- RSS Channel Showcase 8726125
- RSS Channel Showcase 5416661
- RSS Channel Showcase 2041504
- RSS Channel Showcase 5886699
Articles on this Page
- 10/14/17--15:59: _‘I have no home to ...
- 10/14/17--19:49: _After a lifetime in...
- 10/15/17--12:55: _Thousands of Toront...
- 10/15/17--15:47: _Colin Kaepernick fi...
- 10/15/17--18:05: _Naheed Nenshi neck-...
- 10/15/17--17:15: _Outrage, calls for ...
- 10/14/17--21:48: _ Here’s why Kate Wi...
- 10/15/17--15:04: _New NDP Leader Jagm...
- 10/15/17--19:09: _Strike ends at Toro...
- 10/15/17--12:08: _Toronto woman, 28, ...
- 10/15/17--05:40: _Death toll from bla...
- 10/15/17--17:30: _Concerns could dera...
- 10/15/17--18:48: _Ontario college fac...
- 10/16/17--04:50: _U.S., South Korean ...
- 10/16/17--04:00: _Toronto highrise te...
- 10/16/17--04:12: _Death toll rises to...
- 10/16/17--03:00: _Bloor bike lanes ha...
- 10/15/17--15:30: _For a protest like ...
- 10/16/17--03:00: _Couple dreams of be...
- 10/16/17--08:37: _Scientists witnesse...
- 10/15/17--15:47: Colin Kaepernick files collusion claim against NFL owners
- 10/15/17--15:04: New NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh launches Canada-wide charm offensive
- 10/15/17--19:09: Strike ends at Toronto’s Pearson airport
- 10/15/17--17:30: Concerns could derail Lawrence East SmartTrack station
- 10/15/17--18:48: Ontario college faculty goes on strike after final offer rejected
- 10/16/17--03:00: Bloor bike lanes have time — and money — on their side: Keenan
- “In social media posts, our journalists must not express partisan opinions, promote political views, endorse candidates, make offensive comments or do anything else that undercuts the Times’s journalistic reputation.”
- “Our journalists should be especially mindful of appearing to take sides on issues that the Times is seeking to cover objectively.”
- 10/16/17--03:00: Couple dreams of being reunited after 6 years apart
Seasonal labourers from the small Caribbean island are asking the federal government to extend their permits and allow them to stay in Canada and work while their families rebuild their lives back home.
‘I have no home to go back to’ Ottawa urged to help farm workers from hurricane-ravaged Dominica‘I have no home to go back to’ Ottawa urged to help farm workers from hurricane-ravaged Dominica
In his first wide-ranging interview since their rescue, Joshua Boyle speaks of his family’s five-year kidnapping ordeal, and how his children are adjusting to their new life in Canada.
After a lifetime in captivity, the children of Joshua Boyle and Caitlan Coleman begin to healAfter a lifetime in captivity, the children of Joshua Boyle and Caitlan Coleman begin to heal
Thousands of residents across the GTA were without power after rain and high winds knocked down trees and power lines Sunday afternoon.
Environment Canada issued a wind warning for the city as winds gusting up to 90 km/h were expected. The warning has since ended.
As of 11 p.m. Sunday, Toronto Hydro said at least 6,000 people were still experiencing power outages across the city. Earlier in the day, there were an estimated 25,000 customers affected.
The company said some customers could expect to be without power into Monday as crews continued to work overnight.
Power outages were also being reported in other regions of the GTA. As of Sunday evening, 28,000 PowerStream and 37,000 Hydro One customers were without power. Hydro One said customers experiencing outages should prepare to be without power overnight.
Environment Canada said winds gusting 70 to 80 km/h would continue until early Sunday evening, but diminish overnight. Toronto will be mainly cloudy with temperatures dipping down to 6 C.
With files from Bryann Aguilar
Thousands of Torontonians without power after winds knocked down trees, power lines
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who remains unemployed after a 2016 season in which he began the movement of players protesting during the national anthem, has filed a grievance accusing NFL teams of improperly colluding to keep him out of the league, according to a person familiar with the case.
Kaepernick retained Los Angeles-based attorney Mark Geragos to pursue the collusion claim and, according to a person with knowledge of the filing, it will be Kaepernick’s outside legal representation and not the NFL Players Association primarily in charge of preparing and presenting his case.
Geragos’ firm confirmed the grievance, saying it filed “only after pursuing every possible avenue with all NFL teams and their executives.”
In a statement, the law firm’ also said: “If the NFL . . . is to remain a meritocracy, then principled and peaceful political protest — which the owners themselves made great theatre imitating weeks ago — should not be punished and athletes should not be denied employment based on partisan political provocation by the Executive Branch of our government . . . Protecting all athletes from such collusive conduct is what compelled Mr. Kaepernick to file his grievance.”
The collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players’ union prohibits teams from conspiring to make decisions about signing a player. But the CBA also says the mere fact that a player is unsigned and evidence about the player’s qualifications to be on an NFL roster do not constitute proof of collusion.
For that reason, such cases are difficult to prove, according to legal experts.
“There has to be some evidence of an agreement between multiple teams not to sign a player,” said Gabriel Feldman, the director of the sports law program at Tulane University. “Disagreement over personnel decisions, as obvious as it may seem to someone looking at this, does not provide evidence of collusion. There has to be some evidence of an explicit or implied agreement. There has to be proof of a conspiracy.”
Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers following last season, making him a free agent eligible to sign with any team. The 49ers have said they would have released Kaepernick rather than retain him under the terms of that deal. He has remained out of work, being passed over by other teams in favour of other quarterbacks. The Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens considered signing Kaepernick but decided against doing so.
More recently, the Tennessee Titans signed Brandon Weeden to provide depth behind backup Matt Cassel when their starting quarterback, Marcus Mariota, was hurt. That signing seemed particularly inflammatory to Kaepernick supporters who cited Kaepernick’s superior career accomplishments. Kaepernick has led the 49ers to a Super Bowl and two NFC championship games and he threw 16 touchdown passes with four interceptions for them last season.
The NFLPA issued a written statement late Sunday saying it learned of Kaepernick’s grievance through media reports and that it had learned the league previously was informed of Kaepernick’s intention to file the grievance.
“Our union has a duty to assist Mr. Kaepernick as we do all players and we will support him,” the NFLPA’s written statement said, adding that it had been in regular contact with Kaepernick’s representatives over the past year about his options and planned to schedule a call for this week with his advisers.
Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem before games last season to protest, he said, racial inequality and police mistreatment of African Americans in the United States. Those protests were taken up by other players, and the controversy over them has been amplified this season even with Kaepernick out of the league.
President Donald Trump called on NFL owners to “fire” players who protested during the anthem, referring to such a player as a “son of a b----.” Vice President Mike Pence walked out of a game last week between the 49ers and Colts in Indianapolis, citing players’ protests. Trump indicated that he had orchestrated that plan.
Under pressure from the White House, NFL owners are scheduled to meet Tuesday and Wednesday in New York and might seek the NFLPA’s support of a measure for players to stand for the anthem, according to multiple people familiar with the sport’s inner workings, while also pledging league support for players’ community activism efforts.
Some media members have contended since the off-season that Kaepernick was being blackballed by NFL teams based on his political stance. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and owners were asked about that contention on a number of occasions and denied that teams were acting in concert on Kaepernick because of his protests.
“Each team makes individual decisions on how they can improve their team,” Goodell said at the conclusion of an NFL owners’ meeting in May in Chicago. “If they see an opportunity to improve their team, they do it. They evaluate players. They evaluate systems and coaches. They all make those individual decisions to try and improve their team.”
Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross told reporters in July, according to the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post: “I would sure hope not. I know a lot’s been written about it, but you know owners and coaches — they’ll do anything it takes to win. If they think he can help them win, I’m sure — I would hope they would sign him.”
The plan for Kaepernick to pursue a grievance under the CBA was first reported by Bleacher Report.
“It may seem obvious to Colin Kaepernick,” Feldman said in a phone interview Sunday. “It may seem obvious to someone on the outside looking at this. But collusion requires an agreement (between teams). Individual team decisions are not challengeable under the anti-collusion provision. An arbitrator is not going to second-guess an individual team’s personnel decision.”
If such evidence of collusion by NFL teams against Kaepernick exists, it has yet to revealed.
“We don’t know,” Feldman said. “Obviously everybody is talking about the baseball collusion cases from the 1980s, where there was a smoking gun. There were notes. There was strong evidence. There may be evidence here of collusion. We just don’t know.”
The NFL declined to comment Sunday through a spokesperson.
“No Club, its employees or agents shall enter into any agreement, express or implied, with the NFL or any other Club, its employees or agents to restrict or limit individual Club decision-making,” the CBA says, adding that applies to “whether to negotiate or not to negotiate with any player” and “whether to offer or not to offer a Player Contract to any player,” among other things.
The CBA also says: “The failure by a Club or Clubs to negotiate, to submit Offer Sheets, or to sign contracts with Restricted Free Agents or Transition Players, or to negotiate, make offers, or sign contracts for the playing services of such players or Unrestricted Free Agents, shall not, by itself or in combination only with evidence about the playing skills of the player(s) not receiving any such offer or contract, satisfy the burden of proof set forth . . . above.”
Colin Kaepernick files collusion claim against NFL owners
CALGARY — He’s hip, funny, well-educated and widely known across Canada, but Naheed Nenshi is facing the fight of his political life on Monday as he seeks his third term as Calgary’s mayor.
During his two previous terms, Nenshi was named the No. 1 mayor in the world by an international urban research institute and feted with the World Mayor Prize in 2014. He has been praised as an “urban visionary,” who doesn’t neglect the nitty-gritty of local government.
But Calgary’s struggling economy and a number of missteps have opened the door in Monday’s civic election for Bill Smith, 54, a Calgary lawyer and former firefighter who was president of Alberta’s Progressive Conservative Party.
“A month ago we were all saying that it’s hard to kick out an incumbent and Bill Smith had no name recognition back then,” said independent pollster Janet Brown.
“The fact that we’re even thinking it’s a competitive race is unprecedented in Calgary politics. We haven’t seen an incumbent mayor defeated since Ralph Klein won in the early ’80s.”
Nenshi said he never expected to sleepwalk through this campaign.
“OK, maybe I’m irritating. Maybe you don’t want to have a coffee with me,” Nenshi said. “But I think what we really should be making decisions on is what kind of a community are we trying to build.”
The campaign has been a lot less fun than previous years, he admitted.
“It has been nasty. It’s been vitriolic,” he said. “The thing about me is that I put myself out there every single day. And like Popeye, ‘I yam what I yam.’ I don’t try to hide it.”
Smith said Calgarians are frustrated with rising taxes, high office-vacancy rates and a struggling economy.
“Nobody sees any hope in sight in terms of a recovery on the energy side. What we’re getting is increased taxes at the civic level, at the provincial level and the federal level,” said Smith. “There’s just a real general feeling of discontent.”
Brown said a couple of issues seem to have come back to haunt Nenshi.
There was a war of words with a Calgary developer that led to legal action. Nenshi had to pay $300,000 in legal bills and received help raising the money from a Calgary group.
Last year, Nenshi apologized for calling Uber “the worst of people” and its CEO a “dick” in a widely circulated video while he was using a competing ride-hailing service in Boston.
“That again brought questions around his respect for others,” said Lori Williams, a political scientist at Mount Royal University.
“This image of him of being sort of arrogant and combative, he thinks he’s the smartest person in the room, and things like that ... seems to be hurting him as well.”
Williams said unlike other civic elections, this one has become partisan with traditional party loyalties entering into it.
“There are a number of small-c conservatives who seem to be engaging in this race.”
Brown said some may be taking frustrations with Premier Rachel Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau out on Nenshi.
“There’s a lot of anger, and with the cancellation of Energy East, perhaps Calgarians would like to punish Trudeau. Perhaps they would like to punish Notley, but they don’t have an opportunity to do that,” she said.
Nenshi has complained about an increasing presence of racism and hateful language in social media discourse coming from forces supporting his opponents and wanting to “take the city backwards.”
Brown said she doesn’t doubt that Nenshi, the first Muslim mayor of a major Canadian city, has encountered racism, but suggested his comments could backfire.
“It came out as meaning if you’re against me, you’re racist,” Brown said.
“It didn’t really acknowledge that there are some legitimate reasons to dislike Mayor Nenshi and be voting against Mayor Nenshi that has nothing to do with his race.”
Naheed Nenshi neck-and-neck with challenger in Calgary mayoralty race
A chorus of outraged Ontarians — ranging from to the province’s environment watchdog to the First Nations community living in the shadows of industrial smokestacks — called for a health study Sunday in the aftermath of an investigation revealing a pattern of potentially dangerous leaks in Sarnia’s Chemical Valley.
Ontario environmental commissioner Dianne Saxe said the situation in the area — home to Canada’s highest concentration of petrochemical plants — is “shameful.”
“It is clear to me that this situation is outrageous and it needs immediate attention,” Saxe said, adding that there needs to be better air monitoring by industry and the province.
“First Nations communities disproportionately bear the burden of pollution across Ontario and that needs to change.”
The joint investigation — carried out by the Star, Global News, the National Observer and journalism schools at Ryerson and Concordia — raised questions about whether companies and the provincial government are properly warning residents of Sarnia and the nearby Aamjiwnaang First Nation when chemicals — including benzene, known to cause cancer at high levels of long-term exposure — are leaked.
Though benzene levels in Sarnia have dropped significantly in the past 25 years, documents obtained by the investigation revealed how refineries in the area release three to 10 times the annual limit of the carcinogen.
Despite a decade of pleas from residents and local politicians for a health study examining the effects on those who live near the 57 polluters registered with the Canadian and U.S. governments within 25 kilometres of Sarnia, provincial and federal governments have never agreed to fund one. Existing research on cancer rates in the area is inconclusive, though critics say the data collected at the county level misses the impact on people in the immediate vicinity of Chemical Valley.
“The number 1 issue is large number of industry living in close proximity to homes. That is the result of historic zoning decisions,” said Saxe. “There are systemic problems with the way the government is regulating pollutants from not only this industry but from across Ontario and we will be writing about that.”
Aamjiwnaang Chief Joanne Rogers said the results of the investigation were “sad” and “emotional” for her community, and her council will be gathering this week to discuss next steps.
“What really is concerning to me is the number of our community members who we have lost because of cancer and respiratory illnesses,” Rogers said. “When we lose members here, it’s because of their illnesses that are caused by the air pollution, in my opinion.”
The MPP for the Sarnia area, Bob Bailey, said the investigation exposed the “failure” of the Liberal provincial government to fund the health study he’s been requesting for nearly a decade.
“It was quite shocking,” he said.
However, Bailey, who worked in Sarnia’s petrochemical industry for 30 years before entering politics, said he thought the study would prove the system is working.
“I feel quite confidently . . . that there will be found that there isn’t an issue, but we need that study.”
Ontario NDP environment critic Peter Tabuns also joined calls for the study, saying he thinks the provincial Ministry of the Environment needs to act swiftly.
“If you’re getting benzene releases like that . . . and there’s no followup, no one goes out and actually inspects to see what’s going on, that seems to indicate to me that either they don’t care — which I don’t think is the case with the ministry of the environment staff,” he said.”
“I can only think that they don’t have the resources.”
The Ontario Liberal government didn’t provide comment by deadline Sunday. However, provincial Environment Minister Chris Ballard previously said he’d be “happy looking at” funding for a health study.
However, provincial Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown said Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government is “asleep at the switch.”
“Looking into it’s not going to cut it anymore,” Brown said. “The time is now for action. No more time for delay.”
With files from Carolyn Jarvis, Global News
Outrage, calls for health study after Chemical Valley spills investigation
NEW YORK —When Kate Winslet won the lead actress Oscar for The Reader in 2009, she thanked 19 people by name along with many others in general.
She did not mention Harvey Weinstein, whose company financed and distributed the movie.
“That was deliberate. That was absolutely deliberate,” Winslet told the Los Angeles Times in an interview Saturday.
“I remember being told. ‘Make sure you thank Harvey if you win.’ And I remember turning around and saying, ‘No I won’t. No I won’t.’ And it was nothing to do with not being grateful. If people aren’t well-behaved, why would I thank him?”
“The fact that I’m never going to have to deal with Harvey Weinstein again as long as I live is one of the best things that’s ever happened and I’m sure the feeling is universal,” Winslet added.
Winslet made her first movie, Peter Jackson’s psychological drama Heavenly Creatures, for Weinstein’s Miramax Films — a fact, Winslet says, that the disgraced producer brought up every time she saw him.
“For my whole career, Harvey Weinstein, whenever I’ve bumped into him, he’d grab my arm and say, ‘Don’t forget who gave you your first movie.’ Like I owe him everything. Then later, with The Reader, same thing, ‘I’m gonna get you that Oscar nomination, I’m gonna get you a win, I’m gonna win for you.’ ”
“But that’s how he operated,” Winslet continues. “He was bullying and nasty. Going on a business level, he was always very, very hard to deal with — he was rude. He used to call my female agent a (vulgar name for a woman) every time he spoke to her on the telephone.”
When allegations of sexual assault and harassment against Weinstein broke last week, Winslet was one of the first to condemn his actions and embrace the courage of the women who came forward.
She says the current times demand strong statements.
“In my 20s, I was very forceful and I had a big voice and I would absolutely say things,” Winslet says. “In my 30s, I didn’t feel it was as necessary to go back over ground that I had visited before. I always stood by everything I said.
“Now I feel like, you know what, this is disgraceful, despicable behaviour,” the 42-year-old actress continues. “This kind of treatment of any workplace is utterly unacceptable. And hopefully what will happen is that more women will feel compelled to come forward — these women are victims of crime by a man who was always impossible to deal with. I hope that Harvey Weinstein absolutely is punished within the fullest extent of the law should that be the case.”
Weinstein’s actions surrounding The Reader have long been seen as grievous on numerous counts.
The drama, in which Winslet played a woman hiding her past as a guard at a Nazi concentration camp, endured numerous delays during production. After director Stephen Daldry told Weinstein he couldn’t deliver the movie in time for the 2008 Oscar season, Weinstein — according to producer Scott Rudin (who took his name off the film in protest) — badgered producer Sydney Pollack on his deathbed and harassed the widow of Anthony Minghella, also a producer on the film.
Says Winslet of The Reader: “I can’t even begin to describe the disgraceful behaviour that went on — and I’m actually not going to because it’s a can of worms that I’m not prepared to publicly open — nothing to do with sexual harassment, thankfully, lucky me. My God. I somehow dodged that bullet.”
Winslet does reveal one thing about the film that she believes has never been reported: Weinstein shut down The Reader with four days left on the production schedule.
“We still had a full four days of shooting of very key scenes that for me — as a person playing that part — were absolutely crucial to the story and to Stephen Daldry, they were as well,” Winslet says. “And Harvey just decided, ‘OK, we’re done. No more money. I’m pulling the plug.’ We had to stop and were sent home. That was it.
“And again, this is just on the business side of things, but he was always, always very, very, very unpleasant to deal with. Very.”
That was the last time Winslet worked with Weinstein.
“Damn right,” Winslet says. “I . . . stand up for myself and I don’t pander to what you’re supposed to do and what you’re not supposed to do. I won’t be pushed around or bullied by anyone. I was bullied as a child. Never again. Certainly not by Harvey Weinstein.”
Here’s why Kate Winslet didn’t thank Harvey Weinstein when she won an Oscar
OTTAWA—The NDP is trying to boost the profile of its new leader Jagmeet Singh, launching an introductory tour in Ottawa on Sunday that is expected to take the party’s new leader into every province and territory before a policy convention in February.
One of Singh’s main goals is to unlock the party’s potential in suburban ridings around Toronto and Vancouver — a growth plan that could represent a significant shift for the party that has not been witnessed since it made a historic breakthrough in Quebec, former NDP national director Karl Belanger said.
“I am talking about a geopolitical shift in the NDP universe on a scale that was seen in 2011 when the ‘Orange Wave’ was created by Jack Layton and the NDP,” he said in an interview.
“Those areas are, in this country, key to form government and that’s what Jagmeet’s leadership brings to the table and it does have some Liberal organizers worried.”
There are no guarantees, however, that Singh can deliver in competitive suburban ridings, noting the party must also stay connected with supporters in Quebec, where it has 16 seats.
“The realities of these voters are quite different than those from the 905 and the greater Vancouver area,” he said.
“In that sense, it will be a challenge for the NDP to be able to connect with both pools of voters. That’s a big challenge. If you are unable to make the inroads in the region you are seeking as growth ... but at the same time you lose the base that you have, you don’t end up with very much at the end.”
NDP strategist Robin MacLachlan, also the vice-president of the public affairs firm Summa Strategies, said it will be key for Singh and the party to visit the province early and often.
Singh and his parliamentary leader Guy Caron recently paid a visit to the Quebec riding of Lac-Saint-Jean, where a byelection will be held on Oct. 23 — a competition sparked by the departure of Conservative MP Denis Lebel.
MacLachlan said the campaign-style national leader’s tour in the weeks ahead will allow the party to tap into Singh’s strengths.
“Jagmeet’s greatest challenge is of course his greatest opportunity: a great many Canadians haven’t had the chance to get to know him yet,” he said.
“That’s not surprising for a new federal leader but it is an incredible opportunity.”
The more people get to know Singh, the more they like him, MacLachlan said, noting this was evident throughout the NDP leadership race and in the recent stop in Lac-Saint-Jean.
Singh is not a “quick fix” leader, he added, pointing to the organizational abilities that his team demonstrated during his leadership campaign through fundraising and signing up new members to the party.
“You are going to see him and his team bring that same energy to the NDP,” he said.
“It is badly needed. The organization has been in a rut since the last election ... it needs that rejuvenation, it needs the new tools and energy that comes from a team like Jagmeet’s.”
New NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh launches Canada-wide charm offensive
TORONTO—Striking ground crews at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport have accepted a tentative contract.
Employees at Swissport voted 63 per cent in favour of the new agreement reached earlier this month and will return to work on Wednesday.
The Teamsters, which represents the workers, says the three-year deal contains minor improvements on wages, benefits and scheduling.
The 700 ramp equipment operators, baggage handlers, cabin cleaners and other ground crew workers went on strike July 27.
The workers had complained about pay and benefits cuts, scheduling issues, and what their union called a lack of respect from Swissport managers.
The company services 30 airlines at the airport, including Air Transat, Sunwing Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Air France, KLM and Lufthansa. Air Canada and WestJet are not serviced by the company.
Strike ends at Toronto’s Pearson airport
Erin Wright, the 28-year-old Toronto woman who faces charges in a hit-and-run that killed a mother of two earlier this month, made her first court appearance Sunday morning.
Following the appearance a day after her arrest, Wright remained in custody. The matter will resume in court Monday morning.
At her appearance at Old City Hall around 10:30 a.m., Wright was joined by two legal representatives. She wore a black sweater and glasses, her blond hair falling around her shoulders. Her lawyers declined to comment.
On Oct. 4, just after 11 p.m., 63-year-old Debbie Graves of Riverside, N.B., was struck and killed on the sidewalk of York Mills Rd., west of Don Mills Rd. She was visiting Toronto for business, and was leaving a nearby restaurant with a colleague.
Toronto police say Graves and her colleague were discussing the number of pedestrian fatalities in the area. The pair agreed to cross the street at a marked crosswalk.
Graves was struck by the vehicle when it came onto the sidewalk. She was declared dead at the scene.
Police located Wright’s vehicle — a grey 2014 Nissan Rogue — at a Toronto auto body shop on Oct 6. The vehicle had damage to the right front headlight, fog light area and right side fender areas.
Wright is charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death, failure to stop at the scene of an accident causing death, obstructing police and impaired driving causing death.
Police say that when they contacted Wright, she allegedly would not provide information about the collision or the driver. Police say they have sufficient evidence to show that Wright was behind the wheel.
—With files from Star staff
Toronto woman, 28, makes first court appearance in fatal hit-and-run of mother of two
MOGADISHU, SOMALIA—The most powerful bomb blast ever witnessed in Somalia’s capital killed 276 people with around 300 others injured, a government minister said early Monday, making it the deadliest single attack in this Horn of Africa nation.
Abshir Abdi Ahmed cited doctors at overwhelmed hospitals he visited in Mogadishu a day after a truck bomb targeted a crowded street near key government ministries, including foreign affairs. Many of the bodies in mortuaries had not yet been identified, he said.
In a tweet, Information Minister Abdirahman Osman called the attack “barbaric” and said countries including Turkey and Kenya had already offered to send medical aid.
As angry protesters gathered near the scene of the attack, Somalia’s government blamed the Al Qaeda-linked al-Shabab extremist group for what it called a “national disaster.” However, Africa’s deadliest Islamic extremist group, which often targets high-profile areas of the capital, had yet to comment.
Al-Shabab earlier this year vowed to step up attacks after both the Trump administration and Somalia’s recently elected president announced new military efforts against the group.
Global Affairs Canada has confirmed there are no reports of Canadians affected by the bombing.
“Global Affairs Canada is closely monitoring the situation in Mogadishu and stands ready to provide consular assistance to Canadian citizens as required,” said spokesperson John Babcock.
“On behalf of all Canadians, we extend our sympathies to the families and friends of those who died, and we wish a swift recovery to everyone injured,” Babcock said.
The Mogadishu bombing is one of the deadliest attacks in sub-Saharan Africa, larger than the Garissa University attack in Kenya in 2015 and the U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.
Doctors at Mogadishu hospitals struggled to assist badly wounded victims, many burned beyond recognition. “This is really horrendous, unlike any other time in the past,” said Dr. Mohamed Yusuf, the director of Medina hospital.
Inside, bleary-eyed nurses transported a man whose legs had been blown off. He waited as surgeons attended to another badly injured patient. Exhausted doctors struggled to keep their eyes open, while screams from victims and newly bereaved families echoed through the halls.
“Nearly all of the wounded victims have serious wounds,” said nurse Samir Abdi. “Unspeakable horrors.”
A teary-eyed Hawo Yusuf looked at her husband’s badly burned body. “He may die waiting,” she said. “We need help.”
Ambulance sirens echoed across the city as bewildered families wandered in the rubble of buildings, looking for missing relatives. “In our 10-year experience as the first responder in #Mogadishu, we haven’t seen anything like this,” the Aamin Ambulance service tweeted.
Grief overwhelmed many.
“There’s nothing I can say. We have lost everything,” wept Zainab Sharif, a mother of four who lost her husband. She sat outside a hospital where he was pronounced dead after hours of efforts by doctors to save him.
President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed declared three days of mourning and joined thousands of people who responded to a desperate plea by hospitals to donate blood. “I am appealing all Somali people to come forward and donate,” he said.
Mogadishu, a city long accustomed to deadly bombings by al-Shabab, was stunned by the force of Saturday’s blast. The explosion shattered hopes of recovery in an impoverished country left fragile by decades of conflict, and it again raised doubts over the government’s ability to secure the seaside city of more than two million people.
“They don’t care about the lives of Somali people, mothers, fathers and children,” Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire said of the attackers. “They have targeted the most populated area in Mogadishu, killing only civilians.”
Rescue workers searched for survivors trapped under the rubble of the largely destroyed Safari Hotel, which is close to the foreign ministry. The explosion blew off metal gates and blast walls erected outside the hotel.
The United States condemned the bombing, saying “such cowardly attacks reinvigorate the commitment of the United States to assist our Somali and African Union partners to combat the scourge of terrorism.”
But the U.S. Africa Command said U.S. forces had not been asked to provide aid. A spokesperson told The Associated Press that first responders and local enforcement would handle the response and “the U.S. would offer assistance if and when a request was made.”
The U.S. military has stepped up drone strikes and other efforts this year against al-Shabab, which is also fighting the Somali military and over 20,000 African Union forces in the country.
The United Nations special envoy to Somalia called the attack “revolting,” saying an unprecedented number of civilians had been killed. Michael Keating said the UN and African Union were supporting the Somali government’s response with “logistical support, medical supplies and expertise.”
In a tweet, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was “sickened” by the attack, and his spokesperson urged all Somalis to unite against extremism and work together to build a “functional” federal state.
Saturday’s blast occurred two days after the head of the U.S. Africa Command was in Mogadishu to meet with Somalia’s president, and two days after the country’s defence minister and army chief resigned for undisclosed reasons.
Amid the chaos, the stories of victims began to emerge. Amino Ahmed said one of her friends, a female medical student, was killed on the eve of her graduation. The explosion also killed a couple returning from a hospital after having their first child, said Dahir Amin Jesow, a Somali lawmaker.
“It’s a dark day for us,” he said.
As there is no consular presence in Somalia, Canadians in Mogadishu in need of emergency assistance are being advised to contact the High Commission of Canada in Nairobi at 254 (20) 266-3000, or the Global Affairs 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre at 613-669-8885.
With files from Jenna Moon
Death toll from blast in Somalia’s capital rises to 276, with more than 300 injured
Mayor John Tory’s signature transit project moved a step forward last week when the city took plans for new rail stations under his SmartTrack proposal to public consultations.
At a news conference in Scarborough on Tuesday to mark the launch of the sessions, Tory promised that “transit users in Scarborough will have access to SmartTrack service at two completely new stations... The people of Toronto want that choice. They want that convenience when it comes to their commute.”
But despite the mayor’s proclamation, uncertainty hangs over at least one of those stops: Lawrence East.
Like all six of the new stops proposed under the mayor’s plan, Lawrence East would be a SmartTrack-branded station added to the GO network as part of the province’s wider regional express rail expansion program and would be served by GO trains.
As the Star has previously reported, concerns have been raised about why the board of Metrolinx, the provincial agency in charge of GO, approved the $23-million station last June despite analysis that recommended it should not be built.
After a Star investigation uncovered that the ministry of transportation pressured the board into endorsing the stop, the Metrolinx board chair ordered a review of the station to conduct further analysis and determine whether it’s warranted.
If the station is found to be justified however, constructing it could pose logistical challenges for Metrolinx and political headaches for the mayor.
The new Lawrence East station would replace an existing stop on the Scarborough RT, a line that Tory promised to keep operational until the city completes the contentious one-stop extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway to the Scarborough Town Centre.
But to build the SmartTrack stop, the SRT may have to be decommissioned. According to a business case Metrolinx commissioned, building the new Lawrence East station “would be contingent on the removal of the existing Scarborough RT system, including the existing Lawrence East SRT station” and SRT tracks.
The report also assumed Metrolinx would have to acquire the SRT station site and use it as a staging area.
Tory has promised SmartTrack stations will be done in the “early 2020s” while the Scarborough subway extension isn’t scheduled to open until midway through 2026.
As it stands, meeting Tory’s timeline for SmartTrack stations to enter service would require shutting down the SRT before the subway extension opens, which would force transit users to take the bus.
Not needing to tear down the SRT while the subway was being built was a key selling point used by supporters of the Scarborough subway to argue against the alternate proposal of building a seven-stop LRT. Building the LRT would have required closing the SRT.
The city and Metrolinx are in talks to figure out how the SRT might be kept open while Lawrence East station is constructed. But so far the issue remains unresolved.
In an email, Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins said the agency is working with the city to “determine a construction schedule/staging so as to keep the SRT operating during construction,” but “no final decisions” have been made.
Don Peat, a spokesperson for the mayor, said Tory “is confident that the city and Metrolinx will work to build this SmartTrack station in a way that keeps the Scarborough RT operational until the Bloor-Danforth subway extension is completed.”
Should the station be built, questions still remain about whether Lawrence East would be beneficial to the transit network.
The station location, situated under an overpass on Lawrence Ave. midway between Kennedy Rd. and Midland Ave., is surrounded by largely stable, lowrise residential neighbourhoods to the south as well as several apartment complexes cut off by the hydro corridor. To the north are commercial and industrial uses.
“While there are a number of redevelopment opportunities nearby, the area is poorly situated relative to current and future office, industrial, residential and retail demand,” the Metrolinx business case found.
The study projected that by 2031, the area around the station would have a density of 86 people and jobs per hectare. That’s far below the threshold that Metrolinx has set as the minimum requirement to justify an express rail station, which is 150 people and jobs per hectare.
The analysis found ridership demand at Lawrence East would be relatively low, and insufficient to offset the number of existing “upstream” passengers who would stop taking GO due to the longer stopping time at the new station. That would result in a net loss of transit use.
A separate report commissioned by Metrolinx ranked all the potential new stations being considered for addition to the GO network and screened each one to determine whether other factors might offset low ridership numbers.
It found that allowing passengers to board at Lawrence East for the same price as a TTC fare would lead to a “small increase” in ridership, but not significant enough to warrant building the stop.
It concluded that while Lawrence East met some important objectives such as serving a nearby low-income neighbourhood, it was less beneficial than other stations being considered for the same line and should not be built for at least another 10 years.
Based on this analysis, the Metrolinx board met behind closed doors in June 2016 and decided not to build Lawrence East. But the Star, through a freedom of information request, found the board reversed that decision under pressure from the ministry of transportation.
The review Metrolinx has ordered won’t examine the role political influence played in the approval process at the arm’s-length agency. It’s expected to be complete by Metrolinx’s February board meeting. The agency plans to launch the procurement process for new GO stations in the spring.
Presented with the Metrolinx reports, Tory and the city have countered that a city analysis has shown better results.
When the Star requested that analysis in August, a city spokesperson sent a two-page report, which determined Lawrence East would still cause a net loss in GO ridership, although a smaller one than that projected by the Metrolinx analysis.
On Friday, a city spokesperson said the two-page report was “based on a ridership analysis provided to Metrolinx in the summer of 2016.”
The spokesperson said city staff have since conducted additional work that determined the station would have a positive impact on ridership. She could not immediately provide details of what led to the newer projection but said it was based on council scrapping plans for a three-stop Scarborough subway extension in favour of a single-stop option.
Unlike the Metrolinx reports, the city argues that allowing commuters to use a TTC fare would significantly boost ridership at Lawrence East. However, the city and province are currently in negotiations over fare alignment. It is still unclear what SmartTrack GO stations fares will be.
The city’s analysis also projected significantly more development for the area around the station.
“We feel the (Metrolinx) analysis relies heavily on the market analysis saying that future demand for new development will be low” and “does not properly reflect the incentive this station will have on future development,” the city report said.
However, even at double the growth rate expected by Metrolinx, the city’s projection of 95 people and jobs per hectare by 2031 is still well below the threshold set by the provincial agency for an express rail stop.
The city and mayor’s office have said the city plans to encourage denser development by enacting supportive land-use policies.
But Shoshanna Saxe, an assistant professor of civil engineering and a member of the University of Toronto’s Transportation Research Institute, said there’s only so much the government can do. She noted the area has had a rapid transit stop in the SRT station for more than three decades and development remains low.
“Demand is something that the city and the province can try and nudge, they can try and inspire, but if the market isn’t there, that’s not within the city’s control.”
Steven Farber, a transportation geographer and assistant professor at U of T, agrees it’s difficult to predict how much the area will develop. But he said that’s not necessarily an argument against building the new station.
“I think it’s way more important to do what’s right in terms of providing a high level of service that’s accessible from a cost perspective and that gets people moving around the city in a much faster way than what’s possible from that part of the city right now.”
Peat, the mayor’s spokesperson, said “city staff believe there is a strong case for Lawrence East Station” and the stop will be “an important part of the Scarborough transit network plan.”
Concerns could derail Lawrence East SmartTrack station
Classes have been cancelled for more than 500,000 students after faculty at 24 Ontario colleges went on strike late Sunday night.
The Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which represents 12,000 college professors, instructors, counsellors and librarians, and the group representing management failed to reach an agreement late Sunday night after the union presented its final offer to the College Employer Council in a bid to avert a strike before the 12:01 a.m. deadline.
“We felt really disappointed. There is no reason that council shouldn’t be working to engage with these discussions with us,” said JP Hornick, the chair of the union bargaining team in a statement.
Hornick said they presented the council with an offer that represented what faculty consider to be the bare minimum they need to ensure quality education for students and treat contract faculty fairly.
OPSEU made three critical proposals in the offer: 50:50 ratio in the number of full-time faculty to the number of faculty members on contract; increased job security for part-time faculty, and academic freedom to give faculty a stronger voice in academic decision-making.
Hornick said the council is taking the “Walmart approach” to education, where they address funding shortfalls by lowering standards such as exploiting underpaid contract workers who have no job security beyond one semester.
“They seem to be driven not by what is best for students but by what is best for them.”
Hornick said they have gotten support from students during the whole bargaining period. The union understands the distress the strike will be causing on students.
“We didn’t want to do it. We feel very forced into this position. We are hoping that the colleges will come to their senses and come back to the table and actually start to work towards a settlement that is better for the students,” said Hornick.
Employer council spokesperson Sonia Del Missier said the strike is completely unnecessary.
She said management was offering terms that were as good or better than recent settlements with teachers, college support staff, hospital professionals, and Ontario public servants.
The College Employer Council had complained last week that union demands for staffing ratios and wage increases would add more than $1 billion in costs over three years.
Students are advised to check their college’s website to find out how they are affected.
George Brown College, Seneca College, Humber College and Centennial College have all announced that all full-time classes will be cancelled until the strike is over.
Academic staff have been without a contract since the end of September.
With files from The Canadian Press
Ontario college faculty goes on strike after final offer rejected
SEOUL, KOREA, REPUBLIC OF—South Korean and U.S. troops launched five days of naval drills on Monday, three days after North Korea renewed its threat to fire missiles near the American territory of Guam.
The South Korean and U.S. militaries regularly conduct joint exercises, often enraging North Korea, which views such training as an invasion rehearsal. The latest drills in the waters off the Korean Peninsula come amid fears of a possible military clash following the exchanges of insults and fierce rhetoric between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The drills involve fighter jets, helicopters and 40 naval ships and submarines from the allies, including the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, according to South Korea’s navy. Spokesman Jang Wook told reporters the drills are aimed at practicing how to respond to a potential naval provocation by North Korea and improving the allies’ combined operational capability.
The drills were to include live-fire exercises by naval ships and aircraft and anti-submarine training, but South Korea’s military didn’t release any photos or video.
North Korea didn’t immediately respond to the start of the drills. On Friday, the North’s foreign ministry accused the United States of provoking the country by mobilizing the aircraft carrier and other war assets near the peninsula.
“Such military acts compel (North Korea) to take military counteraction,” said Kim Kwang Hak, a researcher at the Institute for American Studies at the ministry. “We have already warned several times that we will take counteractions for self-defence, including a salvo of missiles into waters near the U.S. territory of Guam.”
In August, North Korea issued a similar threat, saying its military had presented Kim Jong Un with plans to launch intermediate-range missiles to create “enveloping fire” near Guam, a key U.S. military hub in the Pacific. The North has yet to carry out its threat.
Lobbing missiles close to Guam would be deeply provocative for the United States, and a miscalculation on either side could lead to a military conflict.
Under Kim’s leadership, North Korea has been accelerating its efforts to bolster its weapons arsenals and acquire the capability to fire nuclear missiles at any target in the U.S. mainland. The North conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test in September and test-launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July.
U.S., South Korean troops begin naval drills amid North Korean threat
Toronto highrise tenants will be able to see how their buildings fared on recent fire code inspections by the end of the year, Toronto Fire Services pledged Friday.
The news follows a Metro investigation earlier this year on one man’s frustrating fight to get information about his own building’s fire code inspection.
He was told to file a freedom of information request, a complicated and sometimes expensive process with a labyrinth of bureaucracy.
Toronto Fire Services Chief Matthew Pegg acknowledged at Friday’s tenant issues committee meeting that in the past the process has been “very cumbersome” and “not effective and efficient.”
“We understand that there is a need to improve open access to data,” added deputy fire chief Jim Jessop.
Jessop said the goal is to provide tenants living in highrise buildings information from January 2017 to present on the date Toronto Fire was in their building, a copy of noted violations if any, and the date violations were cleared.
Notices of violations will only be posted online once the file has been closed by Toronto Fire. The department is already required by law to post certain orders and notices in buildings after fire inspections.
All highrise buildings were inspected in 2016 for fire code violations, Jessop said, but he did not have offhand a breakdown of the number of violations and which buildings they were in.
Money for the open data initiative is already built into Toronto Fire Service’s 2018 budget request, which has not yet been approved by council. Chief Pegg did not have a dollar figure for how much it would cost.
Tenant issues committee chair Councillor Josh Matlow said he heard from many concerned tenants who were “incredibly scared by what they saw” following the tragic Grenfell Tower fire in London, England, that killed at least 80 people.
“When they tried to address that fear and access knowledge and access information, they found that it was this absurdly frustrating process,” he told the committee.
“They could not know within a reasonable period of time, with any sort of rational process, as to whether or not their building was safe.”
Matlow applauded fire services for making an effort to be more transparent, as did Geordie Dent, executive director of the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations.
“I think it’s great because many tenants just want to ensure that they’re not living in a death trap, and I think rightly feel that they deserve to know that,” he said in an interview after the meeting.
“This has actually been an ongoing issue for years but the bigger problem is there’s been no central database, there’s been no place you can service this information,” he added.
“Nobody wants to live in a fire trap without knowing that.”
Toronto highrise tenants will soon know if they’re ‘living in a fire trap’
MOGADISHU, SOMALIA—The death toll from Saturday’s truck bombing in Somalia’s capital is now over 300, the director of an ambulance service said Monday, as this country reeled from the deadliest single attack it’s ever experienced.
More people have died of their wounds in the past few hours, said Dr. Abdulkadir Adam of Aamin Ambulance. Funerals have continued and the government said the death toll is expected to rise.
Saturday’s truck bombing targeted a crowded street in Mogadishu, and about 300 others were injured. Somalia’s government is blaming the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group, which has not commented.
More than 70 critically injured people were being airlifted to Turkey for treatment on Monday as international aid began to arrive, said officials. Nervous relatives stood on the tarmac at the airport, praying for the recovery of their loved ones.
Overwhelmed hospitals in Mogadishu were struggling to assist other badly wounded victims, many burned beyond recognition.
The attack was one of the worst in the world in recent years. It is one of the deadliest attacks in sub-Saharan Africa, larger than the Garissa University attack in Kenya in 2015, in which 148 died, and the U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, in which about 219 were killed.
In addition to Tukey, Kenya and Ethiopia have offered to send medical aid in response to what Somali’s government has called a “national disaster,” said Information Minister Abdirahman Osman.
Global Affairs Canada confirmed there are no reports of Canadians affected by the bombing.
“Global Affairs Canada is closely monitoring the situation in Mogadishu and stands ready to provide consular assistance to Canadian citizens as required,” said spokesperson John Babcock.
“On behalf of all Canadians, we extend our sympathies to the families and friends of those who died, and we wish a swift recovery to everyone injured,” Babcock said.
Al-Shabab, Africa’s deadliest Islamic extremist group, often targets high-profile areas of Mogadishu. Earlier this year, it vowed to step up attacks after both the Trump administration and Somalia’s recently elected president announced new military efforts against the group.
The country’s Somali-American leader, President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, has declared three days of mourning and joined thousands of people who responded to a desperate plea by hospitals to donate blood.
“This is really horrendous, unlike any other time in the past,” said Dr. Mohamed Yusuf, the director of Medina hospital.
Exhausted doctors struggled to keep their eyes open, while screams from victims and newly bereaved families echoed through the halls.
Mogadishu, a city long accustomed to deadly bombings by al-Shabab, was stunned by the force of Saturday’s blast. The explosion shattered hopes of recovery in an impoverished country left fragile by decades of conflict, and it again raised doubts over the government’s ability to secure the seaside city of more than 2 million people.
The United States has condemned the bombing, saying “such cowardly attacks reinvigorate the commitment of the United States to assist our Somali and African Union partners to combat the scourge of terrorism.” It tweeted a photo of its charge d’affaires in Somalia donating blood. But the U.S. Africa Command said U.S. forces had not been asked to provide aid.
The U.S. military has stepped up drone strikes and other efforts this year against al-Shabab, which is also fighting the Somali military and over 20,000 African Union forces in the country.
Saturday’s blast occurred two days after the head of the U.S. Africa Command was in Mogadishu to meet with Somalia’s president, and two days after the country’s defence minister and army chief resigned for undisclosed reasons.
The United Nations special envoy to Somalia called the attack “revolting.” Michael Keating said the U.N. and African Union were supporting the Somali government’s response with “logistical support, medical supplies and expertise.”
With files from Jenna Moon
Death toll rises to over 300 after deadliest single attack in Somalia history
Friday morning, my commute to work was delayed by four minutes and 44 seconds due to the infrastructure for dedicated car lanes along my route.
You may not be used to hearing an experience like this expressed in that way. I’m talking about traffic lights and the time I spent as a pedestrian waiting for them to change.
About a century ago, when cars were first becoming common and popular, we decided to dedicate huge swaths of our common roadways to motor vehicle traffic, shunting pedestrians onto narrow, grade-separated strips along the sides. This was a big change from how we’d used these spaces before, and it was controversial at first, (“a number of localities banned the ‘devil-wagon,’ ” a history of road evolution by Carlton Reid notes), but it has since come to seem natural
I started thinking about this while reading the report on the pilot study of the dedicated bicycle lanes on Bloor St. W. There’s a part about the effect on the “motoring environment” in which it points out travel times for cars travelling eastbound in the corridor have been increased by about two minutes in the morning and about four minutes in the afternoon.
But talking about the delays caused to other road users by dedicated vehicle infrastructure made me think of those traffic lights I encounter every day as a pedestrian on my way to and from the TTC segment of my commute. So I thought I’d use a stopwatch to time the delays I already encounter as a matter of course to accommodate our now-uncontroversial dedicated motor vehicle lanes. I kept track of time waiting for the lights to change so I could cross. As I say, Friday it was a little under five minutes.
And you know what? It was fine. It felt normal. It did not occur to me to insist that this motoring infrastructure should be ripped out because it slowed me down.
Nah, it’s fine. In fact, as I’m sure you’re already thinking, waiting for traffic lights for a chance to cross is usually an unremarkable experience. We all have to get where we’re going. Safely. And if possible, reasonably quickly. To do that, we’re gonna slow each other down a bit sometimes. C’est la vie en ville.
And I hope, and expect, we can take the same attitude to the mild increases in travel time for some users of Bloor St., given the rest of the report on the bike lane project. Because most of the other metrics show great success.
The number of cyclists using the route every day was up by 1,616 year-over-year after their installation (a 49-per-cent increase), making it the second-most-travelled bike “facility” in the city (in the language of the report).
And the road got safer for all users: the city counted both collisions and near-misses (together classified as “conflicts”) and found them down by 44 per cent altogether. This isn’t just about cyclists being safer. Conflict between motorists — one car hitting or almost hitting another car — were down 71 per cent after the separated bike lanes were installed. Conflicts between motorists and pedestrians were down 55 per cent. Conflicts between bicycles and motor vehicles were down 61 per cent — and despite cyclist traffic increasing by half, the number of actual bike collisions with cars remained the same, a fairly dramatic decrease in the accident rate.
One place where there was an increase in conflicts is in cyclist-pedestrian interactions, caused by mid-block jaywalkers not checking the lane before stepping out. It’s a problem we’ll have to work on solving as we expand our cycling infrastructure in the city.
Still, all road users surveyed — cyclists, pedestrians and motorists — also reported feeling safer or more comfortable travelling on the route after the lanes were installed.
This is in keeping with the experience of other cities, including New York, when dedicated cycling infrastructure is installed. All road users become safer as a result. I have mentioned a book called Street Fight a few times, written by former New York City transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan about her experience transforming that city’s roadways.
She details in the book that sometimes, when evaluating tests and making changes, you need to guard against just accepting people’s gut-level reactions and anecdotes. How people feel is important, but it isn’t necessarily true.
For instance, after New York City pedestrianized it’s famous Times Square, Sadik-Khan writes, cab drivers furious about the change insisted their own travel times were far worse. “Cabbies told any reporter who would listen that the reworking of Broadway... caused traffic jams, slower speeds and fewer fares,” she writes. However, the city authorities accessed the GPS units in cabs that tracked their movements and fares and found interesting results. Cabs in the area were actually moving faster after the change.
Toronto took a similar approach with the Bloor bike lane pilot to gathering information about the retail impacts of the changes. They conducted a traditional survey which showed “merchants on Bloor Street reported growth in the number of customers,” though a similar control-group survey on the Danforth showed an even greater increase in customers. In the meantime, some merchants conducted their own surveys showing great business losses, and have told reporters that the bike lanes killed business.
However, the city also got actual point-of-sale data from the biggest processor of credit and debit card transactions. That data showed spending was up in the pilot area and had grown more than in the surrounding area and more than in the control-group area of the Danforth.
Some particular businesses may well be right that the change has had a negative impact. But for businesses as a whole, the card data shows an actual increase in spending.
It is heartening to hear that Mayor John Tory will be supporting making the lanes permanent. We can only hope this city council — who have been known to lose perspective when bikes become a topic (remember Jarvis?) — follows suit. The city should expand the lanes east and west, as well, and continue expanding the network of cycling infrastructure so it becomes a more viable form of transportation for more people. And so that the roads become safer for all of those who use them.
A few minutes of inconvenience here and there notwithstanding, I expect, in time, the bike routes will become as uncontroversial as the vast network of designated motorist lanes we have now.
Bloor bike lanes have time — and money — on their side: Keenan
How annoying that women, and the men who purport to support them, would choose Twitter silence as an expression of defiance.
Cutting off their voice to spite their noses.
And I say that as a Twitter infidel. A phenomenon that has polluted the environment, given vile expression to anonymous trolls, short-handed communication to the point of cacophonous Babel, been exploited by Russian hackers to influence an election outcome, and has even replaced the minimal courtesy of a condolence note. Oh yeah, Vegas, see how much I feel your pain, by tapping out a sympathy blurt in 140 characters or less, bobbing along on the currents of vacuous dissemination.
I had to go back to into the files to remind myself who invented this digital plague: Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, back in the aught days when the platform was called twttr. Buried in the company biography, an amusing detail about the once and again CEO — Dorsey was once briefly suspended from his own Twitter account, which the embarrassed company blamed on an “internal mistake.”
There was no mistake, except in re-think retrospect, when Twitter last week knocked actress Rose McGowan off her tweet perch, locked out, sent to Twitter Coventry for fierce condemnation of disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, the alleged serial sexual predator and, as McGowan more than implied in one of her dispatches, her rapist.
At first Twitter would not explain why McGowan was temporarily muzzled. Only in the face of online howling did the company explain that McGowan had violated its terms of service because a specific message had included a personal phone number.
Some 6,000 tweets flying out into the social media cybersphere per second — around 200 billion tweets every year — and somehow McGowan’s rule-breaker had snagged a monitor’s attention.
Her account was hastily restored. But not before #WomenBoycottTwitter had gone viral, 24-hour no-tweet zone — it began last Thursday at midnight — exhorting users to go all mute. That call to mum the ramparts apparently resonated with the masses as celebrities tweeted — well of course they would tweet — their boycott alignment. Alyssa Milano, a TV actress of minor repute, said Friday the 13th “will be the first day in over 10 years that I won’t tweet. Join me.”
A decade of daily tweeting? Am I the only one who considers that addictive behaviour? The protest had its protesters, resisters who pointed out that Twitter has long been fraught with toxic abuse by The Tweet Chamber, with scant crackdown and no draining of the vulgarian swamp by the company. Some noted, correctly, that there was no similar outrage mounted via boycott when minority women such as Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones were brutally trashed on the platform.
But what was the point, really, of #WomenBoycottTwitter? For a protest to have traction, there has to be an objective, an aspiring. This was just a bloated whinge that inconvenienced nobody except the alliance of social media remonstrators and only fleetingly. Not exactly cutting off your tongue, like the Ellen Jamesians in The World According to Garp.
Fiction, I know. But the silencing of rape victims is very real. Just as it apparently took decades to out the powerful Weinstein, with celebrities now falling all over themselves — on Twitter, natch — to claim, gosh, they never knew, when clearly many did.
Twitter — or Non-Twittering — was the vehicle adopted to push back. I don’t think anybody has been able to gauge the boycott’s impact. It seems not to have damaged the brand.
But Twitter is damaging us. Not just as a conduit for malicious electoral engineering but, in my profession most especially, as a slapdash replacement for reportage.
Eleven years after it launched, we still don’t know what we’re doing with Twitter and the multiple pulpits it spawned. The haranguer-in-chief — no Winston Churchill — is a crude, rabble-rousing American president who’s perfected the art of mass disinformation. But tout le monde is in thrall to his early morning squawks, a Wakey-Wakey America pile of bilge.
Everybody has an opinion, everybody has something to say. But now legions are listening, even to the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who have migrated from the fringe — or the Dark Web — to the social media hub.
I don’t think journalists should join them there.
We talk — by which I mean tweet — too much, in the process shedding all the core principles of neutrality and objectivity, as if the online persona can be separated from the professional.
Columnists are paid to have opinions, of course — that’s the job — though apparently much of the public doesn’t grasp the difference. And it can be confusing. Columnists sometimes function as reporters — it’s a multi-tasking scramble — but reporters should never be columnists.
I’ve never understood, for example, why newspapers that are fairly vigilant about keeping partisan opinions and editorializing out of their core news content — although often, not so subtly, refracting the news through an ideological prism — are perfectly happy permitting reporters to freewheel spout on social media platforms. It’s a kind of didactic schizophrenia, with reporters pretty much given carte blanche to snark and barb (and self-promote) on their Twitter feeds.
The practice has gone berserk. Because it drives eyeballs. And there’s a legitimate corporate interest in engaging readers in a fractured media market. And it doesn’t cost anything.
The New York Times, held up as a paragon of journalistic virtue, had taken disapproving notice.
On Friday, the paper — with newsroom social media accounts boasting “tens of million of followers” — told staff to keep their opinions off Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
Revisiting and updating corporate guidelines, the Times stated what should be blindingly obvious — partisan content jeopardizes credibility. Certainly it’s made it all too easy for Donald Trump to vilify big media (apart from lapdogs such as Fox and conservative blowhards on the radio dial) as fonts of fakery and spider’s nests of newsroom guerrillas.
Bottom line from the NYT: Knock it off.
Social media can, and has, expanded news platforms (I do so hate that word), particularly by providing real-time updates via tweets and websites constantly turning over content. We’re not held hostage any longer by press-roll deadlines. There’s never before been so much information rolling out as it happens.
“We can effectively pull back the curtain and invite readers to witness, and potentially contribute to, our reporting,” the Times states. “But social media presents potential risks for the Times. If our journalists are perceived as biased or if they engage in editorializing on social media, that can undercut the credibility of the entire newsroom.”
Maybe we can, after all, take a cue from #WomenBoycottTwitter.
Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
For a protest like #WomenBoycottTwitter to have traction, there has to be an objective: DiManno
Jennifer Brown and Karl Froehr would like to be together for the rest of their lives, making the best of the years they have left.
They want to hold hands, share meals, watch films, talk about the arts, politics, music and books — but a string of circumstances has been keeping them apart for almost six years.
Froehr, 87, lives at Lakeside Long-Term Care Centre. The airy and spacious facility in the west end of Toronto provides the round-the-clock care he needs after a severe stroke in early 2012 seriously impacted his movement and his speech. He has been at Lakeside since last summer and in long-term care since the stroke, following a period of rehabilitation.
Brown, 79, resides in a downtown co-operative. Health issues, she admits, are making daily tasks increasingly difficult. She would like to join him at Lakeside and said she has been on what is known as a priority wait-list since January.
The months tick by.
And still, they are apart.
“Next year I will be 80,” Brown said. “I think it is remarkable I have done this for six years and haven’t lost my mind.”
Brown and Froehr met with the Star at Lakeside to talk about the anguish the separation has caused them. They also wanted to raise awareness of the financial and emotional stresses facing aging couples who want to enjoy their senior years in Toronto.
Declining health is also an issue, Brown said.
“Not his, he just blooms. I’m not exactly blooming,” she jokes.
Canada’s seniors have been identified as a vulnerable group, in terms of housing needs, by the federal government. The forthcoming National Housing Strategy will include housing supports for seniors, though the details have not been announced.
The money will come from a National Housing Fund worth $5 billion and dedicated to helping vulnerable people, including those with addiction and mental health issues, find and keep homes.
In the meantime, private rental costs in Toronto continue to climb, as do the costs and wait-lists for retirement homes across the province.
Toronto’s centralized wait-list for social housing — which includes Toronto Community Housing units, co-ops, private non-profit housing and subsidized rental housing — has nearly reached 100,000 households, or more than 183,000 people. In 2017, 31,000 senior households were on that list.
Froehr and Brown have been together for more than 30 years. They met in an airport terminal, both headed to New York, but got so swept up in conversation they accidentally boarded a flight bound for Chicago.
They did not become a couple until years later, and built a life based on mutual respect and fondness for sports, travel, literature and the arts and humour. They got married in 2003 because, said Brown, they wanted to throw a party.
In Froehr’s unit at Lakeside, by the time they speak of the love and respect they have built over three decades, they are pointing out the obvious.
Brown is a gregarious and private woman with a self-deprecating and salty sense of humour.
“Some of this is a surprise to you,” she said to Froehr, after revealing the stress she has been under.
Froehr, formerly fluent in German and French and somewhat familiar with Italian and Spanish, shared his views using careful and deliberate English.
Much of his communication is done with his eyes. When he looks at Brown, they glow.
“We got extremely lucky with love,” she said.
He turned to her. “Oh, absolutely, absolutely. That is so nice that we have it together.”
There are 36 long-term care homes with 5,879 spaces under the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), which covers much of the city, according to a September 2017 report.
Lakeside has 128 beds and most people can expect to wait at least 18 months for a private room. Getting a basic room can take more than four years. At Lakeside there are 126 people waiting for a basic room and 44 for a private and about two beds become available each month, the report showed.
Because her husband is in care, Brown has some priority and her wait time is expected to be shorter, but she said staff simply can’t tell her when a bed might free up.
People trying to enter long-term care are usually asked to choose five potential spots. If a bed becomes available, the person has 24 hours to take the spot and just five days to move in, under rules set out in the Long-Term Care Homes Act.
“If a potential resident is not able to move in within that time frame it is considered a failed admission and the client is removed from the waitlist and the process would begin with another potential resident,” explained Megan Primeau, communications manager with the Toronto LHIN, via email.
Lakeside is obligated by law to adhere to these rules, as are all long-term care homes.
The act affords some flexibility to the five-day rule, for example if somebody is too ill or injured to move or if there is an outbreak of disease at the facility.
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is asking for feedback from the public on proposed amendments in the Long-Term Care Homes Act that should make it easier for couples to reunite.
The five-day window is not being reviewed.
That unpredictable wait time, coupled with the five-day time frame, means Brown can’t give notice at her co-operative, plan to pack, or sell or store her possessions. Nerve damage in her feet and spinal issues make it hard to stand and walk, much less move belongings, she said.
Windmill Line Co-op requires members to give “at least two calendar months plus five days’ written notice,” according to their bylaws, posted online. The general manager wouldn’t comment about a particular resident, or co-operative policies, but said members are welcome to raise issues with him and one has already done so about this issue.
In private rentals, tenants are typically required to give at least 60 days notice, but landlords can agree to break a lease.
Brown pays $929 a month, from her government pension and retirement income funds. Froehr’s pension covers most of his room and board, a small amount is subsidized and he is given $146 a month, a set amount known as a comfort care allowance.
Brown said his children help with expenses, when they can, but she handles the bulk of his extra needs and costs, including trips on WheelTrans to visit him and appointments, clothing and the roughly 20 books he reads every month. She says she also manages any outstanding financial or legal affairs.
“My life consists of taking care of Karl and trying to survive . . . and I am still laughing.”
But worrying about his needs, money, her own medical appointments and trying to plan a move has exhausted her, she said.
“Frankly, I am close to giving up.”
Seniors pay to live in long-term care, but the rates are set by the government and nursing and support care workers are covered. All basic long-term care rooms, or ones without private washrooms, cost a maximum of $1,819 per month and private rooms cost a maximum of $2,599.
David Jensen, a spokesperson with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care said the government is aware of the stress and anxiety couples can experience when separated, as a result of one person being placed in long-term care.
“Ensuring not only the safety but also the well-being of all residents living in long-term care homes across the province is a strong priority for this government,” said Jensen.
The proposed amendments to the Long-Term Care Homes Act include designating a bed, to make sure spouses can join their partners faster, or separate wait lists for couples who want to be reunited in long-term care homes.
Members of the public can review the amendments and offer feedback until Oct 26. If approved, they would go into effect Jan. 1.
Brown hopes to be with Froehr soon at Lakeside, but until then the bills and frustration will continue to pile up. It isn’t, she has said, how they want to spend the rest of their lives.
“We have been apart for six years. I think we deserve to go out together.”
Froehr, she explained, said it to her a slightly different way.
“You and me. Forever. We go together.”
Couple dreams of being reunited after 6 years apart
WASHINGTON—It was a faint signal, but it told of one of the most violent acts in the universe, and it would soon reveal secrets of the cosmos, including how gold was created.
Astronomers around the world reacted to the signal quickly, focusing telescopes located on every continent and even in orbit to a distant spot in the sky.
What they witnessed in mid-August and revealed Monday was the long-ago collision of two neutron stars — a phenomenon California Institute of Technology’s David H. Reitze called “the most spectacular fireworks in the universe.”
“When these things collide, all hell breaks loose,” he said.
The distant collision created a “kilonova,” an astronomical marvel that scientists have never seen before. It was the first cosmic event in history to be witnessed via both traditional optical telescopes, which can observe electromagnetic radiation like gamma rays, and gravitational wave detectors, which sense the wrinkles in space-time produced by distant cataclysms. The detection, which involved thousands of researchers working at more than 70 laboratories and telescopes on every continent, heralds a new era in space research known as “multimessenger astrophysics.”
“It’s transformational,” said Julie McEnery, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., who was involved in the effort. “The era of gravitational wave astrophysics had dawned, but now it’s come of age. … We’re able to combine dramatically different ways of viewing the universe, and I think our level of understanding is going to leap forward as a result.”
Measurements of the light and other energy emanating from the crash have helped scientists explain how planet-killing gamma ray bursts are born, how fast the universe is expanding, and where heavy elements like platinum and gold come from.
“This is getting everything you wish for,” said Syracuse University physics professor Duncan Brown, one of more than 4,000 scientists involved in the blitz of science that the crash kicked off. “This is our fantasy observation.”
It started in a galaxy called NGC 4993, seen from Earth in the Hydra constellation. Two neutron stars, collapsed cores of stars so dense that a teaspoon of their matter would weigh nearly one billion tonnes, danced ever faster and closer together until they collided, said Carnegie Institution astronomer Maria Drout.
The crash generated a fierce burst of gamma rays and a gravitational wave, a faint ripple in the fabric of space and time.
The existence of gravitational waves was first theorized by Albert Einstein a century ago. But scientists had never sensed the waves until 2015, when a ripple produced by the merger of two distant black holes was picked up by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory’s (LIGO) two facilities in Louisiana and Washington state. Since then, the collaboration has identified three more black hole collisions and has brought on a third gravitational wave detector near Pisa, Italy, to better pinpoint the sources of these minute distortions in space-time. Just this month, members of the LIGO team were awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for their achievement.
The signal arrived on Earth on Aug. 17 after travelling 130 million light-years. A light-year is 5.88 trillion miles.
NASA's Fermi telescope, which detects gamma rays, sent out the first alarm. Then, 1.7 seconds later, gravity wave detectors in Louisiana and Washington state that are a part of the LIGO Laboratory , whose founders won a Nobel Prize earlier this month, detected the crash. It issued a worldwide alert to focus telescopes on what became the most well-observed astronomical event in history.
Half an hour later, McEnery, the telescope’s project scientist, got an email from a colleague with the subject line, “WAKE UP.”
The event was named for the telescope that found it: Swope Supernova Survey 2017a.
Within 24 hours of the initial detection, it seemed as though half the telescopes in the world — and several more in space — were tilted toward SSS2017a, recalled Stephano Valenti, an astrophysicist at the University of California at Davis who took part in the optical search. “We were calling colleagues to talk, saying, ‘I cannot tell you why, but can you observe this object?’” he said. “Everyone was working together, sharing everything they had as soon the information was coming online. … I think this one was the most exciting week of my career.”
Before August, the LIGO facilities had only detected gravitational waves generated by colliding black holes. But black holes let no light escape, so astronomers could see nothing.
This time there was plenty to see, measure and analyze: matter, light, and other radiation. The Hubble Space Telescope even got a snapshot of the afterglow.
“The completeness of this picture from the beginning to the end is unprecedented,” said Columbia University physics professor Szabolcs Marka. “There are many, many extraordinary discoveries within the discovery.”
The colliding stars spewed bright blue, superhot debris that was dense and unstable. Some of it coalesced into heavy elements, like gold, platinum and uranium. Scientists had suspected neutron star collisions had enough power to create heavier elements, but weren’t certain until they witnessed it.
“We see the gold being formed,” said Syracuse’s Brown.
Calculations from a telescope measuring ultraviolet light showed that the combined mass of the heavy elements from this explosion is 1,300 times the mass of Earth. And all that stuff — including lighter elements — was thrown out in all different directions and is now speeding across the universe.
Perhaps one day the material will clump together into planets the way ours was formed, Reitze said — maybe ones with rich veins of precious metals.
“We already knew that iron came from a stellar explosion, the calcium in your bones came from stars and now we know the gold in your wedding ring came from merging neutron stars,” said University of California Santa Cruz’s Ryan Foley.
The crash also helped explain the origins of one of the most dangerous forces of the cosmos — short gamma ray bursts, focused beams of radiation that could erase life on any planet that happened to get in the way. These bursts shoot out in two different directions perpendicular to where the two neutron stars first crash, Reitze said.
Luckily for us, the beams of gamma rays were not focused on Earth and were generated too far away to be a threat, he said.
Scientists knew that the universe has been expanding since the Big Bang. By using LIGO to measure gravitational waves while watching this event unfold, researchers came up with a new estimate for how fast that is happening, the so-called Hubble Constant. Before this, scientists came up with two slightly different answers using different techniques. The rough figure that came out of this event is between the original two, Reitze said.
The first optical images showed a bright blue dot that was very hot, which was likely the start of the heavy element creation process amid the neutron star debris, Drout said. After a day or two that blue faded, becoming much fainter and redder. And after three weeks it was completely gone, she said.
The neutron stars’ merger was not a well-kept secret. On Aug. 19, University of California at Santa Barbara astronomer Andy Howell tweeted, “Tonight is one of those nights where watching the astronomical observations roll in is better than any story any human has ever told.” He told The Washington Post on Friday that part of him regretted sending the tweet, after observers and the media connected his and other astronomers’ public hints to an event that set the world’s observatories buzzing. Members of the collaboration still had two months of painstaking work ahead of them, confirming and analyzing their data to make it ready for publication.
But Howell said he was motivated to mark the moment in scientific history. “I wanted to document what it felt like to find something completely new about the universe, that humans have never known,” Howell said.
“It’s really a triumph of science,” Foley said. “We as a civilization have essentially been confined to the Earth, and almost all the information we’ve ever received from the universe has been through light. Yet we were able to predict ... things as extreme as two neutron stars colliding when even the idea of neutron stars is incredible.”
Now that astronomers can use not just light but also gravitational radiation to comprehend the cosmos, he said, “there’s a lot of amazing science that’s going to happen next.”
Scientists don’t know what happened in the wake of the explosion. Neutron stars are too faint to be seen from so far away, so researchers can’t tell if the merger produced one large neutron star, or if the bodies collapsed to form a black hole, which emits no light at all.
But after two months of analysis, the collaborators were ready to inform the world about what they have so far. Their results were announced Monday in more than a dozen papers in the journals Nature, Science and the Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The collaboration’s capstone paper in Astrophysical Journal Letters lists roughly 3,500 authors, approaching the record set in 2015 by 5,154 Large Hadron Collider physicists who estimated the mass of the Higgs boson. If gravitational wave research had already weakened the stereotype of a lone astronomer genius, the dawn of multi-messenger astrophysics dealt it a fatal blow.
“From this point onward,” Cadonati said, “the more we want to know, the more we need to work together.”
Scientists witnessed the ‘fantasy’ collision of two collapsed stars. They’re now hailing a new era in astronomy