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    The precedent for giving the McGuinty premier’s office a special password allowing broad access to dozens of computers was flawed, a veteran IT team leader in the civil service suggested Wednesday.

    Rolf Gitt told the deleted documents trial of two key Dalton McGuinty aides that the handful of premier’s office staff who already had “administrative rights” needed them on their own computers to use a specific program called Open Text.

    “There’s really no rationale” for others to have a special password known as an administrative right because of the risk that computers could be harmed or information in them altered, Gitt added.

    “You give people just as much access as they need to do their jobs. That’s a fundamental security concept … It’s an almost ‘protecting people from themselves’ scenario.”

    Former McGuinty chief of staff David Livingston and deputy chief Laura Miller have pleaded not guilty to breach of trust, mischief in relation to data and misuse of a computer system in the alleged wiping of hard drives before Premier Kathleen Wynne took power in February 2013.

    The charges were laid in the wake of a controversy over the cancellation of gas-fired power plants in Oakville and Mississauga before the 2011 election that reduced McGuinty’s to a minority government. Legislative committees dominated by opposition MPPs later demanded documents explaining the decisions to axe the plants.

    Court heard last week that senior bureaucrats met on Jan. 30, 2013, just days after Wynne was elected Liberal leader, to discuss whether to grant a special password requested by Livingston to clear hard drives of personal information.

    Former cabinet secretary Peter Wallace, who was at that meeting, told Justice Timothy Lipson during his own testimony that his benchmark for deciding whether to issue the password was whether others had them, which would set a precedent.

    Gitt testified Wednesday he was called to a meeting with the Ontario government’s corporate chief information officer, David Nicholl, later that day and asked if he could grant administrative rights to a “group of people.”

    “I don’t need to know technically how to do this,” Gitt quoted Nicholl as saying. “’Can you lay the groundwork for that?’ I told Nicholl I could.”

    “Nicholl said if you can’t do it I will get someone else.”

    Gitt said “it seemed fairly urgent” and he was later “surprised” to learn the password was given to Wendy Wai, an executive assistant in the premier’s office who was not known for computer acumen.

    “I did quite a few ‘help desk’ calls for her,” said Gitt. “We were unclear … what was the purpose” of giving the broad access password to Wai.

    A short time later, the help desk began getting calls that some desktop computers in the McGuinty premier’s office “weren’t operating properly,” Gitt said, prompting him to check event logs and find unusual software and reboots without proper shutdowns.

    “It piqued my interest as to where the heck it came from … at this point we didn’t know what the heck happened.”

    Prosecutors have said the password was given to Miller’s life partner, Peter Faist, a private IT contractor who had previously done work for the Liberal caucus at Queen’s Park.

    Faist, who is not charged, is slated to testify for at least two days starting Friday.

    Retired OPP computer forensics detective Robert Gagnon told court last week that special software called White Canyon was used to wipe 20 of 24 hard drives from the McGuinty premier’s office seized under a search warrant.

    McGuinty was not a subject of the investigation and has co-operated with police.


    Password questions raised at deleted documents trial for former McGuinty aidesPassword questions raised at deleted documents trial for former McGuinty aides

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    The two communities are less than 100 kilometres away from each other, but worlds apart based on density, diversity and design.

    Flemingdon Park is the site of multiple large to mid-size rental towers, public housing and townhomes.

    Georgina Island is the Greater Toronto Area’s only Indigenous reserve, mostly populated by people in single-family homes and somewhat remote, in that it is only accessible by boat.

    Read more:

    The census makes for a colourful portrait, now how do we get along?: Paradkar

    A majority of Torontonians now identify themselves as visible minorities

    Toronto still top-choice for recent immigrants, as more people flock to the Prairies

    What the two places do share is the distinction of being identified as the top two communities in the GTA, in terms of the percentage of housing stock that has been identified as being in need of major repairs, according to 2016 census data released Wednesday.

    Georgina Island has just 115 reported households, but of that total 30 homes or 26.1 per cent of all housing on the island are considered to be in need of serious repairs. The average household size was recorded at 2 people and almost a third of reported properties were single-person dwellings.

    Chief Donna Big Canoe said housing needs on the island are complicated by a combination of funding, infrastructure and costs.

    “A lot of the housing that was built years ago wasn’t up to code, said Big Canoe, who said the top issues are mould and structural problems, including foundations. “We are trying to address it, but there is such a backlog that it takes time.”

    They are also waiting to start work on upgrading their water treatment plant — the island is under a boil-water advisory — and that needs to be done before new homes can be built, she said.

    Because everything comes in by boat any work is complicated by the extra time and costs related to transporting people and building supplies.

    “We are surrounded by water, so we really need to make sure when we do housing it has to be done right,” said Big Canoe.

    A boat ride and about an hour drive southwest is Flemingdon Park, a diverse and densely packed community, primarily in the Eglinton Ave. E. and Don Mills Rd. area.

    Within that neighbourhood, a piece of land near St. Dennis Dr. and the Don Valley Pkwy. has been identified as second on the list of areas where housing is in most need of major repairs.

    The area contains a mix of housing, including private rental towers, lowrise buildings and public housing, including Toronto Community Housing townhomes.

    Of 1,345 reported households, 345 or 25.7 per cent are identified as being in need of serious repair. The average household was recorded at three people and almost half of the total properties were deemed “unsuitable” or overcrowded, in census terms.

    Rev. Beverley Williams, executive director of Flemingdon Park Ministry said the bulk of residents live in low-income and rental housing, filled largely with refugees, immigrants and the working poor.

    “One of the huge issues here is people are underhoused,” said Williams, explaining families of four, five, or six often occupy one-bedroom apartments.

    Despite the density, isolation is a common problem because of language barriers and poverty, she said.

    “It is our number one to get people out of their housing into the community,” said Williams.

    Rental housing and repair standards resulted in what was dubbed a “rent strike,” in buildings in Toronto’s Parkdale area. That action resulted in a settlement between tenants and property manager MetCap Living Management Inc.

    MetCap is about two weeks away from launching a program for lower-income tenants, said president Brent Merrill. Tenants can apply if they have reason to believe a raise in rent could jeopardize their housing and can provide financial documentation to support it, he said.

    MetCap has also tasked a staff member to log and track all repairs in MetCap buildings in Parkdale, said Merrill.

    All Toronto tenants can expect safer and cleaner rental housing, through a new bylaw requiring that landlords keep better track of and stay on top of repairs.

    Toronto landlords must register with the city by October 31.

    The rules apply to about 3,500 rental buildings, or all buildings with three or more storeys and 10 or more units.

    On Monday, 2,149 buildings were registered, according to city staff.

    Also counted among the top five areas with housing in need of major repairs were two areas in Scarborough and a southern portion of the Thorncliffe Park area.

    In Scarborough, in the Lawrence Ave. E. and Scarborough Golf Club Rd. area, of 1,715 identified households 22.7 per cent were reported as being in need of major repairs. In the Brimley Rd. and Eglinton Ave. E. area, of 1,015 identified households 20.2 per cent needed repairs.

    In Thorncliffe Park, south of Thorncliffe Park. Rd. and north of the Don River, of 1,505 households 21.9 per cent were identified as being in need of major repairs.


    Housing repairs are most badly needed in these two GTA communitiesHousing repairs are most badly needed in these two GTA communities

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    Amazon would like you to open your home to strangers. Not in the charitable, Thanksgiving dinner sense, but in the sense that if you’re a woman living alone, you might feel compelled to sleep with a hockey stick under your bed.

    This week the tech giant announced plans to launch a new package delivery service called Amazon Key that will grant Amazon employees permission and access to enter customers’ homes in order to deliver packages they’ve ordered online.

    The benefit to this service, which operates via security camera and a “smart lock” provided by Amazon itself, is that the packages you order online will not be stolen from your front door or otherwise misplaced.

    However, what the company might have failed to consider, judging by the shock and horror the product’s announcement provoked online, is that there are many possibilities in this life more disturbing than having a package stolen from your front door. Like, for example, getting robbed (or worse) by the person who delivers that package after you grant them access to enter your home.

    Or perhaps they did consider the fear that this possibility would stoke. It’s interesting, after all, that in the promotional material for Amazon Key on the company’s website, the model pictured in a delivery uniform stepping inside a customer’s house and dropping off a package is slim, beautiful, and female. So is the model pictured installing the product in a customer’s doorway. In other words, both Amazon employees in the ad are non-threatening (women you’d invite in for a cup of tea, as opposed to men who might sift around in your underwear drawer).

    But this seemingly shrewd marketing technique hasn’t stopped the internet from expounding on all that might go wrong should we let Amazon into our homes. A few choice tweets on the subject: “I’m excited to watch the 2030 Netflix docudrama about the Amazon Key murders,” and my personal favourite: “Amazon Key . . . the long-awaited answer to who let the dogs out.”

    Of course this reaction (though very funny) is decidedly over the top. Amazon couriers are not breaking and entering. They will be given explicit permission to walk into customers’ homes. And no one is being forced to purchase the service. (Packages will continue to be delivered the old-fashioned way.) Customers who do choose to purchase the system for roughly $250 will also be able to watch the deliveries to their homes take place in real time on an app. We are still, I suspect, a long way away from couriers using technology to murder us and let our dogs run out of the house into oncoming traffic.

    But this doesn’t mean that the product’s existence isn’t a creepy sign of things to come. The driving force behind a product like Amazon Key — the reason it exists — is that customers are increasingly comfortable sacrificing privacy for convenience. And it’s the goal of corporations like Amazon to have a monopoly on convenience.

    It’s important to note that Amazon Key is not a one-note service; it’s a means for the company to eventually perform more than 1,000 others. From Amazon’s website: “In the coming months, Amazon Key will provide customers with a convenient way to provide unattended access to professional service providers. This includes services from home cleaning experts Merry Maids and pet sitters and dog walkers from Rover.com, as well as over 1,200 services from Amazon Home Services.”

    A.K.A., Your Life by Amazon.

    It’s fortuitous that the company announced this “unattended access” business feature at the height of our culture’s “emotional labour” conversation. First World people, many of them workingwomen, (like the woman depicted in the product’s promotional video) are overwhelmed and exhausted by the tyranny of the little things. Book the cleaner. Pay the cleaner. Buy a gift for mom before dinner tonight. Wrap it. Take the dogs out. Put the dogs back. Wouldn’t it be great if some benevolent Godlike being could just swoop in and take care of all of it in your absence? Well now it can, for a mere $249.99 and the gradual but total erosion of your privacy.

    My sincere hope is that the online backlash to Amazon Key isn’t just digital noise, but a signal of the product’s pending failure. I hope that Amazon Key tanks badly, as badly as New Coke and Crystal Pepsi combined, sending a message to tech companies that though we are naive enough to let corporations track our movements, our spending habits and our private conversations, we will stop short at letting them, flesh and blood, step through our front doors.

    For now at least.


    Amazon wants to move in with you: TeitelAmazon wants to move in with you: Teitel

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    The director of Canada’s spy service publicly acknowledged Wednesday that his agency suffers from a workplace climate of “retribution, favouritism, bullying and other problems,” which he said is “categorically unacceptable in a high-functioning, professional organization.”

    David Vigneault’s statement was accompanied by an executive summary of a “workplace climate assessment” conducted at the Toronto office of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, which uncovered low morale and a possible exodus of employees who said they felt “disillusioned and disheartened.”

    One employee described the Toronto office as “the region progress forgot.”

    The report’s findings were specific to Toronto, but Vigneault said in his statement that information gathered in the assessment would benefit the entire service of more than 3,000 employees, with its headquarters in Ottawa.

    “Only by putting these kinds of issues on the table, and dealing with them directly, will the Service be able to continue to evolve as a strong, mission focused, and unified organization,” Vigneault wrote.

    The five intelligence officers and analysts who launched a $35-million lawsuit against CSIS this summer said they felt “vindicated” by the report’s findings and the director’s statement.

    “It took our group to come forward, at great personal cost, to finally get CSIS to admit that the organization is rife with harassment, discrimination and bullying. The place was toxic, and they have finally admitted it after years of denial,” wrote “Alex,” one of the complainants in the lawsuit, in an email to the Star.

    Alex alleged that he had faced years of homophobic harassment as an intelligence officer, including offensive emails sent by managers. One allegedly read: “Careful your Muslim in-laws don’t behead you in your sleep for being homo.”

    “Bahira,” a Muslim intelligence officer who had worked in Canada and abroad, thanked her Toronto colleagues for their candour and risking “the wrath of their senior management” in participating in the assessment. She also praised Vigneault for his transparency at what has traditionally been one of Canada’s most secretive organizations.

    “For 15 years as I was working to advance national security investigations, I was also fighting racism and bigotry. Today, I feel somewhat vindicated. I believe CSIS needs a workforce that is strong, engaged, and diverse at all levels. Canadians deserve that,” she wrote Wednesday in an email to the Star.

    “We have been harassed and bullied and beaten down for so long while CSIS managers denied that was a problem, that it is hard to believe that CSIS is finally admitting the truth. I hope it means that real change is possible, but I’m cynical now. I know too much about the organization to trust that anything will be done.”

    In an interview last month with the Star, both Alex and Bahira said they had suffered by the stress of publicly confronting their employer, but felt they had no other choice.

    In both court documents and during the interview last month, they used pseudonyms, since under Canada’s Security of Information Act, identifying a spy can be considered an offence. All five of the complainants are still CSIS employees, but are on medical leave.

    Alex had launched an internal complaint last year before taking a leave, which resulted in a third-party investigation and report. According to their statement of claim, that report found CSIS had an “old boys’ culture” and noted a general fear of managers’ “reprisals, retribution and punishment.”

    But Alex said the findings went nowhere and he alleges his career suffered, forcing him to take a stress leave and seek legal action.

    Although the lawsuit, first reported by the Star, wasn’t filed until July, lawyer John Phillips said the government had been aware of the allegations of his five clients for months.

    This latest workplace assessment at the Toronto office was conducted in April and June and about 30 per cent of the staff participated. It includes testimony from intelligence officers, non-intelligence officers, and managers.

    Other findings in the workplace assessment include:

    • “Frequent rotation of positions does not allow people to get a good handle on the files and managers have no time to make their mark or recover from their mistakes.”

    • “The culture of the organization is described as one where you are harshly blamed for mistakes and penalized; you do what you are told.”

    • “(S)ome pockets where jokes and discriminatory comments are still being made with regards to ethnicity and communities being monitored. There is still some bias against women and a general lack of thoughtfulness toward cultural differences and sensitivities.”

    • Weekly drinking sessions of “the in-group,” either at the office or a nearby pub where “decisions — often staffing decisions — were made.”

    • “Decisions regarding advancement are solely based on relationships and not competencies or experience. Reputations and relationships are therefore everything, but at the same time very fragile.”

    In describing a history of an “old boys’ club” climate, those interviewed spoke of behaviours that “included yelling, swearing, disrespectful, demeaning, misogynistic, offensive and inappropriate comments and jokes about employees from other employees but also managers.”

    The report did not address any of the specific allegations of the five employees suing CSIS. Those have not been proven in court.

    As the Star reported Tuesday, a federal judge slammed the Department of Justice for not responding faster to the claim.

    “(T)here is a course of action to be followed and you are no different from any other parties in Canada,” Justice Simon Noël said told government lawyers, according to a transcript of a September teleconference call. “It is not because you are the Attorney General of Canada that you can act as if the Rules do no apply. This is not acceptable.”

    Noël said the government had until Friday to file a statement of defence.

    According to the transcript of the Sept. 13 call with Noël, the government is attempting to “resolve the claim.”


    Head of spy agency CSIS admits ‘retribution, favouritism, bullying’ in workplaceHead of spy agency CSIS admits ‘retribution, favouritism, bullying’ in workplace

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    A 13-year-old boy has been arrested after a woman was sexually assaulted in Mississauga.

    Peel police said around 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 8, a 45-year-old woman was sexually assaulted near a roadway by Wharton Way and Dundas St. E.

    Another woman, 22, was assaulted around 4 p.m. the same day in the area of Dundas St. E and Universal Dr.

    The boy has been charged with one count of sexual assault, as well as two counts of assault.

    Const. Lori Murphy said police “put out a news release and it was the public that responded, and ended up assisting us and identifying the individual.”

    Murphy added that because the boy is under 18, his identity has been protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.


    Boy, 13, charged in sexual assaultBoy, 13, charged in sexual assault

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    Airbnb is calling its new partnership with a Toronto condominium a milestone arrangement that is designed to improve the short-term rental market experience in the building near the city’s waterfront.

    But critics are crying foul, suggesting Airbnb’s deal with the board at Neptune Waterpark Condominiums (209 and 215 Fort York Rd.) is further proof Airbnb is in the business of turning residential developments into hotels.

    “Countless studies have shown that short-term rental services like Airbnb make cities even more expensive to live in by reducing long-term rental stock,” said Thorben Wieditz, of the Fairbnb, a coalition started by a union representing hospitality workers.

    Buildings such as Neptune condos were designed, zoned, approved, and built to be residential condos, not hotels, he added.

    “Hotels have different zoning laws, design needs, safety requirements, regulatory obligations, and tax burdens than residential condos. If Airbnb and the Neptune condo board want to be in the hotel business, they should follow the same rules as the regulated hotel industry.”

    Under the arrangement with Neptune, Airbnb will provide its hosts with primary property insurance up to $1 million and extend liability insurance — also up to $1 million — to cover the building’s common areas.

    The building will also have its own online portal showing short-term rental activity, including a record of how many guests are staying in a unit and when they are checking in or out.

    And Airbnb will help establish rules, such as those relating to parking and pets. The building will receive a cut of each booking, anywhere between 5 and 15 per cent, an Airbnb news release said.

    The agreement under Airbnb’s Friendly Buildings Program is the first in Canada and outside the United States, said Aaron Zifkin, regional director for Airbnb in North America.

    It also comes just as the city of Toronto moves ahead with plans to licence and regulate short-term rentals, limiting them to a person’s principal residence.

    “We’ve been working with buildings … and just really trying to understand what the opportunities are,” Zifkin said Wednesday. “We think that with this new program we’re going to really increase our involvement with these buildings.”

    Airbnb, which has listings for properties in 63,000 cities around the world, has struck similar deals with buildings in Jersey City, San Jose, and Kissimee, Florida.

    Nick Bednarz, owner/resident and vice-president of the Neptune Condo board, rejected the characterization that the Airbnb deal turns the property into a hotel. It goes into effect Nov. 1.

    “Short-term rentals have been allowed and been in place since the building was constructed,” he wrote in email. “This doesn’t change that, it puts a framework in place whereby we now have some controls to better manage the situation.”

    Renters live in 75 per cent of the complex’s 871 units while the rest are owner occupied. Bednarz said Airbnb told him 80 units have appeared on the platform.

    At a town hall meeting, building residents — both renters and owners — complained about noise and cleaning issues due to the high volume of traffic, though “both equally apply to standard rentals,” and Airbnb, he wrote.

    As a result, the board initially sought to ban short-term rentals but that vote, requiring 80 per cent of owner support, failed.

    About 100 owners attending an annual general meeting made it “very clear” they preferred the status quo allowing short-term rentals, leading the board to work directly with Airbnb, Bednarz said. The five-member board unanimously voted in favor of the deal.

    At city hall on Wednesday, Mayor John Tory said he had some concerns about the Airbnb/Neptune deal, including the impact it has on the supply of housing for permanent residents.

    “We need every available housing unit to be available to people who are going to live in them, as opposed to staying in them on a transient basis or having them as hotel rooms or leaving them empty.”


    Historic Canadian Airbnb-condo deal makes it a hotel: criticsHistoric Canadian Airbnb-condo deal makes it a hotel: critics

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    LOS ANGELES—George Springer circled the bases after hitting a two-run homer off Brandon McCarthy in the 11th inning.

    Would it be enough? Was this the final plot twist in one of the wildest World Series games ever?

    Yes, it was — barely — and the Houston Astros won a World Series game for the first time in their 56-season history.

    Charlie Culberson hit a two-out homer in the bottom half off winner Chris Devenski, who then struck out Yasiel Puig in a nine-pitch at-bat. The Astros outlasted the Los Angeles Dodgers 7-6 in a Hollywood thriller Wednesday night to tie the Series at one game apiece.

    On a night of dramatic swings and a World Series-record eight home runs, Marwin Gonzalez stunned the Dodger Stadium crowd with a solo shot off dominant closer Kenley Jansen in the ninth that made it 3-all.

    Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa hit consecutive home runs against Josh Fields in the 10th to build a 5-3 Astros lead.

    But there was more. Much, much more.

    Puig homered off Ken Giles starting the bottom of the 10th and Enrique Hernandez knotted the score 5-5 with a two-out RBI single.

    Devenski entered and, with Hernandez at second, a wild pickoff throw headed toward centre field before it struck second base umpire Laz Diaz. An incredulous Hernandez put both hands on his head, unable to advance, and was stranded when Chris Taylor flied out.

    Cameron Maybin, who had entered in the 10th, singled leading off the 11th against Brandon McCarthy, a surprise addition to the Dodgers’ World Series roster who was pitching for the first time since Oct. 1. Maybin stole second and Springer hit a drive to centre for a 7-5 lead, just the third 11th-inning home run in Series history after shots by Kirby Puckett in 1991 and David Freese in 2011.

    Devenski retired Corey Seager and Justin Turner on line-outs. Puig checked his swing on a 2-and-2 pitch — the Astros jumped when first base umpire Gerry Davis signalled no swing — and Puig fouled off two more. Devenski threw his fifth straight changeup, and Puig swung over it as the Astros ran onto the field to celebrate.

    After another steamy night in a Santa Ana heat wave, the series shifts to Texas and resumes Friday at Houston’s Minute Maid Park, where the retractable roof has not been open for a game since June 8. Lance McCullers Jr. starts for the Astros and Yu Darvish for the Dodgers, who acquired him from Texas at the July 31 trade deadline.

    Houston is 6-0 at home in the post-season but just 1-7 on the road.


    Astros strike back vs. Dodgers in World Series Game 2Astros strike back vs. Dodgers in World Series Game 2Astros strike back vs. Dodgers in World Series Game 2Astros strike back vs. Dodgers in World Series Game 2Astros strike back vs. Dodgers in World Series Game 2Astros strike back vs. Dodgers in World Series Game 2Astros strike back vs. Dodgers in World Series Game 2Astros strike back vs. Dodgers in World Series Game 2Astros strike back vs. Dodgers in World Series Game 2Astros strike back vs. Dodgers in World Series Game 2Astros strike back vs. Dodgers in World Series Game 2Astros strike back vs. Dodgers in World Series Game 2Astros strike back vs. Dodgers in World Series Game 2Astros strike back vs. Dodgers in World Series Game 2Astros strike back vs. Dodgers in World Series Game 2Astros strike back vs. Dodgers in World Series Game 2

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    JAKARTA, INDONESIA—An explosion and inferno at a fireworks factory near the Indonesian capital on Thursday killed at least 47 people, most of them female workers who were apparently locked inside, and injured dozens.

    Witnesses said a huge explosion was heard from the factory at about 10 a.m. local time and then smaller blasts echoed across the neighbourhood as orange flames jumped from the building and a column of black smoke billowed from it.

    The death toll could rise as many of those who escaped suffered extensive burns, said Nico Afinta, general crimes director at Jakarta police. He said bodies were found piled at the rear of the building.

    Police said 103 people were working at the factory and 10 are still unaccounted for. It’s possible some or all of those 10 had not come to work or suffered only minor injuries and didn’t seek medical attention, said Jakarta police spokesperson Argo Yuwono.

    A local resident told Indonesia’s MetroTV he saw police and residents smash through a wall of the factory so trapped workers could escape. Some of the victims were burning as they ran out, he said.

    “The fire began with a strong explosion like a bomb,” Benny, who goes by one name, told the TV channel.

    A worker who escaped the fire said the factory’s staff was mostly women employed on a casual basis.

    Mumum, who goes by one name, told Indonesia’s TVOne she started working at the factory a few weeks ago and was paid $3 U.S. a day.

    “I lost so many friends. I couldn’t help. Everybody just ran for safety,” she said, weeping.

    The factory is located next to a residential area in Tangerang, a city in Banten province on the western outskirts of Jakarta. A police report said the fire spread after an explosion that caused the roof to collapse.

    Video showed flames shooting meters above the structure and billowing clouds of black smoke spreading across the neighbourhood as residents looked on in horror.

    Tangerang police chief Hary Kurniawan said 46 injured people were being treated at three hospitals.

    The factory had been operating for less than two months, he said.

    “We are still investigating the cause of the fire and questioning witnesses,” Kurniawan told reporters. “Factory owners or anyone who neglects and violates safety rules should be held legally responsible.”

    Minister of Manpower Hanif Dhakiri said his department would investigate the factory for allegedly employing underaged workers.

    MetroTV, quoting a local official, said although the factory had a permit, its proximity to a residential area was against regulations.

    Safety laws are inconsistently enforced or even completely ignored in Indonesia, a poor and sprawling archipelago nation where worker rights are often treated as a lower priority than economic growth and jobs.


    Explosion at Indonesia firecracker factory kills at least 47Explosion at Indonesia firecracker factory kills at least 47Explosion at Indonesia firecracker factory kills at least 47Explosion at Indonesia firecracker factory kills at least 47Explosion at Indonesia firecracker factory kills at least 47Explosion at Indonesia firecracker factory kills at least 47

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    A 55-year-old man is in life-threatening condition after a shooting in Brampton early Thursday morning.

    Just before 4:30 a.m., Peel police said they responded to a call for a man suffering from a gunshot wound near a strip mall in the Queen St. E. and West Dr. area.

    Investigators told media on scene that the victim had been shot in the Clark Blvd. and West Dr. area after a confrontation between the victim and the suspect. After the situation escalated, police said the victim was shot.

    He then drove himself north on West Dr., towards Queen St. E., where he was found in life-threatening condition by officers who were in the area.


    Brampton shooting leaves man, 55, in life-threatening conditionBrampton shooting leaves man, 55, in life-threatening condition

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    More than 56 years after a plane crash killed Dag Hammarskjold, the secretary general of the United Nations, an authoritative report released Wednesday said it appeared plausible that an “external attack or threat” may have downed the airplane carrying him and 15 others on an epochal peace mission in Africa.

    The finding by Justice Mohamed Chande Othman, a senior Tanzanian jurist who was asked by the United Nations to review both old and newly uncovered evidence, gave weight to a long-standing suspicion that Hammarskjold may have been assassinated.

    The crash, which happened in the overnight hours of Sept. 17-18, 1961, remains a painful open wound in the history of the United Nations and one of the 20th century’s most enduring mysteries.

    Othman’s report, which was released after repeated delays, offered a further rebuttal of the idea, advanced in inquiries soon after the crash, that pilot error or some other accident had caused Hammarskjold’s chartered DC-6 airplane to crash in woodlands in what is now Zambia.

    Moreover, Othman’s conclusion reinforced the theory that the plane had been deliberately brought down, either by what the judge called “direct attack” or by a “momentary distraction” that took away “the pilots’ attention for a matter of seconds at the critical point at which they were on their descent.”

    At the time, Hammarskjold was flying to Ndola, in what was then Northern Rhodesia, for negotiations to end secession and civil war in the neighbouring mineral-rich Congolese province of Katanga. The Katangese separatists were supported by Western political and mining interests not eager to see Hammarskjold’s diplomacy succeed.

    In recent years, much attention has focused on the extent to which Western governments and their intelligence agencies, including those of Britain, the United States and Belgium, the former colonial power in Congo, have withheld information relating to Hammarskjold’s death.

    Othman said in a summary of the report that these countries had provided some “valuable new information” in response to his requests.

    At the same time, he said, the “burden of proof” has now shifted to member states of the United Nations to “show that they have conducted a full review of records and archives in their custody or possession, including those that remain classified, for potentially relevant information.”

    His remarks seemed to reinforce many earlier suggestions that, for whatever reason, Western governments were loath to disclose their full knowledge about what had befallen Hammarskjold, a Swedish diplomat who died at a tipping point in African history between colonial rule and independence.

    At the time, Congo had achieved a fraught independence from Belgium, while British and Portuguese colonial rule still prevailed farther south. The secession of the southern Congolese province of Katanga illuminated the competition among rival superpowers and commercial interests for influence over the course of Africa’s future.

    For supporters of Katanga’s secession, Hammarskjold was a reviled figure.

    Such were the concerns about his safety that, in the hours before he died, his airplane, call-sign SE-BDY, flew a circuitous route, skirting Congolese territory and observing near-total radio silence before it began its approach to Ndola.

    In the attempts to reconstruct the final moments of the flight, myriad theories about the causes of the crash have emerged, including miscalculations by the pilots of their altitude and the sudden appearance in the nighttime skies of a secessionist jet warplane flown by a mercenary pilot.

    Othman’s report said, “There is a significant amount of evidence from eyewitnesses that they observed more than one aircraft in the air, that the other aircraft may have been a jet, that SE-BDY may have been on fire before it crashed and/or that SE-BDY was fired upon or otherwise actively engaged by another aircraft. In its totality, this evidence is not easily dismissed.”

    While the judge’s report is not a precursor to opening or reopening a formal investigation, he expressed hope it would help generate momentum to uncover more facts, “which is now more than ever necessary to allow us to fill the remaining gaps in the narrative.”

    Susan Williams, a British academic whose 2011 book Who Killed Hammarskjold? inspired the latest phase of high-level interest in the crash, said Othman’s report “reinforces my strong suspicion of foul play.”

    “The onus is now on the U.K., the U.S., Belgium, France and South Africa, to release all relevant documents, including the secret records of their security and intelligence agencies and all intercepts” of radio traffic relating to the case, she said in an interview. She also urged multinational companies operating in the area to “release relevant records.”

    One issue focused on the capability of Katangese secessionist forces and their foreign hires to attack Hammarskjold’s plane.

    At the time, the secessionists were using French-built Fouga Magister warplanes. Earlier inquiries had discounted their deployment because they lacked flying range, despite witness testimony about a second plane seen that night as Hammarskjold’s DC-6 approached Ndola.

    But more recent evidence suggested that one or more Fouga Magisters could have flown a combat mission or harassed the DC-6 at a critical moment on its approach.

    Othman also said there had been evidence that the British colonial authorities had sought to ensure that early inquiries ascribed the crash to pilot error. But, he said, that conclusion should now be considered “logically unsound.”

    He noted that, in the past few years, the United States had acknowledged the activities of CIA officers in the Congo region and changed the narrative about the presence of Fouga Magisters in Katanga and U.S. DC-3 Dakotas on the ground in Ndola at the time of the crash.

    “Judging from history and the manner in which potential new information has emerged over the years,” his report said, “it is still likely that additional information will be located, unearthed or made available.”


    Hammarskjold crash likely not an accident, UN report suggestsHammarskjold crash likely not an accident, UN report suggestsHammarskjold crash likely not an accident, UN report suggestsHammarskjold crash likely not an accident, UN report suggests

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    Ontario electricity rate hikes will be held to the rate of inflation over the next four years, according to the province’s latest Long-Term Energy Plan.

    In the first energy blueprint since 2013, the Liberal government said prices will actually be lower than forecast four years ago — thanks to the 25 per cent rebate known as the Fair Hydro Plan that took effect this past summer.

    Read more:

    The truth about hydro in Ontario: an updated fact check

    Energy regulator orders Hydro One to cut administrative budget by $30 million over two years

    Hydro One revenue down as milder weather impacts demand

    The average monthly residential bill this year is $127 — down from $170 predicted in the last Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP).

    In 2027, that monthly bill is anticipated to be $181 — lower than the $200 estimate from the 2013 LTEP. By 2035, it should be $193 a month.

    “The projected residential price electricity will remain below the outlooks in the 2010 and 2013 LTEP,” the government said in the 155-page outlook.

    “Projected electricity prices for large consumers will, on average, be in line with inflation over the forecast period,” it said.

    Between 2021 and 2027, rates are expected to gradually rise by an average of 5 per cent annually.

    “The 2017 Long-Term Energy Plan outlines our investments to date and how we plan to continue building an energy system with fairness and choice for people across the province,” Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault said Thursday at Queen’s Park.

    Facing widespread outcry over rising hydro prices — and with an election set for June 7, 2018 — the government launched the so-called Fair Hydro Plan earlier this year.

    Thibeault said it spreads the costs of $70 billion in electricity infrastructure improvements from the past decade over a lengthier repayment period.

    He likened it to refinancing a mortgage to have lower payments now but with those spread out over a longer period of time.

    “The Fair Hydro Plan is a policy that reduces rates immediately and effectively,” said Thibeault.

    “We’ve heard from families that they can’t handle the sharp increases that were taking place in previous years and are working to ensure that does not happen again,” he said.

    With an election looming, Thibeault lashed out at the Progressive Conservatives and the New Democrats for not providing viable alternatives to the Liberals’ plans.

    “Both parties voted against Ontario’s Fair Hydro Plan — the single largest rate reduction in the province’s history.”

    Auditor general Bonnie Lysyk has estimated the $39.4-billion scheme could cost Ontario ratepayers an additional $4 billion in higher interest charges over 30 years.

    There is some good news for many condominium residents in Thursday’s blueprint.

    The Ontario Energy Board (OEB), the independent regulator that controls prices, will be given authority over 326,000 condo and apartment units in 2,500 buildings across the province that currently pay their bills to private companies that meter usage.

    “Consumers have told both the province and the OEB that they would like to know more about how these decisions are made and what they are being asked to pay for,” the LTEP said.

    “Improving consumer protection and strengthening the OEB’s regulatory powers ... would ensure that their fees and charges are just and reasonable and that customers served by these companies receive value for money.”

    Overall, Ontario’s current electricity supply mix includes 53.5 per cent of generation coming from nuclear power, 21.3 per cent from water, 7.5 per cent from natural gas, 6.2 per cent from wind, and 2 per cent from solar.

    The government estimates that the equivalent of 8.6 per cent of supply is coming from conservation efforts.

    There are no new major energy projects announced in the plan — the Liberals believe existing infrastructure as well as increased small green-energy, such as roof-top solar panels, will be enough to meet demand over the next 18 years.


    Hydro rates to remain stable through 2020: energy planHydro rates to remain stable through 2020: energy plan

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    When computers in the McGuinty premier’s office started malfunctioning early in 2013, the government’s IT staff quickly suspected a special password as the culprit, a retired civil servant said Thursday.

    “That was one of the first things we thought of,” Tom Stenson, then the manager of IT support for the premier’s office and cabinet office, told the criminal trial of two key McGuinty aides.

    The trial has heard the password was requested by then-chief of staff David Livingston to clear hard drives of personal information before Premier Kathleen Wynne took over from McGuinty in February 2013.

    Livingston and deputy chief Laura Miller are charged with breach of trust, mischief in relation to data and misuse of a computer system in the alleged wiping of hard drives during the political transition period.

    At the time, the McGuinty government had been under pressure to reveal documents related to the controversial closing of natural gas-fired power plants in Oakville and Mississauga before the 2011 election.

    Livingston and Miller have pleaded not guilty.

    After some debate among senior bureaucrats worried that it could be used improperly, the special password was given to premier’s office administrative assistant, Wendy Wai.

    It allowed access to “80 or 90 computers,” Stenson told Crown attorney Ian Bell, raising concerns about the risks that computer files could be altered.

    “This is very unusual . . . to grant such administrative rights on such a scope,” Stenson added, noting it was the first time in his 27-year civil service career he’d heard of such a step.

    The computer help desk started getting calls that desktops would not boot up properly.

    “We started to see a pattern,” said Stenson. “It seemed to be software-related.”

    Later, IT staff were tasked by a senior cabinet office bureaucrat to preserve desktops from the McGuinty premier’s office in a “secure location,” a step Stenson described as “a little bit unusual.”

    Under cross-examination by Miller lawyer Scott Hutchison, Stenson said the troubles that premier’s office staff experienced logging in to their computers were resolved.

    He acknowledged that IT staff for the Liberal caucus of MPPs at Queen’s Park would sometimes attend the premier’s office to help staff using the Citrix program to access Liberal party servers.

    The Crown contends that Miller’s spouse Peter Faist, a private IT consultant, used the special password to install White Canyon software to delete files on a number of premier’s office computers.

    Faist, who is not charged, is slated to testify Friday.

    McGuinty was not under investigation and co-operated with police.


    'Special password' gave McGuinty's chief of staff sweeping administrative rights, trial hears'Special password' gave McGuinty's chief of staff sweeping administrative rights, trial hears

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    If 6-year-old Steven Spice is going to tell you why part of his skull was surgically removed, he’ll ask you first to guess his favourite colour. When you land on the right answer — blue — he’ll ask you to guess his brother’s.

    So the process goes, prattling through the hue preferences of everyone he knows, until the precocious tot is satisfied enough to talk shop. “Sick Kids actually saved my life,” he said, perched on a tall director-style chair in the early hours of a mid-September morning.

    “I would have died.”

    With that cleared up, he returned to trivia about colours.

    That was the nature of the Hospital for Sick Children’s latest campaign video — the emotional black and white video which was released this morning, to kick off a campaign to rebuild the aging hospital.

    The heartwarming video shows Sick Kids patients and some actors scavenging in houses for building supplies, dismantling a building, and blanketing downtown Toronto streets as they rush to build the hospital a new facility.

    The campaign goal is $1.3 billion, meant to address a wide swath of issues with the existing hospital. The neonatal intensive care unit, which tends to babies with high infection susceptibility, is still a ward-style room designed in the 1980s. In the pediatric intensive care unit, low ceilings and a lack of space mean they can’t adapt to new technology.

    While Sick Kids performs more than 50 per cent of bone marrow transplants in Canada, the unit’s air filtration system doesn’t currently have the state-of-the-art infection control technologies they want, and while patients face diarrhea as a side-effect of their medication, patient rooms there don’t have private washrooms.

    While Steven took a small break from filming — cheerfully annihilating zombies on his mom’s phone — his mother, Crystal, talked to the Star about her son’s diagnosis. Chiari malformation; it’s like a blister on his spine, she said.

    Halfway through the conversation, another parent slipped into the tent. Jodi Baxter’s son Jack has grown up as a patient at Sick Kids, battling severe epilepsy. Dark days were scattered throughout his childhood— days where she was faced with what she believed to be final goodbyes with her son.

    But every time, the now-14-year-old came back to her.

    Crystal and Jodi shared knowing glances while comparing experiences, getting their sons home and back to regular schooling. Both expressed unfathomable gratitude to the staff at Sick Kids for getting them there.

    But while affection for the hospital ran deep, patients and their parents also didn’t scrub the unflattering details about Sick Kids out of their experiences.

    When Emma Neagu, 14, was first diagnosed with bone cancer in her leg and her lungs, she and her mom were bombarded with information they didn’t understand in quick succession.

    “It’s going to be a long process, but you’re going to have this surgery called rotationplasty, they’re going to take your leg, and twist it,” Emma recalled. “And she started explaining – mom, you remember?”

    Her mother, Claudia, shook her head. She recalled asking the doctor to stop, and saying that it was too much information. Later on in Emma’s treatment, when she and that doctor became much more familiar with one another, they came to an understanding.

    Both Emma and her mom acknowledged that the medical team had only meant to assure the then 12-year-old that she had options for treatment.

    For the months that followed, they say that the physicians at Sick Kids went above and beyond to make Emma feel comfortable. One went so far as to pass along his cellphone number, telling her to text him if she ever needed to.

    Emma, ever the teenager, giddily pulled up an old yearbook photo she’d found of one of her doctors. They went to the same high school, she said. Another photo showed the pair of them recently, beaming beside each other.

    The photos in her phone show moments of difficulty, but also moments of triumph. She had elected to have the rotationplasty — where the top half of her leg was amputated, the bottom half was twisted and re-attached so that her ankle formed a new knee — over a procedure that would have kept the cosmetic appearance of her leg.

    That way, she could do anything she wanted.

    And before dashing off for another scene, the 14-year-old happily displayed a photo of herself proving that true: with a waterproof prosthetic in place, doing a handstand on a paddle board.


    Sick Kids kicks off $1.3B rebuilding campaign with patients who know hospital bestSick Kids kicks off $1.3B rebuilding campaign with patients who know hospital best

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