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Former U.S. senator, presidential candidate Bob Dole, dies at age 98
Author of the article:
Reuters
Reuters
Publishing date:
Dec 05, 2021 • 12 hours ago • 5 minute read •
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Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elizabeth Dole and her husband, former Senator Bob Dole (R-KS), are pictured at the unveiling of a statue of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan at Ronald Reagan National Airport near Washington Nov. 1, 2011
Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elizabeth Dole and her husband, former Senator Bob Dole (R-KS), are pictured at the unveiling of a statue of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan at Ronald Reagan National Airport near Washington Nov. 1, 2011 Photo by Jason Reed/File Photo /Reuters
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WASHINGTON — Bob Dole, who overcame grievous World War Two combat wounds to become a pre-eminent figure in U.S. politics as a longtime Republican senator from Kansas and his party’s unsuccessful 1996 presidential nominee, died on Sunday. He was 98.
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Dole, known for a wit that ranged from self-deprecating to caustic, died in his sleep, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation said. Dole announced in February that he had been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer and would begin treatment.

“America has lost one of its heroes; our family has lost its rock,” Dole’s family said in a statement. “He embodied the integrity, humor, compassion and unbounded work ethic of the wide open plains of his youth. He was a powerful voice for pragmatic conservatism.”
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Dole sought the presidency three times and was the Republican Party’s nominee in 1996 but lost to Democratic incumbent Bill Clinton. Dole was his party’s vice presidential nominee in 1976 on a ticket headed by incumbent President Gerald Ford but they lost to Democrat Jimmy Carter and his running mate Walter Mondale.

Dole, known for referring to himself in the third person, made a classic American journey from the poverty of the Great Depression of the 1930s, through World War Two battlefields to the corridors of power with a stoic Midwestern dignity.

He represented Kansas in Congress for 35 years: 1961 to 1969 in the House of Representatives and 1969 to 1996 in the Senate. Dole helped shepherd Republican President Ronald Reagan’s legislative agenda as Senate majority leader in the 1980s and spearheaded important legislation of his own.
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Dole, who lost the use of his right arm from a war wound, was an advocate for the disabled and worked to shore up the finances of the Social Security retirement program. Dole was instrumental in passage of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, public accommodations and transportation.

He also was a key figure behind building a memorial honouring Americans who served in World War Two on Washington’s National Mall, now a popular tourist stop.

President Joe Biden fondly recalled his visit to Dole in February at the Watergate complex in Washington where he lived.
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“We picked up right where we left off, as though it were only yesterday that we were sharing a laugh in the Senate dining room or debating the great issues of the day, often against each other, on the Senate floor,” Biden said in a statement.

“Though we often disagreed, he never hesitated to work with me or other Democrats when it mattered most,” Biden said in a statement, a contrast to today’s bitter partisanship that has made it hard for the major parties to cooperate on legislation.

Former President Donald Trump called Dole “an American war hero.” In a statement, Trump added, “the Republican Party was made stronger by his service.”

Dole, who described himself as “a Trumper” in support of the former president, in July voiced impatience with Trump’s ongoing allegation that the 2020 election had been stolen from him because of massive voter fraud – a claim that has been rejected by several court challenges and Trump’s own Justice Department.
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“He lost the election, and I regret that he did,” Dole told USA Today’s Susan Page. “I’m sort of Trumped out,” he added.

“When I think of the greatest generation, I think of Senator Bob Dole – a man who dedicated his life to serving our country. Rest In Peace, my friend,” Senator Mitt Romney, a former Republican presidential candidate, wrote on Twitter.
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American flags were ordered to fly at half-staff at the White House, the U.S. Capitol and other federal buildings.

1996 ELECTION

Clinton defeated Dole, capturing 49 percent of the popular vote to Dole’s 41 percent and third-party challenger Ross Perot’s 8 percent. Dole won 19 of the 50 states, losing the state-by-state Electoral College by a 379-159 count.

Clinton in 1997 awarded Dole the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honour. Dole in 2018 received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honour Congress can bestow.

On Capitol Hill, Dole was a pragmatic conservative and an effective legislator liked by Democrats as well as Republicans for his ability to build coalitions and pass broadly acceptable laws. He was Senate majority leader from 1985 to 1987 and then again from 1995 to 1996, and was Senate minority leader from 1987 to 1995.
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Dole acquired a reputation for sometimes lashing out at rivals and assumed the role of “hatchet man” as Ford’s running mate in 1976.

In a 1976 debate with Mondale, Dole declared: “If we added up the killed and wounded in Democrat wars in this century, it would be about 1.6 million Americans, enough to fill the city of Detroit.” Trying to recoup from that statement, Dole displayed a flash of humour, saying, “They told me to go for the jugular, so I did – mine.”

When he sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, Dole snapped at Vice President George H.W. Bush, saying, “Stop lying about my record.” Bush won the nomination and the presidency. Dole attended Bush’s 2018 funeral service at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, standing up from his wheelchair with the help of an aide and raising his left hand for a final salute.
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Dole also sought the 1980 Republican presidential nomination eventually won by Reagan.

Dole’s wife, Elizabeth, served as Republican senator from North Carolina from 2003 to 2009, and as Bush’s secretary of labour and Reagan’s secretary of transportation.

WAR HERO

Robert Joseph Dole was born on July 22, 1923, one of four children of a grain elevator manager and a traveling saleswoman in Russell, Kansas.

As a U.S. Army lieutenant in World War Two, he led an assault on a German machine-gun nest in Italy. A shell wrecked his right shoulder, paralyzed his right arm, broke vertebrae, riddled his body with shrapnel and cost him a kidney. Decorated for heroism, Dole spent 39 months in hospitals before returning to civilian life.

Dole attended law school, unable to write but getting through with the help of his first wife, Phyllis, who transcribed class lectures he recorded. Dole had one daughter, Robin, from his first marriage.

Dole became involved in the 2016 Republican presidential campaign by endorsing Jeb Bush and joining his campaign. After Bush dropped out, Dole endorsed eventual winner Donald Trump. Former Dole adviser Paul Manafort served as Trump’s campaign chairman. In 2017, Dole praised Trump for having “immensely helped restore our position as leader of the free world.”
 

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3D printable pod offers assisted suicide, doubles as coffin
Author of the article:
Liz Braun
Publishing date:
Dec 07, 2021 • 10 hours ago • 1 minute read •
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The "Sarco" is a 3-D printable, portable capsule that can double as a coffin when used in assisted suicide.
The "Sarco" is a 3-D printable, portable capsule that can double as a coffin when used in assisted suicide. Photo by SCREEN GRAB /EXIT INTERNATIONAL
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The “Sarco” is a 3-D printable, portable capsule that can double as a coffin when used in assisted suicide.
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And now it’s legally acceptable in Switzerland.

The futuristic-looking capsule is operated from inside by the person who wants to shuffle off this mortal coil.

Dr. Philip Nitschke, founder of Australia-registered Exit International, spoke to swissinfo.ch about how the Sarco works. H e pointed out that the capsule can be easily towed anywhere for death, including an idyllic outdoor setting — the lid is transparent.

Questions are asked of the person in the capsule (with regard to informed consent, etc.) and when they have been answered, the individual may press a button inside whenever they are ready to activate the capsule’s inner workings.

The button floods the chamber with nitrogen, quickly reducing the oxygen level; the person inside loses consciousness and then dies peacefully of hypoxia and hypocapnia (carbon dioxide deprivation) within five to 10 minutes.
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Two machines exist and a third is being printed now in Holland.

Dr. Nitschke’s stated objective is to give people control over the way they die and to remove psychiatric review from the process — he is working on an AI screening system to establish mental capacity via online testing.

Currently, assisted suicide involves a doctor prescribing sodium pentobarbital.

He hopes to make Sarco — short for sarcophagus — Suicide Pods available in Switzerland next year, where they have been given the green light for use, according to the Daily Mail.

Assisted suicide has been legal in Switzerland since 1942. In 2020, about 1300 people, helped by euthanasia organizations, took advantage of that law.

The Sarco Suicide Pod can be created by a 3D printer at a cost of between $4000 and $8000.

Besides Switzerland, Canada, Holland, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg have also made assisted suicide legal.
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Former U.S. senator, presidential candidate Bob Dole lies in state in Capitol
Author of the article:
Reuters
Reuters
Publishing date:
Dec 09, 2021 • 15 hours ago • 1 minute read •
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The casket of former U.S. senator Bob Dole arrives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. where it will lie in state on Dec. 9, 2021.
The casket of former U.S. senator Bob Dole arrives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. where it will lie in state on Dec. 9, 2021. Photo by ANNA MONEYMAKER/POOL /AFP via Getty Images
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WASHINGTON — A casket bearing the remains of former U.S. Senator Bob Dole, a three-time Republican presidential candidate and decorated Second World War veteran, was placed in the Capitol’s Rotunda on Thursday as dignitaries gathered there for a memorial service.
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Dole served a combined 36 years in the House of Representatives and Senate and was receiving a tribute similar to those afforded U.S. presidents upon their deaths.

President Joe Biden was on hand to deliver remarks.

Dole’s wife Elizabeth, also a former senator, stood at the top of the Capitol’s East Front steps as a military honor guard carried his flag-draped casket up the steep incline to be placed in the building’s storied Rotunda for the memorial service.

Members of Congress and other invited guests paid their respects to Dole, who represented Kansas in the House of Representatives for eight years and then in the Senate from 1969-1996, including two stints as majority leader.

He died in his sleep on Sunday at age 98 after a lung cancer diagnosis earlier this year.
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Dole was awarded two Purple Hearts from the U.S. military during the Second World War for wounds suffered in combat.

He sought the presidency three times and was his party’s nominee in 1996, when he lost to Democratic President Bill Clinton. He was also President Gerald Ford’s running mate in the 1976 election won by Democrat Jimmy Carter.

Dole’s body will lie in state until Friday morning. He is the 33rd person to receive that honour.

No public viewing will take place because of the COVID-19 pandemic, although invited guests were present.

Dole’s funeral will be held on Friday at the Washington National Cathedral.
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Mel Lastman, first mayor of amalgamated Toronto, dead at 88
Author of the article:
Postmedia News, Joe Warmington
Publishing date:
Dec 11, 2021 • 3 hours ago • 3 minute read •
11 Comments
Mel Lastman has died at age 88.
Mel Lastman has died at age 88. Photo by Files /Toronto Sun
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Mel Lastman, one of the most memorable mayors in the history of Toronto and the first to lead the amalgamated city after serving many years in the role in North York, died Saturday of heart failure at the age of 88.
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Lastman was mayor of North York from 1973-1997 and when Metropolitan Toronto became the City of Toronto, Lastman got the top job, beating incumbent Toronto mayor Barbara Hall in 1998. Lastman was re-elected in 2000 with 80% of the popular vote and served until his retirement in 2003.
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Born on March 9, 1933, Lastman also was a highly successful businessman, starting the Bad Boy furniture chain in 1955.

Postmedia chairman Paul Godfrey called Lastman “the Pied Piper of the people of Toronto,” who gave his life for the city he loved.

“He was a visionary and he was underestimated,” said Godfrey, who knew Lastman for more than 50 years.

“City Of Toronto has lost a true icon in Mel who is an instrumental part of the growth of both North York and the city of Toronto and one of the city’s greatest ever Mayors.”
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Godfrey added Lastman “was also a trailblazer in both business with Bad Boy and then later as the mayor of the first amalgamated city of Toronto and all the challenges that go with something as major as that.”

Lastman’s funeral will be held Monday at Benjamin’s Park Memorial Chapel.

Lastman’s wife, Marilyn, died at age 84 on New Year’s Day in 2020 after a long hospital stay. They had been married for 67 years.

Son Blayne Lastman, who relaunched the Bad Boy chain in 1991 and often had his father make cameos in commercials, had told the Sun at the time of his father: He’s frail. He’s trying,” adding then Lastman had “lost his best friend.”

Tributes to Lastman poured in on Saturday night, including from current Toronto mayor John Tory.
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“He was so committed to the city and worked throughout his time in office to make sure Toronto moved forward as one united city into the 21st century,” Tory said in a statement.

“I was a co-chair of Mayor Mel’s campaigns for Megacity Mayor and had the privilege of serving in his “kitchen cabinet,” during his time in office,” Tory said.

“He was a kind, good-hearted man with a larger-than-life personality who always wanted to do the right thing for people.”

Tory also lauded Lastman’s contributions to North York.

“Before amalgamation he spent so much of his life serving the people of North York and building up North York. This part of the city wouldn’t be thriving as it is now without the work Mel Lastman did over many decades,” Tory said.
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Ontario premier Doug Ford tweeted: “He was a great Mayor and he touched many lives. Ford added Lastman was a “true leader and builder.”

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown tweeted: “Very sorry to hear about the passing of Mel Lastman. I got to know him while I was serving at the provincial level. He had a wealth of knowledge on Toronto, Ontario and Canada. He leaves behind a very impressive legacy of City building. Condolences to his family and friends.”

Lastman had a teflon-like ability to shake off the types of slips of the tongue (like his comment about being boiled alive in water in Africa) or photo ops gone wrong (like when he shook the hand of a member of the Hell’s Angels) that would get politicians in trouble today.

Lastman once memorably called in the Canadian Forces to help Toronto dig out of a series of blizzards and was in charge during the SARS outbreak when he fought to revive the city’s flagging tourism industry.
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Lastman reportedly borrowed $2,000 to open his first appliance store

Years later he reflected on how he championed the city during his time as mayor of Toronto, telling the Canadian Press in 2013:

“(Toronto politicians) should be selling it over and over again and telling people how lucky they are in living in such a multicultural city as this. The diversity of Toronto is unbelievable to what it was. You think back, everybody spoke English wherever you went. Today you hear all different languages no matter where you go — on the subway, on the bus, on the street, a restaurant, no matter where you are — and it sounds great,” Lastman said.

Godfrey told the Sun Saturday: “In the hearts of Torontonians he’s a Canadian icon.”

Lastman is survived by sons Blayne and Dale, six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

— With files from Joe Warmington and The Canadian Press
 

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Iconic former mayor Mel Lastman remembered as man of the people

‘He spoke from the lip — but the lip was connected to his heart’
Author of the article:
Chris Doucette
Publishing date:
Dec 12, 2021 • 10 hours ago • 4 minute read •
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Mayor Mel Lastman outside City Hall in 2005.
Mayor Mel Lastman outside City Hall in 2005. Toronto Sun (files)
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Keeping the larger-than-life Mel Lastman safe was never boring, recalls a retired cop who once ran the former Toronto mayor’s security detail.
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After learning of the iconic 88-year-old’s death Saturday, Stewart Kellock was flooded with memories of the man he described as someone who “put the people first in all of his decisions.”

“He had a sincere and deeply felt commitment to the city and all its citizens,” Kellock said fondly.

He remembers Lastman also “loved to confuse wait staff by ordering ‘Toronto water’ as his drink of choice, meaning Toronto tap water, of which he was so proud.”

As a detective-sergeant in 2001, Kellock headed up Lastman’s protection detail after 9/11 and “became a confidant,” sharing his thoughts with the mayor on issues like “how to improve the quality of life for all Torontonians.”

Kellock couldn’t help but smile as he recalled discreetly guarding the mayor from outside his home on Halloween.
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“Kids from everywhere were dropped off there to trick-or-treat treat because the Lastmans gave out family packs of candy,” he said. “Little did they know there was someone in the bushes with a sub-machine gun under his jacket.”
Retired Toronto Police Sgt. and Canadian Armed Forces Capt. Stewart Kellock, seen here in his military uniform, was assigned to head up former Toronto mayor Mel Lastman's security detail in 2001.
Retired Toronto Police Sgt. and Canadian Armed Forces Capt. Stewart Kellock, seen here in his military uniform, was assigned to head up former Toronto mayor Mel Lastman’s security detail in 2001. Supplied

Kellock spent time assigned to the New York Police Department as a counter-terrorism advisor and served with the Canadian Armed Forces in Kosovo and Afghanistan before retiring from Toronto Police after 33 years in 2010. He’s now a counter-terrorism and extremism professor at Durham College.

He remembers Lastman landing himself in hot water over an encounter with a Hells Angels member at a downtown hotel on Jan. 11, 2002.
Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman shakes hands with Hells Angel Motorcycle Club member Tony Biancafiore as he walks out of the Holiday Inn on King St. W. on Friday, Jan. 11, 2002.
Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman shakes hands with Hells Angel Motorcycle Club member Tony Biancafiore as he walks out of the Holiday Inn on King St. W. on Friday, Jan. 11, 2002. Toronto Sun (files)

Lastman attended a dinner for a Catholic World Youth Day delegation at the CNE and afterward, stopped by a Holiday Inn on King St. W. where 400 outlaw bikers were celebrating the motorcycle club’s first year in Ontario.
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A Sun photographer snapped a now-infamous shot of Lastman shaking hands with a Hells Angels member, and the headline on the paper’s front page the next day screamed: “Mel’s Angels.”

“We were assured by his driver that he was going home, so we were quite surprised to see that photo in the paper the next day,” Kellock said.

He wasn’t the only cop left scratching his head over that photo.
Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino and Mayor Mel Lastman sit in the cockpit of a new police helicopter on Dec. 20, 2005.
Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino and Mayor Mel Lastman sit in the cockpit of a new police helicopter on Dec. 20, 2005. Toronto Sun (files)

Julian Fantino, the city’s police chief at the time, tried to give his longtime colleague the benefit of doubt when contacted by Sun columnist Joe Warmington for comment.

“He probably wanted to do his own intelligence work,” the former Toronto Police chief then said. “Maybe he was tired of watching it on television and wanted to see it for himself?”
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At the time, Lastman said he was just being mannerly and explained a lot of people wanted to shake his hand and pose with him for photos.

“I would never refuse to shake hands with anybody,” he said at the time.

Fantino set the record straight Saturday, telling the Sun he was at the dinner with Lastman when the mayor got a message and had to leave.
Mayor Mel Lastman takes to the ice to help kickoff the 17th Annual North York Winter Carnival on Feb. 14, 1997.
Mayor Mel Lastman takes to the ice to help kickoff the 17th Annual North York Winter Carnival on Feb. 14, 1997. Toronto Sun (files)

Lastman later told the chief his decision to stop by the hotel on his way home had “nothing to do with the Hells Angels.”

“He went to see the manager of the Holiday Inn who was his friend,” Fantino said. “But they saw him coming in the door and, the opportunists they are, they orchestrated that photo.”

“He was just an innocent victim,” he added.

Fantino said while Lastman’s actions and words were sometimes misconstrued, he was “totally committed to the people.”
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“He spoke from the lip — but the lip was connected to his heart,” Fantino said.
Jack Layton (left) with Mel Lastman (centre) getting kissed on his cheek by Enza “Supermodel” Anderson to kick off Toronto's Pride week on June 22, 1998.
Jack Layton (left) with Mel Lastman (centre) getting kissed on his cheek by Enza “Supermodel” Anderson to kick off Toronto’s Pride Week on June 22, 1998. Toronto Sun (files)

The Bad Boy Furniture chain founder, whose wife Marilyn died in January 2020, leaves behind two children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Lastman, aka Megacity Mel, served as the first mayor of Toronto after amalgamation from 1998-2003. But it was while he was North York’s mayor — from 1973-97 — that Fantino got to know him.
Mayor Mel Lastman, left, and Maple Leafs winger Tie Domi enjoy a taste of Toronto’s Own, a new lager brewed for the city by Molson Breweries, on Nov. 23, 1999.
Mayor Mel Lastman, left, and Maple Leafs winger Tie Domi enjoy a taste of Toronto’s Own, a new lager brewed for the city by Molson Breweries, on Nov. 23, 1999. Toronto Sun (files)

As a staff-inspector in charge of 31 division in 1988, Fantino was asked by a race-relations committee to compile race-based crime figures. And when the public caught wind of those statistics, Fantino became the target of outrage.

“All hell broke loose, but Mel stepped in a straightened it all out,” he said, recalling how Lastman stood tall when lesser men might have thrown him under the bus.
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Like a scene from Toronto’s major snowstorm in January 1999 — and with the help of fake snow — Mayor Mel Lastman rides into his 7th-annual, two-day charity golf event at Lionhead Golf Club in Brampton on a Canadian Armed Forces Bison armoured personnel carrier on Sept. 7, 1999.
Like a scene from Toronto’s major snowstorm in January 1999 — and with the help of fake snow — Mayor Mel Lastman rides into his 7th-annual, two-day charity golf event at Lionhead Golf Club in Brampton on a Canadian Armed Forces Bison armoured personnel carrier on Sept. 7, 1999. Toronto Sun (files)

Yes, Lastman was ridiculed for calling in the army in January 1999 after the city was crippled by a series of unprecedented snowstorms — a move he never regretted — but he also knew how to have fun.
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Mel Lastman has died at age 88.
Mel Lastman, first mayor of amalgamated Toronto, dead at 88
Former mayor Mel Lastman is pictured in February 2005 at Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino's farewell dinner at the Royal York Hotel.
Large crowd expected to bid Mel Lastman farewell on Monday

Whether he was hamming it up with professional athletes or whipping down a waterslide, Lastman leaves behind no shortage of great memories.
Mayor Mel Lastman helped open the ‘Waterslide’ at Stan Wadlow Park in East York on Aug. 1, 1999.
Mayor Mel Lastman helped open the ‘Waterslide’ at Stan Wadlow Park in East York on Aug. 1, 1999. Toronto Sun (files)

“When it came down to the crunch, he didn’t play politics, he did the right thing for the right reasons,” Fantino said.

cdoucette@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @SunDoucette
 

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Large crowd expected to bid Mel Lastman farewell on Monday
Author of the article:
Liz Braun
Publishing date:
Dec 12, 2021 • 14 hours ago • 3 minute read •
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Former mayor Mel Lastman is pictured in February 2005 at Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino's farewell dinner at the Royal York Hotel.
Former mayor Mel Lastman is pictured in February 2005 at Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino's farewell dinner at the Royal York Hotel.
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In non-pandemic times, Monday’s funeral for Mel Lastman would be a mob scene.
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Lastman, 88, was a larger-than-life character known to most Torontonians for both his Bad Boy appliance chain and his long run in politics. He died Saturday.

His funeral will take place 10 a.m. Monday at Benjamin Park Memorial Chapel , 2401 Steeles Ave. W., in his beloved North York. Those attending will be asked for proof of vaccination and photo identification.

Postmedia Executive Chairman Paul Godfrey, who will attend Monday morning with his wife, Gina, said he expects the gathering to honour Lastman will be quite large, adding “it would be mammoth if people weren’t concerned about gathering in numbers.”

Godfrey said of Lastman: “He deserves the outpouring of love. He was a great individual, and he never minced words. He shot from the lip, as they say. And sometimes that got him into temporary trouble, but he always found a way to turn a negative into a positive. The Lastman brand was always flying high.”
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Godfrey and Lastman — both hugely influential in the ethos of this city — were friends and colleagues for nearly 50 years.

“We became allies right away and were friends until he sadly passed away. He has left a lot of goodwill behind in developing a great city, first in North York and then in Toronto.

“He was a unique individual. He didn’t care what people thought. He did what was right. Sometimes people took shots at him, but they bounced right off,” said Godfrey.

“He put the interests of the people first.”

Mayor John Tory expressed similar affection in his statement about Lastman, noting the former “megacity mayor,” was a kind, good-hearted man, “with a larger-than-life personality who always wanted to do the right thing for people.”
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That larger-than-life personality got Lastman into far more than his fair share of personal and professional debacles, but the public loved the man, regardless.

Political cartoonists loved him, too — whether he was calling the army in to clear Toronto’s snow in 1999, begging the Spice Girls to stay together, or joking about the “natives” of Kenya putting him in a pot of boiling water, Lastman had a talent for attracting attention, and often the wrong kind.

It rarely hurt him.

Few politicians could have survived the public admission of having a second, secret family, but Lastman did.

He never tired of singing this city’s praises. His love of Toronto and his background as a salesman seem to have been the perfect combo for public office.
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He sat in the mayor’s seat in North York for 25 years and in Toronto for six, becoming the the first mayor of the amalgamated city — when six municipalities were melded into one on Jan. 1, 1998.

He fought hard on behalf of Toronto, even picking fights with then-premier of Ontario, Mike Harris, and accusing Harris of shortchanging the city to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

The two politicians even made a show of exchanging public insults at the time, but it doesn’t seem to have been any kind of lasting stand-off.

Indeed, Harris was quick to express his sadness at hearing of Lastman’s passing.

“I will miss him. Toronto will miss him,” said the former premier.

“He cared passionately about both the people and the success of our city. On behalf of Laura and myself and our family, sincere condolences to the Lastman family.

“We share in your sadness and your loss.”
 

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Hundreds attend funeral for former mayor Mel Lastman

His son Dale - in COVID-19 isolation - delivered a moving tribute to his father by phone
Author of the article:
Scott Laurie
Publishing date:
Dec 13, 2021 • 14 hours ago • 2 minute read •
9 Comments
The casket of Mel Lastman is brought out of the Benjamin's Park Memorial Chapel after the former mayor's funeral service on Dec. 13, 2021.
The casket of Mel Lastman is brought out of the Benjamin's Park Memorial Chapel after the former mayor's funeral service on Dec. 13, 2021. Photo by Jack Boland /Toronto Sun
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They remembered him as a man of Toronto’s people.
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Hundreds gathered for a funeral Monday morning for former Toronto mayor Mel Lastman, who died Saturday at the age of 88.

Among those in attendance at Benjamin’s Park Memorial Chapel in Lastman’s beloved North York were Premier Doug Ford, Federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, former mayor David Miller, and Mayor John Tory.

“People liked him because they knew what they saw is what they got,” Tory said as he arrived for the service. “He maintained the confidence of the people and I think that’s because he was real, he was authentic.”

Postmedia Executive Chair Paul Godfrey, a longtime friend of the first mayor of an amalgamated Toronto, said he was moved by a tribute from Lastman’s son, Dale, a widely-respected corporate lawyer.
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“Dale, I think, had everybody with tears in their eyes,” said Godfrey, who estimated that 400 to 500 people were there. “This was the most touching, personal speech.”

The grieving son spoke over the phone as he was isolating, after attending the Giants of Africa gala event on Dec. 5 where a COVID exposure — flagged by Toronto Public Health — has forced hundreds of people into a 10-day quarantine.

Dale Lastman spoke about how his father was deeply saddened by the loss of his wife, Marilyn.

“His father went downhill the day Marilyn Lastman died on Jan. 1, 2020,” Godfrey said.

“His father slipped because of loneliness. His father slipped because of dementia. And his father died ultimately of a broken heart.”

Lastman was a man of small stature who served a record 10 terms as mayor of North York for a quarter of a century before becoming the first mayor of the megacity when Etobicoke, North York, East York, York, Scarborough, and the old City of Toronto were melded together on Jan. 1, 1998.
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During his tenure, he weathered moments of criticism for calling in the military after a massive 1999 snowstorm crippled Toronto, and for joking about “natives” in Kenya putting him in a pot of boiling water.

“He wasn’t a natural politician. He was a salesman. He started a furniture store, and he talked the language of the common guy,” Godfrey said.

Flags across the city on major municipal buildings were lowered Monday.

A presentation will be made in his honour Wednesday at city council.

Books of condolence will also be available City Hall and North York Civic Centre.

“Mel left a lasting mark that is going to be very tough for anybody to follow in his footsteps,” said Godfrey, who considered Lastman his “pal for life.”
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Mayor Mel Lastman outside City Hall in 2005.
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“He was unique because he was a man of the people.”

The Bad Boy furniture chain founder leaves behind two children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
 

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‘SURREAL LOSS’: Actress Alicia Witt’s parents found dead inside home
Author of the article:
Denette Wilford
Publishing date:
Dec 22, 2021 • 15 hours ago • 1 minute read •
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Actress Alicia Witt with her parents, Robert and Diane Witt.
Actress Alicia Witt with her parents, Robert and Diane Witt. Photo by Alicia Witt /Instagram
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The parents of actress Alicia Witt were found dead inside their Massachusetts home.
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The bodies of Robert Witt, 87, and Diane Witt, 75, were discovered at their Worcester, Mass., residence on Monday after the actress-songwriter asked a family member to see if they were okay because she hadn’t heard from her parents for “several days.”

Witt, who has appeared in a number of TV shows and movies including The Walking Dead , Two Weeks Notice , Orange Is The New Black , Urban Legend and the original Dune , released a statement following the unexpected tragedy.

“I reached out to a cousin who lives close to my parents to check on them,” her statement read. “Sadly, the outcome was unimaginable.”
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She added: “I ask for some privacy at this time to grieve and to wrap my head around this turn of events, and this surreal loss.”
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Witt’s cousin called police for assistance in the welfare check, reported local newspaper Telegram & Gazette .

“There was no trauma,” Lt. Sean Murtha of the Worcester Police Department told the paper, adding that while the deaths are not suspicious, the cause is a mystery.

There were reports the couple had been experiencing furnace problems and were using a space heater, police said.

However, firefighters found no noxious gases present, according to Worcester Fire Deputy Chief Adam Roche.
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Homicide ruled out in mysterious deaths of family of three, dog
Bernice Nantanda Wamala is seen here with her mom Maurine Mirembe. The three-year-old girl became ill on Sunday, March 7, 2021 after a sleepover at her best friendÕs Scarborough apartment and died a few hours later in hospital. Her three-year-old friend also got sick but survived.
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A neighbor told the outlet the couple was rarely seen outside their home and believed they had been ill for some time.

Autopsies will be performed to determine the Witts’ cause of death.
 

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'SMELLS LIKE DEATH': Australia brings animal cruelty charges in mass koala killing

Author of the article:
Washington Post
Washington Post
Maite Fernández Simon, The Washington Post
Publishing date:
Dec 22, 2021 • 10 hours ago • 2 minute read •
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Koalas on Australia's Kangaroo Island as a Humane Society International team attempts to rescue them from bush fires in January 2020.
Koalas on Australia's Kangaroo Island as a Humane Society International team attempts to rescue them from bush fires in January 2020. Photo by Ricky Carioti /The Washington Post
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Australian regulators have charged a landowner and two businesses with more than 250 instances of animal cruelty after dozens of koalas were found dead at the site of a partially cleared timber plantation last year.
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The defendants, including the plantation’s former owner and a forest- and earthmoving business, are accused of causing unreasonable pain or suffering to the koalas by clearing their habitat in Cape Bridgewater, in the state of Victoria, in February 2020. They are also accused of “destroying koalas,” a protected species, and could face imprisonment and millions of dollars in fines.

“We understand the community’s concerns about this case and we have ensured a thorough investigation which led to these charges,” Australia’s chief conservation regulator, Kate Gavens, said in a statement Tuesday.

Gavens said that the investigation included “gathering a large volume of evidence from the crime scene” and that techniques such as forensic radiography and pathology were used to determine when and how the animals died.
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The inquiry was launched after Helen Oakley, a nurse, came across the dead koalas while on an evening walk near Cape Bridgewater last year. She posted a video of herself crying as she surveilled the scene.

“You can smell them. It smells like death,” she told Yahoo News Australia at the time.

Twenty-one koalas were found dead at the site and 49 were euthanized as a result of injuries suffered during the clearing, Victoria’s Conservation Regulator said in a statement Tuesday. Seventy more were reported as suffering from starvation or dehydration, with some also sustaining fractures, the regulator said.

The defendants have yet to enter a plea, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC) reported. The charges are being filed under two laws – Wildlife Act 1975 and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986.

Oakley said that she was “ecstatic” after learning about the animal cruelty charges levied against the property owner and companies accused of participating in the clearing. “I can’t wipe the smile off my face,” she said, ABC reported.

There are fewer than 100,000 koalas left in the wild, according to estimates by the Australian Koala Foundation. The bush fires that ravaged the country in 2019 and 2020 affected more than 60,000 koalas, according to a report by the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia.
 

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Desmond Tutu, South Africa's 'moral compass', dies at 90

South African Archbishop died on Sunday

Author of the article:
Reuters
Reuters
Nqobile Dludla and James Macharia
Publishing date:
Dec 26, 2021 • 12 hours ago • 3 minute read •
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People lay flowers beneath a picture of the late South African Nobel Peace Price Archbishop Desmond Tutu on the wake of his death outside St. George's Cathedral in Cape Town on December 26, 2021.
People lay flowers beneath a picture of the late South African Nobel Peace Price Archbishop Desmond Tutu on the wake of his death outside St. George's Cathedral in Cape Town on December 26, 2021. Photo by GIANLUIGI GUERCIA /AFP/Getty Images
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JOHANNESBURG — Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and veteran of South Africa’s struggle against apartheid who was revered as his nation’s conscience by both Black and white, died on Sunday aged 90.
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Tutu won the Nobel prize in 1984 Key dates in the life of South African cleric and activist Desmond Tutuin recognition of his non-violent opposition to white minority rule. A decade later, he witnessed the end of that regime and chaired a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, set up to unearth atrocities committed under it.

Ever outspoken, he preached against the tyranny of the white minority.

After apartheid ended, he called the Black political elite to account with as much feistiness as he had the Afrikaners, but his enduring spirit of reconciliation in a divided nation always shone through, and tributes to him poured in from around the world on Sunday.

U.S. President Joe Biden said Tutu followed his spiritual calling to create a better, freer, and more equal world. “His legacy transcends borders and will echo throughout the ages.”
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“Archbishop Desmond Tutu was a mentor, a friend and a moral compass for me and so many others,” former President Barack Obama said. “He never lost his impish sense of humour and willingness to find humanity in his adversaries.”

Bill Clinton called Tutu’s life “a gift” while South African President Cyril Ramaphosa described him as “a patriot without equal.”

TWO NOBELS ON ONE STREET

Tutu died “peacefully” on Sunday morning in a Cape Town nursing home, a representative of his Archbishop Desmond Tutu IP Trust said.

Looking frail and in a wheelchair, he was last seen in public in October at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town – a one-time safe haven for anti-apartheid activists – for a service marking his 90th birthday.
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He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the late 1990s and was later hospitalized several times to treat infections associated with treatment for it.

In his final years he also regretted that his dream of a “Rainbow Nation” had yet to come true, and often fell out with erstwhile allies at the ruling African National Congress party over their failures to address the poverty and inequalities that they promised to eradicate.

Just five feet five inches (1.68 meters) tall and with an infectious giggle, Tutu travelled tirelessly through the 1980s to become the face of the anti-apartheid movement abroad while many of the leaders of the then rebel ANC, including future president Nelson Mandela, were behind bars.

Long-time friends, Tutu and Mandela lived for a time on the same street in the South African township of Soweto, making Vilakazi Street the only one in the world to have been resident to two Nobel Peace Prize winners.
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“His most characteristic quality is his readiness to take unpopular positions without fear,” Mandela once said of Tutu. “Such independence of mind is vital to a thriving democracy.”

‘A PROPHET AND A PRIEST’

Born near Johannesburg, Tutu spent most of his later life in Cape Town and led numerous marches and campaigns to end apartheid from St George’s Cathedral’s front steps.

Having officially retired from public life on his 79th birthday Tutu – who once said of himself: “I wish I could shut up, but I can’t, and I won’t” – continued to speak out on a range of moral issues.

John Steenhuisen, leader of opposition party The Democratic Alliance, said Tutu’s spirit would live on “in our continued effort to build a united, successful, non-racial South Africa for all.”
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In 2008, Tutu accused the West of complicity in Palestinian suffering by remaining silent.

In 2013, he declared his support for gay rights, saying he would never “worship a God who is homophobic.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby on Sunday hailed Tutu as “a prophet and priest” while Pope Francis offered heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones.

In a letter to Tutu’s daughter Reverend Mpho Tutu, Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, said the world had “lost a great man, who lived a truly meaningful life.”

“We are better because he was here,” said Martin Luther King’s daughter Bernice.
 

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Harry Reid, former U.S. Senate majority leader, dies at 82

Author of the article:
Reuters
Reuters
Will Dunham
Publishing date:
Dec 29, 2021 • 22 hours ago • 5 minute read •
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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) speaks at a news conference with other senior Democratic Senators on efforts to reach an agreement on the federal budget on Capitol Hill on April 7, 2011 in Washington, DC.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) speaks at a news conference with other senior Democratic Senators on efforts to reach an agreement on the federal budget on Capitol Hill on April 7, 2011 in Washington, DC. Photo by Brendan Hoffman /Getty Images
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WASHINGTON — Harry Reid, the pugnacious son of a Nevada hard-rock miner who rose from poverty to become the U.S. Senate majority leader and earned a reputation as a fierce partisan fighter during an era of political gridlock in Washington, died on Tuesday. He was 82.
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Reid, a former amateur boxer who represented Nevada in the U.S. Congress as a Democrat for more than three decades, died after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, his wife of 62 years, Landra, said in a statement.

“I’ve had the honor of serving with some of the all-time great Senate Majority Leaders in our history. Harry Reid was one of them. And for Harry, it wasn’t about power for power’s sake. It was about the power to do right for the people,” U.S. President Joe Biden said in a written statement.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said late on Tuesday that the country had lost an honorable public servant, adding that the Reid made a meaningful difference in people’s lives.

“Harry Reid rose through the ranks in Washington, becoming Senate Majority Leader, but he never forgot his humble beginnings in Searchlight, Nevada – and he always fought for working families and the poor,” Harris said in a separate written statement.

As majority leader, Reid served as President Barack Obama’s point man in the Senate and helped secure congressional passage of Obama’s signature healthcare law, known as Obamacare, in 2010 over furious Republican opposition.

Obama on Tuesday posted to social media a recent letter he had written to Reid:

“You were a great leader in the Senate, and early on you were more generous to me than I had any right to expect,” Obama said in the letter. “I wouldn’t have been president had it not been for your encouragement and support, and I wouldn’t have got most of what I got done without your skill and determination.”
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Reid retired in 2016, one year after suffering broken ribs and facial bones and injuring an eye in an accident while exercising at home.

He had ascended to the job of majority leader in 2007 despite being a political moderate who differed from many in his party on abortion, the environment and gun control. In that job Reid regularly clashed with the Republicans and maintained poor relations with the opposition party’s leaders.

“I always would rather dance than fight but I know how to fight,” Reid said in 2004, in a reference to his boxing career.

In 2012, Mitch McConnell, then the Senate’s top Republican, labeled Reid “the worst leader in the Senate ever” while Reid accused McConnell of a breach of faith on an important issue.
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During Reid’s time as majority leader, major legislation languished because Democrats and Republicans could not compromise. His relationship with McConnell was so strained that the Republican leader shunned Reid during crucial U.S. fiscal policy talks and dealt directly with Vice President Joe Biden.

“The nature of Harry’s and my jobs brought us into frequent and sometimes intense conflict over politics and policy. But I never doubted that Harry was always doing what he earnestly, deeply felt was right for Nevada and our country. He will rightly go down in history as a crucial, pivotal figure in the development and history of his beloved home state,” McConnell said in a written statement.

In 2013, fed up with Republican procedural moves blocking Obama’s judicial and executive branch nominees, Reid pushed through the Senate a historic change to the Senate’s filibuster rules, preventing a minority party from blocking presidential appointments except those to the Supreme Court.
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Republicans said the move was a naked power grab.

Reid was first elected to the House in 1982 and was sent to the Senate by Nevada voters in 1986. He showed remarkable resilience, fighting off spirited re-election challenges.
In this file photo taken on September 4, 2000 From left, US Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), US President Bill Clinton, Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-MO) and Rep. David Bonior (D-MI) applaud Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD) after he delivered a speech in the White House Rose Garden about the difficult work ahead as the US Congress opens its Fall session. (Photo by SHAWN THEW/AFP via Getty Images)
In this file photo taken on September 4, 2000 From left, US Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), US President Bill Clinton, Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-MO) and Rep. David Bonior (D-MI) applaud Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD) after he delivered a speech in the White House Rose Garden about the difficult work ahead as the US Congress opens its Fall session. (Photo by SHAWN THEW/AFP via Getty Images)

Tact was not Reid’s strong suit. He called Republican President George W. Bush a “loser” and “liar” and said Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan was “one of the biggest political hacks we have in Washington.”

He apologized in 2010 for referring to Obama, the first black U.S. president, in private conversations two years earlier as “light-skinned” with “no Negro dialect,” saying, “I deeply regret using such a poor choice of words.”

Reid became a Mormon as a young man and eventually became the highest-ranking member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in U.S. public office.
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During the 2012 presidential race, Reid became a Democratic attack dog, accusing Obama’s Republican challenger Mitt Romney of paying no federal income taxes for 10 years. Romney insisted he paid “all the taxes required by law.”

Harry Mason Reid was born into a poor family in the tiny desert mining town of Searchlight, Nevada, on Dec. 2, 1939. His father was a miner with an eighth-grade education who committed suicide in 1972.

His mother, who never finished high school, took in laundry from brothels to help out financially. The family lived in a small cabin with no indoor plumbing, hot water or telephone.

“I learned in America, it doesn’t matter the education of your parents, what their religion is or isn’t, their social status – we had none – the color of their skin or their economic status. I am an example of this. If I made it, anyone can,” Reid said in 2007.
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Reid attended a two-room school through eighth grade, then hitchhiked 40 miles (64 km) each week to high school, boarding with local families before hitchhiking home each weekend.

He graduated from Utah State University in 1961 and then worked nights as a U.S. Capitol policeman while he attended law school at George Washington University in Washington. He earned his law degree in 1964 and moved back to Nevada.

Reid was a trial lawyer and held various Nevada state offices. He headed the Nevada Gaming Commission from 1977 to 1981.

In the Senate, Reid won passage of an ethics measure barring senators from accepting gifts, meals or trips from lobbyists in 2007.

He voted for Iraq war resolutions in 1991 and 2002. While Reid remained a backer of the first Iraq war, he reversed himself and opposed the second one, accusing Bush’s administration of misleading the nation into it.

Reid and his wife, Landra, had five children.