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Iran blames Israel for sabotage at Natanz site as U.S. begins talks to re-enter nuclear deal

Iran blamed Israel on Monday for a sabotage attack on its underground Natanz nuclear facility that damaged its centrifuges, an assault that imperils ongoing talks over its tattered nuclear deal and brings a shadow war between the two countries into the light.

Israel has not claimed responsibility for the attack. It rarely does for operations carried out by its secret military units or its Mossad intelligence agency. However, Israeli media widely reported that the country had orchestrated a devastating cyberattack that caused a blackout at the nuclear facility. Meanwhile, a former Iranian official said the attack set off a fire.

The attack further strains relations between the United States, which under President Joe Biden is now negotiating in Vienna to re-enter the nuclear accord, and Israel, whose Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to stop the deal at all costs. Netanyahu met Monday with U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, whose arrival in Israel coincided with the first word of the attack.

At a news conference at Israel’s Nevatim air base Monday, where he viewed Israeli air and missile defence systems and its F-35 combat aircraft, Austin declined to say whether the Natanz attack could impede the Biden administration’s efforts to re-engage with Iran in its nuclear program.

“Those efforts will continue,” Austin said. The previous American administration under Donald Trump had pulled out of the nuclear deal with world powers, leading Iran to begin abandoning its limits.

‘We will take revenge’

Details remained scarce about what happened early Sunday at the facility. The event was initially described only as a blackout in the electrical grid feeding its above-ground workshops and underground enrichment halls — but later Iranian officials began referring to it as an attack.

A former chief of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard said the attack had also set off a fire at the site and called for improvements in security. In a tweet, Gen. Mohsen Rezaei said that the second attack at Natanz in a year signalled “the seriousness of the infiltration phenomenon.” Rezaei did not say where he got his information.


This photo released Nov. 5, 2019, by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran shows centrifuge machines in the Natanz uranium enrichment facility. (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran/The Associated Press)

“The answer for Natanz is to take revenge against Israel,” Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said. “Israel will receive its answer through its own path.” He did not elaborate.

Khatibzadeh acknowledged that IR-1 centrifuges, the first-generation workhorse of Iran’s uranium enrichment, had been damaged in the attack, but did not elaborate. State television has yet to show images from the facility. However, the facility seemed to be in such disarray that, following the attack, a prominent nuclear spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi walking above ground at the site fell seven metres through an open ventilation shaft covered by aluminum debris, breaking both his legs and hurting his head.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned Natanz would be reconstructed with more advanced machines. That would allow Iran to more quickly enrich uranium, complicating the nuclear talks.

“The Zionists wanted to take revenge against the Iranian people for their success on the path of lifting sanctions,” Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency quoted Zarif as saying. “But we do not allow (it), and we will take revenge for this action against the Zionists.”

Previous target of sabotage

Officials launched an effort Monday to provide emergency power to Natanz, said Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s civilian nuclear program. He said enrichment had not stopped there, without elaborating.

The IAEA, the United Nations body that monitors Tehran’s atomic program, earlier said it was aware of media reports about the blackout at Natanz and had spoken with Iranian officials about it. The agency did not elaborate.

Natanz has been targeted by sabotage in the past. The Stuxnet computer virus, discovered in 2010 and widely believed to be a joint U.S.-Israeli creation, once disrupted and destroyed Iranian centrifuges there during an earlier period of Western fears about Tehran’s program.


This photo released July 2, 2020, by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, shows a building after it was damaged by a fire at the Natanz facility. Authorities later described the mysterious explosion as sabotage. (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran/The Associated Press)

In July, Natanz suffered a mysterious explosion at its advanced centrifuge assembly plant that authorities later described as sabotage. Iran now is rebuilding that facility deep inside a nearby mountain. Iran also blamed Israel for that, as well as the November killing of a scientist who began the country’s military nuclear program decades earlier.

Israel also has launched a series of airstrikes in neighbouring Syria targeting Iranian forces and their equipment. Israel also is suspected in an attack last week on an Iranian cargo ship that is said to serve as a floating base for Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard forces off the coast of Yemen.

Multiple Israeli media outlets reported Sunday that an Israeli cyberattack caused the blackout, but it remains unclear what actually happened there. Public broadcaster Kan said the Mossad was behind the attack. Channel 12 TV cited “experts” as estimating the attack shut down entire sections of the facility.

While the reports offered no sourcing for their information, Israeli media maintains a close relationship with the country’s military and intelligence agencies.

“It’s hard for me to believe it’s a coincidence,” Yoel Guzansky, a senior fellow at Tel Aviv’s Institute for National Security Studies, said of the blackout. “If it’s not a coincidence, and that’s a big if, someone is trying to send a message that ‘we can limit Iran’s advance and we have red lines.'”

It also sends a message that Iran’s most sensitive nuclear site is penetrable, he said.

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New COVID-19 outbreak declared at Cargill meat plant in Alberta — site of Canada’s largest outbreak

The site of the largest COVID-19 outbreak in Canada is now facing a new spate of cases.

Alberta Health confirmed there are 11 cases linked to the Cargill meat-processing plant near High River, Alta., as of Saturday. Of those, seven cases are active. 

The outbreak began on Dec. 16, 2020, Alberta Health said, and was reported publicly this week when it reached the threshold of five cases.

An outbreak last spring saw at least 950 staff at the facility — nearly half its workforce — test positive.

“This is how the prior Cargill outbreak started. With about 10 cases, and within days it was hundreds of cases, and people were dying,” said United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401 president Thomas Hesse.

Daniel Sullivan, a spokesperson for Cargill, confirmed that six employees who tested positive are in isolation and are receiving medical care and support.

“At Cargill, the safety of our employees is our top priority. As essential workers, our team is on the front lines of feeding people across our communities,” he said in an emailed statement on Saturday.

Sullivan said the cases come as the town of High River “continues to experience a rise” in COVID-19 cases. According to the province, there are currently five cases of COVID-19 in the town of around 17,000.

He said Cargill is continuing to learn how to slow the spread of the virus, and is working with Alberta Health Services to implement safety measures as they become available and offer testing to employees who are close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases.

“We want to work with everyone to focus on keeping people healthy and delivering safe food to people across Canada,” Sullivan said.

Hesse said the union is now in an investigative stage, trying to determine whether or not the numbers are in an isolated area of the plant and whether workers have had broader exposure.

“[We’re trying to determine] what is in place in terms of health and safety measures,” Hesse said. “Companies like Cargill say lots of nice things about caring about worker health and safety, but the proof is in the pudding and they have a terrible record.”

Two workers and one worker’s father died in connection with the 2020 outbreak. An RCMP investigation into the death of Benito Quesada, a 51-year-old immigrant from Mexico and a union shop steward at the plant, is believed to be the first police investigation into a workplace COVID-19 fatality in Canada.

The company is also facing a proposed class-action lawsuit on behalf of individuals who had close contact with Cargill employees during last year’s outbreak, who allege the company operated without adequate safeguards despite public health warnings.

The allegations have yet to be tested in court. 

Opposition Leader Rachel Notley said in a tweet that she’s deeply concerned to see another outbreak at the Cargill plant — and that a repeat of 2020’s outbreak cannot happen.

“Cargill claims they have new safety measures in place. If those don’t hold, this plant must be shut down before we have hundreds upon hundreds of workers infected with a deadly virus again,” the Alberta New Democratic Party Leader wrote.

Adrienne South, press secretary for Alberta Labour and Immigration, said in an email statement that provincial occupational health and safety (OHS) officials continue to monitor workplaces for compliance with public health guidelines, and that OHS can issue stop work orders where non-compliance is observed.

South said OHS has been in contact with Cargill and is monitoring the situation, but at this time no more information can be provided.

The High River plant processes around 4,500 head of cattle per day — around one-third of Canada’s processed beef supply.

There are currently outbreaks at seven meat-processing or packaging facilities in the province — including an outbreak at the Olymel pork plant in Red Deer, which has seen 168 cases and one related death.

Take a look at a timeline of the 2020 Cargill outbreak:

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Cellphone services suffer outages as police disperse anti-Kremlin protesters: monitoring site

Cellphone and internet services in Russia suffered outages on Saturday as police cracked down on anti-Kremlin protesters, the monitoring site downdetector.ru showed.

The authorities sometimes interfere with mobile communication networks to make it harder for protesters to communicate among themselves and share video footage online.

Police detained more than 200 people in Russia’s Far East and Siberia on Saturday as protesters defied bitter cold and a ban by authorities to stage nationwide rallies to demand the release of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

In Moscow, police on Saturday began detaining people ahead of a rally in the Russian capital in support of Navalny, a Reuters reporter said.

Several hundred people had gathered just over an hour before the rally was due to start. The reporter said he saw police detain 11 people and that detentions were continuing.

Navalny called on his supporters to protest after being arrested last weekend when he returned to Moscow for the first time after being poisoned in August with a military-grade nerve agent. Navalny had been treated in Germany.

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‘Mark is wrong’: Facebook employees go public regarding site policy on political speech

Facebook employees critical of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s decision not to act on U.S. President Donald Trump’s inflammatory comments about protests across the United States went public on Twitter, praising the rival social media firm for acting and rebuking their own employer.

Many tech workers at companies including Facebook, Google and Amazon have actively pursued issues of social justice in recent years, urging their employers to take action and change policies.

Even so, the weekend criticism marked a rare case of high-level employees publicly taking their chief executive to task, with at least three of the seven critical posts seen by Reuters coming from people who identified themselves as senior managers.

“Mark is wrong, and I will endeavour in the loudest possible way to change his mind,” wrote Ryan Freitas, whose Twitter account identifies him as director of product design for Facebook’s News Feed. He added he had mobilized, “50+ likeminded folks” to lobby for internal change.


Jason Toff, identified as director of product management, wrote: “I work at Facebook and I am not proud of how we’re showing up. The majority of coworkers I’ve spoken to feel the same way. We are making our voice heard.”

A spokesperson said the company is open to employee feedback.

“We recognize the pain many of our people are feeling right now, especially our black community,” Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone wrote in a text, referring to company employees.

“We encourage employees to speak openly when they disagree with leadership. As we face additional difficult decisions around content ahead, we’ll continue seeking their honest feedback.”

‘Respect to Twitter’s integrity team’

Twitter affixed a warning label late last week to a tweet from Trump in which he had included the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” with respect to Minneapolis protests over the death of George Floyd, which had taken a violent turn. Twitter said the tweet violated its rules against glorifying violence but was being left up as a public service exception.

Facebook declined to take action on the same message, with Zuckerberg saying in a Facebook post on Friday that while he found the remarks “deeply offensive,” they did not violate company policy against incitements to violence and people should know if the government was planning to deploy state force.


This image from the Twitter account of U.S. President Donald Trump shows a tweet he posted on May 29 after protesters in Minneapolis torched a police station. The tweet drew a warning from Twitter for Trump’s rhetoric, with the social media giant saying he had ‘violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence.’ (Twitter/The Associated Press)

In the post, Zuckerberg, who last week took pains to distance his company from the fight between Twitter and Trump, also said Facebook had been in touch with the White House to explain its policies.

But some of the dissenting employees directly praised Twitter’s response.

“Respect to @Twitter’s integrity team for making the enforcement call,” wrote David Gillis, identified as a director of product design. In a long Twitter thread he said he understood the logic of Facebook’s decision, but: “I think it would have been right for us to make a ‘spirit of the policy’ exception that took more context into account.”


Jason Stirman, in research and development at Facebook, said Trump’s posts “clearly incite violence.”

“There isn’t a neutral position on racism.”

Andrew Crow, head of design for the Portal product, said he disagrees with Zuckerberg’s position and vowed to work to make change.

“Giving a platform to incite violence and spread disinformation is unacceptable, regardless who you are or if it’s newsworthy,” Crow wrote.

Toff was one of several Facebook employees who were organizing fundraisers for racial justice groups in Minnesota. Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post on Monday that the company would contribute an additional $ 10 million US to social justice causes.

Mail-in voting tweet got 1st warning

Twitter’s first warning for Trump last week said his claims on a post about mail-in ballots were false and had been debunked by fact-checkers.

The blue exclamation mark notification on May 26 prompted readers to “get the facts about mail-in ballots,” and directed them to a page with news articles and information about the claims aggregated by Twitter staffers. Trump, who has more than 80 million followers on Twitter, had claimed in tweets earlier in the day that mail-in ballots for the election in November would be “substantially fraudulent” and result in a “rigged election.”

“We have a different policy than, I think, Twitter on this,” Zuckerberg told Fox News in an interview recorded after Twitter’s decision and broadcast on May 28.

Tensions between social media platform Twitter and President Donald Trump escalated today… For the first time ever, Twitter added a warning to two of the president’s tweets saying he violated the platform’s rules of glorifying violence. In one of the tweets he said quote “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” referring to protests in Minneapolis right now. This move comes after Trump signed an executive order that could limit social media companies in how they police content. Ramona Pringle is Here and Now’s technology columnist. 7:33

Zuckerberg has said on more than one occasion that he doesn’t want Facebook to be the “arbiter of truth,” though Facebook announced last year that it would take action on some campaign posts encouraging voter suppression and spreading voter misinformation, which are the areas the Twitter fact-check concerned.

As well, Facebook has banned some accounts and groups related to the QAnon political conspiracy theory, as well as those violating the site’s terms by spreading coronavirus misinformation.

After Twitter’s action concerning the tweet on voting by mail, Trump signed an executive order challenging the liability protections from lawsuits for what is posted on their platforms, but it is unclear if the order would survive a likely court challenge.

Technology companies blasted the move, saying it would stifle innovation and speech on the internet. Even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has supported Trump most of the time with respect to economic policy, shared its objections.

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Executes Low-Altitude Flyover of Asteroid Landing Site

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx probe is about to make history, but the agency isn’t taking any chances. In the coming months, OSIRIS-REx will descend to the surface of the asteroid Bennu to pick up a sample, but NASA wants to get a closer look at the area before sending the spacecraft swooping down. OSIRIS-REx has just completed its lowest pass over the site yet, just 820 feet (250 meters) from the surface. 

The scientists behind OSIRIS-REx were met with the same problem as JAXA researchers running Japan’s Hayabusa2 mission: asteroids are much less smooth than we expected. The surfaces of both space rocks are strewn with boulders and outcroppings that could cause damage to a space probe attempting to reach the surface. Hayabusa2 eventually found a place where it could tap the surface and scoop up a few grains of dust. However, OSIRIS-REx has to make contact for a longer time to collect as much as 2.1 ounces (60 grams) of material. 

Late last year, NASA identified several potential landing zones for OSIRIS-REx. After considering the options, a location called Nightingale won out. This gravel-covered pit near the asteroid’s north pole doesn’t have any major obstacles — the nearest hazard is a 23-foot-high (7-meter) boulder about 52 feet (16 meters) away from the center of the pit. The recent 5-hour flyover helped NASA verify the safety of this area. The probe left its 1-kilometer orbit and zipped across the surface to image Nightingale with its PolyCam camera. OSIRIS-REx also collected data on Nightingale with the OSIRIS-REx Thermal Emissions Spectrometer (OTES), the OSIRIS-REx Visual and InfraRed Spectrometer (OVIRS), the OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA), and the MapCam color imager.

NASA won’t get the smooth, open surface depicted in this picture. Bennu is covered in dangerous boulders.

OSIRIS-REx headed back into its standard orbit after the flyby, but it’s now orbiting in the opposite direction. That puts the spacecraft in position to execute its first landing rehearsal next month. It’s vital the probe gets this right — Bennu is far enough from Earth that NASA cannot control OSIRIS-REx in real-time. That means the landing and sample acquisition need to be fully automated. A second rehearsal will happen in June, taking OSIRIS-REx even closer to the surface. If everything goes as planned, OSIRIS-REx will pick up its asteroid sample in August 2020. 

NASA hopes to have the sample from OSIRIS-REx back on Earth in September 2023. A few ounces of Bennu could revolutionize our understanding of the solar system, but OSIRIS-REx has to get this landing right.

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Vanessa Bryant Speaks Out on Allegations That Sheriff’s Deputies Shared Photos of Crash Site

Vanessa Bryant Speaks Out on Allegations That Sheriff’s Deputies Shared Photos of Crash Site | Entertainment Tonight

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Attackers kill 31 in Mali village, a year after massacre at same site

At least 31 people were killed on Friday in an attack on a village that was the scene last year of Mali’s worst civilian massacre in recent memory, the government said.

A government statement late on Friday did not say who carried out the early morning attack on Ogossagou, a village of Fulani herders in central Mali.

“They came and shot everything that moved,” said Hamadou Dicko from Fulani association Tabital Pulaaku.

In the attack on Ogossagou in March 2019, suspected militia from a rival group killed more than 150 civilians, part of spiralling ethnic and jihadi violence in West Africa’s vast Sahel region.

Moulaye Guindo, mayor of the nearby town of Bankass, and another local official, who declined to be named, said the latest attack came less than 24 hours after Malian troops who had been stationed near Ogossagou left their base.

An army spokesperson said soldiers had been deployed to respond to the attack but did not give details.

Central Malian residents have criticized the army for failing to protect them against violence that has displaced 200,000 people and left many communities with no local government or means of defence.

They have turned to self-defence militias for protection against jihadists and rival ethnic groups, though the defence groups have also used their weapons to settle scores.

Malian officials have said they suspect Dan Na Ambassagou, an anti-jihadi, ethnic Dogon group, of carrying out last year’s massacre in Ogossagou. The group denies responsibility.

French forces intervened in 2013 to drive back al-Qaeda-linked jihadists who had seized northern Mali the previous year, but the militants have regrouped, stoking ethnic rivalries in central Mali and elsewhere to boost recruitment and destabilize the region.

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Boeing CST-100 Starliner Heads to Launch Site Ahead of Maiden Voyage

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Boeing is in the final stages of preparing its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft for launch next month. The vehicle will one day carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS), but first, it has to complete its maiden voyage. Boeing just rolled the CST-100 out to the launch site at Cape Canaveral where it will be mated to a rocket for the planned December flight. 

The CST-100 is one of two vehicles funded by NASA under the Commercial Crew Program, the other being the SpaceX Dragon II capsule. SpaceX has the advantage of designing its crewed spacecraft around an established cargo vessel design. The original Dragon has been making supply runs to the ISS for several years, so it was able to test the crewed version (autonomously) earlier this year. If not for a nasty fuel line malfunction that destroyed a spacecraft during testing in April, SpaceX might already be flying people into space. 

Boeing’s CST-100 is a new design, but it’s based on the classic Apollo-era command module. It has a capacity of seven crew members, but the first flight won’t have anyone on board. Well, technically, there will be a dummy on board to collect data. SpaceX named its dummy “Ripley” after the character in the Alien movies, but Boeing is going with “Rosie” after Rosie the Riveter. 

The CST-100 launch is currently slated for Dec. 17. Unlike SpaceX, Boeing doesn’t make its own rockets. The CST-100 will launch atop a non-reusable United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. The spacecraft will make its way to the ISS where it will autonomously dock at one of the available ports. After a short stay, the CST-100 will undock from the station and return to Earth for further analysis. 

The capsules used to ferry astronauts will be fully reusable after some refurbishment, which should make the seats less expensive. However, a recent NASA Office of Inspector General (IOG) report says that a single seat on the Starliner might cost NASA as much as $ 90 million. That’s much more than SpaceX, which has a fully reusable Falcon 9 rocket launch platform and will ask just $ 55 million per seat. Boeing’s potential ticket price is even higher than the $ 85 million NASA currently pays for a single Russian Soyuz seat. 

If all goes as planned with the upcoming test flight, the CST-100 could begin flying people into space in early 2020. However, the aforementioned OIG report claimed both Boeing and SpaceX would end up launching crewed missions closer to summer 2020.

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Nintendo Files Multi-Million Dollar Lawsuit Against Another Large ROM Site

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Nintendo owns some of the most iconic intellectual property in games, and it’s taking a stand against ROM sites. After securing a win against two major ROM distributors, Nintendo has set its sights on another website called RomUniverse. Nintendo has filed a lawsuit against the owner of RomUniverse seeking millions of dollars in damages and demanding that the site shut down. 

According to the legal filing, RomUniverse is one of the largest unauthorized distributors of Nintendo games. It also seems to be a particularly brazen enterprise, featuring a Nintendo-themed background and paid memberships (a one-time $ 30 fee) that allow users to download as much content as they want. Without the membership, you can only download three items per week. RomUniverse also hosts movies and ebooks, and these are direct downloads. At least torrent sites have the advantage of not storing infringing files on their servers. 

Nintendo points to numerous examples of infringing content including ROMs for the current-gen Switch consoleSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce and older systems like the 3DS, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo 64, and NES. Simply having ROM files isn’t illegal, but it’s something of a gray area. You’re probably in the clear if you make backups of games you already own. However, making those ROMs available for download is just asking for trouble, and Nintendo is famously strict about the use of its IP. 

The company’s lawsuit seeks $ 2 million in damages for trademark infringement across the site plus $ 150,000 per infringing file. That’s where the damages would really stack up. There are thousands of Nintendo ROMs on the site. Just the selection of Switch titles would push the damages into the tens of millions. In addition to damages, Nintendo demands that the website operator shut down the site and transfer ownership to Nintendo. 

It has been just over a year since Nintendo filed a lawsuit against LoveROMS.com and LoveRETRO.co, both of which were owned Jacob Mathias. By late 2018, Mathias had agreed to a $ 12 million settlement with Nintendo. The sites temporarily went offline shortly after Nintendo filed suit, and later became apology pages. They are now completely offline. The fact that RomUniverse is still online and serving pirated games suggests the owner won’t be so quick to surrender. We could be looking at a more drawn-out case.

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'When people come here they feel safe': Finding sanctuary at the Moss Park Overdose Prevention Site

"I've lost 11 friends this year … most people don't lose that many in a lifetime."

Dave Gordon reflects on the toll drugs have taken on the people in his life as he sits at the Moss Park Overdose Prevention Site sketching in his notebook. He's been on and off opioids himself for decades.

"I don't want to lose any more friends."

More than 9,000 people have died from accidental overdoses in Canada since January 2016 — 2,000 of them in the first half of 2018 alone, according to numbers released by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

While Canada struggles with a relentless and deadly opioid crisis, places like the Moss Park site in Toronto offer help. They allow people to bring their drugs inside and safely use them under the supervision of trained staff.

CBC News was granted rare access to spend some time at the government-sanctioned Overdose Prevention Site and meet people who work there, as well as those who use it.

Gordon knows what's driving the grim statistics around opioids only too well. He has overdosed, and described it as, "the most horrible feeling in the world. Feeling like my life was slipping away. I had no control."

Dave Gordon sketches at a table in the Moss Park Overdose Prevention Site. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

He now spends his time at the Moss Park site — partly to use safely, but also because it's a place to be with friends and it has allowed him to re-discover his love of drawing.

Gordon is also giving back, handing out harm-reduction safety kits in the neighbourhood to help others in the community.

I'm trying to pay society back for my mistakes.– Dave Gordon

"I'm trying to pay society back for my mistakes."

The Public Health Agency of Canada says 72 per cent of accidental overdose deaths this year involved fentanyl. And a lot of them happen when people use drugs alone.

"So when people come here they feel safe. They feel supported," says Sarah Greig, an overdose response worker at Moss Park. "They don't feel shamed and blamed and stigmatized, as they have been by their family, by some health care providers and by some social service providers."

Greig says the people who come to Moss Park are more like friends, and they are building a community.

The overdose prevention site began as an unsanctioned, volunteer-run outdoor tent in Toronto's Moss Park. It had over 9,000 visits and reversed more than 200 overdoses between August 2017 and June 2018.

Medical supplies at Moss Park. The site has been seeing more than 100 visitors a day and reversed more than 50 overdoses since it received provincial funding in July.

After becoming a satellite of the South Riverdale Community Health Centre, the site received provincial funding and an exemption through the provincial OPS program, allowing it to move indoors in July this year.

Since then, it has had thousands more visits — over a hundred a day — and reversed more than 50 overdoses.

The future of these sites remains uncertain, however, as local and provincial governments grapple with their pros and cons and who will fund them.

Moss Park's government funding is set to expire on Dec. 24. The organizers have re-applied, but the province is imposing stricter regulations on where overdose sites can operate, which could jeopardize the Moss Park operation.

The fact that the site might be shut down worries Akosua Gyan-Mante.

"We need more places like this," says the 26-year-old, a regular at Moss Park. "I don't want to die alone in an alley."

The Moss Park site 'is giving me a fighting chance,' says heroin and fentanyl user Akosua Gyan-Mante. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Gyan-Mante never thought she would be a drug user — growing up in B.C. in a home with a loving father, she had dreams of being a doctor. She moved to Toronto six years ago, started college and had a son.

Then things fell apart. She began injecting heroin and fentanyl this summer after her boyfriend introduced her to it.

"I'm lonely and depressed, and it makes me feel better," Gyan-Mante says, explaining that drugs help numb the emotional pain.

She overdosed at the site this past October. Greig was there to reverse it.

We need to nurture people and we need to point out people's strengths instead of just identifying their weaknesses.– Sarah Greig

"We need to nurture people and we need to point out people's strengths instead of just identifying their weaknesses," Greig says, adding that people use drugs for a wide range of things.

"This is my support system right here … [the hope that this] shitty existence will get better," says Gyan-Mante as she hugs Greig, wiping a tear from her eye.

"It [the site] is giving me a fighting chance. It gave me life. It's giving me another day, another week, another month of being OK."

Gyan-Mante, centre, overdosed at the Moss Park site this summer. Front-line response workers Sarah Greig, left, and Tony, right, reversed the overdose. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Far from just a place to use drugs, the site also offers a hot meal provided by donations, a warm place to hang out during winter, and information on support services if people want them.

The site operates from noon to 6 p.m. and is closed on Mondays.

"I hate Mondays," Kevin Drake says as Greig watches him use heroin. "I've been to different sites. And this is the best."

Drake says he has overdosed 15 times in his life. But when he is at Moss Park, he does not feel shame.

Instead, it's replaced by pride. He is known as a guy who is always cleaning up, mopping floors and organizing the space, making sure it looks its best.

Sarah Greig watches Kevin Drake as he prepares a dose of heroin, to make sure he doesn't overdose – and so she can take immediate action if he does. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

"I do worry, but I use Fentanyl … that's why I come here. That's why I choose not to do it by myself. Because here — you're guaranteed to leave here alive."

The site offers safety, and it also harbours stories of hope.

Drake got a job shortly after CBC's visit. Gordon is being asked to speak at universities about his experiences, to help find solutions to community drug issues. Gyan-Mante is hoping to reunite with her son permanently.

And that hope is exactly the point of these sites, Greig says.

"When I reflect and I think about what I've been doing for the past decade, a lot of it is actually nurturing people and pointing out their worth. Convincing people that they are worthy of love and affection, and that they can do anything that they want to do."



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