WASHINGTON—America’s presidential election is dramatic. It is not close.
“He’s in a lot of trouble, that’s just all there is to it. And they know it,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
Polls suggest that Clinton leads by about six percentage points nationally, a giant margin in modern presidential politics. When Barack Obama crushed John McCain in 2008, he won by seven points.
Clinton had a double-digit lead, unheard-of in America’s modern political climate, in at least four recent national polls. More importantly, she leads in every major swing state.
In Pennsylvania, a state Trump needs to seize to have any chance, the Democratic candidate has prevailed in every poll since July. In Florida, another must-win for her Republican opponent, she has led in 12 of the last 13.
The race is so lopsided that Clinton is at 262 electoral votes, just eight shy of victory, counting only the states where she leads by five or more points. Add the 10 electoral votes of Minnesota, where she leads by four and no Republican has won since 1972, and Clinton is elected even before the votes are counted in Ohio, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Iowa and Arizona.
The momentum is all on Clinton’s side. States where she had trailed narrowly, like Nevada and Ohio, have moved in her direction. Supposed swing states, like Virginia and Colorado, have moved out of Trump’s reach. States where Democrats have long lost handily, like Utah and Texas, have become competitive.
Clinton is even up in Arizona.
“I can’t think of a single state that has clearly moved from a battleground to a Trump advantage,” said Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette University Law School Poll.
Trump continues to have a sturdy lead in Iowa and a narrow lead in Ohio. Monday’s news of a hefty ObamaCare price increase may help him. And, of course, some shocking event could occur at any time. But the odds are stronger that he will lose in a landslide than that he will win at all.
Prominent data-crunching websites give Clinton a 97-per-cent chance (Princeton Election Consortium), 92-per-cent chance (New York Times) and 86-per-cent chance (FiveThirtyEight).
In polls that include the two prominent third-party candidates, Trump averages a pitiful 39 per cent. Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee, was never below 40 per cent in any poll in the last two months.
“It’s quite remarkable,” said Franklin. “Even in recent blowout elections, the losing candidate is typically at or just above 40. So falling to 39 would be beginning to flirt with the level of George McGovern in 1972.”
McGovern won only one state and the District of Columbia. In today’s America, which is more polarized by geography, Trump is certain to win a higher number. But he is doing so badly that Clinton could conceivably do as well in the race to succeed a two-term Democrat as Obama did during an economic crisis under an unpopular two-term Republican.
Trump’s comeback chances are limited by his unusually weak ground-level campaign, which some experts believe will cost him at least one extra percentage point. And polls suggest a majority of voters is not even willing to consider him, saying he is unqualified and lacking in basic decency.
“Every from-the-gut voter marker that you look at, he is doing badly,” Malloy said.
Stuart Stevens, chief strategist on the Romney campaign and a vocal Trump critic, said Trump’s only good option to salvage his standing was to use the debates to express regrets and ask Americans to give him a second look. His favourability rating is so bad, Stevens said, that voters are now unwilling to listen to the case he is attempting to prosecute against Clinton.
Trump has responded to the recent polls with his typical mix of bravado and conspiratorial complaining. “I actually think we’re winning,” he said in a Monday speech soon after alleging on Twitter that polls were “phony.” But he also acknowledged in a radio interview that he is “behind in the polls.”
Trump’s problems are compounded by the fact that voting has already begun in states including Nevada, Florida, North Carolina and Ohio. Clinton’s current lead and superior ground game allow her to bank a significant head start in advance of Nov. 8.
In Nevada, Democrats are far outperforming their 2012 showing. “It’s a very blue wave so far, and Republicans have to be worried,” top local journalist Jon Ralston wrote. In Florida, Politico reported, Republicans have just a 42 per cent to 40 per cent lead in absentee ballots returned so far; at this point in 2012, it was 45 per cent to 40 per cent.
“If the election’s close enough, then the early vote won’t be decisive. But if it’s a lopsided election, then the early vote may be so decisive that it would basically make it impossible for the other party to catch up on election day,” said Michael McDonald, an early-voting expert at the University of Florida.
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VICTORIA—The grandfather of a teenage girl beaten and drowned on Vancouver Island nearly two decades ago says he wishes his granddaughter’s killer well after a news report that she is pregnant in prison.
Mukand Pallan of Victoria, B.C., says he hopes becoming a mother will inspire Kelly Ellard to become a better person.
Pallan was reacting to a report from the Vancouver Sun that Ellard is eight months pregnant following a conjugal visit with her boyfriend, who is also currently behind bars.
Ellard was found guilty of second-degree murder in the killing of Reena Virk.
She was 15 years old when she smashed Virk’s head against a tree and held the Grade 9 student’s head underwater until she stopped moving.
She was denied supervised release from prison last May after a parole board found the now-33-year-old woman was still minimizing many aspects of her crime.
The Toronto District School Board has apologized to Trustee Tiffany Ford for saying publicly she broke its code of conduct before the board’s integrity commissioner could make an official decision on the matter.
“I incorrectly instructed staff to confirm that your actions were in violation of the TDSB Member Code of Conduct,” wrote TDSB director of education John Malloy in a letter to Ford dated Friday.
The board told the Star Monday that its apology was not a statement on whether or not Ford did, indeed, violate the code of conduct. Rather, it is an acknowledgement that no one other than TDSB integrity commissioner Suzanne Craig can decide that the code was broken.
Ford sent out a news release on Sept. 30, promoting her bottled water business, Smarty Pants Water, with the headline, “Toronto school board trustee launches innovative product to increase children’s water consumption.”
The TDSB code of conduct states that “no member of the Board shall use the influence of his or her office for any purpose other than for the exercise of his or her official duties.”
On Oct. 1, the TDSB told the Star that board staff had told Ford she was in violation of the code.
Ford, trustee for Ward 4 (York West), later confirmed this to the Star.
But, according to Malloy’s apology, “it is not (TDSB) staff’s role to determine or declare violations of the Code of Conduct . . . . Only the TDSB’s Integrity Commissioner can make such determinations.”
Malloy goes on to say that the integrity commissioner can only determine a violation has taken place if a formal complaint has been made by a member of the public or the board, and she has completed an investigation.
Ford responded to Malloy with a letter offering her “unconditional acceptance” of his apology.
In an interview with the Star, Ford said she welcomed the apology and that she had asked the integrity commissioner to clarify what materials she can, and cannot, put her title on.
A Brampton family is growing increasingly worried about the fate of Canadian Shawn Ramta, who disappeared in Mexico City a little over seven weeks ago.
Ramta’s family said they are concerned about Mexico’s high levels of crime, kidnappings and disappearances. “It is coming up on seven weeks that he has been missing and it is a lot scarier now. Something is not right in this picture,” said Gord Ramta, Shawn’s uncle, by phone.
The family has hired a private investigator, launched a social media campaign and is offering a 1,000,000 peso ($72,000 Canadian) reward for information on Ramta’s disappearance.
Ramta’s family posted billboards offering the reward in the Mexican capital Monday, after placing ads in the newspaper El Universal last week.
Ramta, a 34-year-old entrepreneur and bodybuilder, went to Mexico alone on vacation in August and was renting a condo through Airbnb in Polanco, a safe, upscale neighbourhood popular with business travellers. He last spoke with family on Aug. 31, when he told them he was going to a gym.
Ramta, who does not speak Spanish, did not board his Sept. 3 return flight back to Toronto, and calls to his cellphone went unanswered.
“It is very stressful because we cannot get any information about what happened to him,” said Sunny Ramta, Shawn’s younger brother. “He would have stood out in Mexico. He’s a tall, buff Indian guy.”
A spokesperson with the Mexican embassy in Ottawa said he had only recently learned of the case, and could not comment.
The private investigator hired by the family in Mexico City was not available for comment by deadline.
The Canadian embassy in Mexico was also unavailable for comment.
Ramta’s uncle said he flew to Mexico earlier this month and spent two weeks searching hospitals and morgues, filing police reports and visiting consular officials at the Canadian embassy.
“We went to the condo and found his clothes there, but no passport or wallet,” he said. “We asked the police to get his cellphone records from Rogers but they have not.”
Ramta’s uncle said he also asked a Toronto dentist to provide Ramta’s dental records to help with the search, but was told they can only be released to police.
Ramta, who according to family was in the process of moving to Vancouver, is a partner at Empire Customs, a Toronto menswear company, and the director of a small trucking firm.
Ramta’s uncle said he did not believe his nephew was involved in any illegal activity or has ties to organized crime. Ramta has no criminal record and does not smoke or take drugs, he said.
At least 28,000 people have disappeared in Mexico in the last nine years.
CHICAGO—He suddenly felt as if a hot wire had torn through his chest. It hurt to breathe.
Jonathan Annicks wasn’t sure he’d been shot. It was after midnight when he’d dashed outside his family’s house to retrieve a phone charger from the car. Now, slumped over in anguish, he frantically punched his brother’s number into his phone.
“You might have to take me to the hospital,” he gasped. “Come outside, please!”
Jonathan had seen the gunman for just a few seconds: a hooded stranger wearing shiny earrings who bounded out of a van, stood about six feet away and uttered something like “What’s up, homie? Run it.”
The shooter fired seven times at the 18-year-old, then sped away in the van down the lonely Chicago street.
Incredibly, all the shots missed, except one. A 9-mm bullet plowed into his left shoulder, punctured both lungs, fractured his spine and lodged in the right side of his rib cage under his arm.
As Jonathan lay on his back, neighbours were screaming, and his father, straddling him, shouted, “Who did this to you?!”
Jonathan reached up, tapping his father’s knee to calm him. “Stop! You’re giving me a headache,” he said. He urged his mother, who’d run out without shoes, to get dressed as an approaching siren grew louder.
Loaded into the ambulance, he closed his eyes to shut out the noise. But when he opened them, he noticed something strange: his legs were straight, but they felt as if they were bent.
He instantly knew something was terribly wrong and thought this was “not going to be a bullet that could be pulled out or a wound that could be stitched up.”
He felt very sleepy. He closed his eyes again.
It was barely spring when Jonathan Annicks was shot, but there already were signs 2016 was going to be a very bad year in Chicago.
In the first three months, more than 140 people were murdered. On the day Jonathan was hit, April 10, eight other people were shot. By mid-October — as of Monday — there had been at least 614 homicides in the city and at least 3,650 people had been shot, according to the Chicago Tribune.
That is nearly 200 more homicides than at this time last year, and more than 10 times as many as in Toronto, which has had 55 killings in a comparable population.
Police say the overwhelming majority of Chicago shootings are tied to gangs. A flood of weapons also contributes to the chaos. On average, city police seize one illegal gun every 61 minutes.
More than 70 per cent of those killed here this year were on a special police list of people with criminal records of gang histories. But there are others who’ve been caught up in the mayhem: victims of robbery, mistaken identity, stray bullets or gang crossfire. A 6-year-old girl was shot while sitting on her porch, a 26-year-old mother driving in her car, a 71-year-old man watering his lawn.
The cases that attract the most attention tend to be particularly heinous — a 3-year-old boy paralyzed despite his father’s efforts to shield him. Or they’re inspirational — a star football player who returned to high school within days of being shot six times.
Jonathan Annicks’s story is both, a life transformed, but not defined, by a single bullet. His injury had devastating consequences. He’s now paralyzed from the mid-chest down. The bullet missed his heart by an inch, severely bruising his spinal cord. Over the past six months, his journey has been marked by resilience, change and a determination to look ahead.
“I couldn’t stress about why I had been shot,” he says. “It wasn’t worth if to stay sad because then I would just be making my life harder and I realized that very quickly … There was no point in sulking over something I couldn’t change.”
Jonathan was shot on April 10 in Little Village, a neighbourhood about 20 minutes from downtown. The community, which has a large Mexican population, is home to cozy taquerias and panaderias (bakeries) — but also gangs. Jonathan’s home is on a boulevard that’s a dividing line for opposing Latino gangs, police say, and he may have been mistaken for a rival gang member.
Jonathan says it’s pointless to think about the shooter. “If I lived with spite every day, then I don’t think I would be able to function properly,” he says. “I’d be very miserable if I were worrying about what he’s doing or where he is.”
Instead, he’s focused on rebuilding his strength and learning new ways to get out of bed, shower and dress. He also had to get accustomed to a catheter. It took time, too, to overcome the “why me” feeling and the sense of guilt that he was putting new pressure on his family.
“People had to shape their lives in order to accommodate me,” he says, “but after I realized they were there because they loved me … I didn’t have anything to worry about.”
His mother, Herlinda, has been a steady source of comfort since she told her son in the emergency room: “Whatever the outcome is, you’re still here. You are who you are. We’ll be fine. We’ll deal with it.”
She’s been his cheerleader and champion, juggling her job as a trust bank administrator with taking Jonathan to the doctor and physical therapy, cutting through insurance red tape, helping him each morning — and admonishing him when she thought he was being lazy or selfish.
His brothers, Josh, 17, and Jacob, 14, have pitched in, too. Josh has helped Jonathan in the shower, carried him up and down the stairs and chauffeured him to therapy.
But it is Jonathan himself, says his father, Mike, who has been the main source of strength for his family. “He was as positive through the whole thing,” he says, “like everything’s going to be OK.”
Jonathan says he knows his family is watching him closely.
“If I crumble, then I feel like everything around me would, too,” he says. “… I’m just living my life as I would normally and that’s keeping everyone around me sane.”
The transition hasn’t been easy.
Jonathan has endured blood clots and spasms in his legs. He also can’t do many of his favourite things. He was a track and cross-country runner at Payton College Prep, one of the city’s most prestigious high schools, before graduating in June. He also was an avid bicyclist and a sharp-elbowed competitor in floor hockey.
He hopes to get involved in wheelchair sports, but says one thing that annoys him is when people ask what he misses the most. “Do I miss running or do I miss riding my bike? Of course,” he says. “Why would you ask me that?”
Aside from that, Jonathan says, being in a wheelchair hasn’t changed his personality. He’ remains the easygoing kid with a quick grin who likes iced coffee, the Blackhawks and video games. And he has a consistent message: “I’m still the same person. I just can’t use my legs.”
Jonathan’s limited mobility now poses the biggest obstacles at home. The family has decided to stay in its Little Village home but faces the enormous expense of making it accessible and having a ramp or lift built outdoors so Jonathan can get in and out by himself. Someone now carries him or takes him down the six outdoor steps in his chair. A separate fund has been set up to defray his medical costs.
In September, Jonathan began college at DePaul University. His mother escorts him to school and back. “It’s like I’m in kindergarten again,” he says with good-natured frustration.
He’s getting therapy at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. And he’s preparing to get his driver’s licence for his Ford Fusion, outfitted with hand controls.
He longs to be on his own.
“I want to be able to get up when I want to, get to school when I have to, go out to eat when I want to … then go home,” he says. “I just want my independence back.”
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