Tory says he is optimistic he and Ford can work together on transit file

Mayor John Tory says that he has already spoken with Premier-designate Doug Ford and is confident that the two can forge a “good, solid relationship,” despite any differences that they may have had in the past.

Ford led the PC party to a decisive victory in Thursday’s provincial election but prior to taking over the reins of the party upon the sudden resignation of Patrick Brown he was a frequent critic of Tory and had planned on running against him in the October municipal election.

Tory also had his share of differences with Ford. After Ford launched his campaign for the PC leadership in the basement of his mother’s house Tory even poked fun at him, telling reporters that he would have to “rethink” his own campaign plans since his mother lives in an apartment building and doesn’t have a basement he can use.

Tory also told reporters at the time that he had “trouble keeping up” with the now Premier-designate’s ambitions.

Speaking with CP24 at a community event in the east end on Saturday, however, Tory offered a more diplomatic tone.

He said that he is “looking forward” to working with Ford and is confident that the two can find some common ground, particularly when it comes to building transit.

“My job is never to be necessarily be best friends with or socializing with any of the other people and they probably feel the same way about me,” he said. “We have a professional obligation to have a sound business relationship, to get things done for the people of Toronto. I had a very cordial conversation with Mr. Ford on the phone Friday and I had a meeting with him about 10 days ago which similarly was very constructive in its focus on transit and the need for us to get transit built in the city among other things. I will try to adopt an approach myself that says that we just have to get things done.”

Ford has promised $5 billion for Toronto transit

During the election campaign, Ford promised an additional $5 billion for new transit infrastructure in Toronto, with an expectation that most of that money would go to the construction of subway lines.

Ford did not provide any real details on where the money for that investment would come from, though.

The now Premier-designate also caused a stir when he said that a PC government would “go back to the original plan” for a three-stop subway extension in Scarborough rather than the current one-stop extension, something that would likely bring a massive increase on the cost of a project that already carries an estimated price tag of $3.35 billion with lots of design work left to do.

“He says he want to build transit, I want to build transit so I guess we will work together on building transit,” Tory said on Saturday. “We have a council-approved network transit plan and I look forward to moving forward with that. We have made great progress on that and we need to make a lot more because the city needs to move better.”

Ford has already identified a number of transit projects that he wants to see built, including the relief subway line and the Yonge subway extension into Richmond Hill.

The Premier-designate has, however, said little about some of the other transit projects included in the city’s network transit plan, most notably the Waterfront LRT.

Tory said that in order to get transit built he will ultimately have to work with Ford and MPPs from across the city. He pointed out that in Toronto that will mean working with representatives from all three parties.

“I really take great heart from the fact that a lot of the objectives we all have as elected representatives are common,” he said.

Teacher Says He Was Forced To Quit Over School’s Biology Denying Student Policy

An Indiana teacher says he was forced to resign after he refused to comply with the school district’s policy of addressing transgender students by their preferred names.

John Kluge, the former orchestra teacher at Brownsburg High School in Brownsburg, Indiana, argued that the policy ― which also requires teachers to refer to students using the pronouns which best align with their gender identity ― goes against his religious beliefs and violates the First Amendment.

“I’m being compelled to encourage students in what I believe is something that’s a dangerous lifestyle,” the teacher, who has been with the Brownsburg School District for four years, said. “I’m fine to teach students with other beliefs, but the fact that teachers are being compelled to speak a certain way is the scary thing.”

A Brownsburg Community Schools spokeswoman declined to comment on Kluge’s claims, but told HuffPost: “This teacher voluntarily submitted his resignation prior to the end of the school year. The resignation was accepted by the administration.” She added that the school district “complies with all state and federal laws.”

The dispute between Kluge and his employers reportedly began at the start of 2018, soon after teachers received an 11-page document outlining the school district’s transgender student policy.

A copy of what’s purported to be the Jan. 3 document on the Indiana Family Institute’s website states that the Brownsburg School District “allows name changes with a letter from the student’s parent(s) and a letter from a health care professional.” The district permits trans students to “use the restroom of their choice.”

Kluge, 28, told the Indianapolis Star that he and school administrators initially reached a compromise that would permit him to refer to all students by their last names. A few months ago, however, he said he was told he would no longer be allowed to do that.

After what Kluge described as a “very threatening and bullying type of meeting,” he said district officials told him he would be terminated if he didn’t comply with the school’s transgender student policy. Though he submitted what ABC 6 described as “a conditional resignation letter with a tentative date,” he said he asked to withdraw it May 25, four days before the end of the school year.

Instead, Kluge said he found himself locked out of his school’s email system, and was informed by colleagues that a listing for his position had been posted. He said he plans to appeal to keep his job at a June 11 school board meeting.

“They’re acting as if I have [resigned], even though I’m pleading, ‘No,’” Kluge told USA Today. “I’m not dead yet. I still want to work here.”

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

Anheuser-Busch pulls millions from controversial NIH alcohol study

Beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev is pulling millions of dollars in funding from a controversial study overseen by the National Institutes of Health that aimed to assess the health effects of moderate alcohol consumption, according to a report by The New York Times

The 10-year, $100 million study had faced mounting criticism and was recently halted over concerns about how large beverage makers, including AB InBev, came to provide such financial support. A series of media investigations suggested that lead researchers and NIH officials had inappropriately wooed drink makers, getting them to pour millions into the work, while strongly hinting that it would end in their favor—i.e., showing that a daily drink is safe and could lower the risk of common diseases.

The large study, which was designed to include 7,800 participants at 16 sites worldwide, would be “necessary if alcohol is to be recommended as part of a healthy diet,” researchers wrote in a slide presentation provided to alcohol makers.

The study’s lead investigator, Kenneth Mukamal of Harvard Medical School, described his role in early discussions with industry as educational. The NIH’s George Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, forcefully insisted in media interviews that nothing inappropriate took place and that the study could “completely backfire on the alcoholic beverage industry.” (Koob has ties to the alcohol industry and was recently accused of nixing other studies that were seen as hostile to the industry.)

In the end, five of the world’s largest alcoholic beverage makers pledged a total of $67.7 million to the study. AB InBev had committed $15.4 million of that. All the money would be provided indirectly through a nongovernmental foundation that raises funds for the NIH.

Last month, the NIH announced that it had suspended enrollment in the study while it conducted two investigations. One would look into the claims of inappropriate fundraising and determine if any officials had violated federal rules, which prohibit NIH employees from soliciting funds or donations to support NIH’s activities. The other would review the scientific merits of the study, which have also been called into question.

While the results of the investigations are due out this month, it seems AB InBev didn’t want to wait. In a letter to the foundation that collects funding for the NIH, Andrés Peñate, AB InBev’s global vice president for regulatory and public policy, said his company was withdrawing its funding pledge.

“Unfortunately, recent questions raised around the study could undermine its lasting credibility, which is why we have decided to end our funding,” he wrote.

But that conclusion was not before Peñate defended the company’s involvement, writing that Ab InBev had not interfered with the study’s design or execution. He emphasized that “stringent firewalls were put in place” to “safeguard the objectivity and independence of the science.”