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CNN cuts ties with Kathy Griffin over gruesome Trump video

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Thursday, Jun 1st, 2017

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Suzanne Cordeiro/REX/Shutterstock (8283064l) Kathy Griffin Kathy Griffin performing at the Long Center for the Performing Arts, Austin, Texas – 04 Feb 2017
CNN says it has cut ties with Kathy Griffin after she posted a video that showed her holding a likeness of President Donald Trump’s severed head.

The network says it has terminated its agreement with the comedian to appear on its New Year’s Eve programs. For a decade she had co-hosted the annual special with CNN correspondent Anderson Cooper.

Her future with CNN had been in doubt since the video appeared on Tuesday. CNN initially called it “disgusting and offensive.”

In addition to her losing the CNN job, a New Mexico casino said it was cancelling a July live engagement, and she has lost a commercial endorsement she landed just weeks ago.

Griffin has apologized, saying that the brief video was “too disturbing” and wasn’t funny.

“I went too far,” she says in a second video. “I sincerely apologize.”

I am sorry. I went too far. I was wrong.

A post shared by Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) on

Many people online called for Griffin to be jailed.

The first video showed a straight-faced Griffin slowly lifting the bloody head. She originally described the project with photographer Tyler Shields as an “artsy fartsy statement” mocking the commander in chief.

Earlier, Trump said Griffin “should be ashamed of herself.”

In a post on his Twitter account Wednesday morning, the president said, “My children, especially my 11-year-old son, Barron, are having a hard time with this. Sick!”

The video had apparently been removed from Shields’ blog by late Tuesday.

Squatty Potty, a Utah-based bathroom products company, said in a statement Tuesday that it has suspended an ad campaign featuring Griffin.

A publicist for Shields did not respond to a request for comment.

Toronto, Peel boards have similar policies that would let Homolka volunteer

NEWS STAFF | posted Thursday, Jun 1st, 2017


Online fury erupted on Tuesday after a CityNews exclusive report found that Karla Homolka occasionally volunteers at her children’s school. Delving into the policies at Ontario schools found that the same thing could have happened in any Toronto area school.

TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird confirmed that, while reference checks are required for regular volunteers, they are not mandatory for those who volunteer occasionally, like Homolka does.

“In order to promote and support volunteerism in our schools, while protecting the safety of students and staff, Police reference checks are required for people who volunteer on a regular, scheduled or overnight basis. (including community-based coaches working with school teams, post-secondary co-op students and others looking for volunteer experience to assist entry into faculties of education),” he said in a statement to CityNews.

“People who volunteer on a casual basis may be required to provide a Police Reference Check at the discretion of the Principal. Examples could be volunteering as a guest speaker for a day or a fun fair at a school.”

A spokesperson for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which runs the school where Homolka’s children attend classes in a suburb of Montreal, explained that the notorious serial killer was “not a regular volunteer” and that they were aware of “who she is” but that she was never alone with the children. Several sources connected with the school said that on March 22 Homolka helped supervise a group of kindergarten students during a field trip to the Montreal Science Centre.

At the TDSB, Bird said a follow up interview is conducted, should one of the volunteers have a “problematic” reference check.

“As police reference checks are conducted by a police force and then submitted by the prospective volunteer to the Board, we don’t not typically see a large number of checks that would be problematic,” Bird explained.

“All individuals with a police record are interviewed by a trained employee services staff member to determine if that record should preclude them from working with students at the TDSB.”

When it comes to both the Peel District School Board and the Toronto Catholic District School Board, a similar policy is in place.

PDSB spokesperson Carla Pereira said that parents who volunteer to come on a school trip, where staff members are there to supervise, are considered “low risk” and don’t require a background check.

“Any parent who wishes to attend, can attend a field trip with their children. They wouldn’t be left alone, for any period of time, with students on their own. They would always have staff around. They wouldn’t ever be one-on-one with any other children outside of their own.”

However, Pereira said the final decision on all background checks for low risk volunteers is left up to the school’s principal.

“A principal could require all of their volunteers, regardless of whether it’s an ongoing volunteer placement or a short term volunteer placement, to have their criminal record checks done,” she explained.

Pereira said it’s extremely rare that they have problems with a “low risk” volunteer.

“I’ve been with the board for 14 years and during that time I’ve not seen an issue arise at a low, medium or high risk volunteer … it’s not something that’s common,” she said.

“We want our students to be safe and for their well being to be top of mind and so we do the screenings not just because they’re mandated by law but because they’re the right thing to do.”

Related stories:

Lawyer of Karla Homolka’s school girl victims: ‘She’s psychotic’

The debate over Homolka’s right to be an occasional volunteer at her children’s school went all the way to Parliament Hill on Wednesday.

Newly elected Progressive Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said this revelation shines a light on Canada’s broken justice system.

“Mister Speaker, our criminal justice system is so broken that one of Canada’s most notorious serial killers is now volunteering at a school. As a father, I can’t imagine the horror of listening to my children come home and tell me they spent the day with Karla Homolka. It’s sick. When will the Prime Minister close this loophole that’s allowing this to happen?”

Canada’s Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale stood behind the existing system

“The system that is in place for doing vulnerable sector checks is a system that makes sure that employers and those that organize volunteers and runs schools and churches have access to information to make sure they make informed and prudent decisions. That is the system, mister Speaker, that is in place today. And it was in place similarly under the previous government.”

Vulnerable sector checks were created in 2000 to protect children and vulnerable persons. Vulnerable sector checks are used to verify if an individual has a record suspension (formerly pardon) for sex offences. They also include checks of national data bases maintained by the RCMP and local police records where the applicant lives.

Report: Elizabeth Wettlaufer to plead guilty in killing of eight seniors

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jun 1st, 2017


The Canadian Press has learned that a former Ontario nurse accused of killing eight seniors in her care is expected to plead guilty to first-degree murder charges in their deaths at a court appearance on Thursday.

Elizabeth Wettlaufer currently faces a total of 14 charges, including eight counts of first-degree murder, four counts of attempted murder and two counts of aggravated assault.

Police have alleged those crimes involved the use of certain drugs and took place over the last decade in three Ontario long-term care facilities where Wettlaufer worked as a registered nurse, and at a private home.

A source close to the case tells The Canadian Press that Wettlaufer is scheduled to plead guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder in a Woodstock, Ont., court on Thursday.

The source says an agreed statement of facts and a video of Wettlaufer confessing is expected to be filed in court.

Wettlaufer’s defence lawyer did not respond to requests for comment on the expected development.

Related stories:

Chronology of alleged incidents in former nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer’s case
Who is alleged serial killer Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer?

A spokeswoman with Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General said “significant developments” are expected in the case on Thursday, but did not provide further details.

Sgt. Dave Rektor of the Ontario Provincial Police, one of the forces involved in the multi-jurisdictional investigation, declined comment.

The police investigation into Wettlaufer, 49, began last September after Toronto police became aware of information she had given to a psychiatric hospital in Toronto that caused them concern, a police source has told The Canadian Press.

In October, Wettlaufer was charged in the deaths of eight residents at nursing homes in Woodstock and London, Ont. In those cases, police alleged Wettlaufer used drugs to kill the seniors while she worked at the facilities between 2007 and 2014.

The alleged murder victims have been identified as James Silcox, 84, Maurice Granat, 84, Gladys Millard, 87, Helen Matheson, 95, Mary Zurawinski, 96, Helen Young, 90, Maureen Pickering, 79, and Arpad Horvath, 75.

In January, Wettlaufer faced six additional charges related to seniors in her care. Court documents allege Wettlaufer injected those six alleged victims with insulin.

The alleged attempted murder victims have been identified as Wayne Hedges, 57, Michael Priddle, 63, Sandra Towler, 77, and Beverly Bertram, 68. Wettlaufer is also charged with aggravated assault against 87-year-old Clotilde Adriano and 90-year-old Albina Demedeiros.

Redacted court documents released in March – which were filed by police in an application to obtain records – have indicated Wettlaufer was fired in 2014 from a nursing home in Woodstock, where some of her alleged victims lived, after an alleged incident in which she incorrectly and overly medicated a resident who “experienced distress” as a result.

In a letter of termination cited in the documents, the Caressant Care nursing home said the alleged incident was part of a “pattern of behaviours that are placing residents at risk.”

The home’s director of nursing also told police Wettlaufer was dismissed for how she handled insulin, the documents show.

Records from the College of Nurses of Ontario show Wettlaufer was first registered as a nurse in August 1995 but resigned Sept. 30, 2016, and is no longer a registered nurse.

Trump tweets Paris Accord decision to come Thursday afternoon

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Thursday, Jun 1st, 2017


President Donald Trump says he will announce his decision on whether to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord during a Rose Garden event Thursday afternoon.

Trump promoted his announcement Wednesday night on Twitter, after a day in which U.S. allies around the world sounded alarms about the likely consequences of a U.S. withdrawal. Trump himself kept everyone in suspense, saying he was still listening to “a lot of people both ways.”

The White House signalled that Trump was likely to decide on exiting the global pact – fulfilling one of his principal campaign pledges – though top aides were divided. And the final decision may not be entirely clear-cut: Aides were still deliberating on “caveats in the language,” one official said.

Everyone cautioned that no decision was final until Trump announced it. The president has been known to change his thinking on major decisions and tends to seek counsel from both inside and outside advisers, many with differing agendas, until the last minute.

Abandoning the pact would isolate the U.S. from a raft of international allies who spent years negotiating the 2015 agreement to fight global warming and pollution by reducing carbon emissions in nearly 200 nations. While travelling abroad last week, Trump was repeatedly pressed to stay in the deal by European leaders and the Vatican. Withdrawing would leave the United States aligned only with Russia among the world’s industrialized economies.

American corporate leaders have also appealed to the businessman-turned-president to stay. They include Apple, Google and Walmart. Even fossil fuel companies such as Exxon Mobil, BP and Shell say the United States should abide by the deal.

Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama enacted the deal without U.S. Senate ratification. A formal withdrawal would take years, experts say, a situation that led the president of the European Commission to speak dismissively of Trump on Wednesday.

Trump doesn’t “comprehensively understand” the terms of the accord, though European leaders tried to explain the process for withdrawing to him “in clear, simple sentences” during summit meetings last week, Jean-Claude Juncker said in Berlin. “It looks like that attempt failed,” Juncker said. “This notion, ‘I am Trump, I am American, America first and I am getting out,’ that is not going to happen.”

Some of Trump’s aides have been searching for a middle ground – perhaps by renegotiating the terms of the agreement – in an effort to thread the needle between his base of supporters who oppose the deal and those warning that a U.S. exit would deal a blow to the fight against global warming as well as to worldwide U.S. leadership.

That fight has played out within Trump’s administration.

Trump met Wednesday with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has favoured remaining in the agreement. Chief strategist Steve Bannon supports an exit, as does Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt.

Trump’s chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, has discussed the possibility of changing the U.S. carbon reduction targets instead of pulling out of the deal completely. Senior adviser Jared Kushner generally thinks the deal is bad but still would like to see if emissions targets can be changed.

Trump’s influential daughter Ivanka Trump’s preference is to stay, but she has made it a priority to establish a review process so her father would hear from all sides, said a senior administration official. Like the other officials, that person was not authorized to describe the private discussions by name and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Wednesday in Alaska that he had “yet to read what the actual Paris Agreement is,” and would have to read it before weighing in.

Trump has several options, climate experts said.

The emissions goals are voluntary with no real consequences for countries that fail to meet them. That means the U.S. could stay in the accord and choose not to hit its goals or stay in the pact but adjust its targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. has agreed to reduce its emissions by 2025 to 26 per cent to 28 per cent of 2005 levels – about 1.6 billion tons.

“Paris more than anything is a symbol,” said Nigel Purvis, who directed U.S. climate diplomacy during the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations

Another option, said University of California, Berkeley climate scientist Zeke Hausfather, would be for Trump to withdraw from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the treaty on which the Paris accord was based, which would take only a year.

News of Trump’s expected decision drew swift reaction from the United Nations. The organization’s main Twitter page quoted Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as saying, “Climate change is undeniable. Climate change is unstoppable. Climate solutions provide opportunities that are unmatchable.”

Scientists say that Earth is likely to reach more dangerous levels of warming sooner if the U.S. retreats from its pledge because America contributes so much to rising temperatures. Calculations suggest withdrawal could result in emissions of up to 3 billion tons of additional carbon dioxide in the air a year – enough to melt ice sheets faster, raise seas higher and trigger more extreme weather.

The Sierra Club’s executive director, Michael Brune, called the expected move a “historic mistake which our grandchildren will look back on with stunned dismay at how a world leader could be so divorced from reality and morality.”

Trump claimed before taking office that climate change was a “hoax” created by the Chinese to hurt the U.S. economy, an assertion that stands in defiance of broad scientific consensus. He has spent his first months in office working to delay and roll back federal regulations limiting greenhouse gas emissions while pledging to revive long-struggling U.S. coal mines.

But Cohn, Trump’s chief White House economic adviser, told reporters during the trip abroad that the president’s views on climate change were “evolving” following the discussions with European leaders.

Still, Cohn said that the carbon levels agreed to by the prior administration “would be highly crippling to the U.S. economic growth,” and if the president had to choose between limiting carbon and economic growth, “growing our economy is going to win.” Supporters of the deal say it’s not an either-or choice.

Hamilton’s Burlington Street named worst road in Ontario

NEWS STAFF | posted Thursday, Jun 1st, 2017

A massive pothole on Baldwin Street on Aug. 12, 2014. Photo via CityNews viewer/Tyyra Alleyne.

Burlington Street in Hamilton is the worst road in Ontario, according to the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA).

Toronto’s Dufferin Street is No. 2, the CAA said Thursday, and is one of only two Toronto streets in the Top 10. The other is Yonge Street, which tied with Algonquin Boulevard East in Timmins.

“I would say Yonge Street is real surprise. Yonge Street was nominated mainly for congestion-related issues,” Raymond Chan, government relations specialist at CAA, told CityNews.

Chan said putting out the lists encourages municipalities to tackle road issues.

“It’s really an opportunity for them to see what their residents are saying about their daily commute … the ‘ask’ of this campaign is to ensure that all levels of government are working together and communicating.”

The worst roads in Toronto are Dufferin, Yonge, Bathurst Street, Eglinton Avenue West, and Finch Avenue West.

Roads in Subury, St. Catharines, Ottawa, Barrie, and Prince Edward County all made it onto the province’s worst roads list.

Last year’s “winner” was County Road 49 in Prince Edward County – the first time the road appeared on the provincial Top 10 list. It was No. 10 this year.

One month ago, the CAA put out its annual poll, asking for drivers across the province to nominate and then vote for the worst roads.

Click here for the full results.

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