Donald Trump seethes against Russia probe 'disgrace'

WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Donald Trump seethed on Thursday (Nov 15) that investigators probing alleged collusion between Russian agents and his election campaign have gone “totally nuts” and are a “disgrace.”

Even by the standards of his frequent barrages against special counsel Robert Mueller, Trump’s early morning tweet storm was blistering.

“A TOTAL WITCH HUNT LIKE NO OTHER IN AMERICAN HISTORY!” he wrote.

The diatribe came amid claims that Trump is maneuvering to have Mueller fired or otherwise shut down before he can close in on the president and his inner circle, including family members.

Last week, Trump sacked his attorney-general Jeff Sessions, replacing him with Matthew Whitaker, who is on the record as being harshly critical of the Mueller investigation.

The switch ignited a wave of protests from Trump’s Democratic opponents but the president on Thursday doubled down on his rejection of Mueller and “his gang of Democrat thugs”.

“They have found no collusion and have gone absolutely nuts. They are screaming and shouting at people, horribly threatening them to come up with the answers they want,” Trump wrote.

“They are a disgrace to our Nation and don’t care how many lives (they) ruin,” he wrote, branding the investigators “Angry People, including the highly conflicted Bob Mueller.”

MUELLER STAYS SILENT

Mueller, a former director of the FBI and a Vietnam War veteran, is leading one of the most explosive probes in US political history.

Trump and his campaign are alleged to have received help from Russian agents seeking to help defeat his 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton or at least to undermine confidence in US democracy.

Trump has always denied any such links and rejected the idea that Moscow played a significant role in influencing the dramatic election.

But Mueller has quietly chipped away, indicting several dozen people, most of them Russians. He has also charged four Trump associates, although on charges not directly related to the alleged Russian interference.

Now Washington is on tenterhooks while waiting for Mueller, who works in near total secrecy, to issue his final report.

As expectations of a showdown mount, Trump has become ever more defensive, his grim mood worsened by his Republican party’s battering last week in midterm congressional elections, where they retained the Senate but lost the House of Representatives.

Starting in January, Democrats say they will use House investigative committees to open further probes of Trump’s businesses and his connections to Russia.

Republicans, with few exceptions, are rallying around the president.

On Wednesday, Republican Senator Jeff Flake, a frequent critic, joined Democratic Senator Chris Coons in an attempt to introduce a measure in the upper chamber to protect Mueller. However, it was blocked by Senate majority leader and key Trump ally Mitch McConnell.

Whitaker’s fired predecessor Sessions, had formally stepped aside from any control over Mueller, so as to avoid any conflicts of interest.

Democrats want Sessions’ replacement, Whitaker, to do likewise, but there is no indication that he will.

Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer has said that if Whitaker refuses to recuse himself, Democrats will seek to attach legislation protecting Mueller to a must-pass spending bill that will be up for consideration in the coming weeks.

“Last night, Senate Republicans blocked a bill to protect Mueller. This morning, Trump showed again why we need it,” Adam Schiff, a Democrat in the House, tweeted.

“We will do everything in our power to protect the Mueller investigation, the independence of the Department of Justice, and the rule of law.”

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Opinion | What a Kenyan Slum Can Teach America About Politics

Many Americans who voted in last week’s midterm elections were hungry for change. They pinned their hopes on politicians who they felt embodied the values and diversity of the nation as a whole, and who could lift up their communities.

The result will be a Congress significantly more representative of America today. But merely putting people in office will not produce the seismic change needed to sufficiently improve local communities and the lives of the most disenfranchised people. The stunningly diverse 116th Congress, which starts in January, was made possible by grass-roots community organizing around the country. But those same communities can’t stop there. Real change must come from the ground up.

We saw this in Flint, Mich., where political leaders failed to maintain safe water infrastructure for poor and black residents. As a result, children and families drank water contaminated with lead, poisoning a generation. Elected officials at the state and federal levels did nothing.

Instead, local activists, doctors and families exposed the contamination and forced the authorities to take action. Volunteers spread awareness about the risks of drinking tap water. Bottled water drives gave the community strength to withstand the crisis. Flint is not out of danger, but it is on a better path today precisely because its residents took on the challenge themselves.

I’ve seen this same dynamic in my hometown, Kibera, one of the largest slums in Kenya.

As in Flint, clean water is not easily accessible to Kibera residents; without formal piping into the slum much of our water is easily contaminated with disease. To make things worse, enterprising locals tap into the nearest pipes and re-sell contaminated water as “safe,” at exorbitant prices.

With each election cycle, my community placed faith in politicians who promised to provide clean water, as well as to tackle systemic poverty, endemic corruption and myriad other problems that plague our society. But time and again they struggled to deliver.

Tired of waiting for those solutions, my mother took matters into her own hands. She organized a group of women who gathered each week to pool their money to help start a business, care for a sick child or buy school supplies. They were mostly illiterate; since I could read and write, they asked me, a 9-year-old, to keep the books.

One day, many years later, a woman in the community proposed expanding on the group’s model, making it more of an official, organized operation, with an agenda we could present to the public and politicians. I saw an opportunity to combine the efforts of Kibera’s many community groups — churches and mosques, groups of young people and old, community centers, and assemblies of craftspeople. We created a unified urban movement.

By organizing through these groups, we are able to tackle bigger problems, starting with water. We created a network of aboveground pipes that reduced the spread of disease, cut the cost of a jerrycan of potable water (about five gallons) by 60 percent and prevented local cartels from siphoning off water to sell to private vendors.

The community took on new problems. For example, most Kiberans lacked official ID cards, meaning they could not take advantage of employment or government services. We simply did not exist in the eyes of our government. Many people did not even know how to register, or even have the resources to do so. We organized an effort to get thousands of people their first ID cards, ever.

Recently this community movement held its own, unofficial elections. Community leaders organized themselves, and elected representatives to, for the first time, form a unified community congress to lead their own agenda. These community leaders seek to influence government to bring resources to communities like mine, to create accountability mechanisms and to address systemic challenges like land rights and inequality.

Flint and Kibera are reminders that the power of politics is the people. The process of community organizing will bring forth the leaders who can truly represent their communities and advocate change, whether or not those leaders hold political office.

Many of the most impactful leaders never wanted to be politicians. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali and, in Kenya, heroes like the environmental activist Wangari Maathai — their legacies speak to the truth that political office is not everything.

We should look first to our neighborhoods, towns, schools, churches, mosques and temples to identify the leaders who represent our needs and values. Empower them, and the politicians will follow suit.

Kennedy Odede is a co-founder and the chief executive of Shining Hope for Communities, a Kenya-based organization working to reduce poverty and create systemic change in the country’s urban slums.

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Theresa May has turbulent day of high-profile resignations and backlash

EMBATTLED UK prime minister Theresa May has had a turbulent day of high profile ministerial resignations and backlash against the deal.

It is reported that Mrs May has offered the job of Brexit secretary to Michael Gove – his decision is believed by many to be key to the survival of the Tory leader.

Today letters to the 1922 Committee have been pouring in seeking a ‘no confidence’ vote in Mrs May – there must be 48 to trigger such a vote.

Meanwhile, European Council President Donald Tusk has signalled that he still hopes Brexit can be averted but said the EU is prepared if there is a “no-deal scenario”.

Speaking as chaos continues in Westminster over the proposed Withdrawal Agreement wiht the UK, Mr Tusk said the EU “is prepared for a final deal with the United Kingdom in November.”

He also told reporters in Brussels that; “We are also prepared for a no-deal scenario but of course we are best prepared for a no-Brexit scenario.”

After a days of resignations among her ministers, British Prime Minister Theresa May is due to give a press conference at 5pm.

Resignations

Earlier, the British Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and three other ministers resigned over Theresa May’s Brexit deal, in a massive blow to her plans.

Mr Raab, who only took over in the summer after David Davis resigned in protest over the British Prime Minister’s withdrawal strategy, said he “cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU”.

His surprise departure on Thursday came amid a furious backlash from Brexit-backing Conservatives to the deal agreed by UK and EU negotiators four months ahead of the UK’s scheduled withdrawal on March 29.

Hours earlier Shailesh Vara had quit as minister of state for Northern Ireland, saying Mrs May’s agreement, “leaves the UK in a halfway house with no time limit on when we will finally be a sovereign nation”.

Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg has handed in his letter of no-confidence to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, saying Ms May’s Brexit deal “has turned out to be worse than anticipated and fails to meet the promises given to the nation by the Prime Minister”.

In his letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Raab said the deal represented a “very real threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom” because of provisions for Northern Ireland.

He also said he could not accept “an indefinite backstop arrangement” for the Irish border.

He said: “No democratic nation has ever signed up to be bound by such an extensive regime, imposed externally without any democratic control over the laws to be applied, nor the ability to decide to exit the arrangement.”

The work and pensions secretary Esther McVey has also stepped down on Thursday morning.

She said the Brexit deal “does not honour the result of the referendum”.

In a resignation letter posted on Twitter, Ms McVey cited concerns over the future of the Union and a lack of control over money, law, borders and trade policy under a deal she felt kept the UK too close to Brussels.

She wrote: “The British people have always been ahead of politicians on this issue, and it will be no good trying to pretend to them that this deal honours the result of the referendum when it is obvious to everyone that it doesn’t.

“We have gone from no deal is better than a bad deal, to any deal is better than no deal.

“I cannot defend this, and I cannot vote for this deal. I could not look my constituents in the eye were I to do that.

“I therefore have no alternative but to resign from the Government.”

Suella Braverman has also resigned as a Brexit minister, her office said.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan has resigned as a parliamentary private secretary in the Department for Education, saying she cannot support the Brexit deal after negotiations “built on the UK trying to appease the EU”.

Mr Raab added: “Above all, I cannot reconcile the terms of the proposed deal with the promises we made to the country in our manifesto at the last election.

“This is, at its heart, a matter of public trust.”

Ms May is due to hold a press conference at 5pm.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has said there may not be “a majority for any way forward in Westminster” as UK minsters resign over the Brexit deal.

Taking questions on the draft deal in the Dáil, Mr Coveney said it would “protect Ireland’s core interests now and into the future”.

He praised the work of Irish diplomats involved in the negotiations over the past two years, saying they did an “extraordinary job to build and maintain EU unity around many off the Irish vulnerabilities”.

And he said the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier had shown “extraordinary capacity to understand the detail” of the Irish concerns.

Asked by Fianna Fáil’s Darragh O’Brien about the instability in the UK government, Mr Coveney replied: “Of course there are challenges to selling any package in United Kingdom.

“Many people would say there isn’t a majority for any way forward in Westminister.”

But he added that British Prime Minister Theresa May has “shown a capacity to get things done in very difficult circumstances”.

Mr O’Brien questioned whether the Government had been too triumphalist in their public statements since the deal was published.

“The time for victory and celebration is when this draft agreement is ratified and satisfied by all,” he said, adding that “every statement being made in Ireland is being scrutinised”.

However, Mr Coveney rejected this claim. He argued that the Government had a duty to explain what was in the deal to the Irish people.

The Minister said he was giving “reassurance” to people who were “very sceptical that a deal could be done” to maintain open trade on this island.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Mrs May spoke by phone this morning, Independent.ie has learned.

It is understood Mr Varadkar offered the embattled PM his “support” amid a string of ministerial resignations in Westminster.

They pledged to “work together” on the future relationship between the UK and EU so that the Irish backstop “never needs to be invoked”.

Earlier, the Brexit deal that ensures no hard Border on this island was hailed as a major victory for Ireland.

While Mr Varadkar said Brexit is “something we regret”, he insisted the best possible Withdrawal Agreement has been negotiated.

He said other EU members had taken on Irish concerns and helped protect the peace process, the common travel area and our economy.

“This is one of the better days in politics,” he said.

Mr Varadkar praised Mrs May for being “true to her word” by ensuring there will be no hard Border.

Andrea Leadsom has insisted she has no plans to quit the Government and will support Theresa May in securing a Brexit deal.

The Commons Leader, who attends the UK Cabinet as part of her role, hit back after her SNP counterpart Pete Wishart joked she had upset his “Brexit resignation bingo coupon”, adding: “I had her definitely down as a resigner.”

Mrs Leadsom replied: “Normally I’m very happy to entertain (Mr Wishart’s) banter but I think all he’s done today is to demonstrate he’s not very good at bingo.”

She added: “I am staying in Government because there is more work to be done to get the Brexit that the Prime Minister wants to deliver to the people, and therefore I am determined to support her to do that.

“Now, him bantering about it and mocking it is all very well, but he doesn’t suggest anything else and his party has form for ignoring the will of a referendum in Scotland that voted to stay in the United Kingdom.

“What are they doing sitting there? All they want to do is break up the United Kingdom, and against the will of Scottish fishers keep them in the Common Fisheries Policy. How much sense does that make?”

The pair’s exchanges came at business questions and amid the backdrop of Cabinet resignations over Mrs May’s draft Brexit withdrawal agreement.

However, there will now be major concerns that the ministerial resignations in London will be followed by more in the British Cabinet – meaning that any deal Brexit will once again be up in the air.

Representatives from the SDLP, Sinn Fein, Alliance and the Northern Ireland Green Party have arrived at the Department of the Taoiseach in Dublin for a meeting with Mr Varadkar to discuss the draft Brexit agreement.

SDLP leader Colm Eastwood said: “It will be a difficult few days for Theresa May but we need to focus on the positive and make sure the backstop is backed.”

Meeting

The resignations came as European Council president Donald Tusk announced an extraordinary meeting of EU leaders in Brussels on November 25, at which the withdrawal agreement and a political declaration on future relations will be finalised and formalised.

Westminster is braced for further resignations, amid widespread expectations that the British Prime Minister may face a challenge to her position from Conservative MPs submitting letters of no confidence in her leadership.

Mr Raab had been a surprise choice as Brexit Secretary when Mr Davis, along with foreign secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit minister Steve Baker, resigned in protest at Mrs May’s Chequers plan in July.

As the UK’s ministerial point man in negotiations he made repeated trips to Brussels for talks with EU negotiator Michel Barnier as he and civil servants tried to hammer out a workable withdrawal agreement.

The pound fell heavily against most major currencies after his resignation. Sterling dropped 1.1pc to 1.28 US dollars and was 1.2pc lower at 1.13 euros.

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett said the Government was “falling apart before our eyes as, for a second time, the Brexit Secretary has refused to back the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan”.

“This is the 20th minister to resign from Theresa May’s Government in her two-year premiership,” he said.

“Theresa May has no authority left and is clearly incapable of delivering a Brexit deal that commands even the support of her Cabinet, let alone Parliament and the people of our country.”

Remain-supporting Tory MP Anna Soubry added on Twitter that Mr Raab’s resignation “marks the end of PMs Withdrawal Agreement” and possibly her premiership.

Ms Soubry added: “No PM deserves to be so badly treated.

“Raab signed up to her Withdrawal Agreement allowing her to make her statement after Cabinet knowing he’d resign in time for the 9am News bulletins the next morning. Shameful.”

Mrs May now faces a battle to get it through Parliament as pro-Leave Conservative MPs – as well as some Remainers – lined up to condemn the plan, accusing her of breaking promises and leaving the UK at the mercy of Brussels.

In a resignation statement, North-West Cambridgeshire MP Mr Vara – who was promoted by Mrs May as recently as July – said: “We are a proud nation and it is a say day when we are reduced to obeying rules made by other countries who have shown that they do not have our best interests at heart.

“We can and must do better than this. The people of the UK deserve better.”

Mr Vara, a former Conservative vice chairman who has served as a whip and on the frontbenches for the bulk of his career since entering Parliament in 2005, backed Remain in the 2016 referendum.

In Brussels, Mr Tusk was handed a copy of the 585-page withdrawal agreement by EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

Ministers and ambassadors of the remaining 27 EU states will work to finalise by next Tuesday the political declaration on future relations with the UK, published in outline form on Wednesday, he said.

Welcoming the UK Cabinet’s collective agreement to accept the withdrawal document, Mr Tusk said: “Of course, I do not share the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm about Brexit as such.

“Since the very beginning, we have had no doubt that Brexit is a lose-lose situation and our negotiations are only about damage control.”

And he sent a message to the British people: “As much as I am sad to see you leave, I will do everything to make this farewell the least painful possible, both for you and for us.”

More to follow

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Magee House owner backtracks on demolition, aims to keep building standing

The owner of the partially-collapsed Magee house in Centretown has changed his mind about tearing the structure down, and now wants to keep it standing through winter.

The deadline for demolition was Nov. 15, the day of the Ottawa council heritage subcommittee meeting. City staff report that the owner now says he wants to shore up the building to support it throughout the winter.

The Thursday deadline had been imposed after consulting engineers recommended the building be gone before winter.

The engineers argued that there was too much risk involved in the restoration plan and urged the building be torn down before the snow falls. They described the building as a “house of cards.”

The city is currently in negotiations with the owner and the city has announced its intent to rehire engineering consulting firm John Cooke and Associates to determine if the plan is a safe one.

Jeff Leiper, who is the councillor for the ward where the Magee house is, says that he has received several concerns from constituents in the area, particularly merchants, who say they have seen reduced foot traffic because the sidewalk that has been blocked for safety reasons. He also voiced their concerns for the upcoming holiday season not only for shopping but safety as well.

“Every 24-hour period at this point matters,” Leiper said. “It is important to the residents of Hintonburg and the merchants of Wellington (Street) West that the building come down as quickly as possible. The last thing we want is an uncontrolled collapse.”

According to staff, the review by Cooke and Associates will take place over the next 72 hours.

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Theresa May vows to 'see Brexit plan through': 'I am going to get the best deal for Britain'

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has said that leadership “is about making the right decisions, not the easy ones”.

In a news conference on Thursday afternoon, she responded to media questions about her current position of power in Government.

“Am I going to see this through? Yes,” May said. “I am going to my job of getting the best deal for Britain and I’m going to my job of getting a deal that is in the national interest.”

“I believe with every fibre of my being that the course I have set out is the right one for our country and all our people,” May said.

Mrs May said that her approach “has been to put the national interest first” and that “I have not put my own political interest first”.

“If we do not move forward with the agreement we do not know the consequences that will follow…I want to honour the vote of the referendum,” she said.

“This is a complex decision…there is no deal that can be agreed with the EU that does not involved a backstop”.

Mrs May has been battling to save a draft divorce deal with the European Union after her Brexit secretary and other ministers quit in protest earlier today.

Brexit minister Dominic Raab and work and pensions minister Esther McVey quit just over 12 hours after she announced cabinet had agreed to the terms of the draft agreement, saying they could not support it.

Junior Northern Ireland minister Shailesh Vara, junior Brexit minister Suella Braverman, two parliamentary private secretaries, and two other aides also subsequently stepped down.

Their departure led some lawmakers in London to openly question whether Mrs May’s government will survive.

“My colleagues must do what they believe to be right just as I do…I’m sorry that they have chosen to leave the government,” she said.

The prime minister showed little sign of backing down in parliament earlier today, where she warned lawmakers they now faced a stark decision.

“The choice is clear. We can choose to leave with no deal, we can risk no Brexit at all, or we can choose to unite and support the best deal that can be negotiated,” she said.

She said that Britain will leave the European Union on March 29 and will not suspend the process of leaving.

“We will not extend Article 50,” May told parliament, when asked about the clause in the EU’s Lisbon Treaty which allows for countries to leave the bloc.

Mrs May also said she shared the concerns of those who believe a Brexit backstop to avoid a border on the island of Ireland impinges on British sovereignty, but it was an improvement on previous proposals.

“The references to the backstop do raise some difficult issues,” May told parliament.

“I fully accept that across the house, there are concerns in relation to the backstop. Indeed, I share some of those concerns,” she said.

More to follow…

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Judge calls Florida a ‘laughing stock’ for election recount failures

A federal judge slammed Florida on Thursday for repeatedly failing to anticipate election problems, and said the state law on recounts appears to violate the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that decided the presidency in 2000.

“We have been the laughing stock of the world, election after election, and we chose not to fix this,” U.S. District Judge Mark Walker said in court.

Walker vented his anger at state lawmakers but also Palm Beach County officials, saying they should have made sure they had enough equipment in place to handle this kind of a recount. Walker also said he’s not happy about the idea of extending recount deadlines without limit.

The overarching problem was created by the Florida Legislature, which Walker said passed a recount law that appears to run afoul of the 2000 Bush v. Gore decision, by locking in procedures that don’t allow for potential problems.

A total of six election-related lawsuits are pending in Tallahassee. Earlier Thursday, Walker ordered that voters be given until 5 p.m. Saturday to show a valid identification and fix their ballots if they haven’t been counted due to mismatched signatures.

Florida’s 67 counties have faced a 3 p.m. Thursday deadline to finish recounts that could determine the next senator and governor in one of America’s top political battlegrounds. Republicans said they would immediately appeal.

State officials testified that nearly 4,000 mailed-in ballots were set aside because local officials decided the signature on the envelope didn’t match the signature on file. If these voters can prove their identity, their votes will now be counted and included in final official returns due from each county by noon Sunday.

Meanwhile, the ongoing recount threatens to stretch into the weekend. The election supervisor in Palm Beach County, a Democratic stronghold, warned they may not meet Thursday’s initial deadline. U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Democrats want that looming deadline set aside, and other lawsuits could lead to more delays.

More than a week after Election Day, an immediate resolution seems remote.

Once the machine recount is complete, state law requires a hand review of races with margins of less than 0.25 percentage points. This almost certainly means another recount in the Senate race, with unofficial results showing Republican Gov. Rick Scott ahead of Nelson by 0.14 percentage points.

Also, the election won’t be certified until Tuesday, even though the machine recount may essentially bring a conclusion to the governor’s race, where Republican Ron DeSantis leads Democrat Andrew Gillum by 0.41 percentage points in unofficial results.

Nelson, a three-time incumbent, has defended his legal strategy that resulted in Walker’s ruling, saying in a statement Wednesday that “it remains the most important goal of my campaign to make sure that every lawful vote be counted correctly in this Senate race, and that Floridians’ right to participate in this process is protected.”

Republicans, however, say in their own lawsuits and motions that Democrats are trying to change the rules after the voting didn’t go their way.

“We will continue to fight to defend Florida law and uphold the will of the voters,” said Chris Hartline, a spokesman for Scott.

Nelson and Democrats had wanted Walker to order the counting of all mail-in ballots rejected for a mismatched signature, arguing that local election officials aren’t handwriting experts.

Walker said he could not go along with that suggestion.

“Let this court be clear: It is not ordering county canvassing boards to count every mismatched vote, sight unseen,” Walker wrote in his 34-page ruling. “Rather, the county supervisors of elections are directed to allow those voters who should have had an opportunity to cure their ballots in the first place to cure their vote-by-mail and provisional ballots now, before the second official results are fully counted. This should give sufficient time, within the state’s and counties current administrative constraints, for Florida’s voters to ensure their votes will be counted.”

Lauren Schenone, a spokeswoman for Scott, called Walker’s ruling “baseless” and said they were “confident” it would be overturned by the Atlanta-based appellate court.

The developments are fueling frustrations among Democrats and Republicans alike. Democrats want state officials to do whatever it takes to make sure every eligible vote is counted. Republicans, including U.S. President Donald Trump, have argued without evidence that voter fraud threatens to steal races from the GOP.

Just when state officials will get recount results from all counties remains unclear. Tallying machines overheated earlier this week in Palm Beach County. That caused mismatched results with the recount of 174,000 early voting ballots, forcing staffers to go back and redo their work.

The county’s Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher said the machines underwent maintenance right before the election, but “I don’t think they were designed to work 24/7.”

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Winter weather travel advisory for Peterborough, Kawartha Lakes

Environment Canada has issued a winter weather travel advisory for the Peterborough area.

Snow is expected to begin early Thursday evening and continue through Friday morning. The advisory affects the southern part of the City of Kawartha Lakes (Lindsay area), City of Peterborough, Lakefield and Peterborough County.

Between five and 10 centimetres of snow is expected across the region with most of the snow falling Thursday night, Environment Canada stated.

“Poor winter driving conditions are expected. Untreated roads may become snow covered and slippery,” the advisory stated.

The snow will become mixed with rain on Friday as temperatures edge above 0 C. This snow is associated with a deepening low-pressure system moving up the eastern seaboard of the United States.

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Police looking into case of student at notorious Ontario ‘training school’

TORONTO — Police are taking a preliminary look at what might have become of a boy at one of Ontario’s notorious training schools amid questions from a survivor who believes a supervisor might have beaten his friend to death decades ago.

In a brief interview, acting Det. Sgt. John Linney with police in Cobourg, Ont., confirmed the initial investigation into the fate of James Forbes.

“It’s in the infancy,” Linney said this week. “The first thing we have to figure out is if he’s still alive or not.”

In February, The Canadian Press related a harrowing account from Rick Brown, 65, of Kitchener, Ont., who was at the Brookside Training School in Cobourg decades ago. Brown related how the boys at the school were drifting off to sleep in a darkened dormitory one evening in 1963 when a supervisor came in, turned on the lights and walked over to James’ bunk bed and ordered him to get up.

According to Brown, who was 10 years old at the time, a terrified James refused.

“I remember seeing the blankets shaking,” Brown said of his young friend. “He was shaking.”

The supervisor, Brown said, then pulled the boy from bed and “beat the daylights” out of him. Brown, who said the cracking sounds of that beating still haunt him, said the supervisor scooped up the boy, who was making gurgling sounds, and left after ordering the blood cleaned up.

No one at the school saw James again, Brown said.

Ontario’s reform schools for boys and girls aged eight to 16 — essentially prisons for kids — operated between 1931 until they were shut down in 1984. Many of those sent there were beggars, runaways, truants, or simply deemed “incorrigible.”

Last December, a survivor of another training school launched a proposed class action against the province seeking $600 million on behalf of everyone sent to 12 of the provincial facilities. The unproven lawsuit alleges the schools were cesspools of sexual, physical and psychological abuse perpetrated by unsupervised and unqualified staff on helpless kids.

A hearing will take place in Thunder Bay, Ont., next month on whether to certify the lawsuit as a class action.

“As you can well imagine, that will complicate the investigation,” Linney said.

Additionally, the officer warned that trying to find out what happened to James would be complicated by the passage of 55 years, and it was unclear whether the small Cobourg police force had the resources to pursue a probe.

While Brown’s initial account in February generated reaction from other survivors of training schools, no one was able to say what happened to James. Coroner’s records don’t go back that far, so any clues as to his fate would likely lie in the now defunct school records.

Regardless, Brown said he was thrilled at the prospect someone might actually be trying to find out what happened to his friend for whom he said he wanted only justice.

“It is great news,” he said. “Finally, someone is listening at the police department. Let’s see how this unfolds.”

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7 Women Accuse Dartmouth Professors of Sexual Abuse in Lawsuit

Seven women are suing Dartmouth College for sexual assault, harassment and discrimination they say they experienced from three prominent professors who, according to the suit, turned a human behavior research department “into a 21st-century Animal House.”

For over a decade, the professors — Todd Heatherton, William Kelley and Paul Whalen — “leered at, groped, sexted, intoxicated and even raped female students,” according to the court papers, which were filed Thursday in federal court in New Hampshire.

The lawsuit, which seeks $70 million in damages, says this behavior went back as far as 2002, and accuses the college administration of looking the other way for more than 16 years.

Dartmouth, an Ivy League university in Hanover, N.H., announced in October 2017 that it was conducting a sexual misconduct investigation of the men, who were tenured professors in the school’s psychology and brain sciences department. That inquiry concluded that the professors should be stripped of their tenure and lose their jobs. All three were allowed to either resign or retire.

The college did not at the time provide details of the allegations or the findings of its investigation, so the lawsuit provides the first glimpse.

The women say that the professors used their power over their students’ academic careers and future jobs to coerce them into participating in an alcohol- and sex-saturated party culture and to discourage them from complaining.

Kristina Rapuano, one of the six named complainants (the seventh is identified only as Jane Doe), said in an interview on Wednesday that Professor Kelley began harassing her by enlisting her as his drinking buddy, and making his academic support conditional on her cooperation.

In March 2015, Ms. Rapuano said, Professor Kelley raped her during the annual conference of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society in San Francisco. She said that after Professor Kelley encouraged her to go out drinking, she woke up in a daze the next morning and did not remember what had happened. He told her that they had had sex, she said.

He then began pushing her to have sex and then threatening professional retribution when she resisted, the court papers say.

“The way that he operated was he pushed the limits on drinking, doing things that were starting to tear down these professional boundaries,” Ms. Rapuano, 30, said. “Once that boundary is taken down, it’s really hard to re-establish, or I would say impossible.”

Professor Kelley had power over her, she said, because she was working toward her Ph.D. and he could influence her professional future. “This is the person that will provide the academic advising that you need to have enough research under your belt so you can get a job, the person that will help you network to get that job,” Ms. Rapuano said.

In April 2017, Ms. Rapuano joined a group of students who reported sexual misconduct by the three professors to the college. Even after they complained, their lawsuit says, the college encouraged them to continue working with their harassers for four more months.

During that period, Professor Whalen sexually assaulted one of the seven women, Vassiki Chauhan, according to the complaint, filed by the law firms of Douglas, Leonard & Garvey in New Hampshire and Sanford Heisler Sharp in New York.

At least two sexual harassment complaints were made against Mr. Heatherton in 2002, the suit says, and instead of “responding appropriately,” Dartmouth promoted him.

“Kelley, Whalen, and Heatherton all prided themselves on having young and attractive females in their labs,” according to the complaint. “During a lab meeting, Heatherton announced that he found it socially rewarding when women smiled at him.”

None of the former professors could be reached for comment. The New Hampshire attorney general was also investigating misconduct allegations against the professors.

In response to the lawsuit, Justin Anderson, a spokesman for Dartmouth, said the college applauded the women’s courage in coming forward and remained open to resolving their complaints outside the courts.

“However, we respectfully but strongly disagree with the characterizations of Dartmouth’s actions in the complaint and will respond through our own court filings,” Mr. Anderson said in an emailed statement.

Ms. Rapuano said she had left the country for a while in 2016 to get away from Professor Kelley.

Months later, in March 2017, Professor Heatherton groped and sexually harassed another graduate student, Sasha Brietzke, at a conference, according to the complaint.

Hearing about that episode shook Ms. Rapuano. “Someone in the lab that I almost viewed as my academic sister was now also getting hurt,” she said. “I felt almost protective about wanting to end this pattern that was extending across generations. I realized it was going to continue.”

Katharine Q. Seelye contributed reporting.

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Wall Street hit by weak earnings, Brexit concerns

(Reuters) – U.S. stocks fell on Thursday as a batch of weak earnings and Brexit-related concerns sparked a sixth day of selling, with high-growth stocks such as Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) and Facebook Inc (FB.O) taking a hit.

Ten of the 11 major S&P sectors fell, with more than 1 percent losses in consumer discretionary .SPLRCD, defensive real estate .SPLRCR and utilities .SPLRCU indexes.

Shares in the world’s largest retailer Walmart Inc (WMT.N), which was up earlier after beating quarterly comparable sales estimates, reversed course to trade down 0.7 percent.

The results come in a big week for retail earnings, with department store operator Macy’s Inc (M.N) raising its annual earnings forecast on Wednesday, signaling a strong holiday shopping season.

However, J.C. Penney Co Inc (JCP.N) slumped 9 percent after quarterly comparable-store sales fell short of analysts’ estimates.

U.S. retail sales rebounded sharply in October as demand for motor vehicles and building materials surged. The Commerce Department said retail sales rose 0.8 percent last month, above the expected 0.5 percent rise.

“Market’s choosing not to pick and spare (retail) numbers and most of the retailers are looking forward to the holiday season,” said Rick Meckler, a partner at Cherry Lane Investments, New Vernon, New Jersey.

“But right now the focus is on rising interest rates and the potential for long-term trade disruptions with China.”

Markets earlier got some relief following news that China had delivered a written response to U.S. trade demands ahead of an expected meeting between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the end of the month.

“Most people thought it would be resolved but it has dragged on and the optimism turned to pessimism,” said Meckler.

U.S. stocks got off to a shaky start this month after a sharp selloff in October as investors weigh the prospect of rising interest rates, slowing global economy and trade tensions.

Political worries in Europe escalated after a series of resignations in British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government threw into doubt her long-awaited Brexit agreement and reports of anti-euro comments from an Italian official.

At 10:07 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was down 134.87 points, or 0.54 percent, at 24,945.63, the S&P 500 .SPX was down 15.23 points, or 0.56 percent, at 2,686.35 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was down 23.76 points, or 0.33 percent, at 7,112.64.

Cisco Systems Inc (CSCO.O) rose 3.3 percent after the network gear maker reported better-than-expected quarterly results, benefiting from demand for its routers and switches.

Apple Inc (AAPL.O) rose half a percent after five days of losses, helping the S&P technology index .SPLRCT gain 0.3 percent.

Facebook Inc (FB.O) dropped 1.4 percent. Hedge funds Tiger Global Management, Appaloosa LP and Soros Fund Management dissolved their stakes in the social media giant on Wednesday.

Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) fell 2.8 percent, pulling the S&P consumer discretionary index .SPLRCD down 2.08 percent.

KB Home (KBH.N) slumped 17 percent after the company cut fourth-quarter revenue forecast. Shares of other homebuilders including PulteGroup Inc (PHM.N), Toll Brothers Inc (TOL.N) and Lennar Corp (LEN.N) tumbled.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 2.20-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.23-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded no new 52-week highs and 16 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 3 new highs and 91 new lows.

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