Trump announces ‘national emergency’ in bizarre White House appearance


WASHINGTON—He boasted that he was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, then complained that he wouldn’t win.

He said he doesn’t know far-right pundit Ann Coulter, then said he “hardly” knows her, then said he used to talk to her, then said she’d be very nice to talk to.

He contradicted his chief trade negotiator on negotiations with China. He promoted North Korea as an ideal location for economic development. He uttered a series of lies and misleading statements about immigration, saying it was everyone else who was lying.

And he said he didn’t actually need to declare the national emergency he was speaking in the Rose Garden to declare.

In a rambling, defensive and thoroughly bizarre appearance on the White House grounds on Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump made an unfocused stream-of-consciousness case for his immigration emergency while also musing at length about a variety of related and unrelated topics.

In arguably the strangest moment of the morning, he appeared to undermine his case that an emergency is necessary.

“I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this. But I’d rather do it much faster,” he said. He repeated: “I just want to get it done faster.”

Democrats immediately seized on Trump’s remarks.

“Mr. President, how can this possibly be an national emergency if you’re saying you don’t need to do it? Unreal,” Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer said on Twitter.

Trump also signed into law on Friday a spending deal reached by Democrats and Republicans to fund security initiatives on the Mexican border. Trump was dissatisfied with the deal because it included less than $1.5 billion for about 55 miles of border barriers, much less than the $5.7 billion and 234 miles he had demanded for the giant wall he had repeatedly promised Mexico would pay for.

Trump is seeking to use the emergency declaration to seize money Congress had allocated to other areas of government and use it for the wall. The New York Times reported Friday that his team is looking at taking $3.6 billion budgeted for military construction, $2.5 billion from anti-drug projects and $600 million from an asset forfeiture fund.

Though presidents have broad authority to declare emergencies, there has never been an emergency declared so a president could pay for his controversial initiative with money not approved by Congress for that purpose.

Democrats and some Republicans have called Trump’s plan an unconstitutional abuse of power. Trump suggested there was a double standard for him, saying that “nobody cares” when other presidents declare emergencies.

And he dismissed concerns about his plan to grab money that had been allocated to the military.

“Some of the generals think that this is more important. I was speaking to a couple of ’em, they think this is far more important than what they were going to use it for,” he said, not naming them. “I said, ‘What were you going to use it for?’ I won’t go into details, but didn’t sound too important to me.”

Trump said it would be easy to win the court challenge that is almost certain to be filed, since he is declaring the emergency over a “virtual invasion” of drugs, gangs and human traffickers.

But he also said he thought he might well lose in the initial case, then again on appeal. Speaking in a singsong voice as he offered a series of unusual predictions about the next steps in the case, he said it was only at the Supreme Court where he hoped to get a “fair shake.”

The state of California and independent organizations have said they plan to sue.

“President Trump is manufacturing a crisis and declaring a made-up ‘national emergency’ in order to seize power. This ‘emergency’ is a national disgrace — and the blame lays solely at the feet of the president. Our message to the White House is simple: CA will see you in court,” Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Twitter.

As at previous immigration speeches, Trump invited the mothers of people killed by unauthorized immigrants, known as “angel moms,” to attend this one. When he was asked to respond to critics who say he is manufacturing this supposed crisis, he turned to the women and said, “What do you think? You think I’m creating something? Ask these incredible women.”

Trump was similarly dismissive of immigration-related data.

Rejecting his own government’s conclusion that most drugs that come in through Mexico are smuggled through legal ports of entry rather than unwalled desert, he declared that this was “all a lie.”

Rejecting official data that shows the number of apprehensions at the southwest border is less than a third what it was two decades ago, Trump said, “We have far more people trying to get into our country today than probably we have ever had before.”

Rejecting studies that show illegal immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than native citizens, Trump said, “You don’t really believe that stat, do you? Do you really believe that stat?”

And rejecting human trafficking experts who have said that a large percentage of victims come through legal ports of entry, Trump said that this is impossible, since border officers would notice “three women with tape on their mouth.” Experts say victims are usually tricked or coerced into crossing, not physically restrained.

Trump himself was critical of Democratic predecessor Barack Obama for bypassing Congress with unilateral action on immigration, tweeting in 2014: “Repubs must not allow Pres Obama to subvert the Constitution of the US for his own benefit & because he is unable to negotiate w/ Congress.”

Asked about this on Friday, Trump said the current situation is different — because he is taking unilateral action after making an inadequate deal with Congress, not after making no deal.

“I went through Congress, I made a deal. I got almost $1.4 billion when I wasn’t supposed to get $1 — not $1. ‘He’s not going to get $1,’ he said, not saying who he was quoting. “Well, I got $1.4 billion. But I’m not happy with it.”

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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Creamy White Pizza with Squash and Sopressata Recipe


While the onions and squash roast, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a small skillet, until shimmering. Add the grated garlic and a large pinch of red pepper flakes. Stir to incorporate, then immediately pour the oil into a small heatproof bowl, the garlic will keep cooking from the residual heat of the oil.


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This White Bean Chili Recipe Is Sunday’s Real Main Event


Welcome to Never Fail, a weekly column where we wax poetic about the recipes—like this white bean chili recipe—that never, ever let us down.

Let’s get one thing out of the way: I like football. Really! (Says the former ballet dancer who went to a school with no football team or general school spirit—shout out to NYU!) Growing up in the suburbs of Los Angeles, I attended USC football scrimmages (NOT EVEN THE REAL GAMES!) with my family. We watched the NFL combines as if we were on a Sopranos bender and the draft like it was the Oscars (my sister had to take notes). I know all too well the difference between offsides and false starts (and the hand signals!) and can yell at the ref like any other football lover.

The Snack Stadium to End All Snack Stadiums

And yet, the only bowl I care about this Sunday is the one that’s going to be full of Claire Saffitz’s white bean chili recipe. (Wait, there’s a game? Just kidding.) Of course, the Super Bowl is going down (L.A. represent!) and, yes, I’ll be screaming at the TV every so often with the rest of America. But honestly that’s just the backdrop to this Platonic ideal of chili, a white bean chili recipe so simple and perfect that it is destined to steal the show. I’ll pass on watching a replay of the same play for the 1,000th time. I’ll be in the other room, helping myself to chili and all the fixings. It’s that good.

I’ve eaten a lot of chili in my day. The canned stuffed heated up and poured over rice, Hawaii-style. This heavenly brisket and squash recipe. This very complex and complicated version. But this one from Claire is the Tom Brady of chilis. (Not a Patriots fan, but I just can’t deny Brady’s brilliance.) Every component of the recipe is calibrated for the most flavor and texture, like the ultimate fantasy team. Spicy chorizo stands in for boring ground beef. Lame kidney beans are benched for buttery cannellini beans. Red onions, instead of less-flavorful white ones, join the huddle. Using the chorizo fat to sizzle the aromatics puts the “special” in special teams. Simmered together with a whole head of garlic (!!), hand-crushed canned tomatoes, a little cumin and chili powder, it’s the most simple yet satisfying thing to eat, even if there isn’t a game on.

bob armstrong chile con queso

Laura Murray

Okay, this queso recipe is pretty non-negotiable too.

It does require a little bit of planning ahead though—the beans need to be soaked overnight and all that simmering adds up to one and a half to two hours in the oven. But even if you forget, you can get around the soaking overnight and, plus, there’s a little game on that will keep you entertained until the real MVP appears: this glorious bowl of chili.

Get the recipe:



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This Rent Week White Bean Dip Is Winning the Super Bowl


Apparently, when it comes to taking pleasure in watching the Super Bowl, I am in the minority at Bon Appétit. I love the Super Bowl. And most of my coworkers do not. We have a lot of haters running through these halls. And I don’t quite understand it.

I get that football isn’t for everyone. I’m well aware that the sport and the organization that controls it have quite a few serious problems. But taking a frigid, ho-hum Sunday evening in February and deciding to drink whatever it is that you want to drink? And eat chicken wings? And hang out with your friends? And possibly catch an exceptional feat of acrobatics or strength or unity on the television? And eventually washing all of the cheese and salsa and sour cream off of your hands after deciding that you’re actually finished with the nachos? (And then going back for more?) How can you hate on that? That sounds like the ideal setup to me. If you’re hating on the Super Bowl, you’re really just hating on a good party.

Why is the Super Bowl called the Super Bowl? I’m sure there’s a story there, but I’m not trying to read it. I like to think the Super Bowl is called the Super Bowl because of the enormous quantity of dips consumed on a single Sunday night in February. So many dips, from so many bowls. The Super Bowl is a day of dips, just as much as it is a day of football. So for this Rent Week, we’re doing a white bean dip with harissa and homemade pita chips. Throw on this Hey. Enjoy. playlist I made you (both enjoyable and completely free of charge), get a nice stretch in, and crank your oven to 400°.

Some people hate on homemade pita chips, and I get it. To be fair, I buy Stacy’s most of the time. But when you have leftover pitas, or the chips at the store aren’t the flavor you’re looking for, or you’re inviting people over to watch a football game and want to impress them, homemade pita chips are where it’s at. And they’re pretty simple to make.

rent week dip 2

Photo by Chelsie Craig

These are what pita chips look like, incase you didn’t know.

Take 8 pitas, and slice them in half widthwise. Then rotate 90° and cut them widthwise, perpendicular to your first cut, into four strips. You should end up with eight pieces from each pita. The edges of those pieces will still be attached to the bottom layer of the pita, so you have to separate the top and bottom layer by tearing them apart. You are strong enough to do this. I promise. Throw all of the pita pieces into a large bowl, and toss them with a couple pinches of kosher salt, ½ Tbsp. garlic powder, 1½ Tbsp. of smoked paprika, and 3 Tbsp. of olive oil. Toss the pita so every piece is coated.

Spread the pita out on a rimmed sheet tray so they overlap minimally. You’ll have to do a couple batches, so don’t worry if you only have one tray or your oven is small. Throw them in the oven for about 15 minutes, until they’re brown and crispy.

In the meantime, we’ll make our dip. You need white beans to make white bean dip. Yeah, the name checks out. Drain, but don’t rinse, 2 cans of cannellini beans and dump them into a blender. Add a couple pinches of kosher salt, a few cranks of black pepper, and 4 Tbsp. of olive oil, and blend the beans until they all reach the ideal dip-like texture.

Don’t forget to check on the chips! They’re not there yet? Okay. Back to the dip. We need to add some more flavor to this dip to make it interesting. Add 3 cloves of grated garlic, the zest of 1 lemon, the juice of 1½ lemons, 3 Tbsp. of Greek yogurt, and a handful of finely chopped parsley. Now we’re looking at a bright, creamy dip loaded with richness, acidity, and flavor. Again, if the dip seems too thick, go ahead and add another glug of olive oil to loosen things up.

Does something in this kitchen smell like toasted pita? Oh, yeah. It does. Grab those chips!

rent week dip

Photo by Chelsie Craig

Swirl it. Make it nice.

Pour the dip from the blender into a serving bowl. Top the bowl of dip with a spoonful of harissa. You determine the spice level. I’m personally a fan of a mild harissa (because you really get the sweetness of the peppers, not just mouth-numbing spiciness), but if you want to bring the heat, go for the fiery stuff. Give the harissa a little swirl so it doesn’t just look like a glop, and top the whole thing with a couple decorative drizzles of olive oil and some freshly ground black pepper.

This is a recipe that’s pretty easily transportable, so if you’re headed somewhere else to watch the game or do whatever else it is that you do, it shouldn’t be a problem. Once you get there, you just let the chips do what they were born (or, uh…made) to do: transport delicious bean dip from the bowl to your mouth.

And remember, it doesn’t matter if you like football. Or if you know what the rules are. Or even if you can identify the teams that are playing. What makes a good Super Bowl party a good Super Bowl party (like any other party) is that you’re enjoying yourself. Drink what you like to drink. Eat what you like to eat. And dip whatever you can into whatever bowl of dip is within reach. Honor the bowl, whether it’s the one on the TV or the one in your lap.

Want a beverage to go with that dip? How about Gingerade?



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Canada is facing a growing threat from right-wing white supremacists and neo-Nazis: minister


Canada’s minister for public safety says right-wing, white supremacists and neo-Nazi groups are an increasing concern and threat to Canadians.

Ralph Goodale said the groups promote hate, which manifests itself in violent anti-Semitism or in other crimes.

WATCH: Nov. 12, 2018 — Toronto police launch hate crime investigation after 4 Jewish teens allegedly targeted

“The van attack along Yonge Street in Toronto earlier last year had those kinds of roots,” Goodale said Tuesday after a speech on national security at the University of Regina.

Ten people died in April 2018 when Alek Minassian allegedly drove a rental van down the busy stretch, mowing down pedestrians.

Goodale also used the example of six people murdered inside a Quebec City mosque in 2017 because they were at prayer.

READ MORE: In Canada, Jews face more hate crimes, while Muslims face more violent ones — StatCan

He said the suspects were inspired by what they saw on the internet.

“They may have behaved themselves as singular individuals doing very evil deeds but they were inspired by something and largely that relates back to what they saw on the internet,” Goodale said.

Goodale said Daesh and al-Qaida aren’t the only sources of dangerous, extremist violence and it can come from any type of fanaticism.

WATCH: April 24, 2018 — 2017 an all-time high for anti-Semitic acts in Canada

He said the federal government is working with internet providers to eliminate the problem and so far there’s been “pretty decent co-operation.”

Internet providers have an obligation to make sure they don’t provide a platform for spreading fear and hate, Goodale said.

“They don’t want to have a reputation that they are purveyors of that kind of nasty stuff,” he said. “But they have to do better.”

READ MORE: Trial begins for 2 men charged with using free newspaper to promote hate against Jewish community, women


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White Rock Polar Bear Swim cancelled due to storm damage – BC


Last week’s powerful windstorm badly damaged White Rock’s iconic pier — but it’s also caused another unexpected casualty in the community.

The White Rock Rotary Club says it has been forced to cancel its annual New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim because of storm damage to the beach.

“Following the events of this week, we are sorry to announce that the Polar Bear Swim for this New Year’s Day is officially cancelled,” said the organization in a statement.

Man rescued from partially collapsed White Rock pier

“We hope to see you there again for the start of 2020 and the 50th Anniversary of this fun local celebration.”

The City of White Rock has been asking people to keep away from the area because of the large volume of hazardous debris that was blown ashore during the storm.

The pier itself is expected to take several months and millions of dollars to restore.

WATCH: People continue to ignore warnings to stay away from damaged White Rock pier

Eager dippers looking to take a polar plunge on New Year’s Day can still participate in Vancouver’s Polar Bear Swim.

White Rock teens fundraise to rebuild damaged pier

The annual event, which draws about 2,500 participants, takes place at English Bay on Jan. 1 at 2:30 p.m., and is accepting donations for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank.

Participants are encouraged to dress in costume and are asked to register.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Inuk woman’s tell-tale botulism symptoms would have been taken seriously if she’d been white, says her widower


A man from Inukjuak said the failure of a nurse stationed in the northern Quebec community to recognize the signs of botulism cost his wife her life, and it was only after she died that clinic staff took his adult daughter’s symptoms seriously.

Jobie Kasudluak and his daughter Janice travelled to Kuujjuarapik this week to share their family’s story with Commissioner Jacques Viens, who is leading an inquiry looking into how Indigenous people are treated by Quebec government services.

It was the first time the retired judge and his entourage travelled to Quebec’s Inuit territory of Nunavik since the inquiry began two years ago.

Kasudluak testified that his wife, 54-year-old Eva Kullulak-Ookpik, had been telling the nurse for three days that there was something seriously wrong with her.

He said when he brought her to the clinic on Friday, July 7, 2017, she was struggling to breathe, she was dizzy and vomiting, and she could hardly keep her eyes open.

« The nurse on call was a young, new nurse, » he said. « She didn’t seem to know what she was doing. »

He said the nurse had to be persuaded to do blood tests, and once they were done, she sent the couple home.

« She told us there was nothing they could do, » he said. « We’d have to wait for the results until Monday. »

Begged to stay at clinic

Kasudluak said his wife begged to stay at the clinic overnight, where she’d have access to oxygen to ease her laboured breathing.

« The nurse said, ‘Emergency room is for emergencies only. If somebody comes in, you’d be in the way, » Kasudluak told the commission. He pointed out there were two other rooms at the clinic, with two beds in each of them, but still, « they refused her. »

By then it was well after midnight on Saturday, July 8. The couple returned home.

Kasudluak thought his wife was asleep when he tried to nudge her awake the next morning.

« Hi dear, are you OK? » he asked her.

But Eva Kullulak-Ookpik had died overnight, of botulism poisoning, from having eaten an Inuit delicacy of dried beluga a few days before.

[Had she been white,] she would have been on a medevac in an hour.– Jobie Kasudluak, on the medical care his wife Eva Kullulak-Ookpik received

Health Canada describes botulism as a rare but serious illness that should be treated as a medical emergency. It says anyone with the signs, symptoms or history of botulism should be hospitalized immediately.

Outbreaks of foodborne botulism from traditional foods have occurred often enough in the past that posters describing the symptoms are on public display throughout Nunavik.

Retired Superior Court Justice Jacques Viens and his entourage travelled to Kuujjuarapik in Nunavik to hear about Inuit experiences’ with Quebec government services. (Catou MacKinnon/CBC)

Daughter showing same symptoms

Kasudluak’s daughter, Janice, didn’t know her mother was sick when she and her two-year-old daughter ate some of the same dried beluga.

Janice, too, had been calling the Inukjuak health clinic and describing her symptoms: her vomit was yellow, she was having trouble breathing, and her vision was blurred — all signs of botulism.

She said she called three times before she was eventually counselled on Friday to come to the clinic the next day.

On Saturday, she woke up to a phone call from the health clinic telling her that her mother had died and asking her to come in.

Speaking in Inuktitut, Janie Kasudluak told the inquiry that by the time she got that phone call, she was so sick, the caller’s news didn’t even register.

‘I lost my best friend’

Janice Kasudluak was flown to Montreal, and her father went with her.

« I lost my best friend, and I was about to lose my daughter, » the father of nine and grandfather of 21 told the commission, through tears.

Jobie Kasudluak was at his daughter’s side in hospital when she regained consciousness, two days later. By then, Janice’s two-year-old daughter was also sick. (The latency period for botulism can be longer in children.)

She was flown to the nearest hospital, in the Nunavik community of Puvirnituq (often referred to as POV), about 180 kilometres away, but then she was sent home before she had fully recovered.

« Janice’s doctor from Montreal General [Hospital] actually had to request that this little girl has to be medevaced [back] to POV and kept there until she’s better, » Jobie Kasudluak testified.

Coroner never contacted family

The coroner’s office, whose mandate is to find the cause of death and determine if it could have been prevented, issued a report on Eva Kullulak-Ookpik’s death in April 2018.

Coroner Steeve Poisson wrote that when she consulted the health clinic the two days before she died, food poisoning had been suspected. Her lab results, as well as her daughter and granddaughters’ results, confirmed the presence of Clostridium Botulinum. Poisson confirmed the dried beluga had been the source of the bacterial contamination.

He concluded Kullulak-Ookpik had died « a natural death, » and he made no recommendations.

The coroner’s office never contacted anyone in the Kasudluak family to share its findings.

Asked by the Viens commission’s lawyer, Edith-Farah Elassal, whether he believes he and his wife would have been treated differently had they been white, Kasudluak didn’t hesitate.

« She would have been on a medevac in an hour, » he said, matter of factly. « I’ve seen it with teachers and other white people in town — getting medevaced and coming back on a scheduled flight the next day. »

Kasudluak said before his wife’s sudden illness, he’d seen very ill Inuit people turned away from the clinic, only to die a day or two later, and he’s seen it happen since.

« There’s people still being sent home when they should have been sent to a hospital for observation, » he said.

« I just hope that nobody ever goes through what we went through. »

The Viens commission into the treatment of Indigenous people in Quebec held five days of hearings in Kuujjuarapik this month. (Catou MacKinnon/CBC)


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Alleged white supremacist kicked out of UCP joined Bernier’s People’s Party


An alleged white supremacist who was kicked out of Alberta’s United Conservative Party found a new political home in Maxime Bernier’s fledgling People’s Party of Canada — at least briefly.

Adam Strashok’s name has vanished from the membership list on the « People’s Network — Alberta » Facebook page, along with virtually all other evidence of his previously active life on social media.

But a cached version of the page from mid-September shows that he had joined the party and signed up two others.

In Calgary on Friday at a People’s Party of Canada rally, Maxime Bernier said the man is not involved in the party — and white supremacists in general aren’t welcome within party ranks.  

« We want to have people who believe in our philosophy and our principles, and we have a different position on immigration… we’re not for mass immigration but at the same time we’re not anti-immigrant, » he said.

When asked if he has concerns about white supremacists joining his party, Bernier said they do background checks and look at people’s social media before they can be a part of the People’s Network executive. 

« People who don’t share our values aren’t welcome in our party, » he said. « We want to have serious people on the board of our riding association because we’re a serious party. »

Earlier in the day, a party spokesman did not directly answer when asked if Strashok is still a party member and, if so, whether his membership would be revoked.

A spokesperson for the People’s Party of Canada, led by Maxime Bernier, declined to say whether Stroshok’s membership would be revoked. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

« I can tell you he has not been elected to any interim EDA [electoral district association] board and, as far as we know, is not involved in organizing, » Martin Masse said in an email.

In a bid to insulate itself from extremists, the People’s Party is asking all members of its riding associations across the country to sign a pledge promising that they « have done or said nothing in the past and will do or say nothing in the future that would embarrass the party. »

But Masse said that vetting system applies only to riding-association board members, « not to our 32,000 members or to the thousands of people who’ve been attending a meet-up or commenting on Facebook. »

However, he added: « We’ve always been very clear that anyone with extreme views was not welcome in the party. »

Asked again whether the People’s Party would cancel Strashok’s membership should it discover he is still a member, Masse said: « I repeat: We’ve always been very clear that anyone with extreme views was not welcome in the party. »

The Canadian Press couldn’t reach Strashok to ask him about his party affiliations.

‘Extreme views’

Alberta UCP Leader Jason Kenney last month disavowed Strashok after reports by online media outlets Ricochet and Press Progress revealed he had posted anti-Semitic and white supremacist messages on social media sites and was involved in an online store that sells memorabilia glorifying white minority-rule in Rhodesia, the colonial precursor to Zimbabwe.

Among other things, the store sells T-shirts emblazoned with « Let’s slot floppies, » Rhodesian military slang for « Let’s shoot black insurgents. »

Kenney, who had employed Strashok to run his call centre during the UCP’s leadership contest last year, issued a statement saying he was « shocked and disturbed » by the reports. He said he’d been unaware of Strashok’s « extreme views » and had instructed party officials to revoke his membership.

It appears that at least until last August, when Bernier split with the Conservatives to form his own party, Strashok was actively involved with the federal Conservatives.

Alberta UCP Leader Jason Kenney disavowed Strashok after reports he had posted anti-Semitic and white supremacist messages on social media sites. (Colin Hall/CBC)

He had served on the executive of the party’s campus club at the University of Calgary and worked for Calgary MP Bob Benzen. He spent a summer working as an intern for Calgary MP Michelle Rempel when she was minister of state for western economic development and posted photos of himself with groups of Conservatives, including Rempel, Benzen and MP Blake Richards.

Conservative party financial records filed with Elections Canada show that Strashok donated $290 to the party in May 2016 and $532 in June of this year. Party spokesman Cory Hann said those donations were the registration fees paid to attend party conventions — the last one held in Halifax in August.

Hann said Strashok’s views « obviously do not reflect the views of our party. »

« These views are not welcome in our party and had we been aware of them, we would never [have] allowed him into our party, neither as a volunteer nor as an intern. »

Hann added that Strashok is no longer a member of the Conservative party « and my understanding is he’s been organizing for Mr. Bernier in Alberta. »

Rempel confirmed that Strashok, who lived in her riding, was hired as an intern in her regional office — to the best of her recollection, in the summer of 2013. His job would have been akin to « shredding photocopy paper, » with access to nothing confidential, she said.

He also served briefly on her riding-association board until summer 2015, when some executive members became aware of some « questionable » social-media posts.

« The minute we became aware of this, he was asked to resign and he did, » Rempel said. « I have a zero-tolerance policy on any sort of anti-Semitic language, like more than zero-tolerance policy. That is completely unacceptable and there is no place for that type of language and I denounce it in the strongest possible terms. »

Benzen said Strashok was an intern in his Calgary office in 2017 after he won a byelection and first became an MP. Strashok helped with research to get him up to speed on federal issues, Benzen said.

« I can tell you there were no indications at all, in either his conduct or his conversation, of the views now attributed to him. Such views are unacceptable and would never have been tolerated had they been known, » Benzen said in an email.

Richards said he’s not familiar with Strashok.


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How My White Noise Machine Makes My Apartment Feel Like a Fancy Hotel | Healthyish


This story is part of the Healthyish Guide to Sunday, a compilation of recipes, suggestions, and obsessions to make the first day of the week your favorite.

My favorite part of every night is the moment when I turn on my white noise machine.

It’s a small, cute, round, unassuming fellow—a compact white disc in hospital off-white with an o-shaped power button— who sits on the floor near the bed, with an anthropomorphic appearance that makes it seem like it should do a lot more than it does. But I don’t need a robot assistant and what the white noise machine does do—the production of whooshing, exhaling nothingness that drowns out the noise from the street below—is more than enough. The sound pads my bedroom like a cotton ball, absorbing the chaos of the world outside ( *whispers*…was this what it was like in the womb?!).

With the white noise machine doing its thing, retreating into my room feels like going on vacation. Something about its consistent comfort makes my bed softer, my pillows poofier, my anxious thoughts duller, the lights dimmer. It makes me feel like I’ll find fancy, individually-wrapped soaps in the my bathroom and shampoo and conditioner I can’t afford in the shower. Am I wearing worn-down socks or velvet slippers? Is that a small chocolate I see on the pillow? Is sleep within my reach? This illusion is the greatest gift I could ask for from a machine so teeny!

I grew up sleeping with a white noise machine, which my parents purchased when we got a puppy who whined through the night and they didn’t want me to do the same. I abandoned the machine during my adolescence and forgot about its existence throughout high school and college, so sleep-deprived that my eyes would be shut before my head hit the pillow. But during my first autumn in New York, when I no longer powered on the window unit air conditioner at night, I realized just how quiet—but also how maddeningly loud—my bedroom (and every single thought in my head) could be. Without the whir of the A/C, there was eery silence, interspersed by shrill police sirens, cars blasting music, the occasional hubbub on the corner, and, come 3 A.M., the never-ending meows of my two cats, ready for breakfast five hours too early.

I bought the compact, one-speed Dohm Uno from Marpac to replace the A/C shhhhhh-ing, unknowingly repeating the story of the company’s beginning: Marpac originally branded their white noise machines as « sound conditioners » in 1962, when Jim Buckwalter found that his insomniac wife, Tracy, was able to fall asleep in motels thanks to the lull of the A/C. And while the classic sound of a natural white noise machine is just that—the strum of a diffuse fan—fancier electric models are programmed with ocean waves, tingling chimes, or running streams. Personally, I like the placeless-ness of the white noise: I don’t want to be somewhere; I want to be nowhere at all.

Most of the time, when the white noise machine is on, I am not. That, I think, is the whole point. But on relaxing days (or days that are supposed to be), I like to bring my book, my knitting, and some snacks onto my bed long past wake-up time and keep the machine running. A lolling Sunday morning spent in the cocoon of the white noise machine, temporarily tuned out from the chaos of my kitchen sink and world at large, makes it easier to face the loud messiness come Monday.

Buy it: Dohm Uno White Noise Machine, $31.

All products featured on Healthyish are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.


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Former Syrian White Helmet rescuers, reluctantly resettled, embrace their new lives in Canada


As Maysoon al-Masri struck out for the Israeli border with Syria on a pitch-black night last summer, she struggled with second thoughts — and with the kind of homesick remorse that is impossible to shake.

The former journalist and her husband slipped through the dark, ruined streets of Daraa in southwestern Syria toward a pre-arranged meeting point on the border, where — with the help of the Israeli military — they became exiles, travelling west in the hope of a new, peaceful life.

« I was really upset. I didn’t want to leave home, » al-Masri told CBC News in an exclusive interview. « It was like ripping roots from the ground. »

As she and her husband approached the border, she was struck by the knowledge that she might never see her family again.

Over almost five years, al-Masri bore witness to some of the most terrifying, brutal episodes of her country’s long, unfinished civil war.

Moments of grace punctuate her horrific memories like bright lights in a dark room. Carrying a wounded young boy to hospital in her arms. Squeezing the hand of a woman writhing in pain, whose burn dressings were being changed without medication.

CBC News has learned Canada has accepted 117 Syrian refugees — former White Helmet emergency volunteers and their families, rescued in a dramatic international evacuation in July.

That extraordinary effort involving Israel, Britain, France and Germany was driven by Canada, which repeatedly has singled out the volunteer first responders as heroes.

Several Western countries, including Canada, agreed to resettle the volunteers, who have waited months in a United Nations refugee camp in Jordan.

The now-former White Helmets destined for this country arrived quietly last week and will find new homes in four provinces: British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Nova Scotia.

CBC News was granted exclusive access when the largest group of seven families arrived at Pearson Airport in Toronto on Tuesday. Some stayed in southern Ontario, while others moved on to different provinces and new homes.

It was a low-key welcome, with only a single representative of the White Helmets in Canada there to greet them — a stark contrast to the scene three years ago, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau personally welcomed the first wave of 52,000 Syrian refugees to this country.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets 16-month-old Madeleine Jamkossian, right, and her father Kevork Jamkossian, refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war, during their arrival at Pearson International airport, in Toronto, on Friday, Dec. 11, 2015. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

Among the recent arrivals was al-Masri, who visited Canada last spring as part of an international outreach effort by the White Helmets, who are condemned as terrorists and propagandists by the regime of dictator Bashar al-Assad and his ally Russia.

Both governments have gone as far as to accuse the first responders of faking atrocities.

The White Helmets — runners-up for the last Nobel Peace Prize and likely to be nominated again this year by human rights lawyer Irwin Cotler — have witnessed and documented the savagery being inflicted upon ordinary people in Syria.

Backed by Russian airpower last spring, Assad’s forces drove towards Daraa, which has been described as the cradle of the rebellion — one of the first cities to rise up in protest during the 2011 Arab Spring.

The White Helmets in the city had a target on their backs — something that became obvious as government troops started cutting off roads in the region.

They knew what their fate would be if they stayed. They knew what would happen to their parents, spouses and children.

« The reason we left was to escape arrest, » said al-Masri in a translated interview. « We are not scared of dying. We’re scared of being tortured and what would happen to our families. Our situation was very dangerous. »

The evacuation plan emerged in early July after Robin Wettlaufer, Ottawa’s special envoy to Syria, received an urgent appeal from one of the leaders of the group.

It was a risky plan, one that relied largely on coordination inside Syria through WhatsApp text messages — which al-Masri said worked fine only when they had internet access.

The international community expected to remove up to 1,200 evacuees — first responders and their families. In the end, only 422 Syrian White Helmets and their families managed to get out last July.

Hundreds remain trapped in Syria. Some of those who tried to escape through other means were betrayed by their neighbours — and even by rebels who had been granted safe passage out of the area by the Russians.

« There were people from the neighbourhoods that knew us, » she said. « Rebels would go talk to them when buses would come up to checkpoints. The rebels would get on the bus and anyone that they knew worked for the White Helmets, they would take them away. »

‘We are not scared of dying. We’re scared of being tortured and what would happen to our families,’ al-Masri says. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

The fate of those arrested is unknown, al-Masri said.

Some White Helmets still trapped in Syria managed to make it to rebel-controlled territory. Some of them have sent texts to al-Masri pleading with her to get them out.

One such appeal arrived recently from a friend. Al-Masri said she has not answered yet — because she doesn’t know what to say.

She said she believes the international community must undertake a renewed attempt to rescue the rescuers who desperately want to leave.

Al-Masri offered an extraordinary account of life in the Azraq refugee camp, which is home to 40,000 other Syrians who have fled to neighbouring Jordan.

Upon arrival, she said, their smartphones and electronics were confiscated. The devices were wiped and returned only as the UN was escorting them to the airport for departure, said al-Masri.

The White Helmet volunteers and their families lived in the camp in metal huts as temperatures hovered around 40 C for two months.

There was infrequent and incomplete access to doctors and medical staff, she said.

One of the women who was resettled in Canada with al-Masri, and who did not want to be interviewed, was pregnant during the evacuation and gave birth only two weeks ago.

She had trouble getting access to a doctor in the camp, al-Masri claimed.

Muzna Dureid, who represents the White Helmets in Canada and was at the airport to welcome them, said she hopes the misery is over for these former first responders.

« It’s giving them a safe space, peace, and what they need … protection, » she said.

They left the war behind. The memories will follow them forever.

Just prior to boarding the flight for Canada, al-Masri learned her 32-year-old nephew, also a White Helmet, died recently.

« What we lived through was difficult and we will need time to move on from the memories, » she said.

« Even now, even though we know we’re safe, the sounds of the missiles and bombings are still here. When a car drives by us, or we hear a weird noise, we automatically try to get into position and take cover. »


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