AIRPORT-BOUND BRYAN & ALAN SNAPPED A PHOTO OF ROOFTOP WORKERS ON THE ROGERS CENTRE

<Always camera-ready – BRYAN BLENKIN & ALAN ROWE, Thursday, May 16th>

IN THIS SELFISH AGE, HOW AWESOME IS A WEEKEND VOLUNTEER CLEANUP OF THE DON VALLEY

Organized by ‘Don’t Mess With The Don’, hundreds of volunteers gave up their Saturday by picking trash in TORONTO’s Don Valley.

The Don is more than just a park. It’s home to a six-lane freeway, access to 10 ravines, bike and running trails, Evergreen Brick Works, and a sizable population of native animals and birds.

At day’s end, an impressive 1,500 bags (about 100,000 pounds) of trash were waiting for pickup.

Don’t Mess With The Don collaborated with Evergreen, Greenpeace, Salomon, Arc’teryx and One Piece a Day in this second-annual event.  <PHOTO ABOVE – some of Saturday’s volunteers in one of the Don Valley parks>

CEO OF CANADA’S LARGEST CRYPTO CURRENCY COMPANY HAS DIED, TAKING PASSWORDS WITH HIM

GERRY COTTEN, 30, was in India opening an orphanage, when he passed away taking the company’s passwords to his grave. Now Quadriga CX, based in HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, is in crisis mode. His wife is unable to find the passwords or keys that would unlock the wallets, worth about $250-million. “Cold wallets” are essentially offline storage systems that protect funds from hacking and theft. They’re locked solid without passwords.  The company has about $375,000 in cash while owing the equivalent of $250-million to about 92,000 users. Mr. Cotten died on December 9th with complications from Crohn’s disease.

TORONTO-BASED ‘RAINBOW RAILROAD’ CONFIRMS CHECHNYA IS AGAIN ATTACKING ITS LGBTQI PEOPLE

What is the Rainbow Railroad? It’s a Canadian charitable organization, founded in 2006, based in TORONTO, that helps LGBTQI individuals escape persecution in their homelands.  In 71 countries, queer and trans people face criminal charges under colonial-era anti-gay laws that can result in life sentences. In eight countries, the death penalty can be applied. LGBTQI people are outed in the media, attacked by mob violence, sexually assaulted, or rounded up in state-sanctioned crackdowns by police.

From KIMAHLI POWELL, Executive Director – “Two people are dead and at least 40 have been detained in what appears to be a second wave of a state-sponsored crackdown on LGBTQI people in Chechnya“Since the reports first surfaced two weeks ago, we’ve been connecting with our partners on the ground, such as Russia’s LGBT Network . . . Those who’ve managed to escape (from Chechnya) are still experiencing serious trauma as a result of the humiliation, torture and abuse that they faced there,” Powell says.

Over 1,200 people have asked for help in 2018. To date, Rainbow Railroad has assisted more than 600 individuals’ escape to safe countries.  Several of them now live in TORONTO. For up-to-date information go to https://www.rainbowrailroad.com/

MUSIC DIRECTOR OF THE METROPOLITAN OPERA, CANADIAN, MONTREALER, & HE’S GAY – NY TIMES

“A GAY CONDUCTOR: THAT MEANS SOMETHING” is an attention-grabbing headline in Sunday’s New York Times’ Arts & Leisure section.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin is now the music director of the Metropolitan Opera.

<PHOTO by JEENAH MOON for the New York Times – Yannick Nézet-Séguin on the right, with his partner Pierre TourvilleZACHARY WOOLFE writes: “Despite gay pioneers like Michael Tilson Thomas (at the San Francisco Symphony) and Marin Alsop (in Baltimore), conducting remains an overwhelmingly straight (and male, and white) profession.  “Even NEW YORK, the city that gave rise to the modern gay rights movement . . . has been dominated by two conductors: Leonard Bernstein and James Levine, who both kept their sexual relationships with men hidden.”

<PHOTO by JEENAH MOON for the New York Times – Mr. Nézet-Séguin on the left, with his partner Pierre Tourville>

The writeup about Yannick Nézet-Séguin and his long-time partner, violist Pierre Tourville, is an uplifting milestone for both the Opera and the LGBTQ community.  You’ll find Zachary Woolfe’s in-depth story at https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/15/arts/music/yannick-nezet-seguin-met-opera-gay.html

ZAYELL JOHNSTON’S “CRAZY NOTION” – TO WALK 9,000 KILOMETRES (5,600 MILES) ACROSS CANADA

To walk coast-to-coast across CANADA, even in perfect weather, is a gargantuan task. ZAYELL JOHNSTON, 27, decided to do precisely that, beginning his project at Mile ‘O’ in VICTORIA, British Columbia, and ending up nine months later on the Atlantic coast in CAPE SPEAR, Newfoundland. Along the way – blistering heat, torrential rain, blizzards and hail; daily walking average – 50 kilometres.

“I don’t know how I got the crazy notion of walking across the country, but I didn’t want to drive across it,” Johnston said. “At the beginning of the journey, you could say I was running away to kind of reflect on where I was in life.”

Johnston set up a Go Fund Me campaign and raised only $620. At the end of the trip he used the fund to send cheques of roughly $50 each to the Canadian Mental Health Association in all ten provinces.

His next goal – paying off a student loan, becoming a forest firefighter and building up his abs. ZAYELL is a native of YORKTON, Saskatchewan.  <CBC News, @BonnieAllenCBC; photos by Zayell Johnston/Facebook>

A FORM OF IMMORTALITY? – A BLIND, WORM-LIKE AMPHIBIAN HAS BEEN NAMED AFTER DONALD TRUMP

DERMOPHIS DONALD TRUMPI is officially an underground amphibian, named after the US president and his persistent climate change denial. The name was chosen by the boss of EnvironBuild, a sustainable building materials company, who paid $25,000 at an auction for the right. <PHOTO – in the EnviroBuild image above, the amphibian is wearing Trump’s hair>  Naming rights were auctioned to raise money for the Rainforest Trust. The scientists who found the 10cm worm-like creature have agreed to use the name when published in scientific literature.

<PHOTO ABOVE – The 10cm-long Dermophis donaldtrumpi. by Abel Batista/Rainforest Trust UKThe shiny animal is particularly susceptible to the impacts of global warming and is therefore in danger of becoming extinct because of its namesake’s climate policies, the Rainforest Trust told The Guardian.