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Overstating his role in federal politics wasn't a problem until Rakesh David was charged with three murders – National Post

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If his social media accounts are any indication, the party and fallout from the federal election were all that were on his mind before his family was shot

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As a would-be Conservative politician, Rakesh David liked to gladhand with people of power and influence, often overplaying his role and connections in politics, but no one seemed to mind much, until he was arrested for three murders.

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Just three days before members of David’s family were shot dead in Trinidad and Tobago, at the airport on his way to the Caribbean island, David bumped into Conservative Party President Rob Batherson.

“Guess who I had the ultimate privilege of seeing today at the Ottawa airport,” David said in a Facebook post on Sept. 21, with a photo of the two. “Awesome guy to talk to virtually, and even more awesome-er in person.”

Batherson posted of the encounter, as well: “You never know the famous people you’ll meet at the Ottawa airport! Got the chance to thank @_RakeshDavid for being such a great ambassador for @CPC_HQ.”

Batherson deleted his post after David — who was not at all famous at the time — was charged with murdering his grandmother, mother and younger brother.

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Kumari Kowlessar-Timal, 77, Radeshka Timal, 48, and Zachary David, 22, were all shot in the head on Sept. 24, inside Timal’s home in the town of San Juan, local police said.

Rakesh David with Conservative Party President Rob Batherson.
Rakesh David with Conservative Party President Rob Batherson. Photo by Rob Batherson/Twitter

David, who also went by the nickname Kris, is a dual citizen of Canada and Trinidad and Tobago; his mother and brother were also Canadian citizens, according to police.

Several people who know him said the allegations are bizarre and dramatically out of character.

Much of David’s online activity and volunteer work were devoted to the Conservative party, which he fell in love with. If his social media accounts are any indication, the party and fallout from the federal election were all that were on his mind before his family was shot.

After arriving in Trinidad, the day before the murders, David posted a photo of himself, well-dressed in a dark business suit, white shirt, blue tie, and a Canada flag lapel pin — the uniform for a male Conservative politician.

“Last leg of travel for a few weeks. Decided to wear a blue tie in support of the @CPC_HQ and @erinotoole,” he tweeted with his selfie, tagging both the Conservative Party’s and Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole’s Twitter accounts.

“It is all very shocking and a very, very sad situation all around,” said Batherson in an interview.

“It’s clear from some of the other social media comments that party members have made, who have known Mr. David far better than I did, just how shocking this turn of events has been.”

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In online profiles, David variously describe himself as a “Member’s Assistant at the Parliament of Canada,” a “campaign manager” and “Leadership Campaign Team Member,” but, although a keen advocate and volunteer, the Conservative Party said David had no paid position with the party or any of its MPs.

He had a volunteer spot on the Barrie-Innisfil Conservatives’ electoral district association board, north of Toronto, for about a year, which has been cancelled.

“Certainly, there seems to be a difference between what he actually did versus what he claimed to be,” said Batherson.

Batherson said his own awkwardly timed face-to-face with David, their first and only, was a “random encounter” at the airport, although they had online interactions previously. (A subsequent tweet from David confirms it was their first real-life meeting.)

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Batherson’s effusive Facebook post was “really just an appreciation of his social media activity,” he said. He deleted the post when he heard the accusations.

“Out of respect for the victims,” he said was his reason. “It certainly didn’t make sense to appear to be endorsing someone who is alleged to have committed a terrible, terrible crime.”

In a long post online, David said being in the Conservative party was “the highlight of my life.”

Conservatives, he wrote, were “totally warm and welcoming,” despite him being a visible minority and disabled, and that was a rare experience for him. It was his first time “feeling a sense of belonging.”

David was born with severe facial deformities, eye disorders, and limb disfigurements.

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In a testimonial he wrote for Athabasca University, an Alberta-based online institution where David was a student in political science, he described his difficulties.

“These abnormalities, along with complications that have arose after my birth have caused me to have permanent disabilities that have a far-reaching impact on my life,” he wrote.

When he was 12, David was featured in a Postmedia story about children born with facial deformities. He told reporter Sharon Kirkey he loves video games, crime stories and wants to fly a plane one day.

Right: Rakesh David, who was born with significant disfigurements, outside of his house in Brampton, Ont., in 2008.
Right: Rakesh David, who was born with significant disfigurements, outside of his house in Brampton, Ont., in 2008. Photo by Kaz Ehara/Postmedia/File

His mother told Kirkey of her instant love for her son when doctors finally let her see him after his birth.

His dozens of surgeries, treatments, pain, and healing “have stolen parts of my childhood,” he wrote for the university.

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“I have been a victim of teasing, bullying, discrimination, and have been singled out and treated differently throughout my life. However, this adverse experience, despite its intolerable nature, has made me a stronger and more mature person,” he wrote.

His testimonial has since been removed from the school’s website.

Now, most of his social media posts have angry new comments added by others about the charges.

David had his first court appearance in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago’s capital, on Oct. 1 and was ordered held in jail until his next appearance, scheduled for Oct. 29.

He was arrested the same day his family members were found dead, on Sept. 21. They had each been shot in the head, investigators said. Along with three counts of murder, he is charged with several gun offences.

He allegedly brought the gun with him from Canada, causing alarm in the local community over how he got it on a plane and out of the airport.

“The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service is currently liaising with Canadian officials to verify if the gun in question is registered in Canada,” a police spokesman said.

• Email: ahumphreys@postmedia.com | Twitter:

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Biden says United States would come to Taiwan’s defense

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The United States would come to Taiwan‘s defense and has a commitment to defend the island China claims as its own, U.S. President Joe Biden said on Thursday, though the White House said later there was no change in policy towards the island.

“Yes, we have a commitment to do that,” Biden said at a CNN town hall when asked if the United States would come to the defense of Taiwan, which has complained of mounting military and political pressure from Beijing to accept Chinese sovereignty.

While Washington is required by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, it has long followed a policy of “strategic ambiguity” on whether it would intervene militarily to protect Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.

In August, a Biden administration https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/us-position-taiwan-unchanged-despite-biden-comment-official-2021-08-19 official said U.S. policy on Taiwan had not changed after the president appeared to suggest the United States would defend the island if it were attacked.

A White House spokesperson said Biden at his town hall was not announcing any change in U.S. policy and “there is no change in our policy”.

“The U.S. defense relationship with Taiwan is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act. We will uphold our commitment under the Act, we will continue to support Taiwan’s self-defense, and we will continue to oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo,” the spokesperson said.

Biden said people should not worry about Washington’s military strength because “China, Russia and the rest of the world knows we’re the most powerful military in the history of the world,”

“What you do have to worry about is whether or not they’re going to engage in activities that would put them in a position where they may make a serious mistake,” Biden said.

“I don’t want a cold war with China. I just want China to understand that we’re not going to step back, that we’re not going to change any of our views.”

Military tensions between Taiwan and China are at their worst in more than 40 years, Taiwan’s Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said this month, adding that China will be capable of mounting a “full-scale” invasion by 2025.

Taiwan says it is an independent country and will defend its freedoms and democracy.

China says Taiwan is the most sensitive and important issue in its ties with the United States and has denounced what it calls “collusion” between Washington and Taipei.

Speaking to reporters earlier on Thursday, China’s United Nations Ambassador Zhang Jun said they are pursuing “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan and responding to “separatist attempts” by its ruling Democratic Progressive Party.

“We are not the troublemaker. On the contrary, some countries – the U.S. in particular – is taking dangerous actions, leading the situation in Taiwan Strait into a dangerous direction,” he said.

“I think at this moment what we should call is that the United States to stop such practice. Dragging Taiwan into a war definitely is in nobody’s interest. I don’t see that the United States will gain anything from that.”

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington, Michelle Nichols in New York and Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Writing by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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Do climate politics really matter at the local level? A Seattle professor thinks so – knkx.org

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The changing climate is a topic you’d think would be front and center in local elections – especially after the heat wave that killed hundreds of people in the Northwest this summer.

A professor of politics at the University of Washington noted a lack of attention to the issue – until he and a colleague pushed for a debate about it in Seattle.

Aseem Prakash

Aseem Prakash directs the school’s Center for Environmental Politics. In July, he wrote about his amazement that none of the candidates seemed to care about the climate. Instead, their focus – as with candidates in New York City – is on crime, policing and, lately, homelessness.

And when you ask them how we’re truly adapting to climate change, the candidates either pass the buck and say some other jurisdiction is ultimately responsible, Prakash says. Or they talk about pilot programs for this and that.

And there are lots of pilot programs, he says. But he doesn’t see any Seattle mayoral candidates — or past mayors — following up with data that would help keep them accountable. Instead, he says, most seem to use a local office, like mayor or city councilmember, as a stepping stone at the beginning of a career in politics — or toward something else more lucrative.

“At some point, all of us, we have to call out the B.S. You have to call out the B.S. and force politicians to confront the issues that affect us,” he says.

“Because there’s a program for everything, right? … Is it really helping?” Prakash wonders.

“Do we have data that the heat island effect in Seattle has improved over the years because there are programs? Have we evaluated how effective these programs are? No. … So then what’s the point? This is what you call ‘virtue signaling.’” 

Prakash says there are too many pledges and not enough action. Accountability is missing. Most people aren’t getting help with things like cooling their homes during heat waves or getting electric cars that are affordable and reliable.

Everybody wants to be a global leader, (to) talk about the future generation. It’s a moral responsibility,“ Prakash says, with a note of frustrated sarcasm in his voice.

“But you ask them, ‘OK, can you please translate it in the context of my humble census tract, my ZIP code? What does climate change mean for my ZIP code? Why should I care?’ ”

These are issues that students and professors from departments all over the University of Washington want to come together to discuss and attempt to solve, as they relate to climate change.

This interdisciplinary approach is why Prakash founded the Center for Environmental Politics seven years ago. The debate is co-hosted by the UW’s EarthLab.

“A Climate Conversation with Seattle Mayoral Candidates” is free and open to the public via Zoom. It takes place Friday evening from 5 to 6 p.m. You can register here.

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Factbox-Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch

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Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, spent a night in hospital but returned to Windsor Castle on Thursday.

Here are some facts about the 95-year-old queen:

PRINCESS:

Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was born at 17 Bruton St, London W1, on April 21, 1926, and christened on May 29, 1926, in the private chapel at Buckingham Palace.

After her uncle, Edward VIII, abdicated in 1936 for the love of a divorced American woman, the queen’s father, George VI, inherited the throne.

Two years after World War Two, she married navy Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, a Greek prince, whom she had fallen for during a visit to a naval college when she was just 13.

QUEEN

She was just 25 when she became Queen Elizabeth II on Feb. 6, 1952, on the death of her father, while she was on tour in Kenya with Prince Philip.

She was crowned monarch on June 2, 1953, in a ceremony at London’s Westminster Abbey that was televised live.

MOTHER AND WIFE

Philip was said to be shattered when his wife became queen so soon.

Her marriage to Philip, whom she wed when she was 21, stayed solid for 74 years until his death in April 2021.

Their children are Charles, born in 1948, Anne, born in 1950, Andrew in 1960 and Edward in 1964.

MONARCH

Winston Churchill was the first of her 14 British prime ministers.

As head of state, the queen remains neutral on political matters. The queen does not vote.

SOVEREIGN

Elizabeth, who acceded to the throne as Britain was shedding its imperial power, has symbolised stability. Her nearly 70-year reign is the longest of any British monarch.

A quiet and uncomplaining dedication to the duty of queenship, even in old age, has earned her widespread respect both in Britain and abroad, even from republicans who are eager for abolition of the monarchy.

OFFICIAL TITLE IN THE UNITED KINGDOM

Her Majesty Elizabeth II, By the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of Her Other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.

COMMONWEALTH

The Queen is head of state of 15 Commonwealth countries in addition to the United Kingdom. She is also head of the Commonwealth itself, a voluntary association of 54 independent countries.

DIFFICULT TIMES

The 40th anniversary of her accession, in 1992, was a year she famously described as an “annus horribilis” after three of her four children’s marriages failed and there was a fire at her Windsor Castle royal residence.

The death of Princess Diana, the divorced wife of Elizabeth’s son and heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles, in 1997, damaged the family’s public prestige.

Charles’ younger son, Harry, and wife Meghan said in an explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey earlier this year that one unidentified royal had made a racist remark about their first-born child. The couple had stepped back from royal duties in early 2020 and moved to the United States.

 

(Writing by Michael Holden and Kate Holton; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Peter Cooney)

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