Category: RD News Now

TV comedy greats take a bow, make ’em laugh at ceremony

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – “There’s nothing I believe more than this, that laughter adds time to one’s life,” Norman Lear told an audience gathered to honour him and other four other television comedy greats.

“I believe that as much as I believe my mother loved me,” the writer-producer added. “She said she did. But I wasn’t sure.”

Like the 97-year-old Lear, who made his name – and TV history – with groundbreaking sitcoms like “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons,” the other honorees at Thursday’s Paley Center for Media ceremony proved that talent is ageless. Carl Reiner, 97; Bob Newhart, 90; Carol Burnett, 86, and Lily Tomlin, 80, each won over the room with their humour and memories.

“Guess this is a hell of a time to tell you no, we’re not coming to your Christmas party,” Newhart teased Conan O’Brien after the late-night host introduced him as “one of my all-time comedy heroes.”

“He pulls off the hardest kind of comedy – timeless, human, clean and subversive. And he makes it all look effortless,” O’Brien said of Newhart.

The onetime accountant became an instant sensation in 1960 with his debut album, the Grammy-winning “The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart,” scored sitcom hits with “The Bob Newhart Show” in the 1970s and “Newhart” in the ’80s and won an Emmy as Professor Proton on “The Big Bang Theory.”

The sentimental moments included Rob Reiner’s introduction of his father, the writer-actor-producer whose TV career stretched from the 1950s variety series “Caesar’s Hour” to creating “The Dick Van Dyke Show” to a recent role in “Angie Tribeca.”

“This is the nicest thing, to be able to do this for my dad,” said the younger Reiner, who gave him an arm for support as they walked onto the hotel ballroom stage at The Paley Honors: A Special Tribute to Television’s Comedy Legends.

Carl Reiner, who credited a government-supported acting program with his childhood start in entertainment, charmed the audience by reciting lines from a Shakespeare soliloquy he learned as a kid and sharing an anecdote about another TV comedy force, Jack Benny. He called his children and grandchildren his greatest pride.

Carol Burnett was introduced by Kristin Chenoweth, who lauded the singer-actress-comedian as one of the few who can do it all and always “with such heart.”

Burnett, who starred on Broadway, as well as TV, recalled what preceded the 1967 arrival of “The Carol Burnett Show.”

“As a woman in this business, it wasn’t always easy to do what the naysayers said couldn’t be done,” she said. When she sought to exercise a contract clause with CBS for an hour-long variety show, Burnett said an executive told her, “and I quote, ‘It’s not for you gals.'”

She punctuated the story with a derisive “huh.” Her long-running show won armloads of Emmy Awards on CBS.

Tomlin, whose parade of characters made her a hit on “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” and who stars opposite Jane Fonda on “Grace and Frankie,” was self-effacing, saying she couldn’t match Newhart’s “sterling one-liners.” Instead, she delighted the audience by reciting some of her characters’ catchphrases, including telephone operator Ernestine’s “one ringy dingy.”

“I’m so grateful for this great, great honour,” Tomlin said.

Lear was introduced by “black-ish” star Anthony Anderson, who said Lear’s work forced audiences to confront difficult issues while shedding light on common bonds, and by late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, who said the producer used laughter to challenge “us to make progress.”

The night’s last word went to Lear.

“Bless you all, thank you. Let me continue,” he said, smiling.


Lynn Elber can be reached at and on Twitter at

Lynn Elber, The Associated Press

In reversal, Seoul to keep Japan military intelligence pact

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of – In a major policy reversal, South Korea said Friday it has decided to continue a 2016 military intelligence-sharing agreement with Japan that it previously said it would terminate amid ongoing tensions over wartime history and trade.

The announcement, made just six hours before the agreement was to expire, followed a strong U.S. push to save the pact, which has been a major symbol of the countries’ three-way security co-operation in the face of North Korea’s nuclear threat and China’s growing influence.

The office of South Korean President Moon Jae-in said it decided to suspend the effect of the three months’ notice it gave in August to terminate the agreement after Tokyo agreed to reciprocal measures.

But Kim You-geun, deputy director of South Korea’s presidential national security office, said the move was based on the premise that it could end the arrangement at any time depending on how relations with Tokyo proceed.

Kim also said South Korea decided to halt a complaint it filed with the World Trade Organization over Japan’s tightened controls on exports of key chemicals that South Korean companies use to make computer chips and displays.

The Japanese government said it has agreed to resume discussions with South Korea on resolving their dispute over the export controls.

The military agreement, which Japan had sought to maintain, is automatically extended every year unless either country notifies the other 90 days in advance of its intention to terminate it, a deadline that fell in August.

Washington had no immediate reaction to Seoul’s announcement.

Most South Korean analysts had anticipated that the Moon government would let the agreement expire, saying there was no clear way for Seoul to renew it without losing face.

Some saw the Trump administration’s public demands for South Korea to reverse the key diplomatic decision as a profound lack of respect for an ally.

The squabble over the Seoul-Tokyo pact came at a delicate time for the alliance between the United States and South Korea. The two countries have struggled to deal with North Korea’s nuclear threat while squabbling over defence costs.

In a rare public display of discord between the allies, U.S. negotiators on Wednesday cut short a Seoul meeting with South Korean officials over disagreements on how much South Korea should increase its contribution to covering the costs of maintaining the American military presence on its soil. South Korean officials say the administration of President Donald Trump has been demanding a “drastic” increase that they find unacceptable.

There’s also concern that Trump, after already suspending major U.S.-South Korean military exercises he described as “ridiculous and expensive,” may seek to reduce the U.S. military presence in South Korea to accommodate a deal with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

South Korea’s August declaration that it would terminate the General Security of Military Intelligence Agreement, or GSOMIA, with Japan came shortly after Tokyo removed its neighbour from a “white list” of countries receiving preferential treatment in trade.

South Korea saw Tokyo’s move, which followed strengthened controls on technology exports to South Korean chip and display manufacturers, as retaliation over political disputes stemming from Japan’s use of Koreans for forced labour before the end of World War II.

But following unusually blunt criticism from Washington, which said Seoul’s decision could hurt the security of its Asian allies and increase risks to U.S. troops stationed there, South Korea said it could continue the military agreement if Japan restores its status as a favoured trade partner.

It seemed neither country was ready to budge from their positions after last-minute meetings between their diplomats and military officials over the past week ended without any apparent breakthrough.

Visiting Seoul last week, U.S. Defence Secretary Mark Esper said the agreement allows fast and effective information exchanges between the three countries which would be crucial in times of war. He said friction between the two U.S. allies would only benefit North Korea and China.

It took years for the United States to persuade South Korea and Japan to sign the GSOMIA, which was designed to facilitate direct intelligence-sharing between the Asian U.S. allies.

The agreement, which complemented a three-way 2014 deal that allowed Seoul and Tokyo to pass information on North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missiles via Washington, was seen as a major symbol of co-operation in coping with the growing North Korean threat and balancing China’s growing influence.

The GSOMIA made it easier for South Korea to access information gathered by Japan’s intelligence satellites, radar, patrol planes and other high-tech systems, which are critical for analyzing North Korean missile tests and submarines.

For Japan, the agreement with South Korea had value because its military sensors are positioned to detect North Korean launches sooner, and also because of information the country gathers from spies, North Korean defectors and other human sources.

Kim Tong-Hyung, The Associated Press

Trudeau builds a cabinet and hockey stops using ‘midget’; In-The-News Nov. 20

In-The-News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Nov. 20.

What we are watching in Canada …

OTTAWA – It will be all business this afternoon when the prime minister unveils a cabinet to navigate a new era of minority government in a bitterly divided country.

Justin Trudeau has taken a month since winning re-election to put together his new team – twice as long as he took in 2015.

Like cabinets during his first mandate, this one will have an equal number of men and women, and will attempt to balance regional, ethnic and religious considerations.

The biggest shift will likely involve Chrystia Freeland, who is expected to be named deputy prime minister and minister in charge of a beefed-up intergovernmental affairs department, to be renamed domestic affairs.

Sources say Francois-Philippe Champagne will leave his post at Infrastructure to take over from Freeland at Foreign Affairs.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau is expected to stay put.

Also this …

TORONTO – A canvas by Pablo Picasso will hit the Toronto auction block tonight alongside offerings from some of Canada’s most treasured artists.

The Heffel Fine Art Auction House says Picasso’s “Femme au chapeau” will lead its fall sale with a pre-auction estimate between $8 million to $10 million. The 1941 oil-on-canvas depicts photographer Dora Maar, who during her relationship with Picasso served as the principal subject of his “Weeping Woman” series.

Canadian highlights include a 1912 work by Emily Carr depicting a First Nations village in British Columbia.  Heffel says “Street, Alert Bay” is the first major Carr canvas to come to market in years and could fetch between $2 million and $3 million.

American comedian Steve Martin is selling one of the several Lawren Harris paintings in his collection. The Group of Seven painter’s 1928 oil-on-board “Mountain Sketch LXX” is expected to hammer down for between $300,000 and $500,000.

ICYMI (In case you missed it) …

TORONTO – A Federal Court is ordering Canada’s internet service providers to block websites for a company selling pirated television online, deeming that such a move wouldn’t infringe on freedom of expression or net neutrality.

The decision affects Gold TV, an IPTV service that offers thousands of traditional TV channels for a nominal fee, streaming over internet networks.

It’s the first time a nationwide blocking order has been made in Canada, setting a precedent that critics say could have broader consequences.

Earlier this year, a coalition of Canadian telecommunications companies and internet providers – Bell Media, Groupe TVA and Rogers Media – filed a complaint in a federal court saying was selling subscriptions to numerous channels without owning the rights.

University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist calls the federal court order “an enormously problematic decision, and flawed from a legal perspective.”

“At a minimum, site blocking ought to be a measure of last resort, and it wasn’t in this case,” Geist said in a phone interview.

“Before you can even entertain the possibility of taking what is really the most extreme step in terms of literally trying to block content, you need to have taken every step you can short of that, and that’s not what happened here.”


What we are watching in the U.S. …

WASHINGTON – Ambassador Gordon Sondland, the most anticipated witness in the impeachment inquiry, is likely to be unpredictable when he faces questions about his evolving accounts of the Trump administration’s dealings with Ukraine and a newly revealed summertime phone call with President Donald Trump.

Sondland, a wealthy hotelier Trump tapped as his ambassador to the European Union, is more directly entangled than any witness yet in the president’s efforts to get Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden and Democrats in the 2016 election. Yet Sondland has already amended his testimony once – “I now do recall,” he said, talking to Ukraine about investigations.

Sondland’s appearance at today’s hearing, and his closeness to Trump, is of particular concern to the White House as the historic impeachment inquiry reaches closer to the president, pushing through an intense week with nine witnesses testifying over three days in back-to-back sessions.

Trump has recently tried to suggest that he barely knows his hand-picked ambassador, but Sondland has said he has spoken several times with the president and was acting on his direction.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

HONG KONG –  Schools reopened today in Hong Kong after a six-day shutdown, but students and commuters faced transit disruptions as the last protesters remained holed up on a university campus.

City officials tried to restore a sense of normalcy as primary and secondary classes resumed. Workers began cleaning up debris blocking a major road tunnel, but it was unclear how soon it could be reopened.

A small group of protesters refused to leave Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the remnants of hundreds who took over the campus for several days. They won’t leave because they would face arrest. Police have set up a cordon around the area to prevent anyone from escaping.

The occupation of Polytechnic capped more than a week of intense protests, the latest flareup in the often violent unrest that has gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese city for more than five months.

Since a police siege of the campus began Sunday, more than 1,000 people have been arrested and hundreds of injured treated at hospitals, authorities said.

Weird and wild …

HONESDALE, Pa. – A bagel shop manager in New York drove to Pennsylvania to return a key fob that a customer had left in his shop on Long Island.

Diana Chong drove off from Bagels 101 on Saturday with her family for a pre-Thanksgiving celebration in Honesdale. After parking in Pennsylvania, she realized she had left the fob, needed to restart her car, at the store 298 kilometres away.

Manager Vinny Proscia offered to ship the fob, but they couldn’t find a service.

So Proscia decided to deliver it.

Chong tells Newsday she insisted he accept $200 for gas and tolls and a gift card.

Proscia says he got stopped for speeding on the return trip, but the officer let him go after he showed a thank-you card from Chong.

On this day in 1995 …

Former prime minister Brian Mulroney filed a $50-million lawsuit against the RCMP and the Justice Department. The suit claimed Mulroney’s reputation and stature had been hurt by a letter the Mounties sent to Swiss authorities alleging Mulroney had taken kickbacks in the 1988 sale of 34 Airbus jets to Air Canada. Mulroney dropped the case after reaching a settlement with Ottawa.


Celebrity news …

LOS ANGELES – The three top money winners in “Jeopardy!” history will vie for a share of $1.5 million in January.

ABC and the quiz show’s producer says Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter and James Holzhauer will compete in prime-time episodes on the network.

The first contestant to win three matches will receive $1 million. Each runner-up will take home $250,000.

Canadian Alex Trebek will host the contest, titled “Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time” on Jan. 7.

Rutter is the top all-time money winner with $4.7 million, followed by Jennings with $3.4 million and Holzhauer with $2.7 million.


The game we play …

TORONTO – Members of the little people community are applauding Hockey Canada for dropping the term midget along with other traditional age group names.

The governing body of hockey in Canada plans to replace categories like midget, novice, peewee, bantam and atom with age-based designators starting next season.

Mark Halliday, Hockey Canada’s vice-president of marketing and communications, says they want to be an inclusive brand, sport and organization.”

The term ‘midget’ has long been used in a variety of sports even though it is considered by many to be a derogatory slur.

Allan Redford, the president of the Little People of Canada, says it’s not about sensitivity but rather awareness, acceptance and dignity.

He says it’s often sometimes difficult to imagine the challenges that people with short stature face.

Little People of Manitoba president Samantha Rayburn-Trubyk says “hockey was our mountain and we’ve climbed it.” 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 20, 2019.

The Canadian Press

Trudeau unveils new cabinet aimed at pushing priorities, soothing tensions

OTTAWA – Justin Trudeau unveiled a larger cabinet on Wednesday that aims to advance Liberal campaign promises to tackle climate change and promote middle-class prosperity, while attempting to soothe regional tensions worsened by last month’s election outcome.

In last month’s election, the prime minister said, Canadians voted to “pull together the country, to focus on issues of economic growth for the middle class, to fight climate change and to keep Canadians and their communities safe.”

“That is our focus and this is the team to do that,” Trudeau said, flanked by his 36 ministers outside Rideau Hall after a relatively low-key swearing-in ceremony.

Trudeau’s new cabinet reflects the sobering new reality for Liberals, who are returning for a second mandate with a minority of seats in the House of Commons, dependent on opposition support for the government’s survival and without any representation from Alberta or Saskatchewan.

The pivotal role in his new cabinet went to Chrystia Freeland, who moved from the prestigious Global Affairs portfolio to become deputy prime minister and minister in charge of intergovernmental affairs.

Freeland, whom Trudeau tapped to deal with U.S. President Donald Trump during the tense renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, will now be in charge of dealing with hostile conservative premiers across the country.

The Toronto MP, who has roots in Alberta, won praise as a tough, canny negotiator during the trade talks. Her diplomatic and negotiating skills will be put to the test in dealing with Alberta’s Jason Kenney, Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe and Ontario’s Doug Ford.

Trudeau noted that he “worked very, very closely and with great success” with Freeland on NAFTA and what he termed “the challenges of the American administration.”

“We know that as we move forward on issues that matter right across the country, like energy and the environment and other large issues, we’re going to have to engage in a strong and positive way with different orders of government right across the country and I’m very much looking forward to doing that with Chrystia by my side,” he said.

Freeland, who orchestrated the successful Team Canada approach to NAFTA negotiations, said she’ll remain in charge of seeing the renewed trade pact through to ratification in Canada and the U.S. and will continue to broadly oversee Canada-U.S. relations – on top of her new responsibilities.

She said the biggest lesson she learned from NAFTA is: “You have to face big challenges united as a country and that is what we need to do when it comes to confronting the big issues of our time.”

In a further sign of outreach to the West, Trudeau tapped B.C. MP Jonathan Wilkinson, formerly fisheries minister, to take on the environment portfolio.

Although Wilkinson represents a British Columbia riding, he was born and raised in Saskatchewan and worked for the province’s former NDP government.

Winnipeg MP Jim Carr, one of Trudeau’s most reliable ministers, who received a diagnosis of cancer the day after the election, is no longer in cabinet. But Trudeau has appointed him to be his “special representative for the Prairies … (to) ensure that the people of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have a strong voice in Ottawa.”

Another of his most reliable ministers who is also battling cancer, New Brunswick MP Dominic LeBlanc, remains in cabinet in a reduced role as president of the Queen’s Privy Council. A bald LeBlanc, who recently received a stem-cell transplant after rounds of chemotherapy, showed up for Wednesday’s swearing-in ceremony wearing a face mask, which he removed briefly while taking his oath.

Seamus O’Regan was moved from Indigenous Services to take on Natural Resources, a crucial file as the government attempts to tackle climate change while expanding the Trans Mountain pipeline to carry Alberta crude to the B.C. coast for export.

He hails from Newfoundland and Labrador, the only other oil-producing province.

Trudeau acknowledged the gap in western representation at the cabinet table but said he had to play the hand he was dealt by Canadians on Oct. 21.

“We very much would have liked to have had ministers from the West elected … but Canadians sent us an incredible team from which we were able to assemble this strong cabinet that we’re going to work very hard for every region of the country on.”

Trudeau’s new lineup also includes outreach to Quebec, in response to a resurgence of the separatist Bloc Quebecois in the election.

Montreal MP Pablo Rodriguez, formerly heritage minister, takes on the crucial role of government House leader.

He will be responsible for charting a path for the Liberals, who hold only a minority of seats, to get their legislation through the House of Commons.

Rodriguez has also been named political minister for Quebec – a position Trudeau had resisted creating until now.

In addition to Carr, Trudeau has dropped two others from cabinet – former health minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor, who will serve as deputy whip, and former science minister Kirsty Duncan, who will be deputy House leader.

Eight ministers were not moved, the most important being Finance Minister Bill Morneau. But he will now be bolstered by Ottawa MP Mona Fortier, who takes on the newly created post of minister of middle-class prosperity and associate finance minister.

Among the few who were not moved were Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, Justice Minister David Lametti, National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier, Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett, Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains and Transport Minister Marc Garneau.

Other newcomers include Trudeau’s longtime friend, Montreal MP Marc Miller, who moves from the backbench to Indigenous Services, rookie Oakville MP Anita Anand, who takes over public services and procurement, and rookie Montreal MP Steven Guilbeault, a prominent environmentalist, who was given the heritage portfolio.

Trudeau has created a number of new portfolios, including one that appears to be an attempt to repair the damage done during the campaign by the disclosure of long-ago photos showing Trudeau in blackface.

He named Ontario MP Bardish Chagger, previously House leader, to be minister of the newly created post of diversity, inclusion and youth.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer blasted Trudeau’s new cabinet line-up, accusing the prime minister of doubling down on “the same faces and the same failures.”

“The cabinet he unveiled today is a bigger and more bloated version of the same one that helped create an affordability crisis for Canadian families, attacked our energy sector and put thousands of Canadians out of work and set the stage for a national-unity crisis,” Scheer said in a statement.

Trudeau may have wanted to avoid exacerbating tensions with western provinces by putting Guilbeault, a longtime anti-pipeline activist, in a post that does not directly involve environmental matters. But Scheer argued that Guilbeault’s inclusion, even in Heritage, will “only further stoke divisions” that he accused Trudeau of creating.

New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh said he is more concerned with what the cabinet ministers do than who they are.

“What this government needs more than new ministers is a new commitment to working with us to deliver for Canadians,” Singh said in a statement.

“When they’re ready to work to protect and create jobs, make life more affordable, invest in the services people need, and ensure real steps are taken to fight the climate crisis- New Democrats will work with the prime minister and his new cabinet.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 20, 2019.

Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press

Study finds microplastics in all remote Arctic beluga whales tested

VANCOUVER – A pioneering study of seven belugas in Canada’s remote Arctic waters has found microplastics in the innards of every single whale.

Researchers from Ocean Wise worked with hunters from the Inuvialuit community of Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., to collect samples from whales they harvested between 2017 and 2018.

They found an average of nearly 10 microplastics, or particles less than five millimetres in size, in the gastrointestinal tracts of each beluga.

The study was published last week in the Marine Pollution Bulletin and conducted in partnership with Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Simon Fraser University.

Ocean Wise says it is the first study of microplastics in a marine mammal in Canada.

Lead author Rhiannon Moore says she wasn’t expecting to see so many microplastics so far north.

“It actually surprised me at first. I thought, this is a far-north top predator in the Arctic in a fairly remote place,” Moore says in an interview.

It demonstrated just how far microplastics can travel and how they’ve penetrated even the most remote environments, she says.

“It definitely tells us they’re ubiquitous, they’re ending up everywhere,” she says. “It’s a global problem, it’s not a contained local problem, so it’s going to take a lot of different actors – government, industries and consumers – to try to limit the flow.”

Nine different types of plastic polymers were identified in the animals, with polyester being the most common.

While Moore says she believes they would have passed through the whales’ digestive tracts without any immediate consequences, there’s still very little known about the potential long-term health effects of prolonged exposure.

It’s also unknown how the microplastics entered the whales, but Moore says she thinks they most likely ate fish that had already ingested the plastic.

Her next study will focus on microplastics in beluga prey.

Moore says the community of about 900 people, who live on the shores of the Eastern Beaufort Sea north of the Arctic Circle, was a key partner in the project. The whales are an important source of nutrition and are closely monitored for contaminants.

It gave the researchers the advantage of studying healthy specimens, compared with studies in other parts of the world that have looked at microplastics in whales found dead.

“There have been some European studies on whales that have essentially washed up and that’s another reason why this study is unique – these whales, they didn’t wash up on a beach so there’s not really that bias where they’re already sick or injured. They are a healthy population,” Moore says.

Moore says she suspects marine mammals closer to populated areas are likely to ingest even more microplastics than the Arctic belugas.

“It does raise questions about what other whales might be exposed to,” she says. “I definitely think about that, that’s a question that keeps me up at night a little bit.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 22, 2019.


Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

‘I was bawling’: Injured Bronco’s mother stunned by his progress after surgery

The mother of a hockey player paralyzed in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash says she’s stunned by the progress he has made since receiving spinal surgery in Thailand.

Doctors implanted an epidural stimulator in Ryan Straschnitzki’s spine earlier this month and a week later injected stem cells above and below the injury in the hope that will help reverse some of the damage.

The 20-year-old from Airdrie, Alta., is to remain in Thailand until early December.

“Hands down I’m 200 per cent behind this. I didn’t expect this kind of result this quickly,”  Michelle Straschnitzki said in an interview. “It’s definitely not a quick fix. It’s not a cure, but it’s certainly progress and it’s more than we’ve had in 19 months.”

Tom Straschnitzki, who is also in Thailand, has posted a number of videos of his son’s rehab, including one where the young man was able to move a leg. Another video shows him strapped into a harness as physiotherapists slowly help him walk with the use of a machine on wheels.

“Bout time he got off his ass. 1st time since he boarded the bus that horrendous day,” Straschnitzki tweeted.

“Therapist helping with knees and ankles so they don’t buckle. Ryan did so good, I sent him to the beer store for me.”

Straschnitzki was one of 13 players who were injured when an inexperienced truck driver blew through a stop sign and into the path of the Saskatchewan junior hockey team’s bus in April 2018. Sixteen others on the bus died.

Straschnitzki, who was paralyzed from the chest down, has said he isn’t expecting a cure but hopes the implant will restore some muscle movement and things such as bladder control.

A small device like a remote control is to send electrical currents to his spinal cord to try to stimulate nerves and move limbs. The implant is being programmed to stimulate certain nerves mapped out by surgeons and therapists.

The surgery can cost up to $100,000 and isn’t covered by public health care or insurance, because the epidural procedure has not been approved by Health Canada. The family is paying for it themselves. It is also performed in countries such as the United States and Switzerland, but it is much cheaper in Thailand.

The player’s mother, who didn’t go to Thailand, said he’s been low key when she’s talked to him.

“In typical Ryan fashion he’s very quiet. All he says is he’s very tired and you can tell. His body, his mind, everything is tired because he’s pushing as far as he can.”

Her son takes part in nerve mapping in the morning, does physio in the afternoon and then does more work with the implant, she said. He still plans to hit the ice in Bangkok with his hockey sledge before returning home.

Straschnitzki said seeing her boy’s progress on the videos stunned her.

“I was just absolutely floored. It obviously brought the tears. I was bawling. It was unreal,” she said.

“Tom said the last time Ryan walked was when he walked on the bus and then, to watch him moving his legs, walking essentially, that just rocked me.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 22, 2019.

– Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

Thai court removes pro-democracy politician from Parliament

BANGKOK – Thailand’s constitutional Court ruled Wednesday that a popular pro-democracy opposition leader violated election laws and cannot keep his seat in Parliament.

The court said Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, the 40-year-old head of the new Future Forward Party, violated a regulation barring owners of media companies from running for Parliament.

The court rejected Thanathorn’s claim that he sold his holding in a media production company before the deadline needed to be a candidate.

The ruling had been expected. Thanathorn’s party, which finished third in a March general election, has been a thorn in the side of Thailand’s conservative establishment, in whose favour the courts have consistently ruled. The party is disliked by the establishment not only for its anti-military stance, but also because of its strong popularity.

There are many other cases pending against Thanathorn and his party, and there is a widespread belief that the deck is stacked against it and it will end up being disbanded, with its leaders banned from political office for several years.

The ruling against Thanathorn automatically triggers further deliberation by the court into whether he knowingly flouted the rules, and he could face a ban on public office if found guilty.

About 100 fervent supporters mobbed Thanathorn as he arrived for the court hearing and gave him an even more enthusiastic reception on his way out.

“We shouldn’t be concerned. It’s important for us to continue on our campaigns and there are so many things that we have to work on,” Thanathorn told reporters after the ruling. “We should be focusing on what really benefits people. The public can decide for themselves whether or not what happened to us is just.”

Thanathorn was never allowed to take his seat in the lower house of Parliament because of the Election Commission’s preliminary finding that he had violated the law. According to an initial court ruling, he was suspended because he could be guilty as charged, which would be an “obstruction to the important work in the meetings in the House of Representatives.”

However, the court did not suspend 32 members of Parliament from the coalition formed by the pro-military Palang Pracharath Party who faced similar complaints. It said those cases had not been filed and processed by an investigative committee.

On Monday, Thanathorn raised the issue again, announcing he was suing the Election Commission’s members because they had acted improperly by forwarding his case to the constitutional Court before it was adequately investigated.

Thanathorn had announced before the ruling that he would continue to be active politically no matter what the verdict, and he went from the court to a shopping area where he took part in campaigning for public support for his party’s policy to end military conscription.

The party also is pushing an effort to amend the constitution to make it more democratic. Thailand was under the rule of a military junta from 2014 until earlier this year, and that government pushed through a new constitution to give more power to the military and the courts and senior bureaucrats at the expense of elected office holders.

Thanathorn, a billionaire whose family fortune comes from the auto parts industry, founded his party in March 2018 as Thailand was heading toward an election. The party’s initial support came from youth and young professionals, but it proved to have wider appeal in many parts of the country.

The army staged coups in 2006 and 2014 to attempt to shore up the old ruling class led by a royalist-military alliance. The ruling class’s power was challenged by the rise of billionaire populist Thaksin Shinawatra, whose 2006 ouster by the military set off a long and sometimes violent power struggle between his supporters and opponents.

Prayuth Chan-ocha, who staged the 2014 coup and afterward served as prime minister in the military government, took a second term this year after the Palang Pracharath Party formed a coalition after the election.

The Future Forward Party collaborated with parties allied to Thaksin’s political machine, causing it to be tarred with accusations that it was just a vehicle for Thaksin, who is in exile. It vehemently denies the allegations and has staked out positions independent of its allies.

The party has maintained its gadfly position in Parliament and recently launched a campaign urging people not to accept the status quo and be willing to stand up for their rights.

Tassanee Vejpongsa And Grant Peck, The Associated Press

Emirates opts for 30 Boeing 787 Dreamliners in revised deal

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The Middle East’s biggest carrier, the Dubai-based Emirates, announced on Wednesday a firm order for 30 Boeing 787 Dreamliners in a deal valued at $8.8 billion.

The order, however, does not represent additional spending by Emirates because it replaces a previous agreement with the Chicago-based plane manufacturer at a near trade at list prices, which are negotiated by airlines.

Emirates CEO and Chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said the new order replaces a previous agreement for 150 777x Boeing aircraft. That $56 billion deal had been announced at the 2013 Dubai Airshow.

Instead, Emirates said it is purchasing 126 of the 777x aircraft and 30 of the 787-9 Dreamliners. Combined, the value is also around $56 billion.

Earlier at the airshow, Emirates announced it would be buying 20 wide-body Airbus A350s, bringing its total order for the aircraft to 50 in an agreement worth $16 billion at list price. That deal, however, replaced a $21.4 billion agreement struck in February to purchase 70 Airbus aircraft, which had included 40 of the A330neo.

Overall, Airbus netted around $38 billion in new plane orders at the airshow this week to Boeing’s roughly $17 billion, though not all are firm orders. Around $20 billion of these commercial purchasing announcements were made by low-cost carriers.

The Dubai Airshow, which opened Sunday and is the Middle East’s biggest aviation event, has seen the region’s flagship Gulf carriers rein back big-ticket purchases as they face industry headwinds from lower airfreight demand to weakened travel demand in the region. The big Gulf airlines also have multiple existing orders on planes yet to be delivered.

Emirates, which feeds Dubai’s busy international airport, posted significantly lower earnings of $237 million this past fiscal year compared to the previous year’s whopping $762 million. Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi’s flagship carrier Etihad has posted losses for several consecutive years. Qatar Airways, another major Gulf carrier, is struggling under a blockade imposed on Qatar by neighbouring Gulf Arab states, including the United Arab Emirates.

As major Mideast airlines contend with dips in earnings, U.S. plane manufacturer Boeing faces pressure over its troubled 737-8 Max jet.

Still, Boeing announced 60 orders for the jet this week, signalling a vote of confidence among some airlines for the Max that’s been grounded around the world following crashes that killed 346 people. Boeing said Wednesday an order for 20 came from an unidentified customer.

The crashes, in October of last year and March, raised questions about pilot training requirements and the plane’s new technology, particularly an anti-stall software that pushed the planes’ noses down.

The crashes also sparked criticism of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s certification process, particularly for new technology on aircraft.

Boeing has said it hopes to have the Max certified by the FAA and flying again by January, before other regulators around the world follow suit.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson told reporters at the airshow Wednesday that the regulator will not be pressured on time.

“As a regulator, there’s certain things that we have to do, but time pressure can’t be one of them,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure that we do everything the right way and do it the complete way.”

He said his message to the FAA workforce is to understand “that we need to run every step of the process.” When asked if the plane would be certified by January, Dickson said: “It remains to be seen.”

“I’m not going to commit to a timeline,” said Dickson, who was sworn-in to the post for a five-year term in August.

Aya Batrawy, The Associated Press

McDavid’s 3 points lead Oilers past Sharks 5-2

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Connor McDavid dominated the way he usually does and got plenty of help from his Edmonton teammates.

McDavid had a goal and two assists for his third straight game with at least three points, Leon Draisaitl extended his point streak to 13 games and the Oilers snapped the San Jose Sharks’ six-game winning streak with a 5-2 victory Tuesday night.

“We were looking for a real good effort to start this road trip and that’s exactly what we got,” coach Dave Tippett said. “Everybody contributed. We’re looking for scoring all through our lineup and you get a game like this.”

McDavid assisted on goals by Zack Kassian and James Neal to stake Edmonton to a 4-1 lead after two periods and then capped another big night with an insurance goal in the third to get the Oilers off to a strong start on their five-game trip. McDavid became the first Edmonton player with three or more points in three consecutive games since Mark Messier in January 1990.

Draisaitl assisted on that last goal, giving him 28 points during his current streak.

Markus Granlund scored his first of the season, Jujhar Khaira also had a goal and Mikko Koskinen made 33 saves for Edmonton.

“Hopefully this can be a springboard for us,” defenceman Oscar Klefbom said. “This isn’t an easy place to begin a five-game road trip and especially since they have been playing some pretty good hockey here.”

Kevin Labanc and Barclay Goodrow scored for the Sharks, who had been playing their best hockey of the season following a five-game skid. Martin Jones made 24 saves.

“I think it’s a wakeup call for us right now,” captain Logan Couture said. “You win six in a row and winning kind of masks when you’re not playing your best, but you find a way to win. I think the last couple games, that’s the way the games have gone. We haven’t played our game and we found a way to win. Tonight I think we got what we deserved, a loss.”

The Oilers began their trip on a good note, getting early goals from Granlund off a nice cross-ice feed from Klefbom and Kassian on a play that needed replay review. The referees initially ruled Mario Ferraro cleared Kassian’s shot that trickled through Jones off the goal line. But the situation room in Toronto buzzed in at the next stoppage, ruling the puck crossed the goal line.

The Sharks got back into it thanks to a fortunate bounce as Couture’s shot was stopped by Koskinen but the rebound deflected off Labanc, hit Koskinen in the back and rolled into the net.

San Jose put on heavy pressure after that and had an 18-9 edge in shots but went down by two with 14.6 seconds left in the period when Khaira beat Jones with a shot through a screen from the point for his third goal in two games.

“I thought their guy made some big saves in the first or we could have had two or three, too,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. “That’s a back breaker that one with 15 seconds left.”

The Oilers tightened things up significantly in the second and added to the lead when Neal redirected a pass from McDavid past Jones for his eighth power-play goal of the season.

Koskinen preserved the three-goal lead by stopping Goodrow on a partial breakaway with San Jose short-handed in the final minute of the second period.

NOTES: The power-play goal by Neal was just the second the Sharks have allowed at home all season. … Oilers D Adam Larsson is on the road trip and could return Thursday at Los Angeles for the first time since getting hurt blocking a shot in the season opener.


Oilers: Visit the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night.

Sharks: At the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night.


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Josh Dubow, The Associated Press

Kings pick apart Oilers’ top line 5-1 to stay hot at home

LOS ANGELES – Tyler Toffoli had two goals and an assist to lead the Los Angeles Kings to a 5-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night.

Jeff Carter added a goal and two assists for the the Kings, who have won five straight at home. Anze Kopitar and Michael Amadio also scored, Drew Doughty had three assists, and Jonathan Quick made 25 saves.

Connor McDavid scored to extend his point streak to nine games for the Oilers. Mikko Koskinen made 16 saves after replacing Mike Smith, who allowed three goals on 12 shots in the first period.

Toffoli scored on the power-play with 2:59 remaining in the third to get his first multi-goal game of the season, adding an exclamation point to the Kings’ drubbing of the Pacific Division leaders.

The Kings took a 3-0 lead in the first period, scoring all three against the Oilers’ top line of Leon Draisaitl, McDavid and Zack Kassian.

Toffoli put the Kings ahead 1-0 at 1:32, scoring his fifth from the left circle off a rush created by Jeff Carter’s stretch pass.

Kopitar made it 2-0 with 5:39 left on a slap shot from the left circle teed up by Dustin Brown. Kopitar has 11 points, including four goals, in his past 10 games.

Carter closed out the strong start by scoring with 2.5 seconds left in the period for the 3-0 lead. Toffoli forced a turnover in the neutral zone to spring the rush, with Carter scoring five-hole with the rebound of Carl Grundstrom’s shot.

McDavid cut the Kings’ lead to 3-1 at 38 seconds of the second. McDavid stole the puck from Ben Hutton and beat Quick glove-side from the slot for his 10th goal and 21st point during his streak.

But Amadio, playing in his 100th career game, pushed the margin back to 4-1 at 11:16.

NOTES: Oilers D Adam Larsson returned after missing 22 games because of a broken leg he sustained in the season opener against Vancouver on Oct. 2. .. Edmonton D Matt Benning is in concussion protocol, coach Dave Tippett said. Benning was hit in the head by an errant stick in the first period at San Jose on Tuesday.


Oilers: At Vegas on Saturday.

Kings: Host Arizona on Saturday.


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Dan Greenspan, The Associated Press