimer said, to allow a government to detain someone indefinitely would still be “fundamentally inconsistent with the well-established principles underlying” sections 7 and 9 of the Charter, which protect the right to life, liberty and security of the person as well as the right not to be arb[...]

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Professional body could be key to modernizing police

Fri, 28 Apr 2017 15:46:58 EDT

Chief Constable Alex Marshall references midwifery more than you might expect for lifelong cop. But in his current role as chief executive officer of England and Wales’ College of Policing, the business of birthing babies helps explain how the world’s first professional police body came to be.When a midwife arrives at a home, he explains, you assume that as a member of a regulated profession she is qualified to deliver a baby. She knows best practices for complications that arise, based on up-to-date research. She is properly accredited and has specialized skills.But if a police officer shows up at the house next door, where a woman is being abused by her husband and their children are at risk, he’s not certain equivalent assumptions can be made.“Are they qualified to the same level? Did they undertake the same continuing professional development? Are they up to speed with the latest developments in their profession?” Marshall, who has been in policing for nearly four decades, asks in a recent interview.“Over here, I think if you make that comparison, we haven’t supported the front-line police officers sufficiently that the answer would be yes. The answer at the moment would be no.”England and Wales are working toward that “yes” thanks to the ongoing move to professionalize policing, creating in 2012 a College of Policing similar to regulating bodies overseeing lawyers, doctors, teachers, nurses, midwives and more.Headquartered in London, the policing college — which oversees 200,000 police personnel, serving 50 million people — is in the midst of implementing significant changes, including introducing post-secondary educational requirements, licensing for specialized roles within policing, and developing ongoing training to reflect the shifting demands of police work, including interactions with people with mental health challenges.“In essence it’s to raise professional standards in policing and particularly to recognize that police work has changed really quite dramatically in recent years,” Marshall said.The unprecedented model is one Ontario would be wise to study, according to Justice Michael Tulloch.In his far-reaching report on police oversight, the Ontario Court of Appeal judge recommended Ontario give “serious consideration” to establishing a professional body for policing.Stressing that it would not replace the watchdogs he was tasked with reviewing, such as the Special Investigations Unit, Tulloch said a college of policing could ultimately reduce the work of the province’s oversight agencies “through the selection, promotion, and support of officers who embody the ideals of professionalism.”Among the central aims of such a college, Tulloch said, would be establishing province-wide standards for hiring and promotion. Requirements needed to enter and continue in policing “remain largely static, ill-defined, and inconsistent,” Tulloch wrote.All police officers undergo training at the Ontario Police College, located in Aylmer, Ont. which provides basic recruit training as well as refresher and specialist courses. But some services, including the Toronto police, provide their own additional training from the recruit stage onward, meaning there is no “consistent, province-wide professional standard.”Additionally, a college of policing could establish greater mandatory education for all Ontario officers in the increasingly vital areas of anti-racism studies, mental health, domestic abuse, social and cultural competency, serving vulnerable communities and more, Tulloch said.Calling policing traditionally &#x[...]

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