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Statistics Canada says adults living with parents are employed and single

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 13:18
OTTAWA - A Statistics Canada report is digging deeper into what kind of adults live with their parents at a time when more are doing so than ever before. Close to 1.9 million Canadians aged 25 to 64 lived with at least one parent in 2017, according to a Friday release. That’s more than double the number in 1995. Then, Canadians at home made up only five per cent of the adult population aged 25 to 64; now it’s up to nine. Close to three-quarters of them have never lived apart from their parents. “This finding held true regardless of age group,” reads the report, adding that 60 per cent of those aged 55 to 64 and living with a parent had always done so. Seventy per cent reported being single, meaning they were unmarried and had no common-law partners. But they’re not just melting into the couch. While students made up a significant share of adults living with parents, most had paid employment: 74 per cent, only slightly fewer than the 80 per cent of those not living with parents. They were less likely to have worked full-time permanent jobs in the prior year, though: 72 per cent had worked 41 to 52 weeks compared to 82 per cent of those living apart from their parents. Culture also has a role to play. Twenty-one per cent of people identifying themselves as South Asian (including people of Indian, Pakistani and Sri Lankan descent) and 19 per cent of people of Chinese descent aged 25 to 64 lived with parents, more than double the nine per cent of the total Canadian population. Statistics Canada said these groups “may have cultures which value intergenerational living arrangements.” The 2016 census noted that multi-generational living arrangements were common among immigrant populations. The agency said further analysis of these demographics could reveal what motivates Canadians to live with their parents. The Canadian Press

Father to be charged with first-degree murder in daughter’s death

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 13:16
A father who was supposed to be helping his 11-year-old daughter celebrate her birthday will soon face a first-degree murder charge in her death, police said Friday. Peel regional police Const. Danny Marttini said an undisclosed injury to 41-year-old Roopesh Rajkumar has delayed the formal laying of the charge in the death of his daughter Riya, but she said it was expected later in the day. The girl’s body was found in Rajkumar’s home shortly after an Amber Alert was issued alerting the public to the child’s disappearance. The girl’s mother had gone to police after Rajkumar allegedly failed to return the girl on time after taking her out for her birthday. “It’s very heart-wrenching,” Marttini said, noting that both mother and daughter shared a birthday. “We have to remember that this is a family, and she’s now moving forward without her daughter. It’s very traumatic.” Riya’s mother sounded the alarm on her daughter’s disappearance after receiving information that Rajkumar allegedly intended to harm himself and the child, police said. Marttini said officers began an investigation right away. Rajkumar, who did not live with his daughter, has been described as her mother’s former boyfriend. Marttini declined to share many details of the investigation, including the cause of Riya’s death or her father’s injuries. She said Rajkumar was taken to a trauma centre for treatment but remains in police custody. Tributes have poured in for Riya since police announced her death early on Friday morning. Flags at Meadowvale Village Public School, where the girl was a Grade Five student, were at half-mast as students offered tributes and struggled to come to terms with what happened. “Riya was a well-liked student, and her death is deeply felt by everyone at the school,” Principal Stacy Service said in a statement. “Even students who did not personally know Riya will also be affected.” Near the home where the girl’s body was found, neighbours offered prayers and left floral bouquets in tribute. Emmanuel Okafor, who lives nearby, paused near the home, clasped his hands and said a silent prayer. “I pray to God the family lives through this,” he said. “No family should ever go through this … It breaks my heart.” Okafor said he followed the situation closely after the Amber Alert was issued. “It’s senseless,” he said. “We were really hoping last night she would be found alive, not knowing this morning we’d have this tragic news.” Christopher Willis, who also lives nearby, said the neighbourhood was stunned by the news. “It’s shocking to know this could happen close to home,” he said, adding the story has particular resonance for him as the father of a three-year-old girl. “It just seems impossible.” Jennifer Fuller, who has a daughter around the same age as Riya, laid flowers a snowbank near the home.  “It’s sickening and it’s sad,” she said. Marttini said Rajkumar would likely make a court appearance in the coming days. Shawn Jeffords and Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press

Bombshell book alleges a Vatican gay subculture, hypocrisy

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 13:07
PARIS - A gay French writer has lifted the lid on what he calls one of the world’s largest gay communities, the Vatican, estimating that most of its prelates are homosexually inclined and attributing much of the current crisis in the Catholic Church to an internecine war among them. In the explosive book, “In the Closet of the Vatican,” author Frederic Martel describes a gay subculture at the Vatican and calls out the hypocrisy of Catholic bishops and cardinals who in public denounce homosexuality but in private lead double lives. Aside from the subject matter, the book is astonishing for the access Martel had to the inner sanctum of the Holy See. Martel writes that he spent four years researching it in 30 countries, including weeks at a time living inside the Vatican walls. He says the doors were opened by a key Vatican gatekeeper and friend of Pope Francis who was the subject of the pontiff’s famous remark about gay priests, “Who am I to judge?” In an interview Friday in a Paris hotel, Martel said he didn’t tell his subjects he was writing about homosexuality in the Vatican. But he said it should have been obvious to them since he is a gay man who was researching the inner world of the Vatican and has written about homosexuality before. He said it was easier for him, as a gay foreigner, to gain the trust of those inside the Vatican than it would have been for an Italian journalist or Vatican expert. “If you’re heterosexual it’s even harder. You don’t have the codes,” he told The Associated Press. “If you’re a woman, even more so.” Martel says he conducted nearly 1,500 in-person interviews with 41 cardinals, 52 bishops or monsignors, and 45 Vatican and foreign ambassadors, many of whom are quoted at length and in on-the-record interviews that he says were recorded. Martel said he was assisted by 80 researchers, translators, fixers and local journalists, as well as a team of 15 lawyers. The 555-page book is being published simultaneously in eight languages in 20 countries, many bearing the title “Sodom.” The Vatican didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Martel appears to want to bolster Francis’ efforts at reforming the Vatican by discrediting his biggest critics and removing the secrecy and scandal that surrounds homosexuality in the church. Church doctrine holds that gays are to be treated with respect and dignity, but that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered.” “Francis knows that he has to move on the church’s stance, and that he will only be able to do this at the cost of a ruthless battle against all those who use sexual morality and homophobia to conceal their own hypocrisies and double lives,” Martel writes. But the book’s Feb. 21 publication date coincides with the start of Francis’ summit of church leaders on preventing the sexual abuse of minors, a crisis that is undermining his papacy. The book isn’t about abuse, but the timing of its release could fuel the narrative, embraced by conservatives and rejected by the gay community, that the abuse scandal has been caused by homosexuals in the priesthood. Martel is quick to separate the two issues. But he echoes the analysis of the late abuse researcher and psychotherapist A.W. Richard Sipe that the hidden sex lives of priests has created a culture of secrecy that allowed the abuse of minors to flourish. According to that argument, since many prelates in positions of authority have their own hidden sexual skeletons, they have no interest in denouncing the criminal pedophiles in their midst lest their own secrets be revealed. “It’s a problem that it’s coming out at the same time (as the summit),” Martel acknowledged in the AP interview, adding that the book was finished last year but its release was delayed for translation. “But at the same time it’s, alas, the key to the problem. It’s both not the subject, and the subject.” The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author of “Building a Bridge” about how the Catholic Church should reach out more to the LGBT community, said that based on the excerpts he had read, Martel’s book “makes a convincing case that in the Vatican many priests bishops and even cardinals are gay, and that some of them are sexually active.” But Martin added that the book’s sarcastic tone belies its fatal flaw. “His extensive research is buried under so much gossip and innuendo that it makes it difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction.” “There are many gay priests, bishops and cardinals in ministry today in the church,” Martin said. “But most of them are, like their straight counterparts, remaining faithful to a life of chastity and celibacy.” In the course of his research, Martel said he came to several conclusions about the reality of the Holy See that he calls the “rules,” chief among them that the more obviously gay the priest, bishop or cardinal, the more vehement his anti-gay rhetoric. Martel says his aim is not to “out” living prelates, though he makes some strong insinuations about those who are “in the parish,” a euphemism he learns is code for gay clergy. Martin said Martel “traffics in some of the worst gay stereotypes” by using sarcastic and derogatory terms, such as when he writes of Francis’ plight: “Francis is said to be ‘among the wolves.’ It’s not quite true: he’s among the queens.” Martel moves from one scandal to another - from the current one over ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington to the priest-friendly gay migrant prostitute scene near Rome’s train station. He traces the reasons behind Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, and devotes a whole chapter to the coverup of the Mexican founder of the Legion of Christ, the pedophile Rev. Marcial Maciel. In each, Martel parses the scandal through the lens of the gay-friendly or homophobic prelates he says were involved. Equal parts investigative journalism and salacious gossip, Martel paints a picture of an institution almost at war with itself, rife with rumour and with leaders struggling to rationalize their own sexual appetites and orientations with official church teachings that require chastity and its unofficial tradition of hostility toward gays. “Never, perhaps, have the appearances of an institution been so deceptive,” Martel writes. “Equally deceptive are the pronouncements about celibacy and the vows of chastity that conceal a completely different reality.” Martel is not a household name in France, but is known in the French LGBT community as an advocate for gay rights. Those familiar with his work view it as rigorous, notably his 90-minute weekly show on public radio station France Culture called “Soft Power.” Recent episodes include investigations into global digital investment and the U.S.-China trade war. As a French government adviser in the 1990s, he played a prominent role in legislation allowing civil unions, which not only allowed gay couples to formalize their relationships and share assets, but also proved hugely popular among heterosexual French couples increasingly skeptical of marriage. His nonfiction books include a treatise on homosexuality in France over the past 50 years called “The Pink and the Black” (a sendup of Stendhal’s classic “The Red and the Black”), as well as an investigation of the internet industry and a study of culture in the United States. Martel attributes the high percentage of gays in the clergy to the fact that up until the homosexual liberation of the 1970s, gay Catholic men had few options. “So these pariahs became initiates and made a strength of a weakness,” he writes. That analysis helps explain the dramatic fall in vocations in recent decades, as gay Catholic men now have other options, not least to live their lives openly, even in marriage. Martel said no special interests financed the book, other than his advance from the publisher. ___ Winfield reported from Boston. Nicole Winfield And Angela Charlton, The Associated Press

Justices to decide if 2020 census can ask about citizenship

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 13:04
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court will decide whether the 2020 census can include a question about citizenship that could affect the allocation of seats in the House of Representatives and the distribution of billions of dollars in federal money. The justices agreed Friday to a speedy review of a lower court ruling that has so far blocked the Trump administration from adding the citizenship question to the census for the first time since 1950. Both the administration and opponents of the question agreed the court should settle the matter quickly because census forms need to be printed soon. Arguments will take place in late April. A decision should come by late June. The case pits the administration against immigrant advocacy organizations and Democratic-led states, cities and counties that argue the citizenship question is intended to discourage the participation of minorities, primarily Hispanics, who tend to support Democrats from filling out census forms. The challengers say they would get less federal money and fewer seats in Congress if the census asks about citizenship because people with noncitizens in their households would be less likely to fill out their census forms. The Constitution requires a census count every 10 years. A question about citizenship had once been common, but it has not been asked of every household since 1950. At the moment, the question is part of a detailed annual sample of a small chunk of the population, the American Community Survey. The case stems from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ decision in 2018 to add a citizenship question to the next census, over the advice of career officials at the Census Bureau, which is part of the Commerce Department. At the time, Ross said he was responding to a Justice Department request to ask about citizenship in order to improve enforcement of the federal Voting Rights Act. U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in New York ruled in January that the question could not be included, saying that fewer people would respond to the census and that the process Ross used was faulty. Pressed for time, the administration bypassed the federal appeals court in New York and appealed directly to the justices. The challengers defended the lower court ruling, but acknowledged the need for a quick answer to the legal issue. It’s rare for the high court to weigh in without the benefit of appellate rulings. Such interventions usually are reserved for national political crises, including the Pentagon Papers case. The administration has defended the addition of the citizenship question by arguing that courts have no business second-guessing the commerce secretary in performing a basic function of his job. But Furman largely agreed with the local and state governments and rights groups that sued over the issue. He pointed out that Ross had ignored his own experts’ views that a census with a citizenship question would produce less accurate results and add to the costs. Documents and testimony produced as part of the trial in New York showed that Ross had begun pressing for a citizenship question soon after he became secretary in 2017, and that he had consulted Steve Bannon, who had been President Donald Trump’s top political adviser, and then-Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Emails showed that Ross himself had invited the Justice Department request to add the citizenship question. The judge’s ruling held that Ross’ decision about what to ask on the census was “arbitrary and capricious” under the federal Administrative Procedures Act. There are at least four other ongoing lawsuits over the question, including a trial in San Francisco that was wrapping up Friday. The Supreme Court, though, is expected to settle the matter with the case it has agreed to hear. Mark Sherman, The Associated Press

Trump declares national emergency to build border wall

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 12:57
WASHINGTON - Battling with one branch of government and opening a new confrontation with another, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency Friday to fulfil his pledge to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Bypassing Congress, which approved far less money for his proposed wall than he had sought, Trump said he will use executive action to siphon billions of dollars from federal military construction and counterdrug efforts for the wall, aides said. The move drew immediate bipartisan criticism on Capitol Hill and is expected to face rounds of legal challenges. Trump made the announcement from the Rose Garden, as he claimed illegal immigration was “an invasion of our country.” Trump’s move followed a rare show of bipartisanship when lawmakers voted Thursday to fund large swaths of the government and avoid a repeat of this winter’s debilitating five-week government shutdown. Trump’s insistence on wall funding has been a flashpoint in his negotiations with Congress for more than two years, as has the resistance of lawmakers in both parties to meeting the president’s request. West Wing aides acknowledged there was insufficient support among Republicans to sustain another shutdown fight, leading Trump to decide to test the limits of his presidential powers. The money in the bill for border barriers, about $1.4 billion, is far below the $5.7 billion Trump insisted he needed and would finance just a quarter of the more than 200 miles (322 kilometres) he wanted this year. To bridge the gap, Trump announced that he will be spending roughly $8 billion on border barriers - combining the money approved by Congress with funding he plans to repurpose through executive actions, including the national emergency. The money would come from funds targeted for counterdrug efforts and military construction, but aides could not immediately specify which military projects would be affected. Despite widespread opposition in Congress to proclaiming an emergency, including by some Republicans, Trump was responding to pressure to act unilaterally to soothe his conservative base and avoid appearing like he’s lost his nerve on his defining promise to voters. Trump advisers on the campaign and inside the White House insist that, fulfilled or not, the promise of a wall is a winning issue for Trump as he heads into his re-election campaign as long as he doesn’t appear to be throwing in the towel on it. Word that Trump would declare the emergency prompted condemnations from Democrats and threats of lawsuits from states and others who might lose federal money or said Trump was abusing his authority. In a sing-songy tone of voice, Trump described how the decision will be challenged and work its way through the courts, including up to the U.S. Supreme Court. He said, “Sadly, we’ll be sued and sadly it will go through a process and happily we’ll win, I think.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called it an “unlawful declaration over a crisis that does not exist” and said it “does great violence to our Constitution and makes America less safe, stealing from urgently needed defence funds for the security of our military and our nation. “ “The President’s actions clearly violate the Congress’s exclusive power of the purse, which our Founders enshrined in the Constitution,” they said in a joint statement. “The Congress will defend our constitutional authorities in the Congress, in the Courts, and in the public, using every remedy available.” Democratic state attorneys general also said they’d consider legal action to block Trump. In a comment that will surely be used to challenge the legal underpinnings of his emergency declaration, Trump hinted at the political realities behind his action. “I could do the wall over a longer period of time,” he said. “I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster.” Even if his emergency declaration withstands scrutiny, Trump is still billions of dollars short of the overall funding needed to build the wall as he promised in 2016. After two years of effort, Trump has not added any new border mileage; all of the construction so far has gone to replacing and repairing existing structures. Ground is expected to be broken in South Texas soon on the first new mileage. Trump’s vision for the wall already has been substantially scaled down since his campaign for the White House, when it was to be built of concrete and span the length of the 1,900-mile border and be paid for by Mexico. Now, he’s looking to build “steel slats” along about half of the 1,900-mile stretch, relying on natural barriers for the rest. Previous administrations constructed over 650 miles of barriers. The White House said Trump would not try to redirect federal disaster aid to the wall, a proposal they had considered but rejected over fears of a political blowback. Some Republicans warn that future Democratic presidents could use his precedent to force spending on their own priorities, like gun control. GOP critics included Maine Sen. Susan Collins, who said emergency declarations are for “major natural disasters or catastrophic events” and said its use would be of “dubious constitutionality.” Trump argued that his immediate three predecessors had made emergency declarations, though the presidents he cited did not use emergency powers to pay for projects that Congress wouldn’t support. Congressional aides say there is $21 billion for military construction that Trump could tap, but by law it must be used to support U.S. armed forces. The Defence Department declined to provide details on available money. The declaration caps a tumultuous two months of negotiating and political warfare in the nation’s capital, with consequences likely to last through next year’s campaign. Trump sparked a shutdown before Christmas after Democrats snubbed his $5.7 billion demand for the wall. The closure denied paychecks to 800,000 federal workers, hurt contractors and people reliant on government services and was loathed by the public. With polls showing the public blamed him and GOP lawmakers, Trump folded on Jan. 25 without getting any of the wall funds. His capitulation was a political fiasco for Republicans and handed Pelosi a victory less than a month after Democrats took over the House and confronted Trump with a formidable rival for power. — Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro, Padmananda Rama, Andrew Taylor, Deb Riechmann, Colleen Long, Lolita Baldor and Matthew Daly contributed. Alan Fram, Catherine Lucey And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press

Liberal MP Joyce Murray’s son critically hurt on Mexican honeymoon

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 12:56
OTTAWA - The son of Liberal MP Joyce Murray is awaiting a medical evacuation from Mexico to Vancouver after suffering severe injuries during his honeymoon in Cancun. Murray says her son Erik Brinkman fell from a height early Monday and underwent extensive surgery at a local hospital. She and other family members arrived later that day. Brinkman needed transfusions of O-negative blood, which was in short supply in the region. Public Facebook posts brought out donors, and two family members have matching blood types. Murray’s statement says that between them, they supplied enough blood that Brinkman should be stabilized enough to be transported. The Canadian Press

Chicago police: 2 questioned in Smollett attack are suspects

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 12:51
CHICAGO - The investigation into “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett’s account of being beaten in a racist, anti-gay attack took another turn Friday when Chicago police said two men who had been questioned about the attack had been arrested on suspicion of a crime. Police did not say what crime they may have committed, and they have not been charged, but spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said police consider them to be suspects in the attack. The two men - whom police have identified only as Nigerian brothers - were picked up at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Wednesday and taken into custody after returning from Nigeria after police learned that at least one of the men worked on “Empire,” according to Guglielmi. He said he did not know what the man’s job was on the television drama. He confirmed that a search warrant was executed at the Chicago apartment where the men lived but did not have any information about what exactly what police found. Guglielmi’s comments followed a furious 24 hours that included local media reports that the attack was a hoax. Police say those reports are unconfirmed. Producers of the television drama also disputed media reports that Smollett’s character, Jamal Lyon, was being written off the show, calling the idea “patently ridiculous.” Guglielmi reiterated Friday that there was “no evidence to say that this is a hoax” and that Smollett “continues to be treated by police as a victim, not a suspect.” Smollett, who is black and openly gay, told ABC News in an interview that aired Thursday that the men police took into custody on Wednesday were the ones who hurled racial and homophobic slurs at him, beat him, threw an undetermined chemical substance and looped a rope around his neck before running off. Smollett has said he was attacked while out getting food at a Subway restaurant in downtown Chicago. Guglielmi said police have not found any surveillance video showing the attack itself, though they continue to look for such evidence. He says police also are contacting various retail stores in the hopes of determining who bought the length of rope that was around Smolllett’s neck. The singer and actor said that the attackers yelled “this is MAGA country,” referencing President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan. Smollett told ABC News that earlier reports from some outlets that his attackers were wearing “MAGA” hats were inaccurate. “I didn’t need to add anything like that,” he said. “I don’t need some MAGA hat as the cherry on top of some racist sundae.” Smollett said he didn’t want to call police at first, but that his friend and creative director Frank Gatson called on his behalf. Smollett said he didn’t remove the rope from around his neck before police arrived “because I wanted them to see.” He also said he didn’t initially want to give police his cellphone because the device contained private content and phone numbers. Smollett later gave detectives heavily redacted phone records that police have said are insufficient for a criminal investigation . ___ See AP’s complete coverage of the Jussie Smollett case: https://www.apnews.com/JussieSmollett Don Babwin, The Associated Press

Ottawa advises against all travel to Haiti as Canadians remain trapped amid unrest

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 12:51
MONTREAL - The federal government has issued a new advisory for Haiti, saying Canadians should avoid all travel to the Caribbean country as it works to get out citizens trapped there. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa Friday the government is deeply concerned about what’s going on in Haiti. “Many Canadians have family members and friends in Haiti that they are of course worried about, and our hearts go out to them,” Trudeau said. Global Affairs Canada said it upgraded its advisory late Thursday due to ongoing civil unrest throughout the country. The notice warns that the “security situation could further deteriorate quickly” and that people should “consider leaving by commercial means while they are available.” More than 100 Canadians have been unable to leave Haiti since protesters blocked major highways across the country in an effort to pressure President Jovenel Moise to resign. Protesters are angry over skyrocketing inflation and the government’s failure to prosecute embezzlement from a multi-billion Venezuelan program that sent discounted oil to Haiti. “We’re also obviously preoccupied with a number of Canadians who are in Haiti right now who are looking to come home to Canada in this crisis situation,” Trudeau said. “We are working with them, Global Affairs Canada and all our diplomatic corps is very much engaged in this.” Ottawa-based physician Emilio Bazile and three members of his group from the Maritimes are among the Canadians stuck in Haiti following the violent protests that have claimed several lives over the past week. His 10-member medical team has been in southwestern Haiti providing care to locals. Reached by The Canadian Press Friday, Bazile said his team set out in two vehicles that morning to try to get to the airport but encountered numerous roadblocks. “We left Aquin which went well, but every 10 kilometres there is barricade after barricade,” Bazile said in a brief interview. “We just passed one that was very dangerous because there were tires on fire. We had to pay a lot to pass.” Bazile said the main highway is almost empty with no police to be found. His group’s goal remains to get to the airport. “We don’t need to know if there’s a plane or not, we just want to get to the airport and sleep there,” said Bazile, who was still about 60 kilometres away from the airport. A team of 26 aid workers with a missionary group from Quebec is also among the scores of trapped Canadians. Air Transat said 111 Quebecers are stuck in a hotel, unable to reach the Port-au-Prince airport because of the protests. “The situation is still pretty much the same. We’re still looking at all options,” Christophe Hennebelle, vice-president human resources and corporate affairs for the airline, said Friday. “We know that ground transportation is not feasible at the moment.” The next scheduled flight is Sunday, but Hennebelle said the airline has a plane on standby in Canada and is prepared to fly passengers out on an emergency basis if needed. Getting to the airport remains the primary obstacle. “As soon as we have something that we know is going to be safe, we’ll do it,” Hennebelle said. “For the time being, the clients are safe in the hotel, and we’re not going to put them in danger.” Global Affairs said it is providing consular advice to tour operators and has people on the ground in Haiti to provide assistance to Canadian citizens. The Canadian embassy in Port-au-Prince has been closed since Wednesday. Marie-Christine Remy, whose mother Terry Watson is among the Quebec vacationers trapped at the hotel, said her mother received a message that Transat would move them when it is safe. Meanwhile, she said, the situation at the hotel remains stable, but the uncertainty is weighing on her mother. Remy said Watson spoke to four members of a humanitarian group who elected to stay in the country, and it took them nearly 11 hours to travel from the airport to the hotel - usually a 90-minute trip. “Every road blockage they encountered, they had to give money to protesters that were there,” Remy said. “This group of people were saying it’s very unsafe - they’re known in the community and they had a lot of trouble getting through.” Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press

Saskatchewan Roughriders re-sign all-star Canadian kicker Brett Lauther

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 12:50
REGINA - The Saskatchewan Roughriders have re-signed all-star kicker Brett Lauther to a one-year extension, keeping him with the club through 2020. The native of Truro, N.S., was named a West Division all-star last year after nailing 54 of 60 field-goal attempts for a 90 per-cent success rate, the second-best mark in Roughriders history. Lauther, 28, was named the Riders’ most outstanding special-teams player and top Canadian last year. Lauther broke into the league with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2013, but didn’t get another shot in the regular season until last year. Saskatchewan also re-signed receiver Naaman Roosevelt to a one-year deal. Roosevelt is entering his fifth season with the Riders. In 2018, the 31-year-old Buffalo, N.Y., native had 48 catches for 570 yards and four TDs in 14 regular-season games, He added seven receptions for 79 yards in the West semifinal. Roosevelt has recorded 224 catches for 3,188 yards and 19 TDs over his CFL career.   BEHAR COMING BACK TO OTTAWA Former Carleton University star receiver Nate Behar is returning to Ottawa after signing a one-year deal with the Redblacks. Behar had 27 receptions for 257 yards and a touchdown last year for the Edmonton Eskimos, who drafted him fifth overall in 2017. The 24-year-old returns to Ottawa after a university career that saw him catch for 2,577 yards and 21 touchdowns in 30 games for the Ravens, twice earning all-Canadian honours. The Redblacks also re-signed American receiver Dominque Rhymes to a one-year deal. The 25-year-old Miami native has spent the past two seasons in Ottawa. Last season, Ryhmes caught 22 passes for 303 yards and a touchdown. He has 522 receiving yards in 19 career games in the CFL for Ottawa.   HAYES REJOINS STAMPEDERS American defensive back Gump Hayes has rejoined the Calgary Stampeders. Hayes originally signed with Calgary on May 9, 2018 but spent the entire season on the practice roster.   The Canadian Press

Allred contacted authorities about R Kelly tape

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 12:48
CHICAGO - Attorney Gloria Allred tells The Associated Press she has contacted law enforcement about concerns one of her clients may be the person in a VHS tape recently given to Chicago prosecutors that purportedly shows R&B star R. Kelly having sex with an underage girl. The Los Angeles-based lawyer said by phone Friday she has “made law enforcement in a different jurisdiction” than Chicago aware of her concerns. Allred represents multiple R. Kelly accusers, some of whom haven’t come forward publicly. Allred says if her client is on the video, “we will do everything legally possible to protect her and her rights.” Another attorney, Michael Avenatti, said Thursday he gave Chicago prosecutors the video. Kelly has been dogged for years with allegations of sexual misconduct. Through his lawyers, he has consistently denied them. His current attorney, Steve Greenberg, told the AP Allred’s comments were “speculative.” ___ Follow Michael Tarm on Twitter at http://twitter.com/mtarm ___ More of The Associated Press’ coverage of the investigations into R. Kelly can be found at: https://www.apnews.com/RKelly . Michael Tarm, The Associated Press

Tribeca Film Festival to open with Apollo Theater doc

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 12:47
NEW YORK - The 18th edition of the Tribeca Film Festival will open with the premiere of a documentary about New York City’s iconic Apollo Theater in Harlem. Festival organizers Wednesday announced that Roger Ross Williams’ “The Apollo” will kick off the annual festival April 24. The HBO film covers the 85-year history of the Apollo, leading up to a production of Ta-Nehisi (tah neh-HAH’-see) Coates’ “Between the World and Me.” The Apollo will also host the premiere. Opening night of the downtown New York festival has in recent years taken place at the Beacon Theatre on the Upper West Side. Robert DeNiro, co-founder of the festival, called the Apollo Theater “a symbol of the creative spirit of New York and beyond.” The Tribeca Film Festival runs April 24 through May 5. The Associated Press

Federal NDP struggling to resonate with members, Canadians: labour leader

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 12:46
OTTAWA - The president of the Canadian Labour Congress says the federal New Democrats are struggling to resonate with his members and Canadians. Hassan Yussuff tells The Canadian Press in a wide-ranging roundtable interview that NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has acknowledged some of his shortcomings, adding he might find a “better groove” if we wins a seat in the House of Commons. Singh is seeking that seat in the riding of Burnaby South in a byelection set to take place on Feb. 25. During the race, he has faced internal and external questions about what will happen if he loses the critical race ahead of October’s federal election. Singh’s chief of staff Jennifer Howard says the party is actively engaged with workers across the country, it has received lots of support in byelections including in Burnaby South and that lot of volunteers from labour groups have worked on his campaign. CUPE President Mark Hancock says he was door-knocking with Singh early this month and was impressed at how the leader could connect with people. The Canadian Press

Lawyer appears for Quebec entertainer Eric Salvail in sex assault case

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 12:11
MONTREAL - Quebec entertainer Eric Salvail was represented by his lawyer for a brief court appearance Friday on charges of criminal harassment, forcible confinement and sexual assault. The charges stem from incidents alleged to have occurred more than 25 years ago. The former producer and talk show host was not in court, and he has not yet entered a plea. He is represented by lawyer Michel Massicotte. Once a major star in Quebec, Salvail, 49, abruptly departed from the entertainment scene following allegations of sexual misconduct published by Montreal’s La Presse in 2017. Salvail had his own TV production company, hosted a show on Groupe V Media and was a fixture on afternoon radio in the province. The allegations against the producer and talk show host date from between April and November 1993 and involve one victim, according to a charge sheet released by the prosecutor’s office.     The Canadian Press

Oland’s defence lawyer attacks blood evidence on jacket as inconclusive

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 12:08
SAINT JOHN, N.B. - A forensic expert says he cannot tell how old the bloodstains are on the jacket Dennis Oland was wearing the day his father was beaten to death, or how they got there. The brown Hugo Boss jacket is key prosecution evidence at the Oland murder trial. It has the only blood evidence potentially linking Dennis Oland to the scene where his father, Richard Oland, was killed in 2011. But RCMP Sgt. Brian Wentzell, a forensic bloodstain expert, told the trial Friday he has no way of knowing how four small bloodstains from Richard Oland got on the jacket or how long they were there. Oland had the jacket drycleaned in the days following his father’s murder. Defence lawyer Alan Gold said during his aggressive cross-examination of Wentzell that it is possible the bloodstains could be the result of “innocent transfer,” referring to something like a nosebleed or a small cut. “You cannot say how those stains got on the jacket can you?” asked Gold. “No,” answered Wentzell. “You can’t say it was spatter and you can’t say how old they are, can you?” Gold asked. “No,” the bloodstain expert said. Dennis Oland, 51, told police on July 7, 2011, the day his father’s body was found on the floor of his Saint John office, that he was wearing a navy jacket when he visited his dad late on the afternoon of the previous day. But eyewitness accounts and security video showed he was wearing the brown jacket that was later found to have the four small bloodstains on its exterior. The trial already has heard from several witnesses that multimillionaire businessman Richard Oland liked to touch people when greeting and talking to them. “There is nothing inconsistent with them being innocent transfer,” Gold asked Friday, referring to the bloodstains on the jacket. “No,” Wentzell answered. Despite blood spatter that radiated in all directions during the killing on July 6, 2011, no blood was detected in the car Dennis Oland was driving that day, on items he was carrying, such as his cellphone, or on his clothing – except for the jacket. Wentzell said he, like other police officers involved in the case, did expect the assailant who killed Richard Oland would have blood spatter on their clothing. But in the case of Dennis Oland, it is largely absent – apart from the four tiny stains on the jacket that are almost impossible to see with the naked eye. “It’s a reasonable inference – there is no way that jacket was worn during the blood-letting?” Gold asked Wentzell. The question prompted an objection from Crown prosecutor P.J. Veniot, and Wentzell did not answer. The bloodstain expert explored the tale told by the patterns of blood at the crime scene during his testimony for the prosecution on Thursday. Richard Oland, 69, at the time of his death, was killed by more than 40 blows to his head that cracked his skull and sent blood, bone and brain matter flying around the room. But Wentzell said the amount of blood and gore that lands on an attacker is impossible to calculate. It depends, he said, on the angle of the blows and the type of weapons used. Oland was struck with a blunt, hammer-like object and a sharp-edged implement. The weapon was never found but some have suggested it could have been a drywall hammer that has both a hammer and an axe side. “I am aware of a case where a person was stabbed multiple times in a vehicle, and there was no blood found in the vehicle,” Wentzell said. Friday was day 35 of Oland’s retrial for second-degree murder. He was charged with the killing in 2013 and convicted in a jury trial in 2015. However, the verdict was overturned on appeal in 2016, due to an error in the judge’s charge to the jury, and the new trial was ordered. The current trial, before judge alone, is expected to conclude by mid-March. The judge is then expected to take at least two months to render a verdict. Chris Morris, The Canadian Press

Bombshell book alleges a Vatican gay subculture, hypocrisy

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 12:02
VATICAN CITY - A gay French writer has lifted the lid on what he calls one of the world’s largest gay communities, the Vatican, estimating that most of its prelates are homosexually inclined and attributing much of the current crisis in the Catholic Church to an internecine war among them. In the explosive book, “In the Closet of the Vatican,” author Frederic Martel describes a gay subculture at the Vatican and calls out the hypocrisy of Catholic bishops and cardinals who in public denounce homosexuality but in private lead double lives. Aside from the subject matter, the book is astonishing for the access Martel had to the inner sanctum of the Holy See. Martel writes that he spent four years researching it in 30 countries, including weeks at a time living inside the Vatican walls. He says the doors were opened by a key Vatican gatekeeper and friend of Pope Francis who was the subject of the pontiff’s famous remark about gay priests, “Who am I to judge?” Martel says he conducted nearly 1,500 in-person interviews with 41 cardinals, 52 bishops or monsignors, and 45 Vatican and foreign ambassadors, many of whom are quoted at length and in on-the-record interviews that he says were recorded. Martel said he was assisted by 80 researchers, translators, fixers and local journalists, as well as a team of 15 lawyers. The 555-page book is being published simultaneously in eight languages in 20 countries, many bearing the title “Sodom.” The Vatican didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Martel appears to want to bolster Francis’ efforts at reforming the Vatican by discrediting his biggest critics and removing the secrecy and scandal that surrounds homosexuality in the church. Church doctrine holds that gays are to be treated with respect and dignity, but that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered.” “Francis knows that he has to move on the church’s stance, and that he will only be able to do this at the cost of a ruthless battle against all those who use sexual morality and homophobia to conceal their own hypocrisies and double lives,” Martel writes. But the book’s Feb. 21 publication date coincides with the start of Francis’ summit of church leaders on preventing the sexual abuse of minors, a crisis that is undermining his papacy. The book isn’t about abuse, but the timing of its release could fuel the narrative, embraced by conservatives and rejected by the gay community, that the abuse scandal has been caused by homosexuals in the priesthood. Martel is quick to separate the two issues. But he echoes the analysis of the late abuse researcher and psychotherapist A.W. Richard Sipe that the hidden sex lives of priests has created a culture of secrecy that allowed the abuse of minors to flourish. According to that argument, since many prelates in positions of authority have their own hidden sexual skeletons, they have no interest in denouncing the criminal pedophiles in their midst lest their own secrets be revealed. The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author of “Building a Bridge” about how the Catholic Church should reach out more to the LGBT community, said that based on the excerpts he had read, Martel’s book “makes a convincing case that in the Vatican many priests bishops and even cardinals are gay, and that some of them are sexually active.” But Martin added that the book’s sarcastic tone belies its fatal flaw. “His extensive research is buried under so much gossip and innuendo that it makes it difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction.” “There are many gay priests, bishops and cardinals in ministry today in the church,” Martin said. “But most of them are, like their straight counterparts, remaining faithful to a life of chastity and celibacy.” In the course of his research, Martel said he came to several conclusions about the reality of the Holy See that he calls the “rules,” chief among them that the more obviously gay the priest, bishop or cardinal, the more vehement his anti-gay rhetoric. Martel says his aim is not to “out” living prelates, though he makes some strong insinuations about those who are “in the parish,” a euphemism he learns is code for gay clergy. Martin said Martel “traffics in some of the worst gay stereotypes” by using sarcastic and derogatory terms, such as when he writes of Francis’ plight: “Francis is said to be ‘among the wolves.’ It’s not quite true: he’s among the queens.” Martel moves from one scandal to another - from the current one over ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington to the priest-friendly gay migrant prostitute scene near Rome’s train station. He traces the reasons behind Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation and the coverup of the Mexican founder of the Legion of Christ, the pedophile Rev. Marcial Maciel. In each, Martel parses the scandal through the lens of the gay-friendly or homophobic prelates he says were involved. Equal parts investigative journalism and salacious gossip, Martel paints a picture of an institution almost at war with itself, rife with rumour and with leaders struggling to rationalize their own sexual appetites and orientations with official church teachings that require chastity and its unofficial tradition of hostility toward gays. “Never, perhaps, have the appearances of an institution been so deceptive,” Martel writes. “Equally deceptive are the pronouncements about celibacy and the vows of chastity that conceal a completely different reality.” Martel is not a household name in France, but is known in the French LGBT community as an advocate for gay rights. Those familiar with his work view it as rigorous, notably his 90-minute weekly show on public radio station France Culture called “Soft Power.” Recent episodes include investigations into global digital investment and the U.S.-China trade war. As a French government adviser in the 1990s, he played a prominent role in legislation allowing civil unions, which not only allowed gay couples to formalize their relationships and share assets, but also proved hugely popular among heterosexual French couples increasingly skeptical of marriage. His nonfiction books include a treatise on homosexuality in France over the past 50 years called “The Pink and the Black” (a sendup of Stendhal’s classic “The Red and the Black”), as well as an investigation of the internet industry and a study of culture in the United States. Martel attributes the high percentage of gays in the clergy to the fact that up until the homosexual liberation of the 1970s, gay Catholic men had few options. “So these pariahs became initiates and made a strength of a weakness,” he writes. That analysis helps explain the dramatic fall in vocations in recent decades, as gay Catholic men now have other options, not least to live their lives openly, even in marriage. ___ Associated Press writer Angela Charlton in Paris contributed. Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press

100 days after Paradise burned, the stories of the victims

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 12:01
On that frantic morning, TK Huff was calm. The 71-year-old amputee sat in his wheelchair, pointing a garden hose at what quickly became the deadliest wildfire in California history. Nobody knew at the time, early on Nov. 8, how bad it would be. When his family called at 7:15 a.m., Huff said he would leave. But he never made it out. All around, fires were breaking out, and men and women - most of them elderly, many of them disabled - were doomed: Flames soon overtook 74-year-old Richard Brown’s beloved log cabin in the Sierra Nevada foothills. On the edge of neighbouring Paradise, a blaze prompted the Feather Canyon Retirement Community to evacuate its residents - all except 88-year-old Julian Binstock, overlooked in the chaos. It was just the start of a day that was almost unfathomable. An entire town was burned off the map of California. Nearly 14,000 homes were incinerated. All told, 85 people would perish. The oldest was 99; of the 73 bodies that have been identified, 59 were 65 or older. One hundred days later - with the aid of public records showing the locations of victims’ deaths, CalFire mapping of the fire’s progression and dozens of interviews - their stories can be told. How they lived, how they died. And how a fire that started at 6:30 a.m. in the tiny town of Pulga would become the nation’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire in more than century. ___ The flames spread through the back of Concow, where Huff lived. This was no ordinary fire, with fronts marching steadily forward. Wind gusts of at least 50 mph blew hot embers a mile or more, creating multiple fires at once and igniting areas the size of football fields every few seconds, said CalFire spokesman Scott McLean. Huff and his wife, Margaret, who died in August, knew the risk of wildfires. Their house, high on a wooded ridge, burned down in 2008. But this was the house where three generations gathered for Easter egg hunts, for Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners, and pretty much every weekend of the year. With no internet or cell reception, the focus was always on family. So they rebuilt. Huff was stoic and strong, a farm labourer who worked in the fields his whole life; he lost a leg in a potato harvesting accident in 2001 but didn’t let his disability hold him back, said his daughter-in-law Pearl Lankford, whose own house in Paradise burned down along with the homes of eight family members. When the fire arrived, just after sunrise, Huff’s instinct was to save his house. “We told him, ‘You need to evacuate now,'” said his granddaughter Jordan Huff, 22, who lived in Paradise. “He was putting out the flames in his backyard in his wheelchair,” she said. “There was no distress in his voice.” Soon after the family’s call at 7:15 that morning, the house phone went dead. A CalFire simulation shows that by 9 a.m., flames had overtaken Green Forest Lane, where Huff lived. His remains were found in the ashes of his house. The only thing still standing was his wheelchair, near the back fence with the garden hose. By then a separate fire about a mile away had destroyed the log cabin built by Richard Brown, the unofficial mayor of Concow, a Vietnam veteran whose mom and stepdad had a winery in Paradise - which is how he came to name his daughter, Chardonnay Telly. She recalled her dad as relentlessly upbeat, a man who loved to tinker with old cars that inevitably broke down in the middle of nowhere. His remains would later be found under one of those vehicles, on his beloved patch of land. About the same time, more than two miles to the west, on the eastern edge of Paradise, the Feather Canyon Retirement Community was hastily evacuating its more than 100 residents. In the chaos, they somehow overlooked Julian Binstock, 88 - something that rarely happened in a life that took him from Brooklyn to Harvard University to the entertainment business, where he would become a vice-president of Warner Communications. At the retirement community, where he had moved with his wife Elisabetta a decade ago, he was known for his sense of humour. Each year, he won the award for “Funniest Resident”; he kept up his reputation by asking his children for jokes to try out on his neighbours, said his daughter, Christina Lamb, of Southborough, Massachusetts. By 9 a.m., the community was gone, and so was Binstock. Lamb, her two siblings and children would spend a frantic week looking for him in evacuation centres and hospitals, but he had died in his residence. She doesn’t fault the retirement centre. “It’s the fire’s fault,” she said. ___ By 10 a.m., the fire surged across a canyon and into the town of Paradise, population 27,000. It had torched 20 square miles and sparked a separate fire miles away on the other side of town. On the eastern edge of Paradise, 93-year-old Dorothy Lee Herrera had already left a frantic voicemail for her son, Arthur Lee: “There’s a fire, we’ve got to get out!” But by the time he called back, there was no answer. She and her husband, Lou Herrera, 86, died in the house where they’d lived for a quarter century, amid the ashes of trees that provided fruit for Dorothy’s delicious pies. North of the Herrera home, the fire roared through the Ridgewood Mobile Home Park, a tidy community for people 55 and older near the Ponderosa Elementary School, killing Teresa Ammons, 82, Helen Pace, 84, and Dorothy Mack, an 87-year-old retired clerk for the California Department of Corrections who loved Paradise. To her it was a more affordable Grass Valley, the Northern California town where she’s grown up. Ernie Foss, a 63-year-old musician, also left the expensive San Francisco Bay Area for the cheaper Paradise. His body and that of his dog, Bernice, were found outside his home, near his wheelchair and minivan, according to his children. The body of his caretaker and stepson, Andrew Burt, was found a quarter-mile away on Edgewood Lane, outside a vehicle at an intersection where four others died in their cars, trying to flee. Burt was 36 and among the younger victims of the fire. He moved to Paradise with his mother, Linda, and her husband, Foss, about a decade ago and stayed on as a caregiver after his mother died in 2012. His brother, James Burt, said he can’t imagine how dire the situation must have been for Andrew to leave Ernie Foss behind. “The general consensus was that Andy would not have abandoned Ernie,” he said, “but if Ernie had passed or told Andy to save himself, he would have.” By the time the fire reached Burt and Foss, it was 10:45 a.m. Minutes later, the inferno consumed David Marbury, 66. A private man who loved horses, Marbury grew up in Vallejo, California, and headed for the Navy after high school. He eventually retired from the commuter rail Bay Area Rapid Transit and moved to Paradise - “just a good person all around,” said his niece, Sadia Quint. ___ By 11 a.m., the centre of Paradise was being overtaken by flames. More than a half-dozen fires to the east of town had merged to form a 32 square-mile inferno, a wall of fire and smoke roughly the size of Manhattan. As the blaze raced west, it reached the homes of John Digby and Victoria Taft - 2.5 miles apart - almost simultaneously. Both had spoken to their adult children that morning for the last time. Victoria Taft’s parting words with her 22-year-old daughter, Christina, were tense. A neighbour had come knocking around 8:30 a.m. A fire was coming - they should evacuate. Mother and daughter argued about what to do. Taft refused to leave. If the threat was real, authorities would order an evacuation, she told her daughter. By 10 a.m. Christina could see the morning sky blackening from smoke. She packed the car and left, joining what had become a bumper-to-bumper exodus. Victoria Taft’s remains were recovered from the ruins of her living room. In the aftermath, Christina set out to memorialize her mother and in the process discovered a woman she hardly knew existed - a free spirited, fun-loving Southern California beauty who acted in television, movies and commercials, partied with rock stars in the ’70s and ’80s and travelled the world before motherhood became her focus. Taft, 66, was losing her eyesight from glaucoma and suffered from memory loss. When Christina asked about her youth, Taft didn’t remember the details. But among the items Christina frantically grabbed that morning were boxes of documents from a closet, only later discovering the contents: her mom’s old resumes, head shots, casting lists. The decision to leave her mother behind will forever haunt her. “I didn’t do enough to get my mom out,” she said. “I feel like I accidentally killed her by not helping her.” Across town, John Digby talked by phone with his son Roman in Owatonna, Minnesota. The son wanted his father to see a doctor about his sore throat. Digby - a 78-year-old Air Force veteran and retired postal carrier - didn’t mention anything about a fire. Two hours later, the fire reached Digby at his home in Space 3 at the Pine Springs Mobile Home Park. A neighbour later told Roman Digby that he tried to get his father to leave, but his father said no. A quarter-hour after the fire reached Digby and Taft, it came for Andrew Downer - who also had a chance to leave, but chose not to. Downer, 54, had lost his right leg to diabetes and infection from surgery, and he used a wheelchair. His caregiver Cindy MacDonald was thinking about running over to fix him breakfast, but then she got a call warning of fire. She offered to pick Downer up, but he declined. The dogs didn’t want to go. He didn’t want to leave the place to looters. Downer, described by friends as loud and fun and generous, died in the house he had filled with collections of marbles, crystals and antiques - and condiments. ___ Nearly three weeks later, 80-year-old Larry R. Smith was taken off life support at a Northern California medical centre - the 85th and final victim of the Camp Fire. “Uncle Ronnie” - born to a Dust Bowl family of eight children that had come to California to pick crops - loved to host gatherings of the clan on the rambling property he purchased in Paradise about three decades ago. Recently, he had started showing signs of dementia but he was independent and reluctant to leave the first house he ever purchased. Smith had tried to save his treasured truck, a 1993 Dodge Ram that he rarely drove but plastered with contradictory political bumper stickers. Rescuers found Smith barefoot and badly burned. He died on Nov. 25. Jocelyn Gecker And Janie Har, The Associated Press

Fourteen “dream” homes ordered evacuated as sinkholes open in Sechelt, B.C.

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 11:50
SECHELT, B.C. - Residents of an upscale neighbourhood on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast will officially be barred from returning to their dream homes today. Sinkholes throughout the subdivision have prompted the District of Sechelt to issue evacuation orders covering 14 properties. The homes, with views overlooking Sechelt Inlet, are similar to others in a nearby subdivision valued at over $1 million, although the BC Assessment Authority values most of the buildings in the Seawatch subdivision at zero. An engineering report issued to the district says future sinkholes or landslides within the subdivision could damage infrastructure or buildings, and injury or death are possible consequences.  The district has informed residents by email that fences around the subdivision will be locked Friday afternoon and only RCMP and firefighters will be permitted inside after that. A statement issued by the district says Concordia Seawatch Ltd. designed, built and sold the subdivision, despite engineering reports as early as 2006 describing the development of sinkholes. (CKAY, The Canadian Press) The Canadian Press

Canadian diver Toth wins women’s 10-metre tower at opening Grand Prix stop

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 11:47
ROSTOCK, Germany - Celina Toth of St. Thomas, Ont., earned her first individual international victory on Friday, winning the women’s 10-metre tower at the opening stop on the FINA Grand Prix diving circuit. The 26-year-old Victoria-based diver totalled 324.60 points. Maria Kurjo of Germany was second at 300.70 and Robyn Birch of Britain third at 293.00. “It’s a great way to start the international season,” said Toth, third after Thursday’s preliminaries and first after the morning semifinals. “What was most important for me is that I knew there was an opportunity to win here and I was able to keep my focus throughout the competition. “That’s been hard for me to do in the past.” Toth is working towards qualifying for her first Olympic Games in 2020. “I’m still improving,” she said. “I didn’t change my dive list for this season but I probably made one or two technical adjustments on each dive. It was great to see that work well. I plan to keep this list right though to 2020.” On men’s three-metre, Martin Wolfram of Germany won the gold medal. Victor Povzner of Maple, Ont., and Peter Thach Mai of Montreal both reached the semifinals and ranked seventh and 10th overall. Povzner missed the cut for the final by 0.15 points. Competition continues through to Sunday. The Canadian Press

Liberals give BlackBerry $40M to support futuristic car development

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 11:47
OTTAWA - BlackBerry is getting $40 million in federal funding to help develop technologies that make cars safer, more connected to cyberspace and, eventually, capable of driving themselves. The company is putting $310 million of its own money into the initiative, expected to create 800 jobs over the next decade at BlackBerry’s campus in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata, as well as support 300 existing jobs there. The one-time smartphone leader is now working on advanced systems for vehicles and will put the federal money toward software development for the next generation of autonomous vehicles as well as skills training for workers. BlackBerry says its QNX software is already in tens of millions of cars, guiding systems related to driver assistance, hands-free features and entertainment consoles. BlackBerry QNX is to develop new automated control systems, upgrade and secure communications in vehicles, and improve vehicle safety and security by expanding its driver-assistance system. The company says these are milestones along the road to truly driverless cars, which are still years away from becoming widely available to consumers. The federal money is coming from the government’s Strategic Innovation Fund, a program intended to stimulate development of innovative products. During an event Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the money is a sign the government has the backs of Canadian technology companies that want to lead in a new economy. Trudeau says his government will support companies both large and small looking to take risks in a growing and transforming global economy. The Canadian Press

Alberta minor hockey team criticized for Indigenous dance video forfeits season

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 11:34
FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. - Parents of Fort McMurray minor hockey players whose team was criticized for an Indigenous locker-room dance say they’re forfeiting the season due to safety concerns. A social media video in January showed a boy beating his hockey stick against a trash-can lid as he and others jumped around and shouted to a song by Indigenous electronic group A Tribe Called Red. A statement shortly after from the Fort McMurray Minor Hockey Association apologized and called the actions by members of the Midget A Junior Oil Barons disrespectful. In a statement posted to Facebook this week, players’ parents say some of the kids shown in the video are Indigenous and the dance was meant to be motivational, not derogatory or racist. The parents say the team has been threatened verbally and on social media, so they decided it was too dangerous to finish the season. The move means the team incurred and paid a $2,100 penalty. “We as parents are saddened for our children, as the rest of the season was compromised, and they couldn’t play the game they love due to fear from threats, anxiety and humiliation,” the statement said. “Since this incident occurred, we as parents are left to pick up the pieces, restore our children’s reputations and try to salvage the rest of the year in the face of such adversity.”               The Canadian Press

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