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Soccer star Ronaldo sued, accused of rape by Nevada woman

JIMMY GOLEN, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Tuesday, Oct 2nd, 2018

Soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo is being sued by a Nevada woman who said he raped her in the penthouse suite of a Las Vegas hotel in 2009 and then dispatched a team of “fixers” to obstruct the criminal investigation and trick her into keeping quiet for $375,000.

The suit says the woman asked police last month to reopen the criminal case; Las Vegas police confirmed to The Associated Press on Monday that they have reopened a sexual assault case from 2009 brought by the woman named in the lawsuit. The AP does not identify those who say they have been sexually assaulted.

Ronaldo’s attorney, Christian Schertz, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. But after a report on the case in Der Spiegel last week, he threatened to sue the German magazine, saying: “It violates the personal rights of our client Cristiano Ronaldo in an exceptionally serious way.”

In a smiling Instagram video posted hours after the suit was filed, Ronaldo appears to deny the allegations.

“Fake. Fake news,” said the five-time world player of the year, who moved to Juventus from Real Madrid this summer. “You want to promote by my name. It’s normal. They want to be famous, to say my name. But it is part of the job. I am a happy man and all good.”

The woman’s attorneys did not immediately respond to a telephone message seeking comment.

The lawsuit claims that the woman, who was then 24, went with a friend to the Rain nightclub at the Palms Hotel and Casino on the night of June 12, 2009, and met Ronaldo there. It says he invited a group of people up to his suite “to enjoy the view of the Las Vegas strip” and then into the hot tub; according to the suit, he then barged in on her as she was changing, exposed himself and asked her for oral sex.

When she refused, the lawsuit claims, he raped her.

According to the lawsuit, and confirmed by police spokesman Aden OcampoGomez to the AP, the woman named in the suit reported the attack to police the same day. OcampoGomez said she also asked for a “sexual assault test,” which was performed at the University Medical Center.

The woman refused to tell police where the assault took place or assist with identifying a suspect other than to say he was a European soccer player, the spokesman said. A Portuguese citizen, Ronaldo was transferred from Manchester United to Real Madrid in the summer of 2009 for a then-record sum of 94 million euros, or about $130 million.

“As of now this is an ongoing investigation and no further details are being released at this time,” OcampoGomez said.

The lawsuit claims that the woman’s family arranged for a lawyer “who only had several years of legal experience.” Negotiations left her with “intrusive thoughts, an increased sense of extreme anxiety and fearfulness, complete helplessness and passivity,” the lawsuit says.

“The psychological trauma of the sexual assault, the fear of public humiliation and retaliation and the reiteration of those fears by law enforcement and medical providers left plaintiff terrified and unable to act or advocate for herself,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit also accuses Ronaldo or those working for him of battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, coercion and fraud, abuse of a vulnerable person, racketeering and civil conspiracy, defamation, abuse of process, breach of contract, and negligence for allowing details of the confidential settlement to leak out.

It asks for general damages, special damages, punitive damages and special relief, each in excess of $50,000, along with interest, attorney fees and court costs.

___

Associated Press Writers Regina Garcia Cano in Las Vegas and Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed to this story.

50 million Facebook accounts affected by security breach

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS AND NEWS STAFF | posted Monday, Oct 1st, 2018

Facebook says it recently discovered a security breach affecting nearly 50 million user accounts.

The hack is the latest setback for Facebook during a year of tumult for the global social media service.

In a blog post on Friday, the company said hackers exploited its “View As” feature, which lets people see what their profiles look like to someone else. Facebook said it has taken steps to fix the security problem and alerted law enforcement.

In a conference call with reporters, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company “patched the issue last night.”

To deal with the issue, Facebook reset some logins, so 90 million people have been logged out and will have to log in again. That includes anyone who has been subject to a “View As” lookup in the past year.

Facebook said it doesn’t know who is behind the attacks or where they’re based.

Guy Rosen, vice-president of product management, said the company’s investigation is “early and it’s hard to determine exactly who is behind this and we may never know.”

Zuckerberg said that the company doesn’t know yet if any of the accounts that were hacked were misused.

Jake Williams, a security expert at Rendition Infosec, said the stolen access tokens would have likely allowed attackers to view private posts and probably post status updates or shared posts as the compromised user, but wouldn’t affect passwords.

“The bigger concern (and something we don’t know yet) is whether third party applications were impacted,” Williams said in a text exchange. “Facebook offers a login service for third parties to allow users to log into their apps using Facebook. In other words, Facebook is providing the identity management for countless other sites and services. These access tokens that were stolen show when a user is logged into Facebook and that may be enough to access a user’s account on a third party site.

News broke early this year that data analytics firm that once worked for the Trump campaign, Cambridge Analytica, had gained access to personal data from millions of user profiles. Then a congressional investigation found that agents from Russia and other countries have been posting fake political ads since at least 2016. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared at a Congressional hearing over Facebook’s privacy policies in April.

Facebook has more than two billion users worldwide. It is not yet known how many Canadian users were affected.

The company said people do not need to change their Facebook passwords, but anyone having trouble logging on should visit the site’s help centre . Those who want to log out can visit the “Security and Login” section of their settings, which lists the places that people are logged into Facebook. It has a one-click option of logging out of all locations.

Ed Mierzwinski, the senior director of consumer advocacy group U.S. PIRG, said the breach was “very troubling.”

“It’s yet another warning that Congress must not enact any national data security or data breach legislation that weakens current state privacy laws, preempts the rights of states to pass new laws that protect their consumers better, or denies their attorneys general rights to investigate violations of or enforce those laws,” he said in a statement.

Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter said “the most important point is that we found out from them,” meaning Facebook, as opposed to a third party.

“As a user, I want Facebook to proactively protect my data and let me know when it’s compromised,” he said. “Shareholders should ultimately approve of Facebook’s handling of the issue.”

Mayoral candidate Jennifer Keesmaat calls for eastern Gardiner tear down

NEWS STAFF | posted Monday, Oct 1st, 2018

It was a divisive topic at City Hall a few years ago and now mayoral candidate Jennifer Keesmaat is reigniting the debate of what should be done with the eastern portion of the Gardiner Expressway.

In 2016, city council approved a billion dollar plan to tear it down and rebuild it further north. Now, Keesmaat is calling that plan fiscally reckless and pledging an alternative that she says will save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

“We have an opportunity here, in this eastern portion, to continue the job that was begun many years ago, of opening up our waterfront land and reconnecting our city to the waterfront, ” said Keesmaat, who is now advocating for a grand boulevard east of Jarvis.

“And we can build new communities, with new jobs in retail and employment and affordable housing, places for people to live by unlocking this land and instead replacing it with a grand boulevard.”

Keesmaat says her plan would save taxpayers up to $500-million – money, she says, that would be reinvested into transit.

“It costs significantly less to build infrastructure on the ground than to rebuild it in the sky.”

Mayor John Tory says Keesmaat’s announcement contradicts earlier statements she made when she was chief planner, extolling the benefits of the hybrid plan and her team’s work on it.

“The fact that the city council, by a vote of 36-5, approved this expressway being moved and put in a new place where we can fee up more waterfront land for development on a plan that at the time Ms. Keesmaat took credit for and said her wonderful staff did a wonderful job, which they did, on putting forward this plan… is another example of what’s now going to happen,” said Tory. “She’s going to take us backwards and we’re going to go back to the drawing board to more debates after a decisive council decision and it’s solely to win votes.”

“I don’t think people have any time for that kind of flip-flopping.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, company settle fraud suit for $40M

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Monday, Oct 1st, 2018

Elon Musk’s future with Tesla Motors is clearer after the company settled a securities fraud lawsuit with the federal government, but there are other clouds hanging over the electric car maker.

Under an agreement announced Saturday by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Musk and Tesla each are paying $20 million to resolve the case. Musk gets to remain CEO but must relinquish his chairman’s role for at least three years. The complaint originally sought Musk’s removal as CEO.

One immediate challenge for Tesla is to hire an independent chairman to oversee the company and, just as importantly, its mercurial leader. In effect, the settlement is forcing Tesla into bringing in some managerial help for Musk, which some investors have been calling for.

Musk and Tesla reached their settlement without admitting to or denying the SEC’s allegations.

Tesla was on shaky financial ground even before government regulators set out to remove Musk. It has been under pressure to prove it can consistently manufacture enough cars to survive.

Tesla will soon release its production volume for the July through September period, likely by Wednesday. The manufacturing results will provide a gauge of Tesla’s financial health.

Musk told investors he expected Tesla to produce an average of 7,000 electric vehicles per week during the third quarter, enabling the company to post a profit – something it has rarely done since going public eight years ago.

Tesla’s stock is in need of good news, and the settlement should provide that. The stock is down 30 per cent since hitting an all-time closing high of $379.57 on Aug. 7 – the day Musk tweeted about possibly taking the company private, tweets that sparked the SEC lawsuit.

The steep downturn in Tesla’s market value may have influenced Musk to have an apparent change of heart and negotiate a settlement. Musk had rejected a settlement offer before the SEC sued Thursday, maintaining he had done nothing wrong when he posted a tweet declaring that he had secured the financing to lead a buyout of Tesla.

Investors had worried that Musk would be forced out of the company at a time when Tesla is possibly in a financial bind.

Here’s the problem: Tesla already has accumulated more than $10 billion in debt while it has been burning through about $1 billion in cash every three months. It ended June with $2.2 billion in the bank, meaning the company will likely have to borrow more unless it starts making money.

To compound matters, about $1.3 billion in debt is due to be repaid by March, including $230 million in November.

Analysts’ concerns about Tesla’s financial position will dissipate if the company began to make money in the third quarter, as Musk promised the company would do.

Tesla is expected to release its third-quarter financial results in early November.

Ahead of cannabis legalization, cities consider drinking in public parks

NICOLE THOMPSON AND ALANNA RIZZA, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Oct 1st, 2018

As all corners of the country prepare for a seismic shift in how and where people consume marijuana, several cities are considering whether it would make sense to legalize drinking alcohol in parks as well — a move an expert said would bring antiquated laws in line with the way people already behave.

“I think a lot of people who want to have a bottle of wine in a public park on a Sunday are probably going to be doing that anyway,” said Mitchell Kosny, interim director of Ryerson University’s School of Urban and Regional Planning.

The idea of legalizing alcohol in parks and on beaches has come up in Toronto and Vancouver, both of which are in the midst of municipal elections and both of which are in provinces that will allow people to toke in public come Oct. 17.

Kosny said he suspects the idea is floating around now because election candidates and front runners may want to appear “open-minded.”

Toronto Mayor John Tory floated the idea at an event Thursday, pointing out that it would seem counterintuitive to allow people to smoke pot in parks but not drink a beer — especially since people are already bringing wine and beer to their picnics.

“I know from being in the parks now that it’s quite a widespread practice of people having a glass of wine, and it doesn’t seem the world has come to an end as a result of that,” Tory told reporters following a graduation ceremony for police recruits.

But the issue isn’t up to him alone.

“Anything that has to do with drinking in the province is immensely complicated,” Tory noted.

A spokesman for Toronto’s Municipal Licensing and Standards department said the question of drinking in public spaces isn’t up to the city — it’s governed by the Ontario Liquor Licence Act.

Premier Doug Ford has said he plans to sit down with Tory, whom he described as being “all for drinking in the parks now,” to consult on the issue.

“The laws here in Canada on this field are much more conservative,” said Kosny, adding that in parts of Europe as well as Australia, drinking in public is accepted and common.

“There’s much more openness to drinking in public parks than we see in Canada.”

In Vancouver, a proposal to sell beer and wine through concession stands at two beaches next summer will be discussed at a meeting on Monday.

Michael Wiebe, chairman of the Vancouver Park Board, said the pilot project at English Bay and Third Beach following public consultations would permit people to enjoy alcohol responsibly — although bringing your own alcohol to parks and beaches would still be illegal.

“The main goal we’re looking for in Vancouver is to respect the person who’s respecting the drinking laws and is going to enjoy a bottle of wine and have a picnic,” Wiebe said, adding more people living in condos are using beaches as backyards to gather with friends and drink anyway.

Last year, the B.C. government introduced legislation allowing approval for drinking in larger spaces beyond a 200-person beer garden, and Wiebe said that meant up to 1,200 people could consume alcohol on a beach that is licensed for that purpose.

“It meant parents having a casual beer with kids playing in playgrounds,” he said.

Mariana Valverde, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies, said the currents laws in Canada for drinking in public don’t distinguish between responsible drinkers and excessive drinking causing unruly behaviour.

“The existing rules don’t differentiate between things that are a problem and things that are not a problem. Bylaw officers often just turn a blind eye to things that are not a problem,” she said.

Valverde said she believes most people having picnics in parks will responsibly drink, and that they should be allowed.

Kosny said if cities allow drinking in public parks, he predicts the difference in the amount of people drinking will be “marginal.”

“There may be a few more people that will openly have that bottle of wine out there,” he said.

Kosny said based on what he’s observed in other parts of the world during his travels, he expects if cities allow public drinking, they’ll need to worry more about the mess than public drunkenness.

“Over in the (United Kingdom), I notice on Saturday and Sunday mornings, there is a hell of a lot of mess. There are bottles overflowing public trash cans in parks and there’s extra cleanup needed,” said Kosny.

For 27-year-old Tara Pollak, who is from Toronto, drinking in public parks could save her some cash. She said she wouldn’t have to go to a patio or restaurant, where alcohol is usually more expensive, in order to have a drink with friends.

“I’m a poor student paying back loans,” said Pollak. “It would be nice to share some sangria or beers with friends in the park and just hang out.”

Toronto police expanding neighbourhood officer program amid spate of shootings

ALANNA RIZZA, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Oct 1st, 2018

Toronto’s police service is set to expand an existing neighbourhood officer program in an effort to “build trust and reduce crime,” but critics say it’s unlikely to do either.

Deputy Chief Peter Yuen, who is in charge of the police force’s communities and neighbourhoods command, said the expansion will roll out in phases over the course of a year and will more than double the number of community officers on city streets.

“We want to deliver community-centred policing. We want to get back to connecting with the neighbourhoods,” said Yuen.

Yuen said in total, about 120 officers will be deployed to 27 neighbourhoods. The first phase of deployments begins on Monday, when 40 officers will be placed in eight neighbourhoods across the city.

He said more officers will continue to be stationed in other Toronto neighbourhoods through October 2019. Yuen said the expansion would bring the total number of neighbourhood officers to about 220 situated in a total of 60 neighbourhoods. He said it’s a four-year assignment for the officers, which he said will give them time to build relationships with the public.

The expansion boosts an existing program that has been running since 2013 and currently has 96 officers in 33 neighbourhoods.

A report that was presented at a Toronto police board meeting on Friday said the early focus of the program was “to increase police presence and address community problems … within particular neighbourhoods and improve relationships between community members and the police.

The report said that through the program, officers conduct regular patrols of the community and engage in “intelligence-gathering.” The report also said the program’s expansion will cost about $16 million each year.

Yuen said it will continue to have the same goals, but that officers will be more “accessible” to the community.

“Neighbourhood officers will have the training and the tools to go and assist neighbourhoods,” he said. “Neighbourhood officers will be available to the public 24-7.”

So far this year, Toronto has seen 40 fatal shootings, compared to 29 fatal shootings in all of 2017, according to Toronto police crime statistics. There were also 29 fatal shootings in 2016 and 17 in 2015, the data shows.

Louis March, founder of the Toronto-based Zero Gun Violence Movement, said the increased police presence could be “intimidating.”

He said some officers can come off as “aggressive” when they try to speak to community members about gun violence in order to get information on suspects.

“A lot of officers are doing good work,” said March. “But some officers can be aggressive. There’s a lack of empathy, concern, a lack of understanding.”

March said policing isn’t a solution to reducing violence, and that there should be more emphasis on developing neighbourhoods economically, by creating job opportunities and improving public programming.

“It’s about investing and developing these communities,” he said.

Yuen said the program expansion isn’t a response to the jump in gun violence in the city, but that it will address guns and gangs.

“We’re not singularly looking through a crime lens,” said Yuen. “We are more than just crime fighters…. If we just look through that single lens then we lose the focus of the neighbourhood officers.”

Yuen said the officers will also be “engaging” with the communities to identify members of the public who suffer from mental illnesses.

“They will be able to identify these people and they will be able to get those people the required assistance they need,” he said.

Yuen said members of the community in the 27 newly selected neighbourhoods were consulted over the summer about the program, and he believes they responded positively to the expansion. He said this included consultations with local politicians, business improvement agencies, churches and other organizations, although he declined to name which ones specifically.

Neighbourhoods where officers will be stationed were chosen based on statistics that looked at a range of factors including crime index, level of unemployment, level of income, family status, level of education, and “fear of violence,” according to the police report.

“This is not a police-driven program. This program is a collaborative approach,” said Yuen.

Zya Brown, director of Think 2wice, which provides activities and programming for youth and those involved in the legal system, said she doesn’t believe the officer program will build trust. She said police can bring a level of fear as they are in a position of power and authority, and can make members of the public feel like they are criminals.

“This is also going to enforce stereotypes,” she said. “Because people in these neighbourhoods are black and brown.”

She said she is worried the program will be another version of the Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy, which was criticized for disproportionately targeting people of colour. That program saw more police deployed to neighbourhoods that saw crime increases the year before, during the city’s so-called “Summer of the Gun.”

Canada, U.S. reach new NAFTA deal; ‘It’s a good day for Canada,’ says Trudeau

JAMES MCCARTEN, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Oct 1st, 2018

A new era in North American free trade dawned in the dead of night Sunday as a 14-month NAFTA modernization effort between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico finally came to fruition with just hours to spare before an end-of-weekend deadline.

What began as a marathon in the summer of 2017 ended in a flat-out sprint as negotiators in Ottawa and Washington worked around the clock to put the finishing touches on language adding Canada to the deal reached over the summer between the U.S. and Mexico.

“It’s a good day for Canada,” was all Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would say as he left a late-night cabinet meeting in Ottawa that capped several days of frenetic long-distance talks that included Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and U.S. Ambassador David MacNaughton.

Details remained sparse, but U.S. administration officials say the deal — newly christened the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement, or USMCA — provides increased access to Canada’s dairy market for U.S. producers and limits the American impact of Canada’s controversial supply management system for dairy and poultry products, long a thorn in the side of President Donald Trump.

It also appears to preserve the key dispute-resolution provisions — Chapter 19 — which allow for independent panels to resolve disputes involving companies and governments, as well as Chapter 20, the government-to-government dispute settlement mechanism.

Canada fought hard to retain Chapter 19, a holdover from NAFTA that U.S. trade ambassador Robert Lighthizer worked tooth and nail to eliminate.

“USMCA will give our workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses a high-standard trade agreement that will result in freer markets, fairer trade and robust economic growth in our region,” Freeland and Lighthizer said in a joint statement.

“It will strengthen the middle class, and create good, well-paying jobs and new opportunities for the nearly half billion people who call North America home.”

On the matter of Section 232 tariffs, Trump’s trade weapon of choice, U.S. officials told a late-night conference call with reporters that the two sides had “reached an accommodation”‘ on the issue.

A side letter published along with the main text of the agreement exempts a percentage of eligible auto exports from the tariffs. A similar agreement between Mexico and the U.S. preserves duty-free access to the U.S. market for vehicles that comply with the agreement’s rules of origin.

Those rules require that a certain percentage of an imported vehicle’s components be manufactured in the United States.

Some have characterized the side letter as effectively establishing a quota on the number of autos that can be exported to the U.S. — anathema to the very principles of free trade. But Dan Ujczo, an international trade lawyer with the U.S. firm Dickinson Wright, said it would only apply to a very small percentage of vehicles that don’t comply with the origin rules.

“When people are saying there’s a cap on auto exports, it’s only in the limited situation where the goods are non-conforming with the rules of origin. So if you comply with the rules of origin, there’s no way you are subject to 232 tariffs,” Ujczo said.

“This objection is largely more philosophical than practical — the idea of having quotas as a side letter to a free trade agreement. The practical consequences are limited, if any.”

Despite the fact that Ottawa had long pushed back hard against allowing the deal to be periodically revisited, officials in the U.S. briefing said the new language includes a provision that will indeed see the deal reviewed every six years.

“This is going to be one of the most enforceable trade agreements we’ve ever had,” one official said. “This gives us a significant new form of leverage in terms of encouraging people to come up to the mark and really fully comply with all of their obligations.

“This administration is committed to strong and effective enforcement of this agreement, just like all of our other agreements. We will be watching very carefully to see and to make sure that all of the things that have been pledged and promised in the agreement do come about.”

Insiders got wind of a breakthrough after 14 months of tumultuous talks and just hours before U.S. and Mexican trade authorities were set to publish their own trade agreement without Canada as a signatory.

Federal cabinet ministers were summoned to a late Sunday meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office near Parliament Hill, while the White House convened its own late-night trade briefing conference call just an hour before the midnight deadline.

“In short, we think this is a fantastic agreement for the U.S., but also for Canada and Mexico,” said the American officials, who cheered the fact that U.S. dairy ranchers would soon have “substantial” expanded access to lucrative markets north of the border.

They described the central elements of the deal as a “template” that would become the “playbook” for all of the Trump administration’s future trade deals, including new and stronger rules of origin on autos and mechanisms to ensure agreements don’t become “stale and outdated.”

“It’s a great win for the president and a validation of his strategy in the area of international trade.”

In Ottawa, PMO officials said there would be another cabinet meeting Monday and a news conference likely as well.

Meantime, congratulations were being offered among key stakeholders who have been on the edge of their seats waiting to see if Canada and the United States would find common ground.

An agreement on how to treat the auto sector, reached this summer between the United States and Mexico, was central to a revamped NAFTA going ahead.

But the U.S. and Canada had trouble dealing with other areas in the pact, including Canada’s dairy industry, its insistence on a strong dispute settlement mechanism and concerns about intellectual property and culture.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce said it was relieved that an agreement in principle had been reached. But President Perrin Beatty said the details of the text needed a closer look before a final verdict could be rendered.

“Specifically, we will seek clarity on how the agreement addresses the existing tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminium, as well as how it will ensure that tariffs and quotas upon Canada’s auto sector exports will be avoided,” Beatty said in a statement.

Trudeau has promised repeatedly to keep the country’s supply management system intact, despite pressure from Trump. The issue has also figured prominently in Quebec, where voters go to the polls in a provincial election on Monday.

With files from The Canadian Press’ Mike Blanchfield and Terry Pedwell in Ottawa

Survey finds growing disconnect between Canadians and nature

PETER CAMERON, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Sep 28th, 2018

TORONTO – A survey for the Nature Conservancy of Canada indicates Canadians feel happier when they are connected to nature, but fewer are making the effort to get out of the house.

The online survey of 2,000 Canadians found 87 per cent of respondents felt happier, healthier and more productive when connected to nature.

But 74 per cent of respondents say that it is simply easier to spend time indoors and 66 per cent say they spend less time in nature than they used to.

It also found more than 80 per cent of respondents are concerned that accessible natural areas will not be there for future generations and that 94 per cent of Canadians are aware of the physical and mental health benefits of spending time in nature.

The Nature Conservancy released the survey results Thursday to highlight its Landmark Campaign — an effort to double the land and water conserved by the NCC to more than 2.4 million hectares.

To inspire Canadians to contribute to the campaign, the NCC has curated a pop-up art exhibit called Nature and Me, featuring nature photography and reflections from notable Canadians, that will travel across the country.

Jim Cuddy, Ed Burtynsky, Rick Mercer, Clara Hughes and Adam van Koeverden are among those sharing their stories in the Nature and Me exhibit to highlight the importance of nature as an inspiration in their lives.

The survey, conducted by Ipsos Research, also indicated that Canadians spend an average of 1.3 hours per day in nature during the week and two hours on the weekend.

Eighty-eight per cent of those surveyed said that reducing stress was a benefit of nature, while 57 per cent listed lowering blood pressure as a benefit.

Among the reasons cited for spending time indoors were busy personal lives and environmental factors such as rain, snow, bugs and insects.

The Landmark Campaign has already raised $551-million towards its $750-million goal and completed 390 of 500 planned projects, which include restoring rare habitats, supporting species at risk, and improving the quality of air and water.

“We are at a turning point,” Nature Conservancy president John Lounds said in a release. “It’s time to talk boldly about the tangible benefits nature provides, and the urgency and importance of protecting it.”

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