Trump caves on shutdown, agrees to temporarily reopen government without wall funding

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WASHINGTON—Donald Trump caved.

In a move that amounted to a concession of at least short-term defeat, the U.S. president announced Friday that he had agreed with Democrats to sign a bill to fund the U.S. federal government for three weeks, until Feb. 15, without getting any border-wall funding in return.

U.S. President Donald Trump has agreed to a bill that would temporarily end the partial shutdown of the U.S. federal government. Trump had initiated the shutdown to try to pressure Democrats into agreeing to pay for the wall on the Mexican border.
U.S. President Donald Trump has agreed to a bill that would temporarily end the partial shutdown of the U.S. federal government. Trump had initiated the shutdown to try to pressure Democrats into agreeing to pay for the wall on the Mexican border.  (MANDEL NGAN / AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

“I am very proud to announce today that we have reached a deal to end the shutdown and reopen the federal government,” he said in a speech at the White House.

If he keeps his word, his climbdown will end the 35-day-old partial shutdown Trump initiated to try to pressure Democrats into agreeing to pay for the wall on the Mexican border. The shutdown has forced 800,000 federal workers to go without pay, slowed or stopped hundreds of government activities, and done serious damage to Trump’s popularity.

The president’s move will not mean the permanent end to the fight over the wall. Trump implicitly alluded to his threat to declare a national emergency and seize government funds for the wall, if Congress did not use the three-week reprieve to work out a long-term deal that included billions for his proposed wall on the Mexican border.

But he had repeatedly insisted he would not sign any bill without wall money. Senate Republicans, acting on Trump’s wishes, had voted down such a proposal the day before.

“Is there a white flag flying above the White House?” Bill Kristol, the conservative commentator, wrote on Twitter.

Trump’s announcement at the White House came hours after Roger Stone, a longtime Trump adviser and a renowned political trickster, was arrested by the FBI and charged with obstruction, lying to Congress and witness tampering by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating the relationship between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russian interference in the election.

And it came after a series of shutdown developments that weakened his negotiating position.

On Friday morning, a large number of absences by air traffic controllers, who are going unpaid, caused significant delays at major airports in New York, Atlanta and elsewhere. And FBI Director Christopher Wray released an extraordinary video message to employees in which he said, “Making some people stay home when they don’t want to, and making others show up without pay — it’s mind-boggling, it’s short-sighted, and it’s unfair. It takes a lot to get me angry, but I’m about as angry as I’ve been in a long, long time.”

Trump’s lack of leverage was made clear in the Senate on Thursday, when a Democratic proposal — two weeks of government funding, no wall funding — received more votes in the Republican-controlled Senate than Trump’s proposal that included the wall funding. The Republicans who voted for the Democratic proposal included two who face difficult re-election battles in 2020.

The end of the shutdown may allow for the State of the Union address to be held next Tuesday as originally planned. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had refused to allow Trump to give the speech in the House chamber, as is traditional, until the government was funded, forcing him to surrender on a promise to do so regardless of her wishes.

Trump’s poll numbers had worsened significantly over the shutdown, particularly with independent voters. The latest poll, by the Washington Post and ABC and released on Friday, put his approval rating at 37 per cent. Other polls this week also had him in the 30s; the Associated Press had him at 34 per cent, the lowest in more than a year.

Daniel Dale is the Star’s Washington bureau chief. He covers U.S. politics and current affairs. Follow him on Twitter: @ddale8

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Police reopen area near Ryerson University after bomb robot deployed in false alarm

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Toronto police have cleared an area near Ryerson University after an investigation over a suspicious package briefly closed stretches of Bond and Gould Sts. Friday morning.

Police responded to a call shortly before 8:30 a.m., about a suspicious package found in a concrete garbage bin on Bond St. north of Dundas St. E.

Officers with the chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive team responded.

Police deployed a bomb-disposal robot and found a bag containing a “personal alarm” that was emitting a “beeping noise,” Insp. Peter Moreira told reporters at the scene.

The item was an alarm for a bicycle, police said.

Ryerson evacuated several nearby buildings while police investigated.

Both Bond St. and Gould St. reopened shortly before noon.

Marjan Asadullah is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @marjanasadullah

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OPP, chief coroner reopen investigation into 1972 death of 19-year-old Indigenous woman

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Ontario Provincial Police and the province’s chief coroner announced Tuesday they are reopening the investigation into what was called the « accidental » death of a 19-year-old Indigenous woman, Audrey Anderson, in Sioux Lookout, 46 years ago. 

« I think about this as the right thing, and we’re finding the truth in whatever way we can, » said Dr. Dirk Huyer.

According to her family, this picture of Audrey Anderson, 19, (left) along with her younger sister Norma was taken just a few weeks before she died in 1972. (OPP)

Anderson was last seen in a pickup truck in the company of two males, outside a cafe in Sioux Lookout, around 1:30 a.m. on October 11, 1972. 

Just a few hours later, her body was found at the side of Drayton Road, east of Highway 72, not far from the northwestern Ontario town.

Anderson’s death ruled ‘accidental’ in 1972

Police at the time investigated Anderson’s death as the result of a motor vehicle collision, said Det. Insp. Gilles Depratto of the OPP Criminal Investigation Branch.

During the questioning of the driver and male passenger, both of whom are still alive, « the information is that she has jumped out of the vehicle, » said Depratto.

Relatives of Audrey Anderson gather in Sioux Lookout on Oct. 23, 2018 to hear OPP explain why police are reexamining the young woman’s death in the community in 1972. (Jeff Walters/CBC )

But in December 2017, Anderson’s brothers and sisters used the Family Information Liaison Unit, established as part of the national inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, to approach police and request that the circumstances of her death be re-examined, he said.

The family’s perspective of what they’d heard at the time brought new insights as Depratto and Huyer began to look at the case.

Anderson died of multiple injuries to head, upper body

Based on the autopsy done in 1972, « this young woman died from multiple traumatic injuries, primarily to her head and upper body area, » said Huyer.

However, « what we’ve identified is that a number of the circumstances have raised some questions and I’ve changed the classification of the death from accidental to undetermined, which means that we have this as an open file, » he said.

Depratto was not willing to discuss whether Anderson was sexually assaulted, stating « that could be part of the evidence presented in court. »

Investigating a death, which happened nearly 50 years ago, is « very challenging, » said Huyer.

2 men ‘may have told family, friends’ what happened

Technology in the form of DNA collection or a black box in the truck to record its speed did not exist so the information was not collected. There are no autopsy photographs or official police photographs of the roadway to show the presence or absence of evidence such as skidmarks.

Still, Depratto believes that after nearly half-a-century someone knows something.

The OPP is appealing to anyone, who might have heard anything about the circumstances of Anderson’s death, or the last hours of her life, to share that information with them.

« The two male parties involved may have told friends, family, acquaintances of additional information that may be crucial to determining what really occurred. We hope that this appeal to the public will assist us in gathering the evidence we need to bring this to a successful conclusion, » said Depratto.

The OPP has established a tip line – (807)738-5926 – for any information in the Anderson case.

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Deciem stores reopen after founder and CEO ousted on interim basis

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Deciem stores that had been shuttered for several days reopened on Saturday, after the founder of the so-called « The Abnormal Beauty Company » was ousted by an Ontario court ruling.

The stores were closed last week by decree of then-chief executive Brandon Truaxe, who announced on Instagram that all Deciem operations would be shutting down until further notice, alluding to allegations of criminal misconduct.

On Friday, he was removed from his post on an interim basis as a result of a court application from Estée Lauder Companies Inc., which holds about a one-third stake in the business.

Truaxe has been removed as the company’s chief executive and board member on an interim basis after a judge approved an Ontario court application from Estée Lauder Companies Inc., which holds a reported 28 per cent stake in Deciem. (Bill Arnold/CBC)

And while an Estée Lauder spokesperson confirmed the stores had reopened, not everything about the brand had returned to normal.

The company Instagram account, once home to hundreds of what Estée Lauder described as « outrageous, disturbing, defamatory, and/or offensive posts, » was taken down on Friday and had yet to be restored by Saturday afternoon.

Mark Gelowitz, a lawyer representing Estée Lauder, cited Truaxe’s Instagram posts — along with his decision to close the business — as reasons for the court application, saying his behaviour led to numerous legal concerns from landlords, suppliers and employees.

Business analyst Mark Satov likens Truaxe’s departure with that of the controversial founder of American Apparel, Dov Charney. He told CBC News that it may be difficult for him to get a role back at Deciem or possibly even another company.

« My guess is that this guy’s brand [has been] tarnished beyond repair for at least a while, » he said of Truaxe. 

« I guess they’re making the bet that they got rid of the person who is impacting [Deciem] in a negative way, and they’ll see if the brand could stand. »

Representatives from Deciem did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

With files from CBC News

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GTA Deciem stores reopen after company founder is ousted

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Deciem stores that had been shuttered for several days reopened on Saturday, after the founder of the so-called “Abnormal Beauty Company” was ousted by an Ontario court ruling.

The stores were closed last week by decree of then-chief executive Brandon Truaxe, who announced on Instagram that all Deciem operations would be shutting down until further notice, alluding to allegations of criminal misconduct.

On Friday, he was removed from his post on an interim basis as a result of a court application from Estee Lauder Companies Inc., which holds a one-third stake in the business.

And while an Estee Lauder spokesperson confirmed the stores had reopened, not everything about the brand had returned to normal.

The company Instagram account, once home to hundreds of what Estee Lauder described as “outrageous, disturbing, defamatory, and/or offensive posts,” was taken down on Friday and had yet to be restored by Saturday afternoon.

Mark Gelowitz, a lawyer representing Estee Lauder, cited Truaxe’s Instagram posts — along with his decision to close the business — as a reason for the court application, saying his behaviour led to numerous legal concerns from landlords, suppliers and employees.

Representatives from Deciem did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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