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Published: Tue, 24 Apr 2018 12:30:12 EDT

Copyright: Copyright Toronto Star 1996-2013 ,

Ontario’s basic income experiment would continue under Doug FordOntario’s basic income experiment would continue under Doug Ford

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 06:00:00 EDT

Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives support Ontario’s basic income pilot project, a three-year experiment to determine whether regular, no-strings-attached payments improve health, education and housing outcomes for people living in poverty.“We look forward to seeing the results,” a party spokesperson said Monday about the Liberal government initiative launched a year ago today .After a slow start due to disbelief among many that it was too good to be true, the project has reached its goal of enrolling 6,000 participants between the ages of 18 and 65 in Hamilton-Brant, Thunder Bay and Lindsay.Read more:From ‘barely surviving’ to thriving: Ontario basic income recipients report less stress, better healthHanding out money for free harder than it looksUnder the three-year experiment, more than 4,000 people will receive up to $17,000 a year ($24,000 for couples). Another 2,000 will be paid to fill out surveys as part of a control group. Participants with disabilities will get an extra $6,000.“While our economy is in a strong position … there is still much we need to do to build a province where everyone is included in our economic growth,” Premier Kathleen Wynne said in a statement to mark the anniversary. The pilot project “is changing lives today and helping us plan for a future in which people have the supports they need to get ahead in a rapidly changing economy,” she added.Results from the three test sites will guide future provincial policy on how to better support all Ontarians living in poverty, the government says.The NDP, in their campaign platform released last week, said they would also support the $50 million-a-year initiative, if elected June 7.Tom Cooper of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction said whoever wins the provincial election has a “moral obligation” to continue the project, calling participants “pioneers.” “Sure, they are getting a bit more income, but there is always that fear of trusting government programs,” said Cooper, whose group has been helping prospective participants enrol in the project.“If this were to end prematurely it would be devastating for those individuals and we would lose the opportunity to study what … may very well be the most important social policy of the 21st Century,” he said in an interview.Last week, the federal parliamentary budget officer estimated the net cost of doling out an Ontario-style basic income to more than 7.5 million Canadians living in low-income households at about $43 billion a year.Although federal Liberal party members at last weekend’s convention in Halifax voted to embrace basic income as party policy, a spokesman for Human Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos told the Star’s Susan Delacourt, it is not yet government policy.Ontario is among several areas in the world experimenting with the idea of a basic income, including Finland, which began a two-year pilot project last January involving the unemployed. The right-leaning Finish government has refused a request to extend payments to other groups and has said the program will end when the trial concludes at the end of the year. Instead, Finland is looking into other options, including minimum work and training requirements in exchange for financial support.[...]Tom Cooper of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction said whoever wins the provincial election has a “moral obligation” to continue the basic income project.

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Shree Paradkar: At sex assault trial, it feels as if women are burdened with documenting every detail of life, lest they end up in courtShree Paradkar: At sex assault trial, it feels as if women are burdened with documenting every detail of life, lest they end up in court

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 11:01:23 EDT

At various times in her testimony in a Toronto court, a woman, whose name is under a publication ban, has said her first marriage was not consummated. She has said that marriage broke down right away when it turned out that the groom was in love with his cousin. She has described that cousin standing in the bridal party and telling her — the bride — that the groom would never touch her. She recently mentioned how the man married her because he wanted her to sponsor him so he could come to Canada. Yesterday, the woman we’re calling Sakhi described how, after they went into the bridal bedroom, the cousin was sleeping there.“Why haven’t you told us this before?” demanded defence lawyer George Tsmiklis at the Ontario Court of Justice on Monday. “Because you haven’t asked before,” said Sakhi. That marriage isn’t even the reason Sakhi is in court; it’s because of a second marriage, one that has led to multiple charges of assault, sexual assault and uttering threats being laid against Rajinder Gupta, and charges of assault and uttering threats being laid against his mother Sheela Gupta. His father Vinod Gupta is charged with uttering threats. They have all pleaded not guilty in a trial before Superior Court Justice James Diamond that began April 9. Sakhi has testified to being bitten, slapped, raped, having her hair pulled and threatened with death. Her cross examination began last week and continues. The defence seems to be making the case that Sakhi is trying to get out of the marriage without stigma by using the second of two “honourable ways,” as defence lawyer George Tsimiklis called them last week: by claiming assault. For evidence, they are trying to establish a pattern, saying she has tried this before, using the other “honourable way”: professing a marriage wasn’t consummated. Based on what the defence has said so far, Sakhi would have to be both bold enough to bring false accusations to court, and timid enough to acquiesce to sex, even if she didn’t want it. “The expectation on you was to obey your husband’s reasonable requests?” Tsmiklis asked.“Yes.”“Isn’t it reasonable that your husband’s wishes to consummate a marriage is something you would comply with?”“Reasonable — however it has to have happened with the consent of both,” she said.A little earlier, Tsmiklis had said, “I’m going to suggest that you were nervous and scared, but you never said no.”“I was saying ‘no,’ but he was not agreeing. I was extremely scared,” Sakhi said.In the third week of this trial, it’s starting to feel as though to be a woman is to be burdened with the task of maintaining a detailed diary documenting every tedious detail of your life — for fear it be needed some day in court.Sakhi had to dredge up every detail from a past marriage. Then she also had to remember the minutiae of not just the assaults she alleges, but the events around them.Tsmiklis fell ill halfway through Monday and Sheela Gupta’s lawyer Lakhwinder Sandhu took over the cross-examination.Sandhu asked Sakhi how many times in the course of her three-month marriage her parents visited her. “Maybe two or three times,” she said. “When was the first time your parents visited his (Gupta’s) house?”“When I was sick, they came for the first time,” she said. How many days after your wedding did they come, he asked. “I don’t remember.”“When was the last time your parents visited Rajinder Gupta’s house?”“I don’t remember the date.”“How many days before July 13, 2015 (the day she went to police) did your parents visit?”“I don’t remember.”“I suggest you cannot tell us, because you didn’t memorize this point of your story.” Under pressure, Sakhi sometimes gives spirited responses: “[...]

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Patrick Brown sues CTV for $8M over sexual impropriety storyPatrick Brown sues CTV for $8M over sexual impropriety story

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 11:36:02 EDT


An “emotionally devastated” former Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown has filed a lawsuit seeking $8 million in damages from CTV News.

Brown, who was forced to resign on Jan. 25, just hours after CTV broadcast a story alleging sexual impropriety with two women, filed a statement of claim Monday at the Barrie courthouse.

If the action is successful, it would be the largest libel award in Canadian history.

The lawsuit names CTV News president Wendy Freeman, anchor Lisa LaFlamme, reporters Glen McGregor, Rachel Aiello, and Travis Dhanraj, and four unnamed producers and editors.

It argues the network “falsely, maliciously, unfairly and irresponsibly broadcast” the stories that ended Brown’s tenure as the PC leader.

Brown has denied the allegations since an 81-second news conference held just 15 minutes before the Jan. 24 broadcast.

But his senior aides resigned en masse that night and he stepped down as party leader early the next morning, triggering a leadership race that ultimately saw Doug Ford take the party helm.

Bell Media’s director of communications, Matthew Garrow, said “CTV News stands by its reporting and will vigorously defend it in court.”

Brown’s 35-page statement of claim says that the Simcoe North MPP, who now sits at Queen’s Park as an independent, “continues to suffer from stress, anxiety, hurt, humiliation and embarrassment and was and is emotionally devastated.

“The swift demolition of his personal and professional reputation on national television left Mr. Brown in a complete state of shock and disbelief,” the suit said.

“Mr. Brown did not want to leave his home. He felt his world was crashing in on him,” it continued.

“Shunned in the political community, Mr. Brown was abandoned by his campaign team, forced to resign as leader of the (Ontario) PC Party, ejected from the Tory caucus, and cast aside from his political party.”

The lawsuit, which contains claims that have not been proven in court, also cites CTV’s “interference with the democratic process,” because Ontarians are voting in a June 7 election.

“Until the defendants destroyed his personal and professional reputation and demolished his political career, Mr. Brown was expected to become the next premier of Ontario.”

His lawyers charge that Brown “had no reasonable time to respond,” because he was “ambushed … mere hours before the scheduled Jan. 24 broadcast.”

The lawsuit says Brown’s chief of staff, Alykhan Velshi, first received an email from McGregor citing the allegations at 4:24 p.m. on the day of the broadcast, which aired at 10 p.m.

CTV reported that one of the women who alleged misconduct against Brown said she was in high school at the time she met him at a bar.

The woman later revised that recollection, telling CTV that she was 19, not 18, at the time of the encounter.

Former Ontario PC Leader Patrick Brown now sits as an independent MPP.

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Edward Keenan: Scarborough subway is terrible transit planning. An inquiry won’t fix thatEdward Keenan: Scarborough subway is terrible transit planning. An inquiry won’t fix that

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 16:22:57 EDT

You want to beat the Scarborough subway? Here’s how you beat it: they pull a knife, you pull a gun. They send one of yours to the hospital, you send one of theirs to the mor ...Wait. That’s not the defence against the Scarborough subway. That’s Sean Connery’s advice on capturing Al Capone. At this point, the subway situation may be uglier. But the basic point Connery’s Untouchables character was making may translate, a bit, as the never-ending, apparently never-changing debate about the subway returns to yet another council meeting. To win a street fight you need to fight in the streets. And you don’t want to be the one holding a knife when a gun battle breaks out. Similarly, I’m not sure you want to bring a judicial inquiry to a political fight. Not if you want to win. That, however, is what Councillor Josh Matlow is doing at this week’s council meeting, calling for a formal inquiry into the decision-making process regarding the subway approval and the misinformation provided to city council by staff in that process. “Our city has far too often neglected evidence-based transit priorities while approving proposals that serve the fewest people for the most money,” Matlow writes in his request. “City Council is on the verge of setting a new precedent by neglecting the public trust, and with such a gross misexpenditure of public finances.”I sympathize with him. Man, do I. I have watched this past half-decade as this subway proposal (and the arguments alleged in favour of it) has morphed and changed to suit the craven populist goals of various provincial and municipal con artists. The subway plan is bad transit planning of absurdist proportions, an absurdly deep hole in the ground in which the city plans a $3.35 billion bonfire of taxpayer cash. It has at almost every stage been promoted with misinformation, obfuscation, and the frequent disingenuous slander of reasonable people who dare to tell the truth.I have hammered out the details of why I believe that, through many thousands of words in at least three different publications over the past six or seven years. My colleagues at the Star continue to do very valuable work reporting on just how and in what ways this festival of crap grew and evolved. But I’m not sure it’s a good use of anyone’s time for me to go over all those arguments again here. If you would care to read such a precis, you likely already have the details memorized.Suffice it to say this particular subway extension is pure policy garbage, promoted shamelessly by people who know it is garbage.That last part is key here, I think. I do not believe any of the main politicians who support this subway believe that it is a better transit choice to serve the people of Scarborough than the alternative plans for an LRT network. Matlow talks about neglecting evidence-based decision making, but I do not think that neglect is an accident. Those politicians — the mayor and a majority of council — have purposely indulged in decision-based evidence making, shifting the argumentative goalposts every time they are thoroughly and decisively discredited, and every time the plan changes to give people less for ever more money.I believe we have enough evidence to know right from wrong here. But the politicians ramming this tunnel through do not care about evidence. They care about politics. And that’s their right. That’s why we call them politicians. To them — Mayor John Tory, Premier Kathleen Wynne, Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford — the politics are clear: they think a sizable and decisive part of the electorate has a ride-or-die attitude to this subway extension, no matter what it costs and no matter what it is compared to (even helicopter commutes and a gift of a pony for everyone for more than $1 billion less money, as I’ve pointed out before). The people want this subway. That’s what Tory and his [...]

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Bruce Arthur: Poised Leafs hold off Bruins, force Game 7Bruce Arthur: Poised Leafs hold off Bruins, force Game 7

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 22:35:13 EDT

They talked about it before the game. Of course they did. That was all they talked about. A man had murdered 10 of our people on a sunny afternoon and injured 15 more, so the Toronto Maple Leafs woke up from their naps and went to the rink and talked about it, like everyone else. They live here, too. Game 6 could have been postponed, playoffs and all.But there are a few things that bind together this great cacophonous project of a city, and the Toronto Maple Leafs are one of them, and this part of the city went on. The Leafs played Game 6 against the Boston Bruins Monday night, trying to stave off a first-round elimination for the second straight year. Outside the arena police were in their usual posts, watching a little more carefully. People streamed through Union Station, holding doors or bumping elbows. Maple Leaf Square was deemed full three hours before the game. Across the city, on patios or in bars or at home, people put the game on. This is a part of what we do.And inside, they passed the test. The Leafs led 2-1 heading into the third period, with goals from two of their three young stars. In Game 5, the third period was an anxious, jittery hell. The Leafs fumbled passes, broke up their own breakouts, and spent the period trying to fend off the Bruins. They barely managed to hold it together.Read more: Leafs down Bruins to force Game 7 in BostonSecurity increased at ACC for Leafs vs. Bruins game after fatal van incidentOpinion | Rosie DiManno: Dermott and Johnsson surprising game-changers for Maple LeafsThis time, though, this time they just played, with poise and smarts, and they came closer to a third goal than Boston did to a second. First it was William Nylander — who scored the Leafs’ opening goal, followed by Mitch Marner, with Zach Hyman having one disallowed — then Kasperi Kapanen, then Auston Matthews. Goaltender Frederik Anderson held the fort early, and closed the door late. Toronto added an empty netter.Leafs 3, Bruins 1, and we’re headed back to Boston. As winger and Etobicoke native Connor Brown put it, “You know, they showed badly they wanted today, too. That was the loudest I’ve ever heard them in here.”It was a bad day in this great city, a heartbreaking day. This was just a small bit of cheer at the end of it.“It’s awful, it’s tragedy,” said Hyman, a Toronto kid. “Sports don’t really matter in the moment, but afterwards it brings people together, and it can unite people. It was great to get the win, and I feel awful for the families and the victims. Sad.”Inside the room, far from the real tragedy, that was about where they were. There was no David Ortiz to take a microphone and howl, defiant and powerful, “This is our f-- city.” We could have used that, because it damned well is.But before the game veteran defenceman Ron Hainsey spoke to Hockey Night in Canada. He expressed sorrow for the victims and their families, and thanks to the first responders who try to keep us safe.“Hold your loved ones tight, give ’em an extra kiss tonight, I know I will because you just never know anymore,” Hainsey said. “As for tonight, we’re going to play our hearts out for this city. Great fans here. Hopefully in doing that we’ll make it to Game 7 in Boston.”They held a moment of silence before the game, and the anthem was mostly sung by the crowd. Then they played hockey. And afterward, what happened in the city hung over the joy of the dressing room.“Changes the new normal in a family’s life forever: no mom, no dad, no brother, no sister, whatever it may be,” Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. “And obviously we’re lucky to live in such a fantastic city, great first responders and the work they’ve done. And it’s so important that we rally around these people, help ‘em, do everything we can. We have a fantastic city and we can&[...]

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AGO apologizes for racist costumes at performance during fundraiserAGO apologizes for racist costumes at performance during fundraiser

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 18:17:07 EDT


The Art Gallery of Ontario has posted an apology on social media after it says an artist included racist costumes in a performance featured at a recent fundraiser party.

In photos posted to Instagram, outfits sported at their Annual Massive Party on Thursday bore resemblance to traditional Asian rice hats as well as kimono-styled dresses.

According to the statement issued on the AGO’s Facebook and Instagram pages, the performance was intended to “play with stereotypes.”

“The artist’s performance included racist costumes that are deemed offensive to the East Asian community. The end result was that the costumes in the artist’s performance perpetuated negative stereotypes, regardless of the artist’s intent. This is not acceptable,” it read.

“We apologize unreservedly. We commit to doing better moving forward, working with artists and the artistic community to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.”

In photos posted to Instagram, outfits sported at the AGO’s Annual Massive Party on Thursday bore resemblance to traditional Asian rice hats as well as kimono-styled dresses.

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Cosmos condo buyers want $100K and an explanation after project’s death Cosmos condo buyers want $100K and an explanation after project’s death Cosmos condo buyers want $100K and an explanation after project’s death Cosmos condo buyers want $100K and an explanation after project’s death

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 16:44:00 EDT

A Toronto real estate lawyer says the developer of a cancelled Vaughan condo should be paying disappointed buyers about $100,000 each for their lost appreciation in the property market and, he says, Liberty Developments also owes them a meaningful explanation of why it killed the project.Stephen Shub is among those raising questions about consumer protections and the obligations builders have when they kill a development after holding purchasers’ deposits for months or years. It’s a practice that effectively strands home buyers in a hot real estate market where prices have risen significantly, and it is happening more often in the Toronto area.The $100,000 is a “conservative” amount that reflects the difference between the $540 per sq. ft. that consumers paid in the sold-out Cosmos condo towers near Vaughan Metropolitan Centre nearly two years ago, compared to about $700 per sq. ft. now, said Shub.The estimate is based on a 625 sq. ft. condo, he said in a letter to Michael Volpatti, a lawyer for Liberty Developments.Multiply that by the number of condos — 1,153 — and it equates to more than $115 million “the builder is effectively ripping off the buyers,” Shub wrote in an April 10 letter.Liberty announced earlier this month it was killing the three Cosmos towers “solely due to the inability to secure satisfactory construction financing.”That’s an explanation that leaves the purchasers in the dark, argues Shub.He says the developer failed to provide “reasonable details and backup materials,” to substantiate that claim and prove it was acting in good faith, as prescribed by Tarion, the Ontario agency that regulates the building industry and administers new home warranties.Neither the developer nor Volpatti responded to the Star’s requests for comment.Given Liberty’s reputation and the speed with which Cosmos sold out, buyers “would never believe in their wildest imaginings they would be confronted with this type of issue,” Shub told the Toronto Star.“The builder has a great track record, and they would have felt totally comfortable,” he said.About 300 buyers attended a meeting April 15 and are planning another to talk about legal options, said Jay Reddy, one of eight organizers of the meeting, who have also set up a Facebook page and an email address so the group can communicate.Reddy and his wife purchased a one-bedroom-plus-den apartment for about $338,000 as an investment. They thought his parents might use it as a retirement home.“Everything we’ve done in the last year has been focused financially on 2020 when they expected (the condo) would be built,” he said.Amit Patel helped his parents buy into Cosmos. They wanted to be near the new TTC subway station. Although they had looked at other buildings in the area, the Cosmos prices were lower than another they had considered.“If we’d known what was going to happen we would probably have taken the other one even though it was more expensive,” said Patel.“I feel they do owe us something for keeping our money for two years. We could have used that money,” he said.Patel was surprised to find that the refunded deposit did not include interest.Although Ontario’s Condominium Act specifies interest be paid at 2 per cent below the Bank of Canada, that rate is so low, buyers are effectively refunded without interest, said a Tarion spokesperson. Neither Tarion nor the province could cite the last time buyers received interest with their refunds in instances such as the Cosmos cancellation.The condo act governs consumer protections and is the reason that the buyers are getting refunds on the home condo deposits that are held in trust, said Ontario Minister of Government and Consumer Services Tracy MacCharles, on Monday.But, she added, “We have ongoi[...]

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Spring in the forecast this week in TorontoSpring in the forecast this week in Toronto

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 08:40:22 EDT


May flowers will feel closer than ever this week.

The frigid winter is slowly giving way to spring, if Environment Canada’s latest forecast is any indication. With double-digit highs, a good chance of rain, and above-zero overnight lows, it appears as though this year’s winter has hung up its hat for good.

Tuesday is going to be cloudy with a high of 16 C, but regions close to Lake Ontario can expect a brisker daytime high of 8 C. There’s a 40 per cent chance of showers this evening with periods of rain starting close to midnight. Fog may develop overnight, but Environment Canada predicts it’ll burn up by mid-morning.

On Wednesday, periods of rain and fog will make for a milder day. The daytime high of 11 C will make it the coolest day of the week. Thursday will be 15 C, while Friday will be 14 C with a 60 per cent chance of showers later in the evening.

The weekend should be a bit cooler than the week —Saturday will be just 10 C — but will mark the beginning of even warmer days to come. Monday will be 19 C, and next week appears as though it’ll be warmer still.

It’s time to shed a few layers and turn your face to the sun this week.

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Dirty cop, or crime fighter? Jury deliberates at trial of Hamilton police officer Craig RuthowskyDirty cop, or crime fighter? Jury deliberates at trial of Hamilton police officer Craig Ruthowsky

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 19:55:08 EDT

Craig Ruthowsky’s job was to get guns and drugs and bad guys off the streets of Hamilton and to do that, he says he sometimes had to push the boundaries. Lie to the liars, squeeze a little more out of a source, extend a favour here and there to keep the information flowing.“He was an aggressive police officer who was interested in fighting crime,” summed up his lawyer, Greg Lafontaine.There’s a lot of muck that sinks to the bottom of the criminal underworld, and one way for a cop to slog through the mire is with the help provided by a stable of confidential informants.Craig Ruthowsky, a member of the Hamilton police guns and gangs unit, had more than 60 of them. “Unfortunately for me, I have so many informants that they start to overlap,” Ruthowsky said at one point on the witness stand.One of his informants, he alleges, is Mr. X, a Hamilton drug dealer whose identity is protected by a court-ordered publication ban.After he was scooped up in a large police raid three years ago, Mr. X made some shocking allegations about Ruthowsky. As it turns out, Toronto police had already intercepted a lengthy phone call between Ruthowsky and Mr. X where the Hamilton cop appeared to have been providing the dealer with information about covert police tactics.By that point, Ruthowsky had been suspended from duty for three years and he’d been ordered by the police chief to have no contact with informants.The Toronto cops played Mr. X the tape of the phone call and he decided to tell them his story.Ruthowsky is now facing criminal charges of bribery, obstruction of justice, breach of trust, trafficking in a controlled substance and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence. He has pleaded not guilty.Mr. X’s most explosive allegation was that he and a few of his drug-dealer associates were paying Ruthowsky $20,000 a month in bribes from September 2011 until late fall 2012. Several of the payments, Mr. X testified, were made after Ruthowsky had already been suspended.In exchange for the payments, Mr. X alleged, he received vital information from Ruthowsky about police drug enforcement and surveillance activities which, the dealer testified, allowed him to sell drugs with impunity.“What he’s telling you at first glance is difficult to believe,” Crown attorney John Pollard told the jury during his closing submission last week.“You’d expect a story like that to crumble in an instant,” he said. “But it didn’t.”Mr. X’s story, Pollard said, “holds up well to scrutiny.”After five weeks of testimony, the jury is now deliberating its verdicts on the five charges.“I’m here fighting for my life,” Ruthowsky said at one point on the stand.Much of the courtroom battle has revolved around a single axis. Was Mr. X a confidential informant or was he not?Ruthowsky is adamant he was, Mr. X is just as adamant he was not.To believe the Crown is to believe that Mr. X was a “compelling and truthful witness,” according to Pollard, even though he may have been an “unsavoury” character.“He did not hide anything from you about his criminal past,” Pollard told the jury.“He did not try to rationalize it, minimize it or deny it.”To believe Ruthowsky’s defence is to believe that Mr. X was an informant who was trying to “save his skin,” in the words of Greg Lafontaine, Ruthowsky’s lawyer.Mr. X, he claims, concocted his story about Ruthowsky out of thin air because he was afraid of being exposed as an informant.“His evidence was a joke,” Lafontaine told the jury. “Total, absolute perjury.”Ruthowsky spent hours on the stand highlighting the valuable information he received from Mr. X, like the tip that led to a late-night raid of[...]

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