Category: RD News Now

Puerto Rico gov will not seek reelection, but won’t resign

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossell said Sunday evening that he will not resign in the face of public furor over an obscenity-laced leaked online chat, but he will not seek reelection or continue as head of his pro-statehood political party.

Protesters said they were not satisfied by Rossell’s concessions, and pledged to continue demonstrations that have filled the streets of Old San Juan for more than a week.

“He’s stretching things out. We had hoped he’d taken the decision to resign. He’s making the people’s pain last longer,” said Emmarie Morales, a protester from southeast coastal town of Patillas. She said the governor’s decision would not end the protests. “He’s given us more strength to protest. We aren’t going to sit around watching Netflix.”

In a brief video posted on Facebook, Rossell also said he looked forward to defending himself against the process of impeachment, whose initial stages are being explored by Puerto Rico’s legislature.

“In spite of everything, I recognize that apologizing isn’t enough, that only my work will help restore confidence …,” the governor said. “Facing that scenario, I announce to you that I will not seek reelection next year.”

The 889 pages of chat on the encrypted app Telegram between the governor and 11 close allies and members of his administration, all men, showed the governor and his close advisers insulting women and mocking constituents, including the victims of Hurricane Maria.

Just hours after Rossell spoke, another top official submitted his resignation from the government.

“Unfortunately the events in recent weeks, including the attitudes reflected in the comments of officials and advisers of the current administration, do not match my values ??and principles,” wrote Gerardo Portela, who has been principal investment officer, president of Puerto Rico’s Economic Development Bank and executive director of the Housing Finance Authority.

Since the chat leaked on July 13, hundreds of thousands of outraged Puerto Ricans have marched to Rossell’s official residence in the largest protest movement on the island since Puerto Ricans successfully demonstrated to demand an end to U.S. Navy military training on the island of Vieques more than 15 years ago.

Puerto Rico’s justice secretary, Wanda Vzquez, would assume the governor’s role under the territorial constitution’s line of succession if Rossell should quit.

The upheaval comes as the U.S. territory is struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria and trying to restructure part of $70 billion in debt amid a 13-year recession in this territory more than 3 million American citizens who do not have full representation in Congress or a vote for president.

“Today, I have the great responsibility to direct my efforts, and those of my administration, to keep searching for ways and means for us, united before God, to be able to keep guiding our island,” the governor said.

But anger grew across the island after his message. A group of legislators and mayors from Rossell’s party remained stuck inside a community centre in the upscale city of Guaynabo late Sunday as protesters arrived to demand that the governor resign. The politicians had met earlier with the Rossellr, who managed to leave with his bodyguards before the others became trapped.

On Monday morning, tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans were expected to take over one of the island’s main highways to demand Rossell’s resignation as legislators considered whether to take the first steps of the impeachment process.

Arriving late Sunday to prepare for Monday’s march was Nicole Quintana, a 32-year-old dentist, along with her husband and their 3-month-old son.

“We had to do it for him,” she said, gesturing to her son. She said they drove about two hours from the coastal town of Isabela to participate. “Finally people have said: ‘Enough is enough. This ends here.’”

Pressure on Rossell to step down has grown throughout the week as the chorus calling for his resignation grew to include Puerto Rico music superstars Ricky Martin, Bad Bunny and Residente and a string of U.S. politicians including Congress members from both parties, several Democratic presidential candidates and Puerto Rico’s non-voting representative in Congress.

Rossell was elected governor in November 2016 with nearly 50% of the vote, and he had already announced his intention to seek a second term. A graduate of MIT with a doctorate in genetics, he is the son of former Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Rossell, who flew to the island to marshal support after the chat was made public.

The governor belongs to the New Progressive Party, which seeks statehood for the island, and he is also a Democrat. Most of his time has been spent seeking federal funds since Hurricane Maria devastated the island on Sept. 20, 2017, and battling austerity measures implemented by a federal control board that Congress set up to oversee the island government’s finances.

The upheaval against Rossell prompted at least four cruise ships to cancel visits to Puerto Rico, and many officials worry about the impact a resignation would have on the already fragile economy as the island rebuilds from Maria, a Category 4 storm that caused more than an estimated $100 billion in damage.

Another concern is the recent string of arrests involving federal corruption charges targeting Puerto Rico officials, among them two former agency heads, including former education secretary Julia Keleher.


Associated Press writer Michael Weissenstein in Havana contributed to this report.

DNica Coto, The Associated Press

Ottawa says meetings to take place Friday over disputed land deal in Oka

FREDERICTON – The federal government says meetings are planned Friday with officials in Oka, Que., and the neighbouring Mohawk community of Kanesatake in a dispute over a proposed land deal that has caused tensions in the area.

Marc Miller, parliamentary secretary to the minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, said Tuesday the plan is to meet with both sides and let them spell out their expectations.

The tone has mounted since news broke of local developer Gregoire Gollin’s intention to donate the 60 hectares known as The Pines to the Kanesatake Mohawk Council.

Gollin has said he acted in the spirit of reconciliation when he signed the agreement. He also said he is prepared to discuss the sale to the federal government of an additional 150 hectares for transfer to the Mohawk community – nearly half of which he said is adjacent to land owned by Kanesatake.

Oka mayor Pascal Quevillon has raised concerns about becoming encircled by Kanesatake, saying property values would decline and he fears illegal dumping and an expansion of cannabis and cigarette merchants.

Kanesatake Grand Chief Serge Simon has demanded an apology, saying the mayor has used social ills facing his community for political purposes.

“In the last week it’s been a difficult road because there has been a lot of words that have been exchanged, some very heated, some that are irresponsible,” Miller told reporters at the Assembly of First Nations conference in Fredericton.

“Both sides are feeling the effects of that, but the most important thing we’ve been trying to say – and the Quebec government has echoed that – these discussions need to be had, even if they are difficult, in the utmost respect.”

Miller said what has been lost in the rhetoric is that the two communities about 90 kilometres northwest of Montreal have lived in peace for the majority of their existence. He warned against the Oka mayor’s “careless comments” about the Mohawk community.

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett also warned against misinformation. “Everyone is concerned. Everyone wants us to find a peaceful resolution to this,” she said.

The Canadian Press

Ponoka man facing counterfeit currency charges

A Ponoka man is facing charges after RCMP arrested a suspect accused of passing counterfeit currency at a store last week.

Mounties say the incident happened on July 19, with police believing the same man is responsible for four prior similar incidents.

The Friday night incident happened around 7:36 p.m. when a store in Ponoka contacted RCMP to advise that a man was at the store and had just used a counterfeit $100 bill.

RCMP arrested the man and seized the currency, adding he was also found to be in possession of other counterfeit bills.

On June 30, Mounties say the same man is alleged to have passed a fake $50 bill at a local drug store. On July 2, police say another counterfeit $50 bill was used at a different drug store.

Then on July 16, RCMP say the same man was determined to have used two counterfeit $100 bills, with the first bill used to make a purchase and the second bill converted to smaller currency.

Furthermore, on July 18, a local bank received several counterfeit bills in deposits from various businesses, but the RCMP have not linked those bills to the man charged.

40-year-old Timothy Jay Rairdan of Ponoka has been charged with eight counts of Counterfeit Money: Uttering, using and exporting.

Rairdan has been released on a recognizance and is scheduled to appear in Ponoka Provincial Court on Sept. 13.

“It’s unfortunate that so many businesses in the town fell prey to these fake bills,” says Sergeant Chris Smiley, acting Detachment Commander of Ponoka RCMP, in a press release. “When in doubt, check the bill out. It pays for business owners and cashiers to know how to recognize counterfeits.”

Members of the public are reminded to check for the security features present on every note issued by the Bank of Canada.

Those security features include feeling the raised ink on the large number on the note, looking at the frosted maple leaf window to see its transparent outline and feeling the raised words “Banque du Canada” and “Bank of Canada”.

Others include looking at the numbers that match the note’s value and at the word “Canada” that feels slightly raised, looking at the metallic portrait which matches the large portrait, tilting to see it change colour and flipping to see it on the other side.

In addition, you can also look for the maple leaves that border and cross into the large window.

If you suspect you have been offered a counterfeit note during a transaction, RCMP encourage you to assess the situation to ensure you are not at risk; then politely refuse the note and explain that you suspect that it may be counterfeit.

Next, ask for another note (and check it too).

Advise the person to check the note with the local police and finally, inform your local police of a possible attempt to pass suspected counterfeit money.

(With files from Ponoka RCMP)

With a wide smile for his mom, Prince George turns 6

LONDON – Kensington Palace has released three new photographs before Prince George’s birthday.

The future king turns 6 on Monday. It’s become a tradition for the palace to release snapshots taken by his mother Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge.

In two of the pictures George is seen with a big smile as he wears an English soccer jersey. The third shows him on a family holiday.

George is a great-grandson of Queen Elizabeth II. He is third in line for the throne behind his grandfather Prince Charles and his father Prince William and is the oldest of William’s three children.

The Associated Press

Load management guru says winning with Raptors ‘more important than anything’

VANCOUVER – He’s worked with some of the world’s top athletes and could fill an entire hand with his NBA championship rings, but the man tasked with keeping Kawhi Leonard healthy for the Raptors last season says winning the league’s trophy with Toronto was a special point in his career.

“From a personal standpoint, winning it as a Canadian was more important than anything,” Alex McKechnie, director of sports science and assistant coach with the Raptors, told reporters gathered at the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame in Vancouver on Tuesday.

The Scottish-born physiotherapist was inducted into the hall in 2018, recognizing his innovative work with an array of athletes, from NBA hall of famer Steve Nash and hockey superstar Paul Kariya to Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan and English-Canadian soccer great Owen Hargreaves.

McKechnie – who spent years working in suburban Vancouver and still has an off-season home in Coquitlam, B.C. – brought the Larry O’Brien trophy to the West Coast to give basketball fans there a glimpse of the NBA’s most-coveted prize.

Seeing the hardware is nothing new for the famed physiotherapist, however. Before joining the Raptors in 2011, he spent more than a decade working with the Los Angeles Lakers and won five championships with the team.

McKechnie said that group, stacked with superstars like Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. seemed destined to win, while questions consistently loomed around last season’s Raptors squad.

“Winning the championship in the past was terrific, but this, it really was organic,” he said. “It grew from nothing, it exploded through the course of the year. It was a belief that we had and the belief just continued to roll. And in the end, winning it, the climax was amazing.”

Getting to that moment wasn’t easy, though, and neither was McKechnie’s job of keeping Leonard in playing shape for an extended post-season race.

The star forward had suffered a quadricep injury while playing for the San Antonio Spurs in 2017, forcing Raptors staff to carefully consider what his body could handle.

After Leonard was traded to Toronto, McKechnie said he received a message from someone in the organization – he wouldn’t name who it was – saying he was now the most important person in the organization.

Suddenly there was new weight on the director of sports science and his team.

“Yes, it puts pressure on us,” McKechnie said. “But at the same time, it’s a challenge and, quite frankly, I kind of like it.”

Leonard ended up playing 60 regular season games for Toronto, spurring discussion of the term “load management” through not just the NBA but professional sports as a whole.

People don’t entirely understand what the term refers to, McKechnie said, explaining that the NBA schedule is punishing and every aspect needs to be meticulously managed.

Load management doesn’t mean that a player simply gets the day off, he added.

“You have to understand that certain injuries respond to load and certain injuries don’t respond to load. …They’re not resting and doing nothing. It’s about building a load and managing to identify the load and sustain the load on a consistent basis so there’s no peaks and valleys, no yo-yo effect,” McKechnie said.

“Players want to play. We had an unusual situation that we had to deal with. But players basically want to play. It’s about identifying where you need to make a change or take a rest at some point.”

As technology has evolved, it’s become easier for staff to collect more information on an athlete’s performance. Everything from minutes played to heart rate are now meticulously tracked.

McKechnie said having access to that data is a great tool for helping players, but the basic principles of his job haven’t changed since he first became the head of physiotherapy at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., back in 1974.

“The bottom line is you bounce the ball, you put it in the hoop,” he said. “The bottom line in my world is joints move so move them. Muscles move joints so you’ve got to work them.”

Ultimately, the tools McKechnie and his team used with Leonard worked – the 28-year-old played in all 24 of the Raptors playoff games, posting an average of 30.5 points per game. He was named the Finals MVP.

After Toronto won the championship with a 114-110 victory over the Golden State Warriors, Leonard came up to McKechnie on the hardwood and embraced him.

“He said ‘We did it.’ And it was quite amazing,” McKechnie said. “It was really meaningful to me.”

The pair won’t be working together again next season. Leonard signed with the L.A. Clippers as a free agent earlier this month.

The superstar chatted with McKechnie before inking the deal.

“He just said thank you for everything,” the physiotherapist said.

Saying goodbye to Leonard was disappointing, McKechnie said, but it’s always tough to part with a player you’ve built a relationship with.

Now he’s on to focusing his attention on helping the athletes still with the Raptors defend their title. The team still has a solid backbone including point guard Kyle Lowry, forward Pascal Siakam and centre Marc Gasol.

“We have it all and we’re good enough to do it again,” McKechnie said.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

Court orders Elections Canada to review moving voting day over religious worries

OTTAWA – A Federal Court judge is ordering Canada’s chief electoral officer to take a second look at whether voting day this October needs to be moved because it falls on a Jewish holiday.

Election day can be no later than Oct. 21 under federal law, which this year falls on the Jewish holiday known as Shemini Atzeret, when Orthodox Jews are not permitted to work, vote or campaign.

Elections Canada has been lobbied to move the date, but decided against it this close to the start of the election campaign.

At a court hearing last week, complainants argued the chief electoral officer’s decision was unreasonable.

The ruling today from the Federal Court tells the chief electoral officer to review that decision in a way that balances constitutional rights and do so by Aug. 1.

Elections Canada says it is reviewing the decision.

The Canadian Press

CBSA looks for actors to play smugglers, be struck for recruit training program

OTTAWA – The Canada Border Services Agency is looking for a handful of stunt actors to be thrown down, handcuffed, searched and beaten to help train new recruits.

The agency has posted bid documents online looking for a company to supply actors for the training centre in Rigaud, Que., between Ottawa and Montreal.

The documents outline how the stunt actors will act out up to 15 situations a day, such as trying to smuggle drugs across the border in a car, to help the agency assess the skills of new border guards.

The people hired can expect to be handcuffed, thrown, held down using “pain compliance techniques,” and hit by trainees’ fists, feet or batons.

They also must avoid any personal relationships with the recruits or CBSA staff.

Bidding for the one-year contract closes in early September, but the documents don’t list an expected price.

The Canadian Press

Doug Ford says Boris Johnson will do ‘great job’ as Britain’s next prime minister

LUCAN, Ont. – Ontario Premier Doug Ford says Boris Johnson will do a “great job” as Britain’s next prime minister.

Ford praised the new leader of Britain’s Conservative Party at a news conference in Lucan, Ont., this morning.

He says Johnson is “a no-nonsense type of person” who will “get the job done.”

The premier says he would like to meet Johnson if he ever travels to the United Kingdom.

Johnson overwhelmingly defeated rival Jeremy Hunt in a vote of party members.

He is also set to succeed Theresa May as prime minister on Wednesday.

– with files from The Associated Press

The Canadian Press

B.B. King’s ‘Lucille’ guitar going up for auction

LOS ANGELES – Her name was “Lucille,” and in B.B. King’s hands she gave voice to the “King of the Blues.”

Julien’s Auctions announced Tuesday that King’s black Gibson ES-345 prototype guitar is among the items from his estate that will go up for bid on Sept. 21.

Julien’s says Gibson gave King the instrument for his 80th birthday. The headstock has “B.B. King 80” and a crown inlaid with mother-of-pearl. The guitar is estimated to be worth $80,000 to $100,000.

The National Medal of Arts that President George H.W. Bush presented to King in 1990 is also up for auction. So are his touring van, jewelry and clothing.

The 15-time Grammy winner was 89 years old when he died in 2015.

The Associated Press

‘Joker,’ Tom Hanks’ Mr. Rogers pic among TIFF selections

LOS ANGELES – An origin story about the Joker starring Joaquin Phoenix, a Mr. Rogers biopic with Tom Hanks and a film about strippers scamming Wall Street bankers with Jennifer Lopez and Cardi B are among the films premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

TIFF Artistic Director Cameron Bailey and Executive Director Joana Vicente announced 16 gala selections and 37 in the special presentation category Tuesday morning, including Todd Phillips’ “Joker,” Marielle Heller’s “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” and Lorene Scafaria’s “Hustlers.” Iranian-born director Marjane Satrapi’s Marie Curie film “Radioactive,” in which Rosamund Pike plays the groundbreaking physicist, will close the festival on Sept. 15.

Bailey told The Associated Press that “Joker” is somewhat of a first for the festival.

“This is our first entry into the superhero world as far as I can remember,” he said. “But it’s a really original vision. It’s disturbing, utterly compelling, really gripping from start to finish. … And one of the most remarkable things is that Joaquin Phoenix, in a career of great performances, gives one of his very best.”

Other standout performances the programmers love are Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx in Destin Daniel Cretton’s civil rights drama “Just Mercy,” Meryl Streep in Steven Soderbergh’s investigative journalism drama “The Laundromat,” Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson in Noah Baumbach’s divorce saga “Marriage Story” and Renee Zellweger in the Judy Garland biopic “Judy.”

“It’s one of those career-best performances,” Bailey said. “And that’s coming from a guy who absolutely loves ‘Jerry Maguire.’”

The Toronto selections often help define the looming awards race. Last year, TIFF’s audience award winner “Green Book” went on to win the best picture Oscar.

“It’s not the motivation, but it’s always great to be a launchpad for films that will be part of the awards conversation,” Vicente said.

Other high-profile films premiering include James Mangold’s “Ford v Ferrari” with Christian Bale and Matt Damon, Kasi Lemmons’ Harriet Tubman film “Harriet” starring Cynthia Erivo, Rian Johnson’s star-studded ode to Agatha Christie “Knives Out,” with Chris Evans and Daniel Craig, Edward Norton’s adaptation of “Motherless Brooklyn,” John Crowley’s adaptation of “The Goldfinch” and the Bruce Springsteen concert film “Western Stars.”

Some, a little less flashy, but just as worthy according to Bailey include the cancer drama “The Friend,” from Gabriela Cowperthwaite with Dakota Johnson and Casey Affleck, the animated teen love story “Weathering With You,” from Makoto Shinkai, the Japanese director of the anime breakout “Your Name,” and Michael Winterbottom’s “Greed.”

Bailey said “Greed,” about the economy of fast fashion, is “one everybody should see.”

Steve Coogan plays a mogul in the fast fashion world and it is “very funny and very biting.”

And then of course there is “Hustlers,” with Lopez and Constance Wu, which Bailey said is “a great watch.”

“It feels like ‘Casino’ or ‘Goodfellas,’” he said. “But instead of gangsters killing, these are women just scamming these guys.”

Although films aren’t selected with any theme or agenda in mind, Bailey said some do emerge eventually.

“It became clear that although we’re living in a complicated, difficult world with a lot of conflict, a lot of the films that really resonated the most this year were ones that were about empathy, about reaching out and across borders to other people,” Bailey said. “Maybe most emblematic of that is ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,’ but also ‘Just Mercy,’ a really tough film about the death penalty … and ‘Jojo Rabbit.’”

“Jojo Rabbit,” from filmmaker Taika Waititi, is about a young member of a Hitler Youth group.

“But he grows, he changes, he learns,” Bailey said. “And you begin to feel at least some empathy for the possibility of change.”

Vicente added that it was “one of our favourites. It really surprises and we all kind of fell in love with it.”

The festival kicks off Sept. 5 with the previously announced opening-night film “Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band.” More films will be announced in the coming weeks.


Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter:

Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press