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0608-ukelection

Comey to Congress: President Trump told him ‘I need loyalty’

ERIC TUCKER AND JULIE PACE, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Thursday, Jun 8th, 2017

Former FBI Director James Comey will testify that President Donald Trump sought his “loyalty” and asked what could be done to “lift the cloud” of investigation shadowing his White House, according to prepared remarks released ahead of his appearance on Capitol Hill on Thursday.

Comey will also tell lawmakers that he informed Trump that he was not personally under investigation, validating the president’s previous claims that he was not the target of the probe into his campaign’s possible ties to Russia. Comey will say that the FBI and Justice Department were reluctant to state that publicly “because it would create a duty to correct, should that change.”

Comey’s testimony will be his first public comments since Trump abruptly fired him on May 9. The seven-page remarks released Wednesday reveal in dramatic detail, and with a writer’s flair, Comey’s uneasiness with Trump, who he believed was disregarding the FBI’s traditional independence from the White House.

Until his firing, Comey oversaw the federal investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s associates and Russia. Trump’s abrupt firing of Comey outraged Democrats, who believe he was improperly trying to halt a probe that has hung over his presidency since his first day in office.

The former director’s testimony is based on written memos of his interactions with Trump, some of which he says he shared with senior FBI leadership. Comey describes at length a Feb. 14 meeting in the Oval Office in which he believed Trump asked him to drop any investigation of fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S.

“He then said, ‘I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go,’” Comey says, according to the prepared remarks. “I replied only that ‘he is a good guy.’”

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she was unsure if the president had reviewed Comey’s testimony. Asked whether the president stood by earlier assertions that he had neither sought Comey’s loyalty nor asked for the Flynn investigation to be dropped, she said: “I can’t imagine the president not standing by his own statement.”

Sanders referred specific questions to Trump’s outside counsel, Marc Kasowitz, who did not immediately respond to inquiries.

Earlier Wednesday, Trump announced that he planned to nominate Christopher Wray, a former Justice Department official, as Comey’s successor. FBI directors are nominated for 10-year terms.

Comey’s testimony was released by the Senate intelligence committee hours after lawmakers sparred with top intelligence chiefs who refused to answer the panel’s questions about conversations they had with Trump regarding the Russia probe. Intelligence committee members wanted to know about news reports claiming Trump had asked Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Adm. Mike Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, to publicly state that there was no evidence of collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

Trump allies have sought to undermine Comey’s credibility ahead of his testimony, noting that the FBI had to correct some of his remarks from his last appearance on Capitol Hill. They’ve also questioned why Comey did not raise his concerns about Trump publicly or resign.

Among the encounters Comey describes is a Jan. 27 dinner at the White House that he viewed as an attempt by the president to “create some sort of patronage relationship.”

According to Comey, Trump asked if he wanted to remain as FBI director and declared: “I need loyalty. I expect loyalty.” Comey says he replied that he could offer his honesty, and that when Trump said he wanted “honest loyalty,” Comey paused and said, “You will get that from me.”

In March, after Comey had publicly revealed the existence of a federal counterintelligence investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Trump complained that the probe had left a “cloud” that was “impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country.”

It was during that conversation that Comey said the president asked him what could be done to “lift the cloud” of investigation that was damaging his administration. Comey said Trump also said “he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with hookers in Russia, and had always assumed he was being recorded when in Russia” – referencing an unverified intelligence dossier detailing compromising information Moscow allegedly had collected on the president.

The White House initially said Trump fired Comey on the recommendation of the Justice Department, citing as justification a memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that criticized Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. But Trump later said he was thinking of “this Russia thing” when he fired Comey and would have dismissed him without the Justice Department’s input.

Comey said his practice of keeping written meeting records began after his encounter with Trump before the inauguration. He said he did not keep records of the two private, in-person interactions he had with President Barack Obama between the time he took the helm at the FBI in September 2013 and the end of the 44th president’s tenure.

Comey describes nine one-on-one conversations with Trump in four months.

Here are 10 highlights from text of the opening remarks, in chronological order:

– Comey says he first met Trump on Jan. 6 to brief him on the contents of a salacious dossier. Gathered by an ex-British spy, it said the Russians had compromising material on Trump. Comey said he felt it was not only important to keep Trump in the loop, but also to spread the word and weaken the ability of the Russians to use it as blackmail.

– Comey explains how an FBI counter-intelligence investigation differs from a criminal one. He says it can be about turning a compromised American into a double agent; alerting Russian targets; protecting computer systems; or, in some cases, laying criminal charges.

– He assured Trump several times that he was not personally targeted in the counter-intelligence investigation: “We did not have an open counter-intelligence case on him.”

– Comey started making notes on his meetings with Trump, the moment he left their first encounter: “I began to type it on a laptop in an FBI vehicle outside Trump Tower the moment I walked out of the meeting. Creating written records immediately after one-on-one conversations with Mr. Trump was my practice from that point forward. This had not been my practice in the past (with Barack Obama).”

– Trump invited him to dinner on Jan. 27: “The president said, ‘I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.’ I didn’t move, speak, or change my facial expression … during the awkward silence that followed. We simply looked at each other in silence. The conversation then moved on, but he returned to the subject near the end of our dinner. … The president returned to the subject of my job, saying he was very glad I wanted to stay. … He then said, ‘I need loyalty.’ I replied, ‘You will always get honesty from me.’ He paused and then said, ‘That’s what I want, honest loyalty.’ I paused, and then said, ‘You will get that from me.’ … It is possible we understood the phrase ‘honest loyalty’ differently.”

– In an Oval Office meeting on Feb. 14, Trump dismissed everyone from the room. “When the door by the grandfather clock closed, and we were alone, the president began by saying, ‘I want to talk about Mike Flynn’.“ They discussed Flynn’s firing as national security adviser. Trump said he hadn’t done anything wrong, but had to be let go because he’d misled the vice-president about chats with the Russians. Trump said: “‘He is a good guy and has been through a lot … I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.’ I replied only that ‘he is a good guy.’ … I did not say I would ‘let this go’.“

– Comey was concerned. “I immediately prepared an unclassified memo of the conversation about Flynn and discussed the matter with FBI senior leadership. I had understood the president to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December. … It was very concerning, given the FBI’s role as an independent investigative agency.”

– Comey said he was asked to ‘lift the cloud’: “(Trump) said he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with hookers in Russia and had always assumed he was being recorded when in Russia. He asked what we could do to ‘lift the cloud.’ I responded that we were investigating the matter as quickly as we could and that there would be great benefit, if we didn’t find anything, to our having done the work well. He agreed, but then re-emphasized the problems this was causing him.”

– Trump wanted the world to know he wasn’t a target: “He repeatedly told me, ‘We need to get that fact out’.“ Comey said the FBI and Department of Justice had been reluctant to make public statements, to avoid having to publicly correct them later should the situation change.

– The president appeared to threaten him in their last phone call on April 11: “(Trump said), ‘I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know.’ I did not reply or ask him what he meant by ‘that thing.’ … That was the last time I spoke with President Trump.”

Peanut butter spread on door handles at Senator O’Connor high school

NEWS STAFF | posted Thursday, Jun 8th, 2017

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Peanut butter was spread on the door handles at Senator O’Connor College School as part of a prank.

A parent at the school told CityNews her daughter could have died if she had tried to open the doors. She has a severe peanut allergy, the mom said, and the school called to warn her before the school opened.

“When someone does an intentional act of putting peanut butter (on door handles), that threatens their lives, that’s wrong. That’s an intentional act to hurt people. People with allergies … this puts them in peril,” said Kimberley Evans.

Her daughter, Hannah, questioned if the students behind the prank understood how serious the ramifications could have been.

“To say it bluntly it’s kind of stupid because it’s literally life and death…” she said.

Oil was also put on the stairs, John Yan, head of communications for the Toronto Catholic District School Board, said on Wednesday.

The graduation prank went “too far” and compromised the safety and security of the students. Two entire grades — Grade 11 and Grade 12 — have been sent home as the school investigates and cleans up.

“We want to make sure that any evidence or trace amounts of peanut butter are removed as it can be potentially life threatening for those with an allergy to peanut butter,” Yan added.

The school principal said disciplinary action may be taken once the investigation is finished.

Ontario launches new autism program; practitioners to be regulated

ALLISON JONES, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jun 8th, 2017

Parents of children with autism protest the government's decision to cut Intensive behavioural Intervention therapy for children age five and older at Queen's Park in Toronto on Monday, June 6, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Parents of children with autism protest the government’s decision to cut Intensive behavioural Intervention therapy for children age five and older at Queen’s Park in Toronto on June 6, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Ontario is announcing the launch of its new autism program Thursday, which is expected to go much more smoothly than the Liberal government’s last attempt that angered thousands of families and spawned large protests.

Children will begin moving into the new program June 26, Ontario’s minister for children and youth services is set to announce. Unlike the bungled rollout last year, intensive therapy will not be limited to children under five as the government works toward fully implementing the program by the spring of 2018.

The key difference this time around is families and advocates were involved in the process of developing the program, said Ontario Autism Coalition president Bruce McIntosh.

“That’s probably the single biggest factor,” said McIntosh, who added that the new program includes many elements families have been urging for 12 years.

“Twelve years is a hell of a long time to be yelling about something,” he said.

The new program will not be limited by severity of diagnosis, so intensive services will be available to kids anywhere on the spectrum, if needed.

“When the minister announces severity will not be a criteria, that’s a big deal because there were kids who were rejected or kicked out of the program in (previous) days because of those totally artificial criteria,” McIntosh said. “All you need is a diagnosis. That’s it and that’s huge. That’s huge for the parent community.”

Minister Michael Coteau is also set to announce that applied behavioural analysis practitioners will be regulated, The Canadian Press has learned.

That will help ensure that high-quality services are provided by qualified professionals, said the president of the Ontario Association for Behaviour Analysis.

“Ontario’s behaviour analysts are optimistic about the impact this commitment can have on the lives of individuals receiving behaviour analytic services,” Louis Busch said in a statement.

The positive reception is in stark contrast to last year, when the government announced that a new autism program would do away with the distinctions between Intensive Behavioural Intervention and Applied Behaviour Analysis and blend them into a service that would tailor the intensity of therapy to a child’s individual needs.

That program was not due to roll out for two years and in the meantime the government said it would stop funding IBI for kids over four, giving families of kids removed from the IBI wait list $8,000 to pay for private therapy during the transition.


Related stories:

Report calls for early intervention for children with autism

Coalition urges more supports for children with autism in schools

Ontario looking at extending direct funding for autism therapy: minister


The backlash from parents was swift and sustained. Hundreds of children had spent two or three years on the IBI wait list, only to be abruptly removed and given an amount of money that would only pay for, at most, a few months of therapy.

The previous minister was canned and mere weeks after getting the job, Coteau announced those families would get successive payments of $10,000 for private therapy until the new program was up and running, and the start date for the program was moved up to 2017.

The newly designed $533-million Ontario Autism Program still does away with the distinctions between ABA and IBI, but it will be open to all children under 18 with a diagnosis anywhere on the autism spectrum. There are an estimated 40,000 children and youth in Ontario on the autism spectrum.

A 1-800 number will provide a single point of contact for information and referral, and each family will have a service co-ordinator and will get a family services plan that will be updated based on need.

The program will also include a direct funding option, which allows families to either receive funding to pay for private therapy or use government-funded services.

Officials are also designing a review mechanism, so that families can challenge a treatment decision.

Polls open in UK election after campaign marred by terror attacks

DANICA KIRKA, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Thursday, Jun 8th, 2017

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Police officers arrive at the polling station at Pakeman primary school in London, England, on June 8, 2017. GETTY IMAGES/Leon Neal
Polling stations opened across Britain on Thursday for national elections, amid heightened security worries following a series of terror attacks in what one senior police official described as “unprecedented times.”

The public is being asked to be alert and to report concerns to police as voters choose 650 lawmakers for the House of Commons. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Lucy D’Orsi acknowledged concerns about Thursday’s general election

Atrocities near Parliament, in Manchester and at London Bridge have left Britain on high alert. The official threat level stands at severe, the second highest rating, indicating an attack is seen as “highly likely.”

“We appreciate that these are unprecedented times and together with our partners we continue to keep communities safe,” D’Orsi said

Prime Minister Theresa May called the snap election in hopes of increasing the Conservative Party’s slim majority in Parliament, and strengthening her hand in European Union exit talks.

The campaign did not go to plan. May was criticized for lacklustre campaigning and deadly attacks that turned the election into a debate about national security.

In her final message to voters, she appealed directly to the undecided, urging them to support her in taking the country out of the European Union.

“I can only build that better country and get the right deal in Brussels with the support of the British people,” she said. “So whoever you have voted for in the past, if that is the future you want then vote Conservative today and we can all go forward together.”

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in his final rally claimed he had reshaped British politics.

“As we prepare for government, we have already changed the debate and given people hope,” he said. “Hope that it doesn’t have to be like this; that inequality can be tackled; that austerity can be ended; that you can stand up to the elites and the cynics. This is the new centre ground.”

May says the Conservatives will build a “stronger, fairer and more prosperous Britain,” while Corbyn says he would govern “for the many, not the few.”

Polls suggest Labour has narrowed the Conservatives’ lead. A high turnout is seen as Labour’s best hope of eroding some of the Conservative majority in the House of Commons.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time, with most results expected in the early hours of Friday morning.

Apple updates iMac, MacBook lines; doubles down on performance

Winston Sih | posted Wednesday, Jun 7th, 2017

The new 27-inch iMac. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

 

Apple refreshed its line of Mac computers at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif., Monday, including the iMac desktop – a device the tech giant hasn’t updated in almost two years. Manufacturers typically renew computers at least yearly to stay relevant.

iMac reimagined on the inside, not out

Not much has changed on the exterior, but the first thing you do notice when powering on is the vibrancy of the display – boasting a beautiful 4K display and 5K display in the 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMacs, respectively. These displays are 43 per cent brighter than its predecessor at 500 nits with support for one billion colours. Essentially, you’re guaranteeing yourself a vivid picture with whatever you’re doing.

The thin bezel of the new Apple iMac. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The thin bezel of the new Apple iMac. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

From a performance perspective, Apple has heavily invested in the Intel Kaby Lake seventh-generation Core i5 processor as standard, with an option to upgrade to Core i7. Measured against the previous-generation model, the new iMac will allow for three-times-faster gaming on the 21.5-inch model.

iMac pushes the envelope in storage with the evolution of the Fusion Drive across the 27-inch line and on the high-end 21.5-inch 4K computer, adding higher-capacity memory. Fusion Drives allow users to access frequently used documents, photos, videos, on a flash drive, eliminating spinning disks of the traditional hard drive. It means fewer parts to break down. I’d like to see a move to this being standard on all desktops.

Available ports on the 27-inch iMac. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

Available ports on the 27-inch iMac. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

Users will find plenty of connectivity on the 27-inch iMac, and unlike iPhone 7, there’s still a headphone jack, alongside four USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt 3 (a.k.a. USB-C for everyone else), a Gigabit Ethernet, and an SD card port. This allows for added displays, high-speed hard drive connectivity, and other third-party accessories.

Among the updates from the conference include a peek at the next iteration of the Mac platform – macOS High Sierra – chock-a-block full of new toys for developers to create immersive experiences for users, like virtual reality. However, the upgrade won’t be available until the fall.

MacBook Pro: Building on its success

The previous generation of MacBook Pro made the laptop much thinner and lighter. Plus, the integration of a fluid and interactive Touch Bar and Touch ID fingerprint reader has been surprisingly useful — not just a gimmick — and the 2017 version builds on that.

The new 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The new 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The upgrades bring a routine processor and hard drive boost. Machines will see the same Intel Kaby Lake processor as its desktop counterparts, as well as faster solid-state drives, and the 15-inch MacBook Pro will have snappier graphics out of the gate.

The notebook could benefit from an added USB 3.0 port for so many existing devices while still offering flexibility in the increasingly popular USB-C port. I also miss the SD card reader. Can there be a balance struck with ports, or lack thereof?

 

The OLED-lit Touch Bar on the 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The OLED-lit Touch Bar on the 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

As for the OLED-lit Touch Bar that offers virtual buttons that react to the specific program you’re in, the technology continues to be unique in its class. I’d like to see exponential growth of adoption by third-party developers for it to be a real hit. But for the apps that currently utilize this, it’s fantastic.

 

The Force Touch trackpad on the 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The Force Touch trackpad on the 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

 

With the last MacBook Pro, I had some issues with the shallow-but-tactile butterfly keyboard sticking. Apple has made some improvements to address reported problems with switch keys.

Other standard updates include increased speed and longer battery life. A larger Force Touch trackpad that reacts to the amount of pressure given to surface different actions remains.

MacBook receives a minor—but needed—spec bump

The new entry-level MacBook. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The new entry-level MacBook. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The entry-level MacBook remains one of Apple most popular laptops. It’s small in form and packs a punch as an ultraportable device, though it’s not as powerful as its sibling MacBook Pro. It gets the job done if you’re a parent just looking to surf the web and answer emails.

The entry-level laptop will get a boost in processor gigahertz, albeit minor at 1.2GHz dual-core, but when you’re working with less than 1.5 GHz to start with, every bit counts — even when you simply have a handful of web browser windows open.

In addition, the new solid-state drives are 50 per cent faster than its predecessor — rounding out a machine many students will no doubt adopt come September.

Availability

The new MacBook and MacBook Pro machines are available now.

A pro version of the iMac—aptly named iMac Pro—was announced Monday, but will not be available for sale until December. The updated classic line is available today.

 

Metrolinx considers implementing random drug and alcohol testing

NEWS STAFF | posted Wednesday, Jun 7th, 2017

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File photo of a GO train. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Steve White
Metrolinx operators could soon be subject to random drug and alcohol testing.

The transit agency already employs a “fitness for duty” policy, which includes random health and wellness checks.

However, Metrolinx spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins told 680 NEWS they are only allowed to test for drug and alcohol under certain conditions, such as when there has been a crash.

“If there are things that we can do to make it even safer for our passengers, safer for our staff, then we want to look at that,” Aikins said.

The random testing, if implemented, would apply to those who operate GO Transit and the UP Express.

Last month, the TTC implemented random drug and alcohol testing and Aikins said they’re monitoring that closely. Aikins points out the law is a little murky when it comes to implementing random testing and said the TTC was able to do so through arbitration.

On Tuesday, the TTC said another employee failed a random drug and alcohol test, bringing the number of failed tests to five since the policy was implemented on May 8.

1 more TTC employee fails random drug test, bringing total up to 5

NEWS STAFF | posted Wednesday, Jun 7th, 2017

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File photo of a TTC sign. CITYNEWS.
In little under one month since the implementation of the TTC’s random drug testing policy, five employees have tested positive while on duty.

TTC spokesperson Stuart Green confirmed Tuesday that one more employee has failed a drug test.

The test was administered last week on the employee who is not a driver.

The employees position at the TTC and the type of substance used was not disclosed.

This latest report comes after two other TTC employees failed a drug and alcohol test less than a week ago.

In total, 4 employees have now tested positive for drugs and 1 has tested positive for alcohol.

According to Green, between 6 to 8 people are tested everyday since the policy was put into place on May 8.

5 ducklings rescued from Brampton sewer

NEWS STAFF | posted Wednesday, Jun 7th, 2017

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Five ducklings are recovering at a Brampton veterinary clinic after their mother was struck and killed by a car on June 7, 2017. CITYNEWS/Bertram Dandy
Five ducklings are recovering at a Brampton veterinary clinic after they were pulled from a sewer early on Wednesday morning.

It’s a sad story: they ended up in the sewer after their mother was hit by a car.

Brampton firefighters were called to Bovaird Drive and Worthington Avenue, west of Chinguacousy Road, around 1:20 a.m.

The mother duck was dead, but firefighters were able to rescue the ducks and bring them to the clinic.

A decision will be made later Wednesday about where the ducks will head next.

Related: Windsor police go to great depths to rescue family of ducks

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