Day: March 22, 2019

Michigan deal bars LGBT discrimination in state adoptions

LANSING, Mich. — Faith-based adoption agencies that are paid by the state of Michigan will no longer be able to turn away LGBT couples or individuals because of religious objection under a legal settlement announced Friday.

The agreement was reached between Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office and lawyers for the American Civil Liberties, which sued in 2017 on behalf of two lesbian couples and woman who was in foster care in her teens.

“Discrimination in the provision of foster care case management and adoption services is illegal, no matter the rationale,” Nessel, who pursued settlement talks after taking office in January, said in a statement. “Limiting the opportunity for a child to be adopted or fostered by a loving home not only goes against the state’s goal of finding a home for every child, it is a direct violation of the contract every child-placing agency enters into with the state.”

Michigan, like most states, contracts with private agencies to place children from troubled homes with new families. The lawsuit alleged that the same-sex couples were turned away by Catholic Charities and Bethany Christian Services because they are gay.

A 2015 Republican-enacted law says child-placement agencies are not required to provide services that conflict with their sincerely held religious beliefs. But the definition of services does not include those provided under a contract with the state Department of Health and Human Services, according to the settlement.

Two plaintiffs, Kristy and Dana Dumont of Dimondale near Lansing, issued a statement saying they are “so happy” for same-sex couples who are interested in fostering or adoption children.

“We are hopeful that this will mean more families for children, especially those who have been waiting years for a family to adopt them,” they said. “And we can’t wait to welcome one of those children into our family.”

The ACLU has said the suit was filed after the office of former GOP Attorney General Bill Schuette declined to speak to it about possible discrimination. Nessel, who is gay, has criticized the law. As a private attorney, she successfully fought to overturn Michigan’s ban on gay marriage.

As of 2015, Catholic Charities and Bethany Christian Services were on average doing 25 to 30 per cent of the state’s foster care adoptions.

Under the settlement, the state must enforce non-discrimination provisions in its contracts in cases where an agency accepts a referral but refuses to work with LGBT people interested in foster of adoption any of the children it has accepted.

David Eggert, The Associated Press

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Illegal dumping of hazardous materials led to York meth bust, police say

It was a mound of garbage bags and canisters dumped on a small town Ontario driveway that led York Regional Police to bust what they described as the “largest methamphetamine production operation ever investigated” by the force.

The investigation began back in November of 2018 when police were tipped off about a foul smelling collection of more than 100 garbage bags sitting outside a home on Woodbine Avenue, near Herald Road, in East Gwillimbury.

The bags had a “strong chemical smell,” police said, and the plastic canisters were marked with symbols indicating its contents were corrosive.

Officers soon discovered that the bags were full of byproducts of synthetic drug manufacturing.

“They are very explosive, toxic, and explosive, and create poisonous environments,” Det. Sgt. Doug Bedford said at a news conference on Friday.

Less than a month later, on Dec. 2, police received a second similar report about a dump site on the same street, this time nearer to Mount Albert Road. A total of 48,000 pounds of toxic waste was ultimately recovered from both locations.

On March 14, police began executing a series of search warrants across the GTA.

The search allegedly yielded a “dormant drug lab” on Kennedy Road, north of Holborn Road, and an active lab on 10th Sideroad in Innisfil.

Police said approximately $5 million worth of meth, five vehicles, and an undisclosed amount of Canadian and U.S. currency were seized during the raids.

“The scale of these two production sites we would classify as super labs,” Bedford said

“They are able to produce multi-kilo levels of synthetic drugs and have been.”

In total, eight people were arrested. York police have not released the identities of those allegedly involved, nor the charges they are facing.

One suspect, however, is still outstanding.

Van Truong Do, of Toronto is wanted on a Canada-wide arrest warrant. The 34-year-old is wanted for a number of charges, including production of a controlled substance, money laundering, and possession for the purpose of trafficking.

In addition to the arrests, police said that they also took three children into the custody of the Children’s Aid Society. Investigators do not believe the children, nor all of the suspects arrested, were living at the two homes on a daily basis, but suspect they were at times staying there.

Anyone with information about Do’s whereabouts is being asked to contact York police or Crime Stoppers anonymously.

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Brexit delay gives UK more time to solve political crisis

BRUSSELS — Extra time has been added to the Brexit countdown clock. The European Union has granted Britain a few more weeks to overcome its political deadlock and chart a smooth road out of the bloc — or change its mind and seek a much longer delay.

Here’s a look at what might happen next:


With Brexit due in little over a week, British Prime Minister Theresa May came to Brussels seeking a three-month delay so she could salvage her twice-rejected EU divorce deal. Instead, the 27 other EU leaders offered a two-stage “flextension.” If U.K. lawmakers approve the divorce deal agreed between Britain and the bloc, Britain will leave on May 22.

If they defeat it, Britain has until April 12 to tell the EU what it plans to do next: leave without a deal, risking economic chaos, or seek a long delay to Brexit and chart a course toward a softer exit or even remaining in the bloc.


The key factor in the EU’s decision is the election for the European Parliament due to be held May 23-26.

The bloc is adamant Britain must not take part if it is leaving — hence the May 22 cutoff date.

April 12 is the deadline for candidates to be enrolled, so the U.K. must decide before then if it is putting its departure on longer hold, in which case it would participate in the elections.


The battle now shifts back to the British Parliament, which is split down the middle between supporters and opponents of Brexit.

Both sides voted in large numbers, twice, to reject May’s Brexit deal. But May plans to try again next week.

She hopes to persuade reluctant pro-Brexit lawmakers that backing her deal is their only hope of actually leaving the bloc, and to convince pro-EU legislators that they must choose between her deal and a chaotic no-deal Brexit.

May’s plan was complicated last week when the speaker of the House of Commons said the prime minister couldn’t seek a third vote on her twice-defeated divorce deal unless it was substantially altered.

May is likely to argue that the EU’s extension means circumstances have changed and that ruling should no longer apply.

If Parliament approves her Brexit deal, May plans to use the delay until May 22 to pass the legislation necessary for Britain’s orderly departure from the EU.


There is little evidence yet that lawmakers’ opinion has shifted strongly in favour of May’s deal.

Anti-EU supporters of “hard Brexit” still believe that rejecting it can lead to a no-deal departure from the bloc as soon as April 12.

The Brexiteers are in a minority, but form a powerful bloc in May’s Conservative Party. A larger group in Parliament, from a range of parties, favours a compromise Brexit in which the U.K. keeps close economic ties with the bloc.

These pro-EU lawmakers will try to push through a plan next week that would give members of Parliament control of the House of Commons timetable in order to hold a series of votes on alternative forms of Brexit, to see if there is a majority for any of them.

Proposals could include seeking closer ties with the bloc than May’s deal envisages, or putting the Brexit deal to a public vote.


May has spent almost three years trying to shepherd Britain out of the EU, strongly opposes a long delay or a reversal of Brexit. She has hinted she could quit if Parliament forces one of those options on her.

Many on both sides of Britain’s Brexit divide would be happy to see her go, but her replacement by a new Conservative leader would not solve the country’s political crisis.

Opposition politicians think the only way forward is an early election that could rearrange Parliament and break the political deadlock. May has ruled that out, but could come to see it as her only option.

And anti-Brexit campaigners haven’t abandoned the idea of a new referendum on remaining in the EU. There’s currently no majority for that in Parliament, but the political calculus could change if the paralysis drags on.


Follow AP’s full coverage of Brexit at:

Jill Lawless, The Associated Press

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John Krasinski Emily Blunt

John Krasinski Emily Blunt

Actress Emily Blunt is re-teaming with her husband John Krasinski on a movie adaptation of the memoir Not Fade Away.

The Mary Poppins Returns star is in talks to lead the cast as author Rebecca Alexander, whose inspiring 2015 book chronicled her battle with rare genetic disorder Usher syndrome, which caused her to simultaneously begin to lose her hearing and sight from the time she was a teenager.

Despite her disabilities, she has pressed on with her work as a psychotherapist and group fitness instructor, and has continued to pursue her love of extreme sports, tackling daring feats like skydiving, bungee jumping, and climbing to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Blunt’s husband, actor-turned-filmmaker Krasinski, will produce the feature, alongside American Hustle writer/director David O. Russell.

According to, a director has yet to be appointed. Neither Krasinski nor Russell are looking to step behind the camera to take charge of the project, which has been adapted for the big screen by Lindsey Ferrentino.

Blunt and Krasinski, who wed in 2010, joined forces professionally for the first time on hit 2018 horror movie A Quiet Place, which The Office funnyman co-wrote, starred in, and directed.

The role helped the Brit pick up her first Screen Actors Guild award in January, when she dedicated the supporting actress prize to her husband, who she praised as a “stunning filmmaker.”

“My favourite thing about shooting A Quiet Place was for sure working with John,” she later shared. “We’d never done it before, and it is kind of the great unknown, going into this process, not knowing what it’s going to be.

“A lot of people were like, ‘You’re going to be divorced by the end of it,’ but actually we’re so much closer. I think the discovery of how well we collaborated and how well we can create something together is just so special.”

They are set to reunite onscreen for a planned sequel, which will also feature the return of their movie kids Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe, and is expected to hit theatres in May, 2020.

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Cambridge University Cancels Fellowship Offer For Jordan Peterson

Jordan Peterson speaks to a crowd during a stop in Sherwood Park Alta, on Feb. 11, 2018.

A controversial Toronto psychology professor is lambasting a prestigious British university after it opted to rescind a visiting fellowship on the basis of his work.

Jordan Peterson published a blog post in the wake of the move from Cambridge University, criticizing the school for its decision to withdraw the opportunity for a two-month scholarly visit to the elite campus.

Peterson, an outspoken critic of political correctness and many campus movements broadly affiliated with the political left, accused the school of bowing to pressure from students and failing to notify him directly of the decision to retract the fellowship.

Jordan Peterson speaks at ICC Sydney Theatre on Feb. 26, 2019 in Sydney, Australia.

Cambridge spokeswoman Tamsin Starr denied both allegations laid out in the blog post, saying Cambridge emailed the professor prior to sending out a tweet announcing the withdrawal of the offer and asserting the decision was made as a result of an academic review rather than student backlash.

“It was rescinded after a further review,” Starr said. She did not respond to a detailed list of questions, including whether such reviews are standard procedure and what specific findings triggered the withdrawal.

‘Serious error in judgement’: Peterson

Peterson’s blog post let loose scathing words for the school’s Faculty of Divinity, which arranged for the fellowship and where the University of Toronto professor said he hoped to gain further material for a planned set of lectures on stories from the Bible.

“I think the Faculty of Divinity made a serious error of judgment in rescinding their offer to me,” he wrote in his post. “I think they handled publicizing the rescindment in a manner that could hardly have been more narcissistic, self-congratulatory and devious…I wish them the continued decline in relevance over the next few decades that they deeply and profoundly and diligently work toward and deserve.”

Peterson said the idea for a visiting fellowship came about after he lectured at the school and met with divinity faculty members last year.

In a brief tweet announcing the retraction, Cambridge indicated that Peterson requested the fellowship that was due to get underway in October. Peterson’s post referred to this assertion as a “half-truth,” saying it had been discussed with faculty members before he submitted his formal request.

Word that Peterson’s offer had been rescinded was greeted with relief by the Cambridge University students’ union, who began tweeting about his invitation in the days before it was withdrawn.

“His work and views are not representative of the student body and as such we do not see his visit as a valuable contribution to the university, but one that works in opposition to the principles of the university,” the union said in a Facebook post, later clarifying that they take exception to what they describe as his “history of actively espousing discriminatory views towards minority groups” rather than his positions on “academic freedom.”

Controversial figure

Peterson has been a vocal critic of, among other things, the use of gender-neutral pronouns among those identifying as transgender. His notorious refusal to use them helped catapult him to global fame.

Peterson’s blog post took shots at the union’s response, finding fault with its literary style as well as its substance. He said the response received during his 2018 visit to the campus suggested there were people at the university interested in his perspectives.

“It seems to me that the packed Cambridge Union auditorium, the intelligent questioning associated with the lecture, and the overwhelming number of views the subsequently posted video accrued, indicates that there (sic) a number of Cambridge students are very interested in what I have to say, and might well regard my visit “as a valuable contribution to the university,” he said.

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