GM workers protest at Oshawa plant in Canada, interrupting output

TORONTO (Reuters) – Workers at General Motors Co assembly plant in Oshawa, Ontario staged a sit-down protest that interrupted production for about two hours on Wednesday morning, a union spokeswoman said, following a similar protest late on Tuesday.

The action came after Unifor, the union representing the autoworkers, failed to win GM’s support for its proposals to save the plant. Unifor, which has vowed to block GM’s plan to close Oshawa by the end of 2019, met with GM officials in Detroit on Tuesday.

“Workers are now returning to the line with production expected to resume shortly,” Unifor spokeswoman Kathleen O’Keefe said. While production was affected for approximately two hours, a full shut-down was intermittent.

On Tuesday night, production stopped for nearly five hours after workers downed their tools, the union said.

It was unclear if a second shift on Wednesday would interrupt production and what impact the protests had on output.

The Oshawa plant closure, which GM has said would affect 2,973 assembly-line jobs, was announced in November as part of a broad restructuring aimed at cutting costs as investments increase in electric and autonomous vehicles.

GM has also not allocated new products for four U.S. plants, raising the possibility of their closure and the elimination of a total of about 15,000 jobs in North America.

Oshawa, which produces GM’s Chevrolet Impala, Cadillac XTS, Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, has the capacity to produce 310,000 vehicles, but its 2018 utilization was just 22 percent, according to LMC Automotive.

“We understand our union’s frustration, but need to now work together to deliver supports, transition and training for our employees,” said GM spokesman David Paterson.

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Boy (14) died in 'horrific' targeted attack when three men rammed him with car, stabbed him multiple times

A 14-year-old boy died in an “horrific” targeted attack when three men rammed a car into his moped then stabbed him multiple times.

Jayden Moodie was murdered on Tuesday in an area of east London notorious for drug dealing and blighted by so-called county lines gangs that are known to exploit children.

Chief Superintendent Richard Tucker told reporters he could not sleep for thinking about what had happened to such a young boy.

He said of the boy’s age: “I think that will strike a chord with so many people and so many parents across the UK.”

The teenager, who lived in the area with his mother, was knocked off the moped by a black Mercedes B Class at around 6.30pm on Tuesday in Bickley Road, Leyton, and then stabbed several times by three attackers as he lay unconscious in the road.

The car was found on Wednesday in the Carlisle Road area of Leyton, a few hundred metres away, and remains there for forensic examination.

Detective Chief Inspector Chris Soole from the Homicide and Major Crime Command, who is leading the investigation, said: “We are treating the recovery of the car as a significant development in our enquiries, which are still very much in their early stages.

“Jayden’s family are being fully supported and kept updated by our team. This is a truly heartbreaking time for them and we are doing everything we can to find out who was responsible for Jayden’s death.”

Mr Tucker said it was too early to ascertain a motive or say whether an incident a few streets away from the crime scene on Wednesday when a man was slashed across the face was linked.

He said: “The overriding factor is he’s 14 years old. A lot of people are saying ‘young man’ – he’s not. He’s a boy. He’s 14.

“It’s shocking, it’s an appalling event and this will have affected huge numbers of our young people and we’ve got additional officers in the area, and at schools, to actually reassure people that they are safe in east London.

“Whatever the reasons for his death, he was 14 years old and I would urge anyone who has any information to come forward and assist us to catch the people who did this horrific, horrific offence.”

A section 60 order was put in place to allow officers to search anyone in the vicinity of the scene for weapons.

Jayden’s godmother Zoe Grant, who lives in Nottingham, paid tribute to the 14-year-old by saying: “He was full of life, fun loving and a ray of sunshine. He was a beautiful boy, so intelligent, had everything to live for.

“He went to London and then this happens – it’s just so unfair.

“He was very dearly loved by everybody.

“Jayden was a good kid. 14 is no life – it’s not fair.”

A family friend, who gave his name as Solomon, said the schoolboy, a talented boxer, was a “wonderful” and “loving” child.

Describing himself as Jayden’s “acting grandfather”, he said the system was “really letting down the youth”.

“They don’t come on the streets because they want to – they don’t have a choice,” he said.

“They need to be given a chance to breathe like everyone else in the world.”

Mechanic Anthony Anderson described the boy as “a very nice guy” whom he had tried to persuade to go to school and stay off the street.

He said: “As an older person I just tried to give him fatherly advice, not only him but all the young guys – when I saw them I always tried to give them some fatherly advice at times.”

He added: “He would listen to you, you could sit and talk to him and he would listen.”

In 2018, around a fifth (17%) of homicide victims in London were teenagers, most of whom were stabbed. The youngest were aged 15.

The borough where Jayden died, Waltham Forest, has has been blighted by gang crime, with the local authority ploughing £3 million over the next four years into a prevention programme.

Police patrols were stepped up in the wake of the murder.

Detective Chief Inspector Larry Smith said: “Everything that we have learned about this attack so far indicates it was targeted and intent on lethal force from the outset.

“We are doing everything we can to catch those who carried out this cowardly attack and bring them to justice.”

The leader of Waltham Forest Council, Clare Coghill, called for those with information to come forward, warning that “to stay silent is to support murderers”.

She said: “The death of a child is a loss that no parent or family should ever have to face. Our thoughts are with all of the victim’s family and friends at this difficult time.

“This is a tragedy that will be felt right across our borough in all our communities. These senseless acts of violence must end.

“The murder of a 14-year-old boy is an appalling act and we must come together as a community to bring those responsible to justice.

“There will be members of our community who know, or suspect that they know, what happened to this child. You need to come forward; to stay silent is to support murderers.”

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Man injured following shooting in Bray

A man has been injured following a shooting in Bray, Co Wicklow this evening.

The incident occurred at approximately 8.45pm at St Laurence’s Terrace.

The man, aged in his twenties, suffered gunshot wounds to the chest. It is understood the victim was walking alone when the lone gunman approached him and shot him.

It is believed the victim was responsive to paramedics at the scene.

Gardaí have sealed off the area as they begin an investigation into the incident.

Local councilor and retired Garda, Brendan Thornhill said residents in the area will be “very frightened to hear of something like this especially happening on right their doorstep”.

“And with so much happening in Dublin, to think that it’s coming out this direction, I would just say that I hope gardaí are on top of things and I’m sure they will be.

“This isn’t run of the mill for us and especially with the few days we’ve had with fires in the town,” he continued.

“There really is no doubt about it, our residents will be shocked.”

More to follow

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Stocks boosted by U.S.-China trade hope, oil prices soar

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Stocks around the world extended recent gains and oil prices jumped on Wednesday on optimism the United States and China may be inching toward a trade deal, soothing fears of an all-out trade war and its possible impact on global growth.

Heightened risk appetite boosted U.S. Treasury yields to the highest this year, while the U.S. dollar extended losses after minutes from a Dec. 18-19 Federal Reserve policy meeting showed many Fed policymakers said the central bank could be patient on future rate hikes.

Delegations from China and the U.S. ended talks in Beijing on Wednesday amid signs of progress on issues including purchases of U.S. farm and energy commodities and increased access to China’s markets.

China has pledged to purchase “a substantial amount” of agricultural, energy and manufactured goods and services from the United States, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said on Wednesday.

MSCI’s all-country index .MIWD00000PUS climbed 1.03 percent for a fourth day of gains.

That added to advances since last week in equity markets around the world, following a strong U.S. employment report and comments from the Federal Reserve chief that calmed worries U.S. interest rate hikes would hurt growth.

A range of Fed policymakers said last month they could be patient about future interest rate increases and a few did not support the central bank’s rate increase that month, minutes from their Dec. 18-19 policy meeting showed.

On Wednesday, a clutch of Fed officials said they would be cautious about any further increases in interest rates so the central bank could assess growing risks to an otherwise-solid U.S. economic outlook.

The U.S. stock market was supported by advances by technology and other trade-sensitive sectors. The benchmark S&P 500 .SPX index is up by about 10 percent from 20-month lows hit around Christmas.

“If you want to gauge how investors are viewing the trade talks, just watch tech, and semiconductors in particular,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Cresset Wealth Advisors in Chicago.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 91.67 points, or 0.39 percent, to close at 23,879.12, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 10.55 points, or 0.41 percent, to end at 2,584.96 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 60.08 points, or 0.87 percent, to finish at 6,957.08.

The pan-European STOXX 600 benchmark closed up 0.53 percent, its highest close in nearly four weeks.

Oil prices jumped, helped by the hopes of easing trade tensions between China and the U.S., while OPEC-led crude output cuts also provided support.

Brent crude LCOc1 futures rose $2.72 to settle at $61.44 a barrel, a 4.6 percent gain. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 futures rose $2.58 to settle at $52.36 a barrel, a 5.2 percent gain.

The dollar tumbled to its lowest level since October after the Fed expressed caution about future rate hikes, and as investors reduced safe-haven bets due to optimism about U.S.-China trade talks.

“It will probably be mid-year before the Fed excites hike prospects again,” said Joseph Trevisani, senior analyst at FXStreet.com in New York.

U.S. Treasury yields climbed to the highest this year, helped by improved risk appetite, but retreated following dovish commentary from Fed speakers and a strong 10-year note auction.

Benchmark 10-year notes US10YT=RR were last down 2/32 in price to yield 2.7225 percent after earlier rising to 2.747 percent, the highest since Dec. 28.

Gold prices rose on Wednesday, with spot gold XAU= up 0.68 percent to $1,293.65 per ounce.

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Victims of Abuse by Religious Order Priests Say Their Claims Fall Through the Cracks

When Larry Antonsen decided to report a priest who sexually abused him during high school, he believed the Archdiocese of Chicago was the right place to go.

Mr. Antonsen and his wife were lifelong churchgoers who sent their children to Sunday school and counted themselves as members of a parish in the archdiocese. The priest Mr. Antonsen was accusing had spent 14 years working at Chicago-area Catholic high schools.

But Mr. Antonsen, who is now 72, said reporting the allegations dropped him into a maze of church bureaucracy, in which his accusations were passed from one office to another before being quietly set aside.

The reason: The priest in question happened to be an Augustinian — one of dozens of religious orders that are overseen not by bishops, but by religious superiors in regions around the country and in Rome. Mr. Antonsen said archdiocesan officials told him to take his complaint to the Augustinians.

“They said because it was a religious order, they didn’t handle it,” Mr. Antonsen said.

Jesuits, Franciscans, Benedictines, Augustinians: the names are iconic, their founders immortalized by sainthood, their members often bound together by vows of poverty and obedience.

But when a priest or brother in a religious order is accused of abuse, victims and advocacy groups say their accusations are often mishandled because they are caught between separate institutions within the church: the dioceses that say it is not their responsibility to investigate, and religious orders that then fail to handle the claims.

Survivors said the bureaucratic distinction has turned them into second-class victims who frequently fall between the cracks.

In Illinois, an attorney general’s investigation into clerical sex abuse found widespread failures to investigate claims — and singled out the way diocesan officials forwarded accusations against religious order priests to the orders and then often closed the books.

“Little to no follow up from the dioceses was commonplace, leaving survivors without answers or resolutions,” the report said.

In Pennsylvania, a grand jury report highlighted abuses by members of religious orders and found sloppy record-keeping about order members. Victims of religious order priests are also specifically excluded from a compensation fund set up by archdioceses in Philadelphia and New York.

When most of the bishops have released lists of priests accused of abuse, they have omitted religious order priests who worked in their dioceses, leaving the public with a potentially incomplete view of the problem. Religious orders represent about a third of all American Catholic clergy.

American bishops in recent days were near Chicago on a weeklong spiritual retreat on the sex abuse crisis, where they were focused on prayer rather than formulating policy. Bishops do not oversee religious orders the way they preside over parishes and their diocesan priests.

But bishops do give order priests permission — called “faculties” — to work and minister in their communities. The order sends a letter saying the men are in good standing and face no misconduct allegations.

While bishops can pull that permission and restrict where religious-order members work, diocese officials have argued they do not have the power to investigate or remove priests from the order.

But advocates for victims said church officials become legally responsible once they grant permission for clergymen to work in a diocese.

“The religious orders have never gotten the scrutiny or the attention the Catholic bishops have gotten,” said Jeffrey Anderson, a lawyer who has filed suits against Catholic officials and religious orders on behalf of victims.

In an interview, William Kunkel, the Archdiocese of Chicago’s general counsel, and Leah McCluskey, its director of child abuse investigations, said the archdiocese reports every accusation to state attorney’s offices and follows up on allegations against priests from religious orders.

They said that while it was up to individual orders to carry out investigations, the archdiocese tracks their outcomes and sometimes acts as a go-between if a victim does not want any contact with priests from the same group as the accused.

“We deal with these allegations very seriously and we follow up on them,” Mr. Kunkel said. “We certainly stay involved because they’re important issues to us.”

About 1,300 clergy from religious orders have been accused of abuse, according to tallies by advocacy groups, and the orders are now facing pressure to reveal which of their members have sexually abused children.

Last month, the Midwest and Maryland provinces of the Jesuits released 153 names of credibly accused clergy, and the organization said it would release more records this year detailing accusations against priests in the Northeast.

“It’s coming out piecemeal,” said Father Mark Padrez, president of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, an association of religious orders in the United States. “We want to be transparent, and we want to rebuild trust in the church.”

His own Dominican province in the western United States recently hired an outside law firm to sift through personnel records and release names of abusers stretching back to the 1930s. The Conference of Major Superiors of Men has encouraged orders to release names, but the group has no authority to force disclosures, Father Padrez said.

After the clerical abuse scandal exploded in 2002, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men adopted its own reforms following the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Orders added victim assistance offices and background screenings for candidates, and hired accrediting companies to audit their sexual abuse responses.

The fate of abusers in religious orders can differ from diocesan priests. A 2013 update on the orders’ response to the crisis says that canon law requires orders not to expel abusers if they are repentant, but to instead try to keep them within their religious communities, under close supervision and away from children.

Last January, Robert Krankvich, 37, said he was gripped with terror when he picked up the phone to report his own story of sexual abuse to the Diocese of Joliet.

Mr. Krankvich said it began when was a freshman at Providence Catholic High School, and the school’s charismatic president, an Augustinian priest named Richard McGrath, befriended him. Mr. Krankvich filed a lawsuit, which is still pending, against the Augustinians saying that Father McGrath repeatedly abused him from the age of 13 to 15.

Years later, after suicide attempts, struggles with alcohol and drugs and depression, Mr. Krankvich saw news reports that Father McGrath had left the school after a student reported seeing him look at “potentially inappropriate material” on his phone. Father McGrath could not be reached for comment.

But when Mr. Krankvich called the Joliet diocese, he said church officials referred him to a priest who was Providence’s new president.

“It felt horrible,” he said. “Now you want me to talk to another priest from the school where this happened. I felt betrayed.”

It was the last time he tried to contact the church.

Mr. Antonsen said he decided to report his abuse in 2006, after blocking out the memories for years.

One weekend, when he was a sophomore at St. Rita High School, he said a priest named the Rev. Michael P. Hogan offered to take him to a camp in Milwaukee, and the two ended up drinking in a motel room. Mr. Antonsen said the priest started touching him, and he ran from the motel.

Mr. Antonsen said his life soon spiraled downward. He quit his high-school football team. His grades plummeted. He developed a drinking problem.

After Mr. Antonsen took his complaints to the Archdiocese of Chicago, he said he was connected with a priest from the Midwest Augustinians and told his story once again.

The Augustinian official said Father Hogan was living in a nursing home and denied the abuse. Mr. Antonsen said he pressed the order to put out a call for other victims or look deeper into his claims, but they demurred.

“That was the last they ever did,” Mr. Antonsen said. “They just believed him.”

A 2006 letter to Mr. Antonsen from the Rev. Jerome Knies, then the vicar provincial of the Midwest Augustinians, noted Mr. Antonsen’s request that the order conduct a wider search for victims and urged him to take up their offer of counseling “in the interest of healing and reconciliation.”

Father Hogan died in September 2008, and has never been named as an accused abuser by church officials. His obituary on the website of the Midwest Augustinians makes no mention of Mr. Antonsen’s claim or any others, and honors his work as a teacher, vice principal and substance abuse counselor.

The archdiocese said it had followed up on Mr. Antonsen’s complaint by alerting the state’s attorney of Cook County and staying in regular contact with the Augustinian official handling his allegations.

The Midwest Augustinians and Father Knies did not respond to requests for comment. On its website, the order says it has taken rigorous steps to prevent abuse, and encouraged victims to come forward and “find us willing to address their needs with a pastoral response.”

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Amazon founder Bezos, wife to divorce

WASHINGTON • Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos and wife MacKenzie Bezos have decided to divorce after a long trial separation, Mr Bezos said yesterday in a joint statement by the couple on Twitter.

“We want to make people aware of a development in our lives. As our family and close friends know, after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends,” the tweeted statement says.

“We’ve had such a great life together as a married couple, and we also see wonderful futures ahead, as parents, friends, partners in ventures and projects, and as individuals pursuing ventures and adventures,” the tweet says.

“Though the labels might be different, we remain a family, and we remain cherished friends,” it says.

Mrs MacKenzie Bezos, a novelist, is often described as having played a pivotal role in the Amazon origin story by supporting Mr Bezos’ move off Wall Street and into e-commerce. Her novels include The Testing Of Luther Albright and Traps.

The couple met when they both worked at hedge fund D.E. Shaw, and they married in 1993. He founded Amazon a year later.

In an interview with Vogue, Mrs Bezos said that she and Mr Bezos complemented each other, thanks to their contrasting personalities.

Mr Bezos, 54, is worth US$137 billion (S$185 billion), according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a ranking of the world’s 500 wealthiest individuals.

A divorce could reshape the wealth rankings. If the couple split their fortune equally, it could leave Mrs Bezos, 48, with US$69 billion, making her the world’s richest woman.

It could also make Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates the planet’s richest person once again.

The state of Washington – where Amazon is based and the couple have a home – is a community property state, which means all property and debt acquired during a marriage “will be divided equitably by the court if the couple cannot negotiate an agreement”, according to the website of McKinley Irvin, a family law firm in the region.

Amazon again became Wall Street’s most valuable company this week, surpassing Microsoft.

From modest beginnings as an online bookseller, Mr Bezos and Amazon branched out into almost every product category available, ending up taking on established retail giants such as Walmart.

Under Mr Bezos, Amazon launched the Kindle e-reader and revolutionised the way books are distributed and read.

In November, Amazon picked America’s financial and political capitals for massive new offices, with plans to create more than 25,000 jobs in both New York City and an area just outside Washington.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

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Police search lorries as M6 shuts between J15 and J16 due to 'ongoing incident'

Staffordshire Police said it was called to reports about “concern for people travelling on the motorway” near Keele and stopped a vehicle, with a number of people exiting from the back.

One man is in custody after being arrested at the scene and traffic remains at a standstill on the northbound carriageway, although southbound has now reopened after being shut for several hours.

One witness, Gareth Condliffe, told Sky News that he saw officers searching a number of lorries.

He said: “I was on my way home when suddenly the route on my satnav went red and everything stopped.

“I must have been stuck for about an hour and by the time I got to the front I could see the police were pulling in all the lorries and checking in the back of them.

“They were taking them in to the inside lane and trying to direct the traffic around them, but it was causing huge tailbacks. There was a police helicopter flying overhead as well, going over all the traffic.”

Another motorist, Martin Kavanagh, saw several suspected migrants being unloaded from the back of a lorry on the northbound carriageway.

He told Sky News at 7pm he had been stationary for about an hour-and-a-half, having left his office in Coventry at around 3pm to get back home to Bolton.

“It looks to me like east African refugees, one lying on the hard shoulder, several have been taken into ambulances, there was one at large on the far side of the opposite southbound carriageway and police apprehended that individual and brought him back over,” he said.

“There are multiple lorries involved. There are lots of police and paramedics here and they’ve done a super job, but we have not been given any communication from the police.

“One or two people have gone up to the police, but they have kept them at a sensible distance and sent them back to their vehicles.

“I’m now four hours into my journey with no sign of the motorway being cleared.”

Motorists have been urged to avoid the area, with Highways England reporting delays of 90 minutes.

Ambulance crews have joined officers on the scene and a police helicopter has also been spotted overhead.

Burton Albion fans heading north to watch their side take on Manchester City in the semi-final of the Carabao Cup are among those who have reported getting stuck in the jam.

The first-leg match got underway at the Etihad Stadium at 7.45pm.

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The brutal secret of school sport initiations

Hazing rituals have long been a brutal secret among high school and college sport teams. But in the #MeToo era, can teenage victims shatter the code of silence?

*This story includes some graphic descriptions of sexual assault*

When Allison Brookman arrived at Reed Custer High School to pick up her 14-year-old son Anthony from American football camp, she knew something was wrong.

“You can kind of tell when your kid is hurt or sad,” she told the BBC.

“When I pulled up I saw that same look in his face, that he was hurt.”

After some needling, he admitted he had just been “jumped” by four senior football players.

But it wasn’t until she took him to hospital to have his injuries examined that she heard what had really happened – that Anthony had been beaten up and sexually assaulted by members of the team as part of a violent hazing ritual.

“The first guy who slapped me twice and knocked me down, he kicked me in my right side on to my ribs,” Anthony told CBS in an interview.

“While the fourth one took my shorts off and they pulled my legs up so that he could get his finger to my, you know, body part.”

Allison says when they heard this in the hospital examining room, she and her husband were stricken with horror.

“They didn’t just beat you up, they tried fondling you?” she recalls asking.

“At that point my son looked at us and said ‘don’t worry mom, don’t worry dad, they didn’t get in me.'”

“That was probably the breaking point for both of us.”

Now the family is suing the Reed-Custer Community Unit School District 255 in Braidwood, Illinois, claiming it failed to prevent the sexual assault and for allegedly not properly responding to the incident once they became aware.

Superintendent Mark Mitchell defends the schools actions and says the players were punished “according to the terms of the School District’s Athletic Code of Conduct.” The school is defending the legal action.

Three of the alleged attackers have also been charged as juveniles with aggravated battery. They are not named as they were minors at the time of the incident.

As their case winds through the courts, other eerily-similar incidents have also come to light. In Maryland, four 15-year-old members of the Damascus High School junior varsity football team are accused of raping a younger teammate with a broomstick as part of a hazing ritual, and trying to rape others.

Prosecutors have told in chilling detail how the alleged attackers cornered four freshmen teammates in the locker room.

“It’s time,” one of them said before they ganged up on the first victim, holding him down and sodomising him with the broom handle.

They are being tried as adults. A fifth suspect is being charged as a juvenile.

And in the Canadian city of Toronto, seven 14- and 15-year-old football players from St Michael’s College School are facing charges of gang sex assault related to three separate hazing incidents.

In one incident, a video allegedly showing a teammate being penetrated by a broom was shared online.

These high-profile cases of sexual assault have reignited the call to end hazing in sports. And in the #MeToo era, many former victims are coming out to share their story.

What is hazing?

Hazing is when members of a group deliberately embarrass or harm new or prospective members as part of a right of passage, or initiation into the group.

“These are powerful forces that we’re talking about, wanting to belong and wanting to be a part of a community,” says Jay Johnson, an expert on hazing on sports teams who teaches at the University of Manitoba.

Hazing rituals can run the gambit from relatively benign – forcing team members to carry the gear to matches, or chant silly songs on campus – to extreme forms of bullying, including physical and sexual abuse.

It has been most commonly associated with university fraternities and sororities and athletic clubs, but high school groups are not immune. A 2000 survey by Alfred University found that about half of high school students reported participating in activities that qualified as hazing – while only 14% identified as being hazed.

In the US, 44 states have banned hazing.

In Canada, many universities and sport organisations have anti-hazing policies, though no federal law specifically targets the practice. Like in the St Michael’s incident, police have often relied on assault laws when laying charges in hazing cases.

In the UK, the Rugby Football Union, the sport’s governing body, has said initiations at university clubs are putting people off wanting to continue playing.

It claimed the traditions are partly to blame for an estimated 10,000 school leavers who recently stopped playing.

When hazing turns criminal

Most students who have been hazed have trouble realising they were, says Johnson, in part because a lot of the activities may seem harmless and like they were “just being a part of a team”.

But hazing can turn sinister, and the practice leads to several deaths a year, often from alcohol intoxication.

Sexualised hazing is also fairly common, says Johnson.

From Texas to Australia, there have been reports of ritual sex assault on school sports teams for years.

A 2017 investigation by the Associated Press found 70 cases of teammate-on-teammate sexual assaults in US public schools between 2012-2017, which it called “the tip of the iceberg”.

The cases are shocking both in their violence and their similarity, often featuring some variation of older teammates sodomising victims with anything from a fist, to a Gatorade bottle to the nozzle of a carbon-dioxide tank.

Earlier this year, an organisation called End Rape on Campus released a report saying that orientation week at Australian Universities is called “The Red Zone” by sexual assault support workers due to the combination of assaults, hazing rituals, and excessive alcohol consumption.

Code of silence

Sometimes all it takes is one bad apple to push a team to commit sexual assault, Johnson says.

“All it takes is that one person in power, or at the top of the hierarchy… a veteran player who came in who was a bit on the sadistic side, who pushes that boundary of what it can become,” he says.

But hazing rituals usually stem from a toxic team culture, he says.

Traditions are passed down from year-to-year, and today’s aggressors were often last year’s victims. Often, coaches and other authorities turn a blind eye, Johnson says.

In their lawsuit, the Brookmans blame the school for allowing the hazing to fester on the team until it escalated to their son’s assault. They also blame the school for allegedly not protecting their son from bullying after the incident.

Allison says Anthony was harassed every day by fellow students who called him a “rat”. Meanwhile, she says, the alleged attackers only received a three-day game suspension.

It was the lack of action, she says, that led the family to sue.

“We just wanted to do our best to let our son see that he was somebody who was worth fighting for,” she says.

Anthony now goes to a different school, and is seeing a therapist. The head coach resigned from the team, although he is still a teacher at the school.

Superintendant Mitchell says the student-athletes were disciplined according to school guidelines. He says he is not legally allowed to comment on individual disciplinary cases.

“We intend to vigorously defend these baseless allegations and protect the reputation of our fine School District and its staff,” he said in a written statement.

In Toronto, the hazing allegations led to the resignation of school principal Greg Reeves and school president Father Jefferson Thompson.

Several alumni critiqued what they claim was the elite school’s culture of “toxic masculinity” and claimed it had a “code of silence”, especially once it was revealed that Principal Reeves did not immediately report the video of the alleged sexual assault.

He said that he did so the next day, after first helping the victim to tell his parents, because caring for the victim had been his first priority.

“This is a great school, and the majority of the teachers are great people. Where was the oversight? Like, what’s going on with your teams? What is the mentality here? … There’s a code of silence at the school,” a parent told Postmedia news outlet.

#MeToo in the locker room

The Brookman’s story, and the sexual assault cases in Maryland and Toronto, have come to light during an era of public reckoning about sexual violence.

From Hollywood to the Supreme Court, victims have come forward to describe how powerful institutions silenced them to protect their attackers.

Are youth sports next?

Johnson says he believes the attention that is being paid to Anthony’s case, and the sexual assault charges laid in Maryland and in Toronto, show that people are beginning to think differently about hazing.

“I actually have hope that this might sort of be the flashpoint, for opening up the floodgates, similar to what happened to the #MeToo movement,” Johnson says.

“That more people might start to come forward and feel empowered to share their stories.”

There are signs that is starting to happen. In Toronto, prominent NHL players have revealed they were victims of sexual hazing while playing in junior ice hockey leagues, as have some alumni of St Michael’s.

Ultimately, that is why Anthony agreed to tell his story on the nightly news.

“You see a lot of hazing on TV, but that’s all it is, it’s the news reporter maybe talking with the other news reporter and a picture of the school,” Allison recalls her son telling her.

“Nobody ever steps forward, I want people to actually see my face and see what people did to me.”

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U.S. stock, bond funds leak $30.4 billion in ominous start to 2019

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Investors demanded cash back from U.S.-based funds for a 13th straight week, showing increased concern over economic growth as stock and bond returns disappointed, Investment Company Institute (ICI) data showed on Wednesday.

People withdrew $30.4 billion from U.S.-based mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) on a net basis during the week ended Jan. 2, including $14.2 billion from bonds and $11.3 billion from stocks, the trade group said.

Investors have been preparing in recent weeks for the Federal Reserve to further tighten monetary policy as the United States and China spar over trade, making a recession more likely.

During the week studied by ICI, Apple Inc (AAPL.O) warned that iPhone sales in the holiday quarter were weak due to slower sales in China, a bad omen for the coming earnings season. The widely owned company’s shares fell nearly 10 percent the following day.

Some investors view elevated withdrawals as a contrarian signal that now is the time to buy.

In the days since the withdrawals, stocks have staged a rebound after Fed chair Jerome Powell said on Friday that policymakers “will be patient” as they watch how the U.S. economy performs. Those remarks and others by Fed officials signaled that further rate hikes are on hold for now.

While recent withdrawals are less than a percent of these funds’ overall assets, investment products focused on equities likely posted record monthly outflows in December, according to earlier estimates from Lipper, a research service. More cash was pulled from bond funds over the latest seven days than at any point in nine weeks, ICI data showed.

Bond funds would normally attract interest when people flee the stock market. But tight monetary policy, ballooning U.S. budget deficits and record levels of U.S. corporate debt are raising the specter of losses in debt markets, too.

The high-yield “junk” bond market, which has been a leading indicator of recessions, is flashing “yellow” now, Jeffrey Gundlach, chief executive of Doubleline Capital LP, said on a Tuesday webcast.

Gundlach described U.S. government debt as “a completely horrific situation,” saying the United States could be at a “tipping point.”

The U.S. government spent more than it made from taxes to stimulate the economy following the 2007-09 global financial crisis. More recently, Washington cut individual and corporate taxes, adding to the country’s debt.

“Are we growing at all or is it all just the increase in debt?” Gundlach asked.

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Trudeau calls 3 byelections, including for seat NDP’s Jagmeet Singh seeks

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced three upcoming byelections on Wednesday, including in the B.C. riding where NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is vying for a seat.

The byelections will be held in Burnaby South, B.C., Outremont, Que., and York–Simcoe, Ont., on Feb. 25.

Trudeau’s announcement comes after he faced mounting pressure from Singh to call a byelection in Burnaby.

On Sunday, Singh was in the city and called out the prime minister over the delay.

“It looks like Trudeau is again delaying byelections in Burnaby South,” Singh told assembled supporters.

“This is a decision that impacts the bedrock of our democracy. Having an elected representative in Ottawa is the bedrock of our representational government, of our system … They’re doing it in their own political interest, and that’s deeply disappointing.”

Singh, who doesn’t have a seat in the House of Commons, has not been able to participate in debates and other official matters since becoming NDP leader in 2017.

The byelection will be a crucial test for New Democrats, who’ve been struggling to find their footing since their party was relegated to a distant third in the 2015 general election.

The race in Outremont, left vacant after former NDP leader Tom Mulcair resigned, will also be seen as a test of whether the NDP can hang on what’s left of the orange wave that swept Quebec in 2011.

The Conservatives are expected to easily keep York-Simcoe, left vacant by the resignation of long-time Tory MP Peter Van Loan.

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