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TORONTO STAR

Police Chief Saunders and his wife welcomed back after kidney transplant (ven., 24 nov. 2017)
Hundreds of police and community members gave a standing ovation to Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders and his wife, Stacey Saunders, Thursday evening at the annual Chief’s Gala in support of Victim Services Toronto. The fundraiser was the couple’s first public appearance since his Oct. 2 transplant, when Saunders received a kidney donated by his wife. The chief addressed the crowd at the end of the evening, thanking Victim Services, the organizers, sponsors, his force, and “my lovely wife for giving me a kidney.” Saunders said Stacey “has always been my rock” to CTV news prior to the surgery, at which time she said “I was so happy to be his donor, I did put my hand up right away.” Mayor John Tory told reporters before the dinner Thursday that he was “so thrilled to see (Saunders) back,” and called him a “man of complete integrity.” “The courage he had, and his wife Stacey, to go through major surgery . . . and be back looking fit as a fiddle I think is fantastic for them both,” Tory said. The mayor said he was looking forward to seeing Saunders back in his role “very soon.” The chief spent the early part of the evening mingling with guests, stopping to pose with the Victim Services Toronto Trauma dog, Dandy, and community members. Victim Services case co-ordinator Ambreen Akbar spoke on behalf of the organization, and as someone who benefited from their services earlier in her life after she experienced domestic violence. “I lived in fear of losing my life or one of my children’s lives,” Akbar said. “I am alive, here in front of you, because of Victim Services Toronto.” Saunders said the reason he wanted this event to be his first appearance back was because he truly believes in the work Victim Services does. “There is no bravado in helping people,” he said. “It’s about making us community-centred again . . . (Akbar’s) speech really resonated.” The Chief’s Gala has raised $1.5 million since 2008.
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Rosie DiManno: Accused killer asked girlfriend in letters to be ‘secret agent’ (jeu., 23 nov. 2017)
“Destroy these letters.” But she didn’t. And mere days after police executed a search warrant at the Etobicoke home of Christina Noudga, retrieving 65 letters — from inside the night table drawer and on top of the bedroom desk — Dellen Millard was charged with murdering 23-year-old Laura Babcock. Letters from Dellen. Part billet-doux and part instruction, the correspondence — specifically, seven of the missives — was filed in court on Thursday, the concluding act of the prosecution evidence against Millard and co-defendant Mark Smich. At precisely 12:57 p.m., Jill Cameron closed the Crown case. “So far I’ve done what I can to separate you from this mess,” wrote Millard. “But it is a very real possibility that you will be called as a witness. Whatever you may believe, it needs to be put aside. This is what happened. “The night Laura disappeared, I came over to your place early in the morning. I did not text or call, it was a surprise.” Tapped on her window, he says, and took Noudga back to his Maple Gate Court residence. “I told you Laura was over, doing coke with Mark in the basement. We went to say goodnight. You saw her alive, with Mark, and there was coke on the bar. (Maybe they were getting ready to leave, to go somewhere else, to get more.) You and I don’t like coke. We went back to my room. We vaporized. We f---ed. We took a bath. We slept a little. “I drove you home, early in the morning. We did not go to see if they were still over. Later, when she was reported missing, you asked me if I knew anything. I told you that Mark had told me that she had OD’d. Probably from mixing her prescriptions with Mark’s coke.” Smich, Millard continued, couldn’t report the death to police because he might be charged with trafficking “or worse.” And Millard said he agreed to “stay quiet” in exchange for Smich’s promise that he would cease selling cocaine. In the past five weeks, the jury has seen hundreds of texts retrieved from Millard’s phone and computer, documenting the day-to-day melodramas swirling around all the principle players and their coterie of friends, acquaintances and hangers-on. Babcock, who was last seen alive around Canada Day, 2012, had been leading a peripatetic existence, couch-surfing for months after leaving her parents’ house, sick to death of what she considered their unreasonable restrictions. She’d recently begun working for an escort agency. But for nearly a year previous to vanishing, Babcock had been struggling with undefined — or at least contradicting — mental illness diagnoses. In the distant past, Millard and Babcock had briefly dated. In the recent past, they had purportedly “hooked up” again, though Millard was by then romantically involved with Noudga. Provoked by a nasty email from Noudga, Babcock had boasted to the woman about continuing to have sex with Millard. It was this development, the prosecution maintains, which triggered murder — Millard allegedly determining he had to rid himself and Noudga of the thorn in their side. Court has heard Babcock was killed on July 3-4, her body cremated in an animal carcass incinerator July 23. Her remains have never been found. The search of Noudga’s house — so cluttered and messy it looks, in police photos, as if the place had been ransacked before the cops got there — was conducted April 10, 2014. In his own written exposition of events, Millard tells Noudga that he supported Smich financially, “treated him like a brother . . . protected him.” Adding, in the postscript: “Reread this a couple of times then DESTROY IT IMMEDIATELY.” Millard, scion of a wealthy aviation industry family, is defending himself at trial. He has repeatedly portrayed himself as an unfaithful heel, untroubled by hostility between girlfriend past and girlfriend then-present. The clear implication is that there was no motive to murder Babcock. Further, later texts from Millard to other friends suggest he had cooled to Noudga anyway. Though he certainly sounds full of ardour still when these letters were written. “Hello my love. More than any thought I most want to express how much I feel in love with you. Before we met, I had had repeated and powerful negative experiences with romance . . . In an emotional, metaphorical sense, I was mangled and full of shrapnel. The flesh of my bleeding heart grew back. I have a fabulous ability to heal. But the shrapnel remained. I’ve resisted loving you, because I was scared of being injured again. I was scared, because I was still full of grenade shard. Despite my resistance, despite emotional shrapnel, I still fell in love with you. I’m a little ashamed to admit it. Loving you was scary. (But worth it!)” Some of the more erotic passages — “sexual fantasies” as Cameron described them — were blacked out before the letters were formally entered as evidence. The author asks Noudga for feedback and to suggest revisions. “We’re dealing with a ‘lay charges first, investigate later’ police force. Only the craftiest of coyotes will be able to avoid charges like perjury.” What’s starkly evident is that Millard was pulling Noudga into his web as an ally. “You said you wanted to be a secret agent. Be mine? Life has a funny way of giving us exactly what we wish for. Here’s your chance to be a covert operative. “Help could be testimony. Help could be other things . . . like secretly delivering a message . . . just staying quiet has been an immense help already.” Noudga was not called as a witness by the Crown. It is unclear whether she will be summoned by the defence, or if any defence will be put forward at all. Neither Millard nor Smich are compelled to testify on their own behalf. On the final day of the Crown’s case, following more than two hours of legal arguments, the jurors filed back into the courtroom, probably surprised to see Matthew Ward-Jackson back in the witness stand since he appeared to have finished testifying — cross included — on Wednesday. The heavily tattooed Ward-Jackson — ink stretching across his scalp, neck and cheeks — had told court he sold a gun to Millard in early July, 2012, later pleading guilty to the transaction. His testimony here was confusing and conflicting, claiming first that Millard showed interest in a gun which had come into his, the witness’s, possession, but later stating he figured Millard would want a gun because he was a “manly man, interested in cars, girls, maybe firearms.” Ward-Jackson insisted he had no memory of numerous calls and text exchanges with Millard about the weapon, including the text from July 1 in which he described the .32 calibre gun as “a really nice nice compact piece.” In his encore appearance, Ward-Jackson — who also goes by the rapper name Ish — was asked only one question by Cameron. “Yesterday you told this jury that prior to June 30, 2012, Mr. Millard had never shown any previous interest in acquiring a firearm from you. Prior to June 30, 2012, had Mr. Millard ever shown an interest in acquiring firearms from you?” Ward-Jackson: “Yes, we’ve had previous discussions.” And then he was gone. Millard, writing to Nougda in October, 2013: “So until I do hear from you, I am going to continue writing as if your response is a resounding Yes! That you will be my secret agent; effectively my saviour.” On November 14, 2013: “Destroy this letter — to protect me.” But she didn’t. Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
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City of Toronto builds its first shopping mall (jeu., 23 nov. 2017)
They’re typical of the shops in a suburban shopping mall. But the Starbucks, A&W restaurant, nail salon and assorted clothing stores and boutiques gathered just west of the Wilson subway station have an unusual landlord: the City of Toronto. The Shops at Wilson Station, officially opened on Thursday, is the first — and maybe the only —shopping mall developed entirely by the city’s real estate development firm, Build Toronto. Typically, Build sells off the city’s surplus property to other developers. The revenue goes into the city’s capital funds to pay for municipal infrastructure. But the unusual zoning designation as an airport hazard area meant Build needed to act as its own developer to maximize the value of the plot, an old TTC parking lot, said CEO Bill Bryck. The mall, which sits southeast of Downsview Airport and a few kilometres east of the old Sunrise Propane explosion site, will be sold. But for now, the stores are the city’s tenants. “We’ve had potential buyers look at it. We haven’t consummated a deal yet,” he said. The 4.5-acre property has generated about $1.3 million in development charges and will bring in about $800,000 annually in property taxes. Although Build is a joint owner with Tridel of a condo at 10 York St., the mall is its first sole construction project. Bryck didn’t rule out the possibility there could be others in the future. But, he said, “our activities will generally be limited to the development of land — creating the development opportunity.” The Shops at Wilson Station was billed on Thursday as a step forward in transforming the city’s surburban landscape. City councillors touted its tunnel connection to the TTC, short-term and long-term bike parking, bike pump and repair station, wider footpaths and landscaping — calling it a departure from the typical big box centres such as the Home Depot and Costco across the street. “This is part of a complete community. We’re very happy we’ve added 130 new jobs to this neighbourhood. These jobs are within walking distance of several of our neighbourhoods and an easy subway ride,” said Councillor Maria Augimeri (Ward 9, York Centre). “Our city needs better pedestrian connections within the neighbourhood to make it livable, to make it vibrant and we have plans for a bridge that will connect the Ancaster neighbourhood (northwest of Wilson Station) with Downsview Park. These shops will help achieve that connectivity,” she said. The bike connections will come as the city builds out its cycling plan over the next 10 years, said Augimeri. “It’s still a shopping mall, but it’s much more than that,” said Willowdale Councillor David Shiner, chair of the Build Toronto board. Gesturing to the crowded Starbucks, he referenced the Joni Mitchell song, “Big Yellow Taxi.” “We took the parking lot and, although I wouldn’t call this the perfect paradise, it’s come back to be part of the urban environment — to provide that space that’s much needed to support people living in these communities,” he said. The mall will soon be surrounded by nearby residential development, including affordable housing, and commercial buildings that will attract downtown workers who can easily commute by subway, said Bryck. “The city is just discovering the area,” he said. Toronto’s planning no longer supports having commuter parking lots in the city, but rather plans to concentrate them at the ends of transit lines. The Wilson stop is on the same line as the new York-University-Spadina subway extension scheduled to open next month.
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Junk science publisher ordered to stop ‘deceptive practices’ (ven., 24 nov. 2017)
A U.S. federal court has ordered an Indian company accused of publishing junk science for profit to stop “deceptive practices” that lead the public to believe its online journals contain legitimate research. OMICS has been ordered to remove all misleading claims from its websites that include displaying the names of prominent scientists who never agreed to join the editorial boards of its journals, stating the research is peer reviewed when it is not and claiming its journals are included in PubMed, the gold standard for trustworthy, peer-reviewed scholarship, according to the written judge’s ruling. The temporary injunction was granted in Nevada in response to a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last year. “Absent such an injunction, the Court finds it likely that Defendants will continue to engage in deceptive practices,” wrote chief judge Gloria M. Navarro. OMICS was the subject of a joint Toronto Star/CTV News investigation last year that revealed the company had quietly bought more than a dozen respected medical journals in Canada, causing leading researchers to worry that their reputations were being hijacked to lend credibility to bogus research papers, riddled with typos and inaccuracies. Based in Hyderabad, India, OMICS is an online “open access” publisher that started out with 10 scientific journals in 2009 and has grown to control more than 700 publications, according to its owner, Srinubabu Gedela. Gedela says the lawsuit is motivated by traditional academic publishers in the West whose business models have been disrupted by online open access publishing. Instead of charging universities and research labs subscription fees to receive copies of a journal, open access publishers ask researchers to pay to publish their work, which is then made accessible online for free. “Open access publications, the cost is less and maintenance is less and at the same time . . . scholars from around the world have access to scientific literature with less money,” Gedela told the Star and CTV News last year. Some open access journals have no standards at all, having published “scientific” papers that claim to prove the existence of aliens, or even pages of gibberish submitted by professors in “sting operations” to prove they’ll publish anything for a fee. OMICS declared $11.6 million (U.S.) in revenue and about $1.2 million (U.S.) in profit in 2016, according to a Bloomberg report. The same report alleges that pharmaceutical companies have fuelled OMICS’s rise by using its journals to publish subpar research. The FTC’s lawsuit doesn’t hinge on bad science, but on consumer protection. It zeroes in on an aspect of OMICS’s business that led to allegations it is a “predatory publisher” that fools young researchers into submitting their work under the impression that it will be published without charge. The FTC’s complaint alleges that OMICS does not reveal “significant publishing fees” that authors must pay before their work is published. After a paper is submitted, OMICS’s journals “often do not allow authors to withdraw their articles from submission, making their research ineligible for publication in other journals,” according to a statement put out by the FTC after the injunction was granted. OMICS says the FTC’s case has dragged on for two years because there’s no merit to it. “FTC made allegations based on the ‘fake news,’ ” Gedela told the Star after learning of the injunction. “The intention behind court’s order . . . is to stop misrepresentation and to get the required information from us, but not to halt any of our operations in the United States,” Gedela wrote in an email. “We are pretty sure FTC will not be able to prove any of the allegations against us.” The injunction was cautiously celebrated by academics who have been complaining of OMICS’ spam emails soliciting papers for years. “I was happy to see the U.S. injunction, but doubt that it can stop predatory publishers based in India,” wrote Dr. Madhukar Pai, the Canada research chair in Epidemiology and Global Health at McGill University. “Things continue to be as bad as before or even worse! I keep getting dozens of spam emails each day. And it appears that researchers in Canada are routinely falling for these predatory publishers and conference organizers.” The FTC lawsuit also alleges OMICS organizes dubious conferences, promising the participation of leading scientists to lure young academics to pay conference fees. But those academics aren’t even aware their names were on conference materials and don’t show up. Jeffrey Beall, an associate professor at the University of Colorado at Denver, said going after a single predatory publisher may save some academics some money but it doesn’t address the perverse incentives built into the open access publishing model. “The model has that conflict of interest where the more papers you accept, the more money you make,” Beall wrote in an email. “The temptation is always there even for ethical publishers to accept papers that are marginal or slightly flawed just so they can increase their revenue.” Traditional academic publishers would have their subscriptions cancelled if they started publishing subpar work. But there’s no check on online open access journals, which are virtually indistinguishable from legitimate publications. “The scholarly publishing industry and researchers themselves have to do something to resolve this problem, because it’s only getting bigger and bigger,” Beall said. McGill’s Pai is heartened by the legal action in the U.S. and wonders why consumer protections aren’t as strong here. “I don’t think Canada is doing anything,” he said. “Which ministry should we send such a complaint to? That is one of the problems with these predatory journals and meetings — who is to protect us?”
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Toronto actress joins James Toback accusers (ven., 24 nov. 2017)
A Toronto actress and model is adding her voice to the more than 300 women who have accused writer-director James Toback of sexual harassment. Tamara Burford, 40, says after she auditioned for the Toback-directed Harvard Man in Toronto in the summer of 2000, Toback made lewd and sexually explicit comments to her in person and over the phone, and threatened to ruin her career when she refused to meet him in his hotel room. “He made me feel so degraded,” Burford told the Star in a recent interview. “I lost a lot of faith in the business.” Toback could not be reached for comment despite multiple attempts by the Star, but according to other media reports he has denied allegations made by hundreds of women in the United States. The 73-year-old New Yorker, who is best known for writing the Oscar-nominated Bugsy, starring Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, is facing allegations of predatory sexual behaviour spanning decades, following an article published last month in the Los Angeles Times in which 38 women shared their stories of harassment. Glenn Whipp, the Times reporter who broke the story, now says 310 women have contacted him about their encounters with Toback. Rachel McAdams and Julianne Moore are among the accusers. The allegations range from unwanted sexual advances and vulgar comments to Toback exposing himself to women without their consent and, in some cases, dry-humping their legs. Some women say Toback forced them to watch him masturbate. Toback denied the allegations to the Times, saying he had no recollection of ever meeting the women who were accusing him. In a separate interview with Rolling Stone, Toback said he had never heard of the women accusing him and the allegations were “too stupid to dignify.” Phone numbers previously associated with him are no longer in service. His former agent, Jeffrey Berg, dropped him after the Times story and a spokeswoman for Berg’s firm, Northside Services, told the Star they had “no idea” how to get a hold of him. Lawyers who formerly represented Toback’s defunct film company could not provide updated contact info. Emails sent to Toback’s wife, Stephanie Kempf, were not returned. For Burford, the encounters with Toback never escalated beyond verbal abuse, with the exception of one instance when she says he grabbed her arm in the lobby of the Sutton Place Hotel — now a luxury condo building — when she refused to go to his room. She says she first met Toback at a casting call for Harvard Man. She was surprised when a few days later he called her directly to invite her to a second audition. Initially the conversation was professional. Toback, she says, told her to go see Black and White, his most recent film. “He says, ‘I’m going to audition you, but before I do I want you to go out and go see the movie that I have out right now.’ ” She called him back after seeing the movie, as he had instructed, and that’s when the conversation turned explicit, with Toback talking about Burford’s body and describing how he masturbated. “I didn’t know what to do,” Burford says. Toback called the next four days in a row, Burford says, each time saying the audition would be the next day and then rescheduling for the following day. “He would say, ‘I could make you a star, but, you know, there are certain things you have to do.’ Then he would invite me to his hotel room.” Burford was living nearby in a condo at Bay and Bloor streets. Eventually, they set a time for the audition. On the phone, he said they should do the audition in his hotel room, but she says she told him she would only meet him in the lobby. When they met, Toback insisted they go to his room. Burford says he pushed his body against hers and whispered in her ear sexually explicit comments that she found degrading. “He wouldn’t take no for an answer.” When Burford continued to refuse to go to his room, she says Toback turned angry and abusive. “He says, ‘What do you mean you’re not coming up? I can make you a star and you’re going to miss this opportunity? Are you kidding me? If you turn me down you’ll never work anywhere. You’ll be nobody, nothing.’ ” Eventually Burford says she pulled away from him and left the hotel. But the phone calls didn’t stop. “He called the next day and he says, ‘Listen, I’m going to give you one more chance. This is your last chance because I’m leaving for L.A. tomorrow. You come over to my room and audition now, and if you don’t, that’s it. That’s your last chance.” Burford continued to insist she wouldn’t audition in his room. “I said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m not going to audition for you that way. I’m not that type of girl.’ He says, ‘You’ll be nobody unless you put out.’ ” Burford says Toback insulted her in a short, expletive-laden rant and then hung up. She never saw or heard from him again. The Star spoke with Burford’s father, television producer Paul Burford, who says his daughter told him about the harassment after it happened. “This really was traumatizing for my daughter at the time,” he said. “It was such an aberrant thing. In the business you do get sexual overtures a lot, but this went beyond that.” The Star also spoke to Tamara Burford’s friend, Mike Steiner, who worked in the movie industry at the time and was with Burford when she received some of the calls from Toback. “She left the business after this and didn’t have anything to do with the business for four or five years,” Steiner said. Burford says she made an anonymous complaint to ACTRA, the actors’ union, but isn’t sure if anyone followed up. She didn’t attach her name because she says she was afraid of being “blacklisted.” Elliott Anderson, a spokesman for ACTRA, wrote in a statement to the Star that after looking into the 17-year-old incident “it seems” union staff was aware of the allegation against Toback at the time. “We are informed they increased presence on set to support a member who had raised concerns. We’re continuing to look into exactly what happened as we review our practices. Our goal is that anonymous complaints can be tracked and used to stop predatory behaviour and help create a zero-tolerance environment.” Posted on ACTRA Toronto’s website is a note to its members that says the union is in the process of conducting a full investigation into Harvard Man, the movie Burford auditioned for in 2000. The Harvard Man file has been recalled from off-site storage and a report on the union’s investigation is expected later this month, according to the memo. ACTRA Toronto’s president and a special adviser have been getting calls daily from members coming forward with stories of past harassment throughout the industry, the union says on its website, adding that it has established an advisory committee on sexual harassment. Staff has attended an updated training session on sexual harassment and the union has revised its protocol for reporting incidents of harassment. Burford, who says she works primarily in print modelling now, says she was depressed following her encounter with Toback and took a break from acting. It took years before her self esteem recovered. She says she was motivated to come forward now after seeing so many other women share similar experiences with Toback and other powerful men in the entertainment industry. “Before I was so embarrassed, but I’m not afraid anymore,” she says. “I’m trying to speak out so other women are not afraid, because it’s not just him and Harvey (Weinstein). There are others.” —With files from Michele Henry Brendan Kennedy can be reached at bkennedy@thestar.ca or 416-869-4192.Michele Henry can be reached at mhenry@thestar.ca or 416-869-4386.
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Canada 150 rink to stay for February — but hockey still a no-no (jeu., 23 nov. 2017)
OTTAWA—The government’s rink on Parliament Hill will stay open an extra two months, but Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly skated around questions Thursday about how much that will add to its $5.6-million cost. Joly made the abrupt change in the rink’s schedule one day after championing its original 26-day lifespan — Dec. 7 to Jan. 1 — as “really good news” and a great way to close out Canada’s 150th anniversary celebration. She told reporters outside the House of Commons that the sudden extension to the end of February is because of an agreement with the parliamentary speakers, who have authority over events on the Hill, and will allow the rink to stay open during Ottawa’s annual Winterlude festival. Joly refused to answer repeated questions about any additional cost, saying she’ll “have the chance to give more details on that later on.” The “Canada 150 Rink” is being built on the front lawn of Parliament Hill. Complete with boards, glass, a cooling system and bleachers, the rink will host a children’s hockey tournament and other programming in December, as well as free daily skating sessions for the public. But an initiative that could seem as likely to succeed as a scoring an empty-netter started raising eyebrows when it was revealed that it would only be open for less than a month. At a budgeted $5.6 million, the cost broke down to more than $215,000 for each day it was initially slated to be open (that number, with a new timeframe of 84 days, is now $66,667 per day). Joly repeated Thursday that, once it is taken down, the rink will be donated. She previously explained the plan is to give the boards and glass to a “vulnerable” community in the Ottawa-Gatineau region. While the timeline for the rink has been extended, a list of rules remains unchanged. No hockey sticks or pucks will be allowed during public skating sessions, according to the rink’s promotional website which also boasts an artist’s rendition of the rink with — wait for it — skaters with hockey sticks. Skaters also won’t be allowed to use cellphones, or eat food on the rink. “Multiplayer games” such as “tag and races” also won’t be tolerated, the website says. To get on the ice, people must book free tickets online two days in advance. These public skating sessions will last 40 minutes each. Officials who briefed reporters about the rink Wednesday said the government expected 40,000 people to use the rink during the original 26-day period. New Democrat MP Alexandre Boulerice said that even though he supports the rink idea, the $5.6-million cost has cooled his enthusiasm. He said the abrupt scheduling extension is no surprise because “we have a Liberal government that improvises most of its decisions,” and added: “What I don’t understand is why we have a rink with boards, but we’re not allowed to use hockey sticks.” Pierre Paul-Hus, a Conservative MP from Québec, echoed Boulerice’s concern about the rink’s cost, calling the project a “waste of public funds.” A budget breakdown provided this week by Canadian Heritage, the department that organized the rink, broke down the $5.6-million cost like this: $2,374,920 for design, construction and removal of the rink to the new community. $1,300,350 for marketing and promotion, “general administration” and the cost of accommodation and travel for 32 children’s hockey teams coming to Ottawa for the hockey tournament. $958,400 for staffing, general labour and project co-ordination. $849,310 for “site support, technical services, logistical services, purchases, other support services.” $117,020 for “rink operational costs.” Joly’s press secretary, Simon Ross, told the Star Thursday that “it’s too soon” to say how the extension will affect these costs. He referred other questions to the heritage department, which did not respond with more details on Thursday. Outdoor rinks in Toronto cost $800 to $1,000 a day that they’re open during the winter season, city spokesperson Jane Arbour said. That includes maintenance and ice clearing, as well as staff costs, she said. The Parliament Hill rink is set to open to the public Dec. 7 at 9 a.m.
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Cheers from supporters as activist Desmond Cole appears in court to fight trespassing charge (jeu., 23 nov. 2017)
In a courtroom packed with supporters, Desmond Cole appeared in Old City Hall on Thursday to fight a trespassing charge laid at Toronto police headquarters this summer, after the activist and freelance journalist refused to cede the microphone at a police board meeting. Cole was escorted out of headquarters by officers in July, after he disrupted the monthly meeting by demanding that he be allowed to speak about the high-profile case of Dafonte Miller, a Black teen alleged to have been severely beaten by an off-duty Toronto police officer and his brother. Cole says he is determined to fight the provincial charge, which comes with a $65 fine, though he calls it a “waste of everyone’s time and money.” His lawyer, Annamaria Enenajor, told the court in a brief hearing that she will challenge the charge on the basis that it violates Cole’s Charter rights, specifically his freedom of expression. A judicial pretrial has been scheduled for January. “We are not going anywhere until we get the accountability that we deserve for Dafonte,” Cole said outside court, prompting cheers from more than 100 supporters. Miller was 19 years old when he was alleged to have been severely beaten with a metal pipe by an off-duty Toronto police officer and his brother in Ajax on Dec. 28, 2016. He suffered serious eye damage, a broken orbital bone, a broken nose and a fractured wrist. Const. Michael Theriault and his brother Christian Theriault are charged with aggravated assault and assault with a weapon. They also each face one count of public mischief based on allegations they misled investigators. The case has prompted intense criticism about the handling of the incident by both Toronto and Durham regional police — chief among them each police service’s failure to notify Ontario’s police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), given the involvement of Michael Theriault, who was off-duty at the time. The watchdog only became aware of the incident when contacted by Miller’s lawyer, Julian Falconer, months later. The SIU then began an investigation, resulting in charges against the Theriault brothers in July. At the police board meeting just over a week later, Toronto police board chair Andy Pringle and police chief Mark Saunders acknowledged the case,announcing an unusual step to call in Waterloo Regional Police Chief Bryan Larkin to conduct an internal review of Toronto police’s handling of the incident. The meeting then moved on to other business, but Cole, in a deputation to the board on another matter, began speaking out about the Miller case. Pringle then attempted to tell Cole that nothing further could be said on the matter because of the ongoing criminal case and the investigation by Waterloo police. “It will come back and you will have an opportunity to speak,” Pringle said, of the investigative report from Waterloo police. Pringle had earlier warned that no disruptions would be tolerated, alluding to previous board meetings where Cole and members of Black Lives Matter loudly chanted and questioned board members, sometimes prompting the meeting to temporarily adjourn. As Cole continued to speak, Pringle adjourned the meeting, and the board — including Mayor John Tory — walked out. Cole was later escorted out and charged and the meeting resumed. Outside court Thursday, Cole questioned why the board has been silent on the Miller case in the four months that have passed since the charges were laid, a criticism also being made by Falconer, Miller’s lawyer. “Neither Dafonte Miller nor his family have received one iota of information,” Falconer said in an interview this week, adding that there has been a “bizarre radio silence” on behalf of police and its board in this case. Falconer has called for a systemic review of police conduct by Ontario’s police complaints watchdog, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD), saying it is a “poster child” for what’s wrong with police oversight in Ontario. The lawyer alleges misconduct by both by Toronto police and Durham regional forces, including attempts by Michael and Christian Theriault’s police officer father to conceal his sons’ alleged crimes. In a complaint filed to the OIPRD in August, Falconer alleges that John Theriault, a 30-year Toronto police veteran who currently works in the professional standards unit, “repeatedly contacted (Durham police) investigators to gain information relating to the status of the investigation” and provided false information about injuries suffered by Christian “to aid in the concealment of the crimes committed by his sons.” The complaint also alleges Toronto police permitted John Theriault to communicate with and have access to Durham investigators. John Theriault did not respond to a request for comment from the Star this week. Waterloo police, Toronto police and chair Pringle confirmed to the Star this week that the internal investigation into Toronto police conduct is ongoing — but it may be months before it is sent to the board. “We are currently reviewing information and will be completing the report for Toronto Police Service,” Waterloo police Insp. Mike Haffner said in an email. He did not respond to a question about when that would occur. The chief’s administrative review, known as a section 11 report, is mandatory after the completion of every probe by Ontario’s police watchdog, the Special Investigation Unit (SIU). Last year, following a Star series on police transparency, the Toronto police board committed to releasing, in part, these previously secret reports. Under Ontario’s Police Services Act, these reports are required to be sent to the board within 30 days after the SIU finishes its investigation. This requirement is much simpler in cases where the SIU does not lay a criminal charge. The 30 days begin ticking down when the SIU director informs the chief from the affected police service that the director’s report has been sent to the Ministry of the Attorney General. However, in cases where a criminal charge is laid there is no such report. The Police Act regulations do not explicitly spell out when the 30-day countdown begins in this scenario. Toronto police has adopted a practice where they aim to report to the board within 30 days of a charge being sworn in court. In Theriault’s case, that period would have begun in July. However, given the fact that the case is both highly complex and currently before the courts, it may be several months before the report comes to the board. In an interview with the Star, Pringle stressed that while it was important to let investigators from Waterloo do their job, he hopes to see the report soon. “We want to see the answers, too, and sooner, not later,” he said. Don Peat, spokesperson for Tory, reiterated in an email this week that Tory, too, wants to let Waterloo police do their job. “Mayor Tory was clear that there were unanswered questions around this case and he is waiting for the independent probe to be completed before commenting further,” Peat said. After Durham police were called to the scene on the night of the incident, officers initially charged Miller, not the Theriaults, with assault, alongside other charges. All were withdrawn by the Crown in May. Durham police are also conducting an investigation into their handling of the incident. In September, Durham Police Chief Paul Martin announced a new policy to ensure the SIU is called in to investigate serious injuries caused by an officer in his region — regardless of whether the cop was from his force or off duty. Dave Selby, spokesperson for Durham police, said their internal investigation is ongoing. “We are co-operating fully with both the OIPRD and SIU investigations and have offered to provide them any information they might require,” he said. Theriault has been out on bail since his arrest on July 18. He is suspended with pay. Wendy Gillis can be reached at wgillis@thestar.ca
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Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s minister of foreign affairs, most influential person of the year: Toronto Life (jeu., 23 nov. 2017)
Toronto Life magazine has picked Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s minister of foreign affairs, as its most influential person of the year, for her efforts in “declaring Canada a leader in a world suddenly lacking a north star.” Said Toronto Life in its cover feature: “While the PM played amiable figurehead, Freeland handled the scrappy stuff: negotiating NAFTA and a landmark European trade deal; calling out the leaders of Russia, North Korea, Venezuela and Myanmar, and declaring Canada a leader in a world suddenly lacking a north star.” In the feature, Toronto Life remarked that “Canada’s 150th year was, in a word, full.” The list of notable figures includes municipal politicians, business luminaries, singers, literary stars, and journalists, among others. Actress Meghan Markle, who is dating Britain’s Prince Harry, is tagged as a “future princess,” and ranks fourth in the magazine’s annual list of the city’s most influential people. “Not every woman can cause an international incident just by putting on a pair of ripped jeans, but that’s exactly what happened when Markle showed up with Prince Harry at the 2017 Invictus Games,” the magazine’s editors write. “The appearance sparked indignation from royal etiquette experts, and fashion pundits fell all over each other to find out where the jeans were from (Mother denim, and yes, they are sold out). “Such is the new normal for the 36-year-old Suits star. Toronto may be bidding cheerio to our favourite future royal sooner rather than later.,” the magazine concluded. Number 13 is Brendan Shanahan, president of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The reason? He’s changed the mood of the city, at east the hockey-loving part of it. “Shanahan inherited a club that embodied a losing culture: they stank on the ice, made bad trades, drafted poorly and aired petty recriminations in public. The “Shanaplan” was simple: clean house, hire smart people (including universally revered coach Mike Babcock and GM Lou Lamoriello), develop talent (Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and others), and be honest with fans. “That’s all it took — that, and Shanahan’s ability to shoulder the pressure. “He’s given the city something it hasn’t known in more than 15 years: post-season optimism,” the magazine observes. Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh comes in at 23 on the magazine’s list. “For years, Singh was known mostly for his double-breasted suits and resplendent pagris. GQ featured him in February and BuzzFeed declared him ‘the most stylish politician in Canada by, like, a million kilometres.’ “This year, Singh became known for much more. The former defence lawyer went viral for his deft, love-laden neutralizing of a racist protestor en route to winning the NDP leadership by a country mile. Stars like Seth Rogen and Ava DuVernay tweeted congrats,” the editors wrote. Singh’s next challenge, according to the magazine? “Winning over Quebec, where a turban-wearing leader is a tough sell.” Zoe Dodd, a healthcare worker with the South Riverdale Community Health Centre, is on the list for her work on opioid prevention. She and her colleagues reversed 100 overdoses in August and led the way to the province’s $222-million commitment to rapid-access clinics, safe-injection sites, and an opioid task force. Toronto Star journalist Daniel Dale makes the list. Dale’s routine fact-check of U.S. President Donald Trump, which points out the falsehoods Trump utters have made him “essential reading” in the era of fake news, according to The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman. Trump blocked Dale from Trump’s twitter feed in October. This has not stopped the Star’s Washington Bureau Chief. At last count, Dale found Trump has made 865 false claims during his first 304 days in office, an average of close to three false claims per day. Other notables on the Toronto Life list chosen include singer Drake, Toronto Mayor John Tory, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, author Margaret Atwood, and poet and Instagram sensation Rupi Kaur.
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Michael Flynn’s lawyer ends co-operation with Trump’s legal team (ven., 24 nov. 2017)
WASHINGTON—Lawyers for Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, notified the president’s legal team in recent days that they could no longer discuss the special counsel’s investigation, according to four people involved in the case, an indication that Flynn is co-operating with prosecutors or negotiating a deal. Flynn’s lawyers had been sharing information with Trump’s lawyers about the investigation by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, who is examining whether anyone around Trump was involved in Russian efforts to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. That agreement has been terminated, the four people said. Defence lawyers frequently share information during investigations, but they must stop when doing so would pose a conflict of interest. It is unethical for lawyers to work together when one client is co-operating with prosecutors and another is still under investigation. The notification alone does not prove that Flynn is co-operating with Mueller. Some lawyers withdraw from information-sharing arrangements as soon as they begin negotiating with prosecutors. And such negotiations sometimes fall apart. Still, the notification led Trump’s lawyers to believe that Flynn — who, along with his son, is seen as having significant criminal exposure — has, at the least, begun discussions with Mueller about co-operating. Lawyers for Flynn and Trump declined to comment. The four people briefed on the matter spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly. A deal with Flynn would give Mueller a behind-the-scenes look at the Trump campaign and the early weeks of the administration. Flynn was an early and important adviser to Trump, an architect of Trump’s populist “America first” platform and an advocate of closer ties with Russia. His ties to Russia predated the campaign — he sat with President Vladimir Putin at a 2015 event in Moscow — and he was a point person on the transition team for dealing with Russia. The White House had been bracing for charges against Flynn in recent weeks, particularly after charges were filed against three other former Trump associates: Paul Manafort, his campaign chairman; Rick Gates, a campaign aide; and George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser.
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Trump replies ‘MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!’ to tweet about his attacks on Black Americans (jeu., 23 nov. 2017)
WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump kicked off Thanksgiving Day by replying to a tweet that said his latest Twitter feud is part of a racist pattern of attacking prominent Black Americans. Trump’s response, tweeted at about 6:30 a.m.: “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” The tweet that prompted the response from the president came from Greg Sargent, who writes about politics for The Washington Post. Sargent had shared his opinion article about Trump’s latest tweetstorm related to LaVar Ball, whom the president has repeatedly called out for not thanking him properly for his role in resolving a shoplifting charge in China against Ball’s son. In his piece published Wednesday, Sargent argued that Trump “goes out of his way to attack prominent African-Americans,” including Ball and professional football athletes. Read more: Analysis: Trump picks another fight with a Black sports figure. That’s no coincidence “Trump’s rage-tweets about LaVar Ball are part of a pattern. Trump regularly attacks high-profile African-Americans to feed his supporters’ belief that the system is rigged for minorities,” Sargent wrote on Twitter Wednesday. To which the president responded the following day with his campaign slogan. It’s unclear if Trump’s tweet was meant to agree with or acknowledge Sargent’s points that his behaviour on social media fits a racist pattern against Black Americans. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Some on Twitter immediately took notice. The president has spent the last few days engaging in a war of words with Ball, who has accused Trump of inflating his role in freeing his son, UCLA basketball player LiAngelo Ball, and two other teammates. The three were arrested for shoplifting while in Hangzhou for a tournament earlier this month. Trump said that during his 12-day trip to Asia, he personally asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help resolve the case of LiAngelo Ball and his two teammates. After returning to the United States, Trump wrote on Twitter, referring to himself in the third person: “Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you to President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!” Asked by ESPN later about Trump’s role in securing his son’s release, LaVar Ball said: “Who? What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.” During a testy interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo Monday night, Ball again questioned Trump’s role in his son’s freeing. “It wasn’t like he was in the U.S. and said, ‘OK, there’s three kids in China, I need to go over there and get them,’” Ball said. “That wasn’t the thought process.” In response, the president fumed, often in the form of pre-dawn tweetstorms. At one point, he said he should’ve let LiAngelo Ball and his teammates stay in jail. At about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, Trump called LaVar Ball an “ungrateful fool,” who, if not for his personal intervention, would have spent several Thanksgivings with his son locked up in China. “It wasn’t the White House, it wasn’t the State Department, it wasn’t father LaVar’s so-called people on the ground in China that got his son out of a long term prison sentence - IT WAS ME. Too bad! LaVar is just a poor man’s version of Don King, but without the hair,” Trump said. Curiously, the president resurrected attacks on the NFL a few minutes later: “The NFL is now thinking about a new idea - keeping teams in the Locker Room during the National Anthem next season. That’s almost as bad as kneeling! When will the highly paid Commissioner finally get tough and smart? This issue is killing your league!. . ...” Sargent wrote that the immediate segue to football players, whom Trump has repeatedly criticized for kneeling during the national anthem, shows a clear pattern of a public attack on prominent Black Americans. “It is true that in some of these cases, Trump was attacked or at least criticized first. But it’s hard to avoid noticing a gratuitously ugly pattern in Trump’s responses, in which Trump vaguely suggests either that his targets are getting above their station, or that they’re asking for too much and are insufficiently thankful for all that has been done for them,” Sargent wrote. The president has repeatedly said that kneeling during the national anthem, meant to protest racism and police brutality, is disrespectful to the flag and to the country. Last month, Trump drew criticisms over his condolence call to the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed with three other soldiers during an ambush in Niger. Myeshia Johnson said that during the call, the president told her that her husband “knew what he signed up for.” She also said that Trump couldn’t even remember her husband’s name. Trump disputed the slain soldier’s widow’s account, saying in a tweet: “I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!”
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Hydro One’s prepaid meter proposal sparks criticism (jeu., 23 nov. 2017)
Hydro One is seeking permission to use prepaid meters, a move critics say will only hurt low-income customers. In a lengthy proposal to the Ontario Energy Board regarding rate increases, Hydro One includes a pitch “to install prepayment meters, which require the customer to pay first before they get any electricity,” said New Democrat MPP Peter Tabuns (Toronto-Danforth). “Everywhere that prepayment meters have been used, they have hurt struggling families,” said Tabuns, his party’s energy critic, demanding the government ban them, as has happened in the United Kingdom. Hydro One executives and Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault insist the meters, if approved, would be optional. The energy board, Thibeault told reporters, is mandated to “have the ratepayers’ best interests in mind, and so we leave the decisions, when it comes to rate applications, to the OEB.” Regardless of the type of meter, no one will be cut off from electricity in the winter, he added. Hydro One’s proposal to the OEB states that “one method of enabling customer control of their electricity consumptions, while in arrears condition, and minimizing Hydro One Network’s financial risk, is through the use of prepaid meters. Prepaid meters are a type of energy meter that requires users to pay for energy before using it. This is done via a smartcard, token or key that can be ‘topped up’ at a corner shop, via a smartphone application or online. “For customers who are high collection risk, the financial risk will be minimized by rolling out this type of meter. With a prepaid meter, electricity is paid upfront. Once the prepaid amount is used up, power is cut-off until the customer is able to load the meter with more credits.” Ferio Pugliese, Hydro One’s executive vice-president of customer care and corporate affairs, said “absolutely, this will not be forced” on customers and that it is simply providing them more choice. The meters, he said, are “an option that we had put into our rate filing as another potential option to be available to customers should they choose it.” Pugliese likened it to customers choosing equal billing payments, “where they don’t like fluctuations in their bill so they pay a fixed charge.” In this case, he said, it could appeal to those “who might be on a different income cycle, who like to prepay everything up-front or through a period of time.” Thibeault said hunters who have camps they use in the fall “might like to see something like this — they can opt-in and have two months of electricity.” However, he also said, the meter request remains “just a thought.” “At the end of the day, we are a still a long way from this even being approved,” Thibeault said. “This is just a thought, it’s two paragraphs in a 2,000-page document. But Tabuns believes the meters will circumvent rules preventing electricity cut-offs in the winter. “Hydro One’s installation of prepayment hydro meters would bypass Ontario’s rules for disconnections,” Tabuns said. “Hydro One won’t have to disconnect anyone; the power will be cut off automatically if the customer doesn’t feed the meter.” Thibeault also noted that under Hydro One’s filing, future rate increases will be no more “than the cost of inflation for the next four years” and in line with the government’s promised 25 per cent reduction in hydro bills.
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College students missing crucial entrance exams, apprenticeships dates because of strike, critics say (jeu., 23 nov. 2017)
From career entrance exams to required hands-on training, Ontario college students are left struggling to catch up after a five-week strike by faculty that has forced semesters to be extended to make up for lost time. “We are now learning that because of the extended semester, some students wishing to write their paralegal entrance exam with the law society won’t be finished in time for the February exam sitting — putting students behind by at least six months,” NDP MPP Peggy Sattler said Thursday at the legislature. “Given the fact that the Liberal government sat on the sidelines for five weeks and did nothing to help prevent or resolve the strike, is the premier working on a solution for these students?” Sattler also said she’s worried about students in co-op programs and those with on-the-job training requirements that won’t be met in time. The College Student Alliance said it has reached out to the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development for answers. But at least once college says students enrolled in its paralegal program should be okay. “The plans to recover the semester are underway. Students who have registered for the February 2018 licensing exam should still be able to write that exam if they have met all the requirements set by the law society,” said Veronique Henry, who chairs Centennial College’s Centre for Legal and Administrative Studies. Minister Deb Matthews — who noted the NDP delayed passage of the legislation forcing instructors back on the job and ending the record-long strike — said “colleges are working very hard to make sure that students are able to successfully complete” their semester. “We have been working with students throughout the strike and following the strike to make sure that we can be there to offer as much support as possible to get students back on track,” she also said. The NDP has also criticized the government for its hardship fund — from monies saved by the colleges during the strike — as being inadequate to meet student needs. In a city like Toronto, the maximum $500 would not even cover rent, said Sattler. Matthews said the student alliance is supportive of the fund — a first “in the history of post-secondary education strikes” — and the government’s efforts. “This has been very, very difficult for students, for faculty members, for employers in the community who were looking forward to having those students working in their organizations,” Matthews said. “The strike was tough. It had a big impact. We’re doing everything we can to support students to get back into the classroom and back on track for their careers.” During the strike by 12,000 faculty, classes were cancelled for as many as 500,000 students starting Oct. 16, and resumed Nov. 21.
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North Korea escapees expose realities of life under Kim Jong Un (jeu., 23 nov. 2017)
“In North Korea, life only gets better if the state helps you. But these days, the state doesn’t help. We’re on our own.” The bride, now 23, from Hyesan. Escaped from North Korea in May 2017. *** When Kim Jong Un became the leader of North Korea almost six years ago, many North Koreans thought that their lives were going to improve. He offered the hope of generational change in the world’s longest-running communist dynasty. After all, he was so young. A millennial. Someone with experience of the outside world. But the “Great Successor,” as he is called by the regime, has turned out to be every bit as brutal as his father and grandfather before him. Even as he has allowed greater economic freedom, he has tried to seal the country off more than ever, stepping up security along the border with China and stepping up the punishments for those who dare to try to cross it. And at home, freedom of speech, and of thought, is still a mirage. Read more: North Korean defector shot by comrades had ‘enormous number’ of parasitic worms in body Dramatic video captures North Korean defector’s escape into South Korea ‘Young general’ seen poised to take over North Korea dynasty In six months of interviews in South Korea and Thailand, the Washington Post talked with more than 25 North Koreans from different walks of life who lived in Kim Jong Un’s North Korea and managed to escape from it. In barbecue restaurants, cramped apartments and hotel rooms, these refugees provided the fullest account to date of daily life inside North Korea and how it has changed, and how it hasn’t, since Kim took over from his father, Kim Jong Il, at the end of 2011. Many are from the northern parts of the country that border China — the part of North Korea where life is toughest, and where knowledge about the outside world just across the river is most widespread — and are from the relatively small segment of the population that is prepared to take the risks involved in trying to escape. Some parts of their stories cannot be independently verified because of the secretive nature of the regime and their names have been withheld to protect their family members still in North Korea. They were introduced to the Post by groups that help North Korean escapees, including No Chain for North Korea, Woorion and Liberty in North Korea. But in talking about their personal experiences, including torture and the culture of surveillance, they recounted the hardships of daily life under Kim Jong Un’s regime. They paint a picture of a once-communist state that has all but broken down, its state-directed economy at a standstill. Today, North Koreans are making their own way, earning money in an entrepreneurial and often illegal fashion. There are only a few problems in North Korea these days that money can’t solve. As life inside North Korea is changing, so too are people’s reasons for escaping. Increasingly, North Koreans are not fleeing their totalitarian state because they are hungry, as they did during the 15 or so years following the outbreak of a devastating famine in the mid-1990s. Now, they are leaving because they are disillusioned. Market activity is exploding, and with that comes a flow of information, whether as chit-chat from traders who cross into China or as soap operas loaded on USB sticks. And this leads many North Koreans to dream in a way they hadn’t before. Some are leaving North Korea because they want their children to get a better education. Some are leaving because their dreams of success and riches in the North Korean system are being thwarted. And some are leaving because they want to be able to speak their minds. A new Kim at the helm Korean Central News Agency — Dec. 19, 2011 — “Standing at the forefront of the Korean revolution is Kim Jong Un, great successor to the revolutionary cause of Juche (self-reliance ideology) and outstanding leader of our party, army and people.” The meat delivery guy, now 23, from Undok. Escaped in 2014: “Kim Jong Un came to power the same year I graduated from high school, and I had very high hopes for him. I heard that he’d studied abroad in Switzerland. I thought he was going to be very different from his father.” The young mother, now 29, from Hoeryong. Escaped in 2014: “I could see how young he was, and I hoped that maybe things were going to get better. We were given some rations through our neighbourhood association — we even got meat and fish — at the time he took over.” The preschooler, now 7, from Hoeryong. Escaped in 2014: “I remember how fat he was. He had a very fat face like a pig.” As the regime started preparing for Kim’s succession, it put out a song that everyone in the country was made to learn, called “Footsteps.” The idea was that Kim was following in the footsteps of his father and would lead the country into a glorious future. The money man, now 43, from Hyesan. Escaped in 2015: “We heard the song ‘Footsteps’ and we were told to memorize it so (we) knew that he was going to be the leader after Kim Jong Il. We were told how great he was, that he could ride a horse when he was 5 years old and shoot a gun when he was 3. Of course, we didn’t believe these things, but if you laughed or said anything, you’d be killed.” The university student, now 37, from Sariwon. Escaped in 2013: “I was in my second year at the university when this person was introduced to us as our new leader. I thought it was a joke. Among my closest friends, we were calling him a piece of s--t. Everyone thinks this, but you can only say it to your closest friends or to your parents if you know that they agree.” The drug dealer, now 46, from Hoeryong. Escaped in 2014: “I created some kind of fantasy in my mind about Kim Jong Un. Because he was so young, I thought he was going to open North Korea’s doors, but after he took power and I lived three years under him, life became harder.” Money talks In theory, North Korea is a bastion of socialism, a country where the state provides everything, including housing, health care, education and jobs. In reality, the state economy barely operates anymore. People work in factories and fields, but there is little for them to do and they are paid almost nothing. A vibrant private economy has sprung up out of necessity, one where people find ways to make money on their own, whether through selling homemade tofu or dealing drugs, through smuggling small DVD players with screens called “notels” over the border or extracting bribes. The university student: “North Korea technically has a centrally planned economy, but now people’s lives revolve around the market. No one expects the government to provide things anymore. Everyone has to find their own way to survive.” The hairdresser, now 23, from Hyesan. Escaped in 2016: “I had to drop out of teachers college when I was 19 because my father became ill, so I needed to work. I started doing people’s hair at my house. All the women wanted perms. I charged 30 (Chinese) yuan for a regular perm or 50 yuan for a perm with better products. But it was still hard to make money. (Thirty yuan is about $4.50 U.S.)” The farmer, now 46, from Hoeryong. Escaped in 2014: “We lived in the city centre, but we rented some land in the foothills of the mountains and grew corn there. During planting and harvest season, we would wake up at 4 a.m. and walk three hours to reach the farmland. We’d take a little break for lunch or a snack, then work until 8 p.m. before walking home again. Doing the weeding was the hardest because we had to get rid of them by hand. And we’d buy beans from the market and make tofu that we’d sell from our house. Our profit was less than 5,000 won (60 cents at the black market rate) a day. But because the bean price fluctuates, sometimes we were left with nothing at all.” *** North Koreans first learned how to be entrepreneurs during the famine, when they had to make money to survive. While men had to continue to show up for work in dormant factories, women would turn corn into noodles and keep a little for themselves but sell the rest so they could buy more corn for the following day. Homeless children would steal manhole covers to sell as scrap metal. Markets began to appear and took hold. North Koreans used to joke you could buy everything there except cats’ horns. These days, you can probably buy cats’ horns, too. The bean trader, now 23, from Hyesan. Escaped in 2014: “I had an aunt in Pyongyang who sold beans in the market there. I would buy what she needed from various farmers and get it to her. I’d pay people to pack up the beans into sacks, pay porters to take them to the station, get them onto the train. You have to smooth the way with money. My uncle is in the military, so his position provided protection for my aunt’s business. Of course, my aunt was the main earner in the house. It’s the women who can really make money in North Korea.” *** Tens of thousands of North Koreans now work outside the country, in lumber yards and garment factories and on construction sites, in China, Russia and other countries, earning foreign currency. Generally, two-thirds of their pay goes to the regime and they’re allowed to keep the rest. The construction worker, now 40, from Pyongyang. Escaped in 2015: “I wanted to earn money for my family and buy a house, so I paid $100 to bribe my way into an overseas construction job. I was sent to St. Petersburg. We lived at the construction site and would work from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., or sometimes until midnight in the summer, then we’d go back to our dormitory to eat. We worked seven days a week, but we could finish early on Sundays — 7 p.m. — and that was nice. My whole purpose for being there was to make lots of money and go home proud of my achievement. I still remember the first time I got paid. It was 1,000 rubles. When I finished work at 10 p.m., I went to the store and saw that a bottle of beer was 27 rubles. I thought, ‘wow, I’m rich.’ ” *** As the economy and the rules that govern it change, there are more and more grey areas that can be exploited. That means that illegal trade and activity have blossomed, too. The drug dealer: “I did so many things that I wasn’t supposed to do. I worked as a broker transferring money and connecting people in North Korea with people in South Korea through phone calls. I arranged reunions for them in China. I smuggled antiques out of North Korea and sold them in China. I sold ginseng and pheasants to China. And I dealt ice (methamphetamines). Officially, I was a factory worker, but I bribed my way out of having to go to work. If you don’t operate this way in North Korea, you have nothing.” The doctor, now 42, from Hyesan. Escaped in 2014: “The salary for doctors was about 3,500 won a month. That was less than it cost to buy one kilogram of rice. So of course, being a doctor was not my main job. My main job was smuggling at night. I would send herbal medicine from North Korea into China, and with the money, I would import home appliances back into North Korea. Rice cookers, notels, LCD monitors, that kind of thing.” *** From the biggest cities to the smallest villages, there is now some kind of market building where people can sell their wares and keep their profits. Some are state-run, some are state-sanctioned, some are ad hoc. The markets have been retroactively legalized by the regime. Money is now needed for nearly everything — even for the parts of communist life that the Kim regime crows about providing, such as housing and schooling. Bribery and corruption have become endemic, undermining the regime by loosening controls and creating incentives that may not always be in line with Kim’s priorities. The farmer: “Technically, you don’t have to pay to go to school, but the teachers tell you that you have to submit a certain amount of beans or rabbit skins that can be sold. If you don’t submit, you get told off continuously, and that’s why students stop going to school. The kids are hurt just because the parents can’t afford it.” The young mother: “I used to pay the teachers at my daughter’s school so they would look after her better than others. I would give them 120,000 won at a time — that’s enough to buy 25 kilograms of rice — twice a year. If you don’t pay the teachers, they won’t make any effort.” The fisherman, now 45, from Ryongchon. Escaped in 2017: “I lived through all three Kims, but our life was not getting any better for any of us. We all have to pay for Kim Jong Un’s projects, like Ryomyong Street (a residential development in Pyongyang). We had to contribute 15,000 North Korean won per household (more than four months’ salary) to the government for that street.” The drug dealer: “My main business was selling ice. I think that 70 or 80 per cent of the adults in Hoeryong city were using ice. My customers were just ordinary people. Police officers, security agents, party members, teachers, doctors. Ice made a really good gift for birthday parties or for high school graduation presents. It makes you feel good and helps you release stress, and it really helps relations between men and women. My 76-year-old mother was using it because she had low blood pressure, and it worked well. Lots of police officers and security agents would come to my house to smoke, and of course I didn’t charge them — they were my protection. They would come by during their lunch break, stop by my house. The head of the secret police in my area was almost living at my house.” *** The ability to make money, sometimes lots of money, through means both legal and illegal has led to visible inequality in a country that has long touted itself as an egalitarian socialist paradise. This could be a potential source of disruption. Bean traders and drug dealers and everyone in between have the prospect of making a decent living. Those working only in official jobs, whether they be on a state-owned ostrich farm or in a government ministry in Pyongyang, earn only a few dollars a month and get little in the way of rations to supplement their meagre salaries. The rich kid, now 20, from Chongjin. Escaped in 2014: “Skating rinks opened in 2013, and rollerblading became a really big thing. Rich kids had their own rollerblades. We’d carry them slung over our shoulders as we walked to the rink — it was a status symbol, a sign that you have money. I bought my rollerblades at the market. They were pink, and it cost 200 Chinese yuan. That’s the same price as 30 kilograms of rice. It’s unthinkable for poor kids.” The construction worker: “There were long periods where we didn’t get paid. I once went for six months without getting any salary at all. We lived in a shipping container at the construction site. We were given rice and cabbage and one egg per person per day, and we had an electric coil in our container that we could cook on. We needed some protein because our work was so hard, so we started buying pigskin at the market because it was cheap. Washing was like a special occasion. But if you went to the bathhouse, you would miss out on work. Once, I didn’t bathe for two months. We didn’t think anything of it. It was just the way we lived.” The rich kid: “Cellphones are a big thing. To be able to afford a smartphone, you had to come from a rich family. Of course, there were some poor kids at my school, but I didn’t hang out with them. I had an Arirang smartphone that cost $400. When boys came up to talk to me, I’d check out their phone. If they had one of those old-style phones with buttons, I wasn’t interested.” *** The markets are the distribution point not just for goods, but also for information. Chatter, rumours, illicit foreign media. The farmer: “Women make their living in the market, and while they’re sitting there at the stalls, they talk. So the market is a great place to learn about the outside world.” The phone connector, now 49, from Hoeryong. Escaped in 2013: “I watched lots of (smuggled) movies and soap operas on USB sticks from the market. I would plug them into my TV. Vendors who are selling ordinary things like batteries or rice or whatever, they hide the USBs inside under the counter. When you go into the market, you say to the vendors: Do you have anything delicious today? That’s the code. USBs are also good because they are so easy to hide, and you can just break them if you get caught.” The fisherman: “In the past, if you watched Chinese movies on USBs, you were OK. You got put in a labour camp only if you were caught with South Korean or American movies. But now, under Kim Jong Un, you get sent to a labour camp if you’re caught watching Chinese movies, too. The police and the security services and government officials live better these days. The more people they catch, the more money they earn.” The teenage prisoner, now 22, from Hyesan. Escaped in 2013: “I loved the way that women were being cherished. North Korea is a very male-oriented society, men never bother about taking care of women. And I liked to look at their fancy cars and houses.” The accordion player, now 25, from Hamhung. Escaped in 2015: “My mom worked in the market selling home appliances, so she had a way to get DVDs. I watched Chinese, Indian and Russian movies, and lots of South Korean soap operas. I thought that if I got to South Korea, I could do anything I wanted.” Repression and Disillusionment It is impossible to overstate the pervasiveness of the personality cult surrounding the Kims in North Korea. Founding president Kim Il Sung, his son Kim Jong Il and his grandson, the current leader, Kim Jong Un form a kind of holy trinity in North Korea. There is no criticizing them or questioning the system — at least not without risking your freedom and the freedom of your entire family. Your life itself could be at stake. The preschooler: “I learned songs about the general and about the Kim family and how great Kim Il Sung was.” The elementary schoolgirl, now 7, from Ryongchon. Escaped in 2017: “We got gifts on Kim Jong Un’s birthday: candy and cookies and gum and puffed rice. I was so grateful to him for giving me all these sweets. We would stand up in class and say, ‘Thank you, General Kim Jong Un.’ ” The university student: “We had ideological education for 90 minutes every day. There was revolutionary history, lessons about Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un. Of course, they taught us about why we needed nuclear weapons, and they would tell us that we needed to make sacrifices in our daily lives so they could build these weapons and protect our country, keep the nation safe. I was so sick and tired of hearing about all this revolutionary history, I was so sick of calling everyone ‘comrade.’ I didn’t care about any of that stuff.” The young mother: “Everybody knew that Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un were both liars, that everything is their fault, but it’s impossible to voice any opposition because we are under such tight surveillance. If someone is drunk and says Kim Jong Un is a son of a b---h, you’ll never see them again.” The doctor: “It’s like a religion. From birth, you learn about the Kim family, learn that they are gods, that you must be absolutely obedient to the Kim family. The elites are treated nicely, and because of that they make sure that the system stays stable. But for everyone else, it’s a reign of terror. The Kim family uses terror to keep people scared, and that makes it impossible to stage any kind of social gathering, let alone an uprising.” The construction worker: “We had education sessions when we would go back to the main building and into a big room where there were portraits of the leaders. Everyone had to bow and buy bunches of flowers to lay in front of the portraits. There would be a speech by the boss, who was a party member. We would hear about how Kim Jong Un had done this and this and that (he) was working so hard for the party and for the nation and for the people. I believed it up until the Kim Jong Un era, but this exaggeration was just too much. It just didn’t make sense.” The money man: “Every month there was special instruction about Kim Jong Un. It came down from Pyongyang to the neighbourhood associations. We were told that Kim Jong Un wanted to know everything so that he could take proper care of everyone, help everyone. Nobody believed this because if Kim Jong Un knew we had no electricity and were eating corn rice (imitation rice made from ground corn), why wasn’t he doing anything about it?” The bean trader: “There was this story going around that Kim Il Sung had asked Kim Jong Un to get him an apple. Kim Jong Un asked for a shovel because he wanted to bring the whole tree. It was the kind of joke that the secret police would create. Instead of just doing top-down teaching, they would also create stories like this (about devotion to the regime) because they thought that their propaganda would circulate better as rumours and would seem more convincing.” *** North Korea operates as a vast surveillance state, with a menacing state security department called the Bowibu as its backbone. Its agents are everywhere and operate with impunity. The regime also operates a kind of neighbourhood watch system. Every district in every town or city is broken up into neighbourhood groups of 30 or 40 households, each with a leader who is responsible for co-ordinating grassroots surveillance and encouraging people to snitch. The young mother: “People in each neighbourhood association are always checking up on each other. If one family seems to be living better than everyone else, then all the neighbours try to find out how they are making their money. Everybody is sensitive because if someone seems to be living well, then people get jealous of that house. Nobody has to be asked to bring that wealthy family down and make sure that this wealthy family loses their money. When you see a family lose their house, that feels good. That’s why it’s important not to show off how wealthy you are.” The farmer: “Of course I thought about the outside world, but if you say, “I want to go to China or South Korea,” then it can be reported by an informant to the security services. You can think it, but you can’t say it. You never know who is going to snitch on you. We often heard and saw how Chinese people had money because Chinese people used to come to North Korea to sell things, so we thought it would be nice to live there.” The rich kid: “There were youth leaders who would patrol around, looking for things that we weren’t supposed to be doing. If you were wearing jeans or skinny pants, or if you had a manicure or your hair was too long, you would get in trouble. They would sometimes check your phone to see if you had any South Korean songs. I got busted for this, but I got out of it by buying them a box of 20 bottles of beer.” For those who ran afoul of the regime in ways that money could not solve, the punishment could be harsh. Those accused of economic crimes — which could involve any kind of private enterprise — are sent to prisons and often made to do hard labour, such as building roads by hand. But those accused of being traitors to the nation, a broad category that includes questioning the Kim family or its system, end up in political prison camps where they have to work in mines and receive almost no food. It is not unusual for three generations of a “traitor’s” family to end up in these concentration camps under North Korea’s guilt-by-association system. The teenage prisoner: “When I was 16, I was staying at my grandma’s house and there was a banging on the door late at night. Two secret police officers took me to the police station and asked me: ‘Where are your parents?’ I told them I didn’t know. It turned out that they had gone missing and I suspected that my mom’s business associates, when they realized this, planted a whole lot of stuff on her, said that she was the mastermind behind this big smuggling operation. The police yelled at me: ‘You’re just like your mother. You probably have fantasies about China, too.’ They slapped my face about five times.” The phone connector: “The first time I went to prison, I had been caught helping people make phone calls to their relatives in South Korea. I was sentenced to four months’ hard labour, building a road on the side of a mountain that they said we needed in case there was a war. The men did the digging and the women had to carry rocks and soil.” *** Escapees from North Korea’s gruesome political prisons have recounted brutal treatment over the years, including medieval torture with shackles and fire and being forced to undergo abortions by the crudest methods. Human rights activists say that this appears to have lessened slightly under Kim. But severe beatings and certain kinds of torture — including being forced to remain in stress positions for crippling lengths of time — are commonplace throughout North Korea’s detention systems, as are public executions. The teenage prisoner: “I was interrogated again by the secret police, and they wanted to know about my mother’s business. They were slapping me around the face again. They always go for the face. I was beaten severely that time. They pushed me so hard against the wall that I had blood coming from my head. I still get a headache sometimes. While I was there they made me sit with my legs crossed and my arms resting on my knees and my head always down. If you move at all or if you try to stretch your legs out, they will yell at you and hit you. I had to stay like that for hours on end.” The money man: “In 2015, a money transfer went bad — the woman I’d given the money to got caught and she ratted on me — and I was put in detention. I spent two months there. I wasn’t treated like a human being — they beat me, they made me sit in stress positions where I couldn’t lift my head. Two times they slapped my face and kicked me during interrogation, but I was not beaten up badly. Maybe because I was not a nobody, maybe they feared that I knew someone who could get back at them. “ *** Starvation is often part of the punishment, even for children. The 16-year-old lost 13 pounds in prison, weighing only 88 pounds when she emerged. The teenage prisoner: “We got up at 6 a.m. every day and went to bed at 11 p.m., and in between we would be working the whole time, shovelling cement or lugging sacks, except for lunch. Lunch was usually steamed corn. I was too scared to eat. I cried a lot. I didn’t want to live.” The phone connector: “Even though we were working so hard in prison camp, all we got to eat was a tiny bit of corn rice and a small potato. By the time I got out, I was so malnourished I could hardly walk.” *** It is this web of prisons and concentration camps, coupled with the threat of execution, that stops people from speaking up. There is no organized dissent in North Korea, no political opposition. The drug dealer: “If you make problems, then your whole family gets punished. That’s why people don’t want to make any trouble. If I get punished for my wrongdoing, that’s one thing. But it’s my whole family that would be put at risk if I did something. North Koreans have seen that Kim Jong Un killed his own uncle, so we understand how merciless he can be. That’s why you can’t have an uprising in North Korea.” The university student: “The secret to North Korea’s survival is the reign of terror. Why do you think North Korea has public executions? Why do you think they block all communications? Why do you think North Koreans leave, knowing that they will never see their families again? It shows how bad things are. All our rights as people have been stripped away.” The phone connector: “If you speak out against the system, you will immediately be arrested. And if you do something wrong, then three generations of your family will be punished. In 2009, I heard there was a going to be some kind of coup launched in Chongjin and that all of the people involved were executed. When you hear about cases like this, of course you’re scared. So instead of trying to do something to change the system, it’s better just to leave.” *** Some people do leave, but not that many. It’s incredibly risky and logistically difficult to get around the border guards and the barbed wire. Unknown thousands cross into China each year. Some remain in China, almost always young women who get sold to poor Chinese men in the countryside who can’t get a wife any other way. Some get caught and sent back — to certain imprisonment. The repatriated wife, now 50, from Nampo. Escaped for the last time in 2016: “I had lived in China for 20 years, but someone must have reported me. I was sent back to North Korea, and I spent two and a half years in a prison camp. (After she had left once more for China), I knew I couldn’t be repatriated again. I thought that it would be the end of my life.” *** But each year, a thousand or so North Koreans make it to South Korea. In the 20-odd years since the famine, only 30,000 North Koreans have made it to the southern side of the peninsula. During the late 1990s and the early 2000s, almost all the North Koreans who fled were escaping out of hunger or economic need. But the explosion of markets has improved life for many. Today, more people are leaving North Korea because they are disillusioned with the system, not because they can’t feed their families. The accordion player: “I was ambitious. I wanted to be a party member and enjoy all the opportunities that come with that. My dream was to make lots of money and be a high-ranking government official. Family background means so much in North Korea, but I had family in China and I realized that this would stop me from being able to follow my dreams. I left because I didn’t have the freedom to do what I wanted to do.” The bean trader: “I wanted to progress in life, I wanted to go to university, but because my mother had defected to China, it looked like I wouldn’t be able to go any further. It looked like I would be stuck in North Korea where I was. I could have moved, lived, no problem, but I felt like I didn’t have any future in North Korea. That’s why I decided to leave.” The meat delivery guy: “We were told in school that we could be anybody. But after graduation, I realized that this wasn’t true and that I was being punished for somebody else’s wrongdoing. I realized I wouldn’t be able to survive here. So for two years I looked for a way out. When I thought about escaping, it gave me a psychological boost.” The doctor: “I hoped to work abroad as a doctor in the Middle East or Africa. But to work overseas you have to pass security screening to make sure you’re ideologically sound and aren’t going to defect. That’s a problem that money can’t solve and that’s where I got blocked. I was very angry, very annoyed. I cursed our society. I am a very capable person, and I was a party member, but even I couldn’t make it.” The construction worker: “I worked for three and a half years, but I made only $2,000 during that time. We were allowed to work overseas for five years maximum, and I was hoping to save $10,000 and return home proud. I realized it wasn’t going to happen, so I started looking for a chance to escape.” The university student: “I was so disgusted with the system. I didn’t have freedom to speak my mind, or to travel anywhere I wanted, or even to wear what I wanted. It was like living in a prison. We were monitored all the time by our neighbourhood leader, by the normal police, by the secret police. If you ask me what was the worst thing about North Korea, I’d say: Being born there” The bride: After graduating from high school, she worked in the cornfields for two years but just sat at home after that. So when she heard that her friend had been sold to a Chinese man as a wife, she asked to be introduced to the broker so that she could be sold, too. At least she’d be able to earn money in China. She has just arrived in South Korea. The meat delivery guy: Because his mother was a “traitor” who had defected to South Korea, he was blocked from going to college or joining the military. Instead, he was put to work doing manual labour with criminals and low-lifes, for almost no salary. He made money by delivering meat from his father’s butchery to local restaurants. He is now a university student in South Korea. The young mother, now 29, from Hoeryong. Escaped in 2014: She came from a good family background, but her father was violent. She married young, to a truck driver, and they lived comfortably in North Korea. But her aunts lived in the South, and they told her she should bring their sister, her mother, to them. So she defected with her husband and their two daughters, a 4-year-old and a 1-month-old. She is now an office worker in South Korea. The preschooler: She doesn’t remember much of her life in North Korea, just her friends from preschool and a few songs that they used to sing. She is now in elementary school in South Korea. The money man: He had been a border guard but bribed his way out. He then started working as a money transfer broker, moving cash from families in China or South Korea to relatives in North Korea, all for a hefty fee. But one day a deal went bad when a customer in North Korea was caught with a large amount of Chinese currency and turned him in. He now works at a factory in South Korea. The university student: He came from an ordinary family but had big dreams. He kept thinking about escaping to China and becoming successful, doing a job that he found rewarding. One day his parents told him he should chase his dreams. So he did. He is now a reporter in South Korea. The drug dealer: After bribing his way out of his factory job during the famine, he got involved in all sorts of illegal activities, from smuggling antiques to selling ice, a methamphetamine, in both China and North Korea. He is now a construction worker in South Korea. The hairdresser: She had been at teachers college but had to quit when she was 19 to earn money for the family after her father became sick. She started doing hair at her house, but then got an opportunity to work at a restaurant in China and earn much more. So off she went, with a broker. But she discovered there was no restaurant. Instead, she was sold to a Chinese man for $12,000. She has just arrived in South Korea. The farmer: After her husband defected, she had to make ends meet. She made tofu from scratch, grew corn in a plot of land several hours’ walk from her home and raised pigs in her yard. It was hard to make ends meet, but it became even harder when she hurt her back and struggled to work. She still has a bad back and cannot work in South Korea. The bean trader: He came from a privileged family and lived well, until his grandfather got in trouble with the regime and his mother defected. So he worked as a trader, sourcing beans and sending them to his aunt, who would sell them at the markets in Pyongyang. He is now a university student in South Korea. The construction worker: He worked and bribed his way into a construction job in Russia, a potentially lucrative posting. But despite working long hours, he often went months without being paid. Watching South Korean television opened his eyes to the lies of North Korea. He now works in South Korea. The doctor: He worked at a hospital in Hyesan and was a member of the Workers’ Party. He dreamed of being sent to the Middle East or Africa, where he could make much more money. But he was blocked from leaving. He now works as a doctor at a hospital in South Korea. The fisherman: He earned a good living, fishing for a state company and using his access to China to smuggle goods across the river. But his exposure to Chinese capitalism and South Korean radio broadcasts made him want to escape. He has just arrived in South Korea. The rich kid: She was a high school student, the daughter of a successful businessman who was flourishing in the emerging private economy. She wanted for nothing. She is now a university student in South Korea. The phone connector: Using her Chinese cellphone, she worked arranging phone calls between North Koreans and relatives on the outside, either in China or South Korea. But she got caught and was forced to do hard labour in prison. She was caught a second time but paid a huge bribe to get off. She fled before she was caught again. She now works in South Korea. The teenage prisoner: She was a high school student and was staying with her grandmother in another city when the rest of her family suddenly escaped to China, apparently because one of her mother’s business deals went bad. She was imprisoned, tortured and made to do hard labour. She is now a university student in South Korea. The accordion player: She volunteered for the military as a way to improve her prospects in North Korea. She hoped to become a member of the Workers’ Party and be the mayor of her city one day. But she was thwarted from advancing because she had family in China. She is now a university student in South Korea. The elementary: She loves pink and a doll she was given after escaping North Korea. She’d never owned a doll before. She has just arrived in South Korea. The repatriated wife: She escaped to China during the famine and had been living with a Chinese man. They have two children. But in 2014, she was repatriated to North Korea and spent two and a half years in a prison camp. When she was released, she escaped again but this time didn’t stop in China. She has just arrived in South Korea.
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Police identify victim killed in triple stabbing at Mississauga shopping centre (ven., 24 nov. 2017)
Peel Regional Police have identified a victim who died in hospital following a triple stabbing in Mississauga on Wednesday night. Police responded to reports of a fight around 7:30 p.m. at Meadowvale Town Centre on Winston Churchill Rd. and Derry Rd. When officers arrived on scene they found three male victims with stab wounds. Heidrah Shraim, 22, of Mississauga was stabbed in the chest and he taken to hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. This is Peel region’s 15th homicide of the year. The other males, a 33-year-old and an 18-year-old, suffered injuries that were not life-threatening. Const. Harinder Sohi said there is no information on the circumstances of the fight. Police are still looking for a group of about three to five men. Investigators from the homicide-and-missing-persons bureau are looking to speak to anyone who was in the area at the time of the incident. They are also asking the public for any surveillance video or dash-cam video.
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GOP congressman told woman, on tape, he would report her to police if she exposed his secret sex life (jeu., 23 nov. 2017)
WASHINGTON—Rep. Joe Barton, who apologized Wednesday for a lewd photo of him that circulated on the internet, told a woman to whom he had sent sexually explicit photos, videos and messages that he would report her to the Capitol Police if she exposed his behaviour, according to a recording reviewed by The Washington Post. The woman spoke to The Post after the lewd photo was published Tuesday by an anonymous Twitter account. She shared a secretly recorded phone conversation she had with Barton in 2015 in which he warned her against using the explicit materials “in a way that would negatively affect my career.” The woman described encounters and contact spanning a five-year period that began online after she posted a message on Barton’s Facebook page in 2011, leading to the sexually explicit exchanges and ultimately a pair of physical sexual encounters in Washington and Texas. Over time, she said, she became aware of and corresponded with multiple other women who engaged in relationships with Barton, who represents a suburban Dallas district and is one of the most senior Republicans in the House. The woman, who is not married, spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect her privacy. In the 2015 phone call, Barton confronted the woman over her communications with the other women, including her decision to share explicit materials he had sent. In that context, he mentioned the Capitol Police, a comment the woman interpreted as an attempt to intimidate her. “I want your word that this ends,” he said, according to the recording, adding: “I will be completely straight with you. I am ready if I have to, I don’t want to, but I should take all this crap to the Capitol Hill Police and have them launch an investigation. And if I do that, that hurts me potentially big time.” “Why would you even say that to me?” the woman responded. “ ... The Capitol Hill police? And what would you tell them, sir?” Said Barton: “I would tell them that I had a three-year undercover relationship with you over the internet that was heavily sexual and that I had met you twice while married and had sex with you on two different occasions and that I exchanged inappropriate photographs and videos with you that I wouldn’t like to be seen made public, that you still apparently had all of those and were in position to use them in a way that would negatively affect my career. That’s the truth.” In a statement late Wednesday, Barton said a transcript of the recording provided by The Post may be “evidence” of a “potential crime against me.” He said that he received word Wednesday that the Capitol Police are opening an inquiry. While there is no federal law prohibiting the disclosure of intimate photos of adults without consent, the Dallas Morning News on Wednesday reported that the Twitter photo of Barton could violate a 2015 Texas law banning so-called “revenge porn,” which is the portrayal of another person’s intimate body parts and distributing the images without consent. “This woman admitted that we had a consensual relationship,” Barton said. “When I ended that relationship, she threatened to publicly share my private photographs and intimate correspondence in retaliation. As the transcript reflects, I offered to take the matter to the Capitol Hill Police to open an investigation. Today, the Capitol Police reached out to me and offered to launch an investigation and I have accepted. Because of the pending investigation, we will have no further comment.” Read more: Shree Paradkar: Beware the blowback to the shifting landscape of sexual harassment The 13 times Donald Trump has been publicly accused of sexual misconduct: A complete list Michigan Rep. John Conyers acknowledges settlement, denies sexual harassment allegations The woman said she never had any intention to use the materials to retaliate against Barton. A request for comment from the Capitol Police was not immediately returned late Wednesday. Earlier Wednesday, Barton acknowledged “sexual relationships with other mature adult women” that he said took place while he was “separated from my second wife, before the divorce.” “Each was consensual,” he said in a statement. “Those relationships have ended. I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days. I am sorry that I let my constituents down.” Barton, 68, is the fifth-longest serving Republican in the House, now in his 17th term. He is a former chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and now serves as vice chairman of the panel. The Texas native has built a reputation on Capitol Hill as a fierce advocate for the oil and gas industry and a reliable vote for conservative legislation. A member of the Freedom Caucus, Barton regularly receives top scores from socially conservative groups such as the Family Research Council that analyze members’ stances on positions such as abortion and gay rights. But he is not known as an outspoken culture warrior. In 1998, amid the scandal over president Bill Clinton’s affair with a White House intern, Barton was quoted in the Los Angeles Times saying, “I personally don’t care a fig about what he does in his bedroom with his wife or any other sexual partners he may have, but I do care if he lies under oath.” Barton was still married to his second wife when his relationship with the woman began. His wife filed for divorce in April 2014, according to court records; the divorce was made final in February 2015. A spokeswoman for Barton did not respond to a question about when his separation began. Besides the recording of the phone call, the woman shared text and social-media messages she exchanged with Barton, as well as a 53-second cellphone video Barton recorded of himself while masturbating. The conspiracy theory website InfoWars obtained a copy of the video and published it Wednesday night, though the video appeared to have been removed from the site several hours later. The lewd Twitter photo that Barton acknowledged on Wednesday appears to have been captured from that video. The woman said she did not post the image herself. She shared phone numbers for Barton that match his personal and government-issued cellphones. Barton was not abusive or coercive in his interactions, the woman said, but said she felt he was “manipulative and dishonest and misleading” in his dealings with her and other women. “It’s not normal for a member of Congress who runs on a GOP platform of family values and conservatism to be scouring the internet looking for a new sexual liaison,” she said, explaining her motive for coming forward. The woman said Barton first reached out to her in 2011 after she posted a comment about politics on his Facebook page. As the two struck up a friendship, they would exchange messages for hours, including when he was on the House floor or in committee meetings, she said. Soon, Barton began flirting, making suggestive comments and sending explicit messages, she said. She described feeling uncomfortable with his advances at first. “He says to me, ‘Do you want me to send you a picture of myself?’ I said, ‘Oh no, no. Please do not do that.’ It kind of started there,” she said. In the spring of 2012, the woman flew to Washington, where he gave her a tour of the Capitol building, she said. The two slept together during that visit, and he reimbursed her in cash for her flight, she said. In 2014, she visited him in Texas, where the two slept together for the second and final time, she said. He again paid for her travel, she said. “I was in it for the politics connection,” the woman said of their relationship. “I was kind of unwittingly drawn into it with him because of just the amazement of having a connection to a congressman.”
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