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Published: Tue, 21 Feb 2017 01:00:56 EST

Last Build Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2017 01:00:56 EST

Copyright: Copyright Toronto Star 1996-2013 ,

Canada-U.S. border the final frontier for refugee-seekers

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 21:21:00 EST

SAINT-BERNARD-DE-LACOLLE, QUE.—Security officials scrambled on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border Monday morning when two men, a young woman and an infant made their way to the busiest hole in the frontier.On the American side, the group was flagged to the U.S. Border Patrol. Agents intervened and brought them in for questioning and verifications to ensure that they were legally in the country, said Norman Lague, an officer with the agency.When they passed the inspection, the group loaded their three backpacks, the baby’s diaper bag, a stroller and car seat into a silver taxi van and continued along Roxham Road, a dusty dead-end street, on their way to Canada.It is a version of the scenario that happens now several times a day — every day — here near the Quebec town of Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle — a taxi arrives, a family emerges, luggage is hauled across a border that is nothing more than a ditch, the RCMP arrests the asylum seekers, and takes them to be processed into an already overloaded system. Read more:Montreal becomes third Canadian sanctuary city for non-status refugeesToronto not truly a ‘Sanctuary City,’ report saysHow Canada should react to Trump and refugee crisis: OpinionBut despite the heartwarming photos of police officers helping with young children, or offering an arm to negotiate the slippery snowbanks, it appears that the status quo is starting to stress Canada’s border protection and refugee-intake system.From corporals to a staff sergeant to an inspector, the Mounties who spoke to reporters during a media tour Monday were too stoic to admit such a thing. But Brad Cutris, an acting division chief with the U.S. Border Patrol said it loud and clear from the American side of the border in response to questions lobbed at him a few feet away in Canada.“A solution would be great,” he said.Like what? a Radio-Canada journalist asked, while teetering on the snowy bank of a creek running between the two countries.“I wish I knew, ma’am. I’m not a policy-maker.”Monday’s group of stunned and likely frightened border crossers was greeted in Canada by many of the nation’s media outlets, plus a few American journalists who were visiting to better understand that the U.S. is not alone in having people streaming across its borders.The tour for reporters began at the RCMP’s emergency operations centre in downtown Montreal, where the force showed off its remote surveillance capabilities, including high-resolution cameras and regular helicopter patrols.Cpl. François Gagnon, a media spokesperson with the force, told reporters that the increase in illegal border crossings into Canada has been the greatest in Quebec. It has meant more work for patrol officers but not more than the force can handle, he emphasized.But when the tour moved on to Roxham Road — a once-unknown country street that has become Canada’s version of Ellis Island for some migrants — Gagnon was among the dozen RCMP officers thrust into action when unexpected border-crossers arrived. The 13 dramatic minutes from the time that the migrants’ taxi pulled up to the border in the U.S. to the time they were driven away in Canada was captured by frenzied photographers and television cameras.Unlike other asylum seekers who obtain tourist visas to travel to the U.S. and make their way directly to Canada upon arrival, this group appears to have been living south of the border for some time. One of the men who had pulled his black toque down to hide his face told Cpl. Gagnon that he was from Eritrea and had been living in the U.S. since 2013. Another RCMP officer who seized the border-crossers’ passports held a Minnesota drivers licence and what appeared to be a Sudanese passport in his hands.At Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Quebec’s largest border crossing, Canada’s newest refugee claimants would have been taken to the basement of a decommissioned building that has been set up [...]

Media Files:

Winter Stations bring whimsical designs to the Beach

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 23:50:00 EST

A hall of mirrored buoys, an upside-down forest, a giant dog made of recycled materials. For the third year in a row, the Winter Stations Design Competition has made over eight lifeguard stations in the Beach into fantastical art projects. Dotting the sandy shore, from the foot of Woodbine Ave. nearly all the way to Balmy Beach Club, the winter stations will add some artistic curiosity to the chilly water front for the next five weeks. “One of the reasons (Toronto) is a glorious city is because of the arts,” said Mayor John Tory, who was on hand Monday afternoon to help unveil the installations. “This celebrates artists from here and from abroad and it allows part of the soul of the city to come out. It allows people to each have their own reaction to these creative installations that we’re seeing on the beach in the winter.”More than 350 designs were submitted from around the world. Five winning ideas, selected by a jury that included design professionals and past Winter Station winners, have been built, along with three student constructions from the University of Toronto, University of Waterloo and Humber College.Each design draws inspiration from water, the environment or the human condition.“I See You Ashiyu,” by Asuka Kono and Rachel Salmela of Toronto replicates a steamy Japanese foot bath near the water’s edge.“The Beacon,” by Joao Araujo Sousa and Joanna Correia Silva of Porto, Portugal, is a charitable donation box in the form of an eight-metre-tall wooden tower. “The main inspiration behind it is the lighthouse at the beach,” said Sousa. “We came to find out that it actually relates to the chimneys that we can see,” he added, pointing to the towers of the water treatment plant at Ashbridges Bay.“BuoyBuoyBuoy,” by Dionisios Vriniotis, Rob Shostak, Dakota Wares-Tani, and Julie Forand of Toronto, is a cluster of clear, opaque and reflective discs, cut in the shape of buoys.“We wanted people to look at this, experience it and think about their memories of water,” said Shostak.“At different times of day and in different weather you might not even see the form the way that you might think it actually is . . . Just like your memories, you kind of still don’t grasp everything perfectly.”The winter stations are all open to interpretation, Tory said. “It’s is a universal language. Everybody can come to these installations and have an opinion and talk to each other about them,” said the mayor. “It’s one of those things that brings together a city that is diverse in many different respects.”The Winter Stations will remain on display until March 27. "The Illusory" by Humber College is one of eight art installations taking over life guard stations along the Beaches boardwalk for the third annual Winter Stations contest.BuoyBuoyBuoy by Dionisios Vriniotis, Rob Shostak, Dakota Wares-Tani and Julie Forand. Winter Stations is a competition in The Beach that sees eight lifeguard stations transformed into art installations.A group of friends pose for a selfie in Collective Memory, the winter station by Mario Garci­a and Andrea GoviMilan. Flotsam and Jetsam by the University of Waterloo is a Winter Station in the shape of a giant dog.North by studio PERCH, uses Christmas trees hung upside down. More than 350 designs were submitted from around the world.Midwinter Fire by Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toronto. Each design draws inspiration from wter, the environment or the human condition.[...] I See You Ashiyu by Asuka Kono and Rachel Salmela has a wood stove and seating area.

Media Files:

Five-year ORNGE criminal probe wrapping up

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 22:55:13 EST

The five-year-old criminal investigation into kickback allegations involving ORNGE air ambulance is about to wrap up.Ontario Provincial Police spokesperson Peter Leon confirmed that the investigation is close to completion, but would not say whether charges will be laid or provide any explanation for the unusually lengthy probe.“I have reached out to Detective Superintendent (David) Truax and can confirm that the criminal investigation is still ongoing and anticipated to be completed soon,” said Leon. The investigation of former ORNGE boss Dr. Chris Mazza began in February 2012 after a series of Toronto Star stories that probed safety issues and allegations of connections between Mazza and suppliers, including Italian helicopter company AgustaWestland.The story that brought in OPP detectives revealed how after ORNGE bought helicopters from the Italian company, a private, Mazza-controlled firm received a payment of $4.7 million and the promise of $2 million more from AgustaWestland. The Italian firm has said it did nothing wrong and is trying to retrieve some of that $4.7-million payment in court. The OPP was asked by the province to investigate that transaction, along with other transactions.In the aftermath, Mazza and many top officials at ORNGE lost their jobs and a new board of directors was put in place. ORNGE is a provincially funded and regulated agency that receives $150 million annually. It operates a fleet of fixed-wing planes and helicopters tasked with providing air ambulance service.Mazza took over the provincial air ambulance agency in 2005, rebranding it ORNGE. Years later, a conservative critic of the Liberal government would quip that the beleaguered ORNGE dropped the “A” because A stood for “accountability.”Mercurial at times, Mazza, a former emergency room doctor from Sunnybrook Hospital, took the agency on a dizzying ride. Executive compensation rose, with Mazza the biggest beneficiary. In six years he was paid almost $10 million. He also took ski trips and international junkets, often with his girlfriend, an ORNGE executive. It was not unusual for his hotel room bill on international trips to be $2,400 for the night. He would also hand in parking receipts for as little as 75 cents. Other executives were highly paid, though for years the agency hid their salaries, which by law should have been disclosed to the public. ORNGE executives who were in favour with Mazza were allowed to enrol in company paid executive MBAs.Kelly Long, Mazza’s girlfriend and an ORNGE vice-president, received an Ornge-funded executive MBA from the Richard Ivey business school at Western University in London. Five other executives received Ornge-funded business degrees at a total cost of $600,000.It was the helicopter deal with AgustaWestland that prompted then-Liberal health minister Deb Matthews to call in police.When the Star began unravelling the ORNGE story, a document surfaced showing that not long after the Mazza-controlled ORNGE bought 12 AgustaWestland choppers at a cost of $144 million, AgustaWestland made a hefty payment to ORNGE Peel, a company created by Mazza (the name was later changed to ORNGE Global. The payment was for $4.7 million and a promise of $2 million more that was never paid.On paper, the money was to pay for “marketing services” the Mazza-led private ORNGE Peel company performed for AgustaWestland. Delving into that agreement, the Star discovered those “marketing services” consisted of a small binder of information pulled together by Long.When the matter was raised at a provincial committee probing the ORNGE scandal, a former ORNGE executive revealed that ORNGE paid AgustaWestland $7 million more than it was obligated to. Police detectives were asked to probe the deal and find out if the money to the Mazza company was, as one critic described it in the legislature, a “kickback.”The OPP has refused to discuss the case. Sources have told[...]

Media Files:

Milo Yiannopoulos loses book deal, CPAC role over comments on pedophilia

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 19:28:23 EST

NEW YORK—Milo Yiannopoulos’ publisher has cancelled his planned book, Dangerous just as the Conservative Political Action Conference has disinvited him from speaking at this year’s event over the publication of a video in which he condones sexual relations with boys as young as 13 and laughs off the seriousness of pedophilia by Roman Catholic priests. Simon & Schuster and its Threshold Editions imprint announced Monday that “after careful consideration” they had pulled the book, which had been high on’s bestseller lists and was the subject of intense controversy.Dangerous was originally scheduled to come out in March. But Yiannopoulos had pushed back the release to June so he could write about the uprisings during his recent campus tour.More than 100 Simon & Schuster authors had objected to his book deal. Author Roxane Gay withdrew a planned book with the publisher in protest of his book deal. The cancellation of the book deal comes days after Jeremy Scahill, the founding editor of the online news publication The Intercept, cancelled his appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher last week in protest of Yiannopoulos’ appearance on the same show.Read more:Violent protests force cancellation of speech by Milo Yiannopoulos at UC BerkeleyChildren’s authors among 160 literaries denouncing publisher for right wing bookTwitter bans Breitbart editor over abuse of Ghostbusters star Leslie JonesMeanwhile, Yiannopoulos has also been disinvited to this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference after his attempt to clarify past comments on relationships between boys and older men fell flat with organizers.The American Conservative Union founded and hosts CPAC, which is being held Wednesday through Saturday outside Washington. In a tweet on Monday, ACU chairman Matt Schlapp said that “due to the revelation of an offensive video in the past 24 hours condoning pedophilia, the American Conservative Union has decided to rescind the invitation of Milo Yiannopoulos to speak.”After the polarizing Breitbart News editor was invited, his invitation sparked a backlash. The conservative Reagan Battalion blog tweeted video clips Sunday in which Yiannopoulos discussed Jews, sexual consent, statutory rape, child abuse and homosexuality.The episode, which unspooled quickly online over the weekend, put many conservatives in a deeply uncomfortable position. They have long defended Yiannopoulos’ attention-seeking stunts and racially charged antics on the grounds that the left had tried to hypocritically censor his right to free speech.But endorsing pedophilia, it seemed, was more than they could tolerate. The board of the American Conservative Union, which includes veterans of the conservative movement like Grover Norquist and Morton Blackwell, made the decision to revoke Yiannopoulos’ speaking slot and condemn his comments on Monday.“We initially extended the invitation knowing that the free speech issue on college campuses is a battlefield where we need brave, conservative standard-bearers,” Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, said in a written statement.Regarding Yiannopoulos’ comments, Schlapp called them “disturbing” and said his explanation of them was insufficient.After the video leaked, Yiannopoulos denied that he had ever condoned child sexual abuse, noting that he was a victim himself as he blamed his “British sarcasm” and “deceptive editing” for leading to a misunderstanding.But in the tape, the fast-talking polemicist is clear that he has no problem with older men abusing children as young as 13, which he then conflates with relationships between older and younger gay men who are of consenting age.“No, no, no. You’re misunderstanding what pedophilia means,” Yiannopoulos says on the tape, in which he is talking to radio[...]

Media Files:

The truth about the Mayweather-McGregor fight

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 18:46:00 EST

In the 2011 documentary Fightville, UFC veteran Tim Credeur is asked to explain the irresistible, near gravitational, pull boxing and mixed martial arts exert on fighters and lifetime fans. For that question, Credeur had three words.“Fighting,” he said, “is truth.”Promoting fights, however, has never been quite so honest.This week the buzz surrounding a potential showdown between retired boxing megastar Floyd Mayweather and UFC champ Conor McGregor increased in volume and intensity. Media reports citing unnamed sources in McGregor’s native Ireland claimed the fighters had agreed to terms on a boxing match that wouldn’t decide titles, but would generate plenty of attention and revenue.But the truth is that this proposed cross-sport superbout won’t happen. New reports about negotiations, and social media bickering between the pair are best viewed as cynical publicity stunts, cooked up to generate headlines in the absence of actual events. And the fighters themselves are best viewed as promoters who each realize selling real fights later means hyping a fake one now.Mayweather became boxing’s pay-per-view best-seller after a mid-career conversion from good-guy Pretty Boy Floyd to a loudmouth heel character nicknamed Money Mayweather. He successfully peddled the idea that the next opponent could hand him the beating he deserved, and closed his career with a six-fight contract with Showtime guaranteeing him $240 million plus lucrative residuals.A string of domestic assault accusations, along with a conviction in 2011 for hitting his ex-girlfriend, proved Mayweather’s cretin act wasn’t all fabricated. Even if he won’t admit to hitting women, he recognizes the public’s unrequited desire to see him suffer a beating, and the spectre of a McGregor fight appeals to fans who will spend money hoping to see Mayweather lose.It also provides leverage for McGregor, who is the UFC’s biggest star and who has been angling for bigger paydays since first winning the interim featherweight title in 2015. McGregor headlined a UFC card in August that generated 1.65 million pay-per-view buys, according to the online database Meanwhile, Mayweather’s best pay-per-view total was the 4.6 million buys for his clash with Manny Pacquiao in 2015. To narrow that sales gap, McGregor needs a high-profile foil, and if no UFC fighter near his weight class can help boost McGregor’s pay-per-view numbers, the world’s most famous boxer ably fills that role. The longer the act drags on, the more money it makes. Mayweather-Pacquiao shattered records largely because the six-year courtship between the fighters grew each of their audiences.But where a bitter rivalry between promoters stalled Mayweather-Pacquiao, at least they we both elite pros in the same sport, free to face off after settling contractual details.The logistical obstacles between McGregor and Mayweather tell you the fight can’t happen.McGregor is still under contract to the UFC, and can’t fight elsewhere without risking a lawsuit. Though it seems significant that McGregor received a California boxing licence in November, fight licences aren’t difficult to procure.But finding a commission that will allow a boxer with no pro fights to face a five-division world champion with a 49-0 record is a much stiffer challenge.It’s likely impossible.Mayweather, McGregor and the UFC all know it, but they play along to strengthen their respective businesses.So McGregor calls out Mayweather in interviews.Mayweather tells media outlets he wants the fight, then posts on Instagram that he’s happily retired with no interest in a comeback.UFC president Dana White appears on Fox Sports to “offer” Mayweather $25 million for a McGregor fight, as if a fighter used to $40-million guarantees would un-retire to take a pay cut.H[...]

Media Files:

Trudeau tells rights group he ‘regrets’ answering English question in French

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 18:00:00 EST


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has expressed his “sincere regrets” to anglophone advocates in Quebec, after responding in French to an English question at a recent town hall meeting.

The Quebec Community Groups Network, which represents over 50 English organizations, posted a letter from Trudeau to their website on Monday.

The Prime Minister’s Office has confirmed the document’s authenticity to the Star.

“Canada is a bilingual country and, as such, I recognize that I should have answered questions in the language they were asked, be it in Quebec or anywhere else in Canada,” writes Trudeau.

“You can rest assured I will do so in the future.”

Trudeau came under criticism in January when, at an event in Sherbrooke, Que., he offered a French answer to a question about English-speakers accessing mental health services.

James Shea, president of the Quebec Community Groups Network, called the incident “a serious breach of the English language rights,” by the prime minister.

“It was that individual’s right to expect a response in the language of her choice, which clearly was English.”

Shea said he appreciated Trudeau’s letter, though.

“We had written to him, he has responded accordingly very contrite, very supportive of the activity that we have so it’s our intention to move on,” Shea told the Star.

“The letter . . . was rather detailed and indicated his commitment to English language rights in Quebec, so it’s something that we learned from and hopefully he learned from.”

Trudeau drew the ire of French-language rights when, just days before his visit to Sherbrooke, he answered a French question in English at a town hall in Peterborough, Ont.

The Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages said it received a total of 14 complaints fuelled by the separate slip-ups.

In his letter to Shea, Trudeau said both of Canada’s official languages are part of his cultural heritage.

“I grew up in a house where both official languages were commonly used,” he wrote. “My mother is English-speaking and my father firmly believed in the importance of bilingualism, the historical importance of our two official languages, and the richness that resulted from their coexistence.”

Likening the English-speaking population of Quebec to the French-speaking populations of provinces like Manitoba and Alberta, Shea said he was proud to advocate for a language minority.

“The government of Canada is committed to two official languages so it’s very clear that (ours) is not a trite request,” he said. “We’re not a bunch of whiners. We have rights, and we advocate for those rights, and we do it in a very positive manner.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a town hall in Sherbrooke, Que. on Jan. 17. Trudeau was later criticized for speaking French in response to a question posed in English.

Media Files:

Police investigate anti-Semitic incidents at Toronto condo

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 19:57:00 EST

Toronto police have launched an investigation after “disgusting” notes with anti-Semitic messages were left on doors at a condominium in the city, residents say.“It’s absolutely disgusting,” a resident of the building at 233 Beecroft Rd. in North York said. “In my 15-plus years I’ve lived here, I’ve never had to lock my door . . . but I’ll be locking the door tonight.”Photos shared with the Star show a small note bearing the phrase “no Jews” above a swastika written in red ink. Mezuzahs, bearing scripture from Torah and hung on doorposts, were vandalized or stolen, residents confirmed.Helen Chaiton, who has lived in the building for 18 years, said her rabbi had visited Sunday afternoon to replace her mezuzah that was “completely vandalized.” Hours later, in the evening, her new mezuzah had been stolen with an “obscene message” left at her front door.“At the foot of my door was the F-word, and a swastika,” she said. “I am staying strong. I come from a family of Holocaust survivors.” Chaiton said that on Sunday evening, she heard chiseling outside her door, and several knocks. “Anti-Semitism has no place in Toronto. Our Jewish residents should not have to face hatred on their doorsteps,” Mayor John Tory said in a statement on Monday. “These acts, and the people who carry them out, do not represent Toronto or Torontonians,” the mayor continued.Police confirmed that the Hate Crime Unit was investigating several other incidents over the past few weeks that were “motivated by hate.”“We know these incidents — either rooted in Islamophobia or anti-Semitism — have a profound effect on the entire community and not just those immediate victims,” they said in a statement.They also said that TPS did not see any noticeable increase in the number of hate-motivated incidents, and are encouraging the public to step forward and report an incident.“Even if the incident does not meet the threshold for hate crime charges, police will still use the information provided to conduct an investigation that could lead to other criminal charges,” the statement read.Rabbi Moshe Steiner, co-director of Uptown Chabad synagogue in North York, went knocking door-to-door in the building on Monday to provide new mezuzahs and assistance to residents.“I met with three families. They are taking it seriously. They are confident that they will overcome,” he told the Star.Steiner also said that the synagogue would continue to offer free mezuzah scrolls to any residents who were targeted.“We are coming together as a community and will emerge stronger from this incident,” he said. “There has been outpouring of support from both within the Jewish community and beyond.”Last Friday, a small anti-Islam protest formed outside Masjid Toronto mosque with protestors holding signs reading “No Islam.” Another group of people responded with a counterprotest to support the Muslim community.“One of my most important responsibilities, together with my Council colleagues, is to safeguard the accepting, safe and stable environment within which the world’s most diverse urban population lives here in Toronto,” Tory said.“That is why on Friday I condemned the anti-Muslim demonstration which took place outside a downtown Toronto mosque and it is why I similarly condemn anti-Semitic hate notes recently left outside Jewish homes in Willowdale.”With files from The Canadian Press [...]“Anti-Semitism has no place in Toronto. Our Jewish residents should not have to face hatred on their doorsteps,” Mayor John Tory said in a statement on Monday.

Media Files:

Tribunal says Bell Canada discriminated against bedridden woman by making her go to store for phone

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 15:13:05 EST

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal says Bell Canada discriminated against a seriously ill woman by forcing her to violate her doctor’s orders and go to a store in person in order to acquire a cellphone.Linda Mills of London, Ont. was bedridden and recovering from both chemotherapy and a stroke at the time of the incident in July 2014.The tribunal decision says Mills wanted to acquire a phone and activate it the same day, adding Bell Canada only offered that service in-store to people who could present photo ID.Mills was under doctor’s orders to stay home due to her compromised immune system, so her son tried to collect the phone on her behalf.The decision says Bell sales associates refused to account for these circumstances, forcing Mills to violate her doctor’s instructions in order to pick up the phone she needed to have on hand as a safety measure given her illness.The tribunal found Bell discriminated against Mills on the grounds of disability and ordered the company to make its policies more accommodating within the next six months. Bell must also pay Mills $10,000 plus interest as compensation.Mills said she looks forward to seeing new policies in place at the telecom giant, adding she pursued the complaint with the tribunal on behalf of those who may find themselves in a similar situation some day.“I know there are a lot of people out there that can’t get to the store because they can’t drive or don’t have volunteers or they live alone,” Mills said in a telephone interview. “I thought, ‘Bell Mobility must have a way to help these people. It’s just not fair.’”Mills’ ordeal began in 2013 when she was diagnosed with cancer. Unsuccessful surgery led to a particularly aggressive chemotherapy treatment at doses so high they brought on a stroke and multiple seizures, according to the decision.Mills said her medical condition caused her weight to drop to around 100 pounds and prompted her to go on long-term disability with the school board that employed her as a principal.In July 2014, Mills said she was in the process of returning her board-issued cellphone. She felt it was important to have an immediate replacement on hand in case her precarious health took an unexpected turn, she said.Bell’s policies stated that customers hoping for a cellphone with same-day activation had to present themselves in store and present photo identification. Phones could also be purchased online or over the phone, but those cases involve a lag between the time of purchase and the day the phone arrives and is ready for use.Another option would have been to prepay the entire cost of the phone in advance, an approach Mills said is unfair to those with limited financial means.Bell contended that its policies were necessary to prevent fraud.Mills said her son called ahead to a Bell retail location to discuss collecting the cellphone on her behalf, but was told that could not be arranged.According to the decision, Mills’ son apprised staff of his mother’s circumstances, offered to bring in all her relevant identification documents and proposed to put her on the phone so she could provide verbal authorization, but the company stood firm.Mills, who had been a Bell customer for more than 40 years, ultimately decided to adhere to the policy in violation of all medical advice.“It was an arduous and dangerous thing for her to do in her condition, but she felt she had no choice given she wanted it activated that day so her son could help her start using it while he was visiting her,” Edward Lustig wrote in the tribunal decision.“It took her over an hour to get ready and be driven to the mall and moved by wheelchair into the store in order to get the phone and be visually identified in the store. Once in t[...]

Media Files:

Toronto driver clocked at 203 km/h in a 60 km/h zone

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 12:58:24 EST


Toronto police have charged a 24-year-old man after they say a car hit speeds of more than 200 km/h on a Scarborough street early Monday.

The incident occurred just after 2 a.m. when an officer saw a 2015 Acura whizzing north on Victoria Park Ave. near McNicoll Ave.

The car’s speed was measured at 203 km/h in an area where the speed limit is 60 km/h.

The motorist had his license suspended and his vehicle impounded for seven days.

He was charged with stunt driving a vehicle over 50 km/hr over the speed limit, speeding, and racing a motor vehicle, police said in a news release.

The man is scheduled to appear in court on Mar. 29.

Toronto police have charged a 24-year-old man after they say a car hit speeds of more than 200 km/h on a Scarborough street early Monday.

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Friends seek answers as SIU probes death of 60-year-old Toronto woman

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 06:00:00 EST

It was at 4:45 a.m. on a chilly Monday last month when Toronto police knocked on the front door of a home on St. Clarens Ave., responding to a report of an emotionally disturbed woman threatening suicide.By approximately 5 a.m., Amleset Haile — a 60-year-old resident of the building, a Houselink home for people with mental health or addiction challenges — was wheeled out on a stretcher from the narrow walkway between two houses, unmoving, her neck in a brace.Two days later, she died in hospital after being taken off life support.Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which probes deaths and serious injuries involving police, is investigating the January 2 incident. The watchdog has not identified Haile, citing its policy not to name those killed in police interactions without family consent; the Star has independently confirmed her identity.Six weeks after her death, friends and neighbours of the quiet, affectionate Ethiopia native — a woman they say was struggling with mental illness and dementia — are growing eager to learn what transpired in the final moments before Haile suffered fatal injuries.Shortly after the incident, paramedics said they transported a woman to a trauma centre who had suffered life-threatening injuries “as the result of a fall,” and police and paramedics initially reported the woman fell from a window — something the SIU would not confirm.Jennifer Cox, Haile’s friend and a fellow resident in the building who witnessed part of the incident, is awaiting the SIU’s conclusion, saying the full picture of what occurred has not yet come out.“Other than the four police officers who were there, it’s Amleset and God who know what happened,” said Cox. “She’s not here to tell her story, so this is why we really want to push and know.”According to the SIU’s brief description of the interaction, Toronto police arrived at the home on a quiet residential street near Bloor St. W. and Lansdowne Ave. at 4:45 a.m.“A short time later, police officers located a 60-year-old woman between the residence and another house,” reads a news release.In an email this week, SIU spokesperson Monica Hudon said she could not clarify whether Haile was injured before or after police found her, citing legislation prohibiting any public statement about the investigation during the course of the probe.“In order to protect the integrity of the investigation into the woman’s death, I cannot offer further comment,” Hudon said in an email.Toronto police cannot comment on an ongoing SIU investigation. However, a police source with knowledge of the investigation said officers heard a “thunk” and found Haile after she had jumped or fallen from some height, and that she had no contact with officers prior to incurring her injuries.A neighbour who lives next door to the home where Haile lived also heard a “thunk” sound, and said Haile was found close to the property line with Haile’s three-story building.In an interview this week, Cox, Haile’s friend, said she witnessed part of the incident and believes Haile was afraid and running away from police at the time. She expressed doubt that Haile could have jumped from either a window or the building’s third floor balcony, saying she was frail and weak and would have had difficulty lifting herself up.Cox says she was in bed when she heard knocking on the front door before 5 a.m. She then heard someone, who she now believes was Haile, walk past her room on the second floor and go downstairs, presumably to answer the door.But the knocking didn’t stop, so Cox went downstairs and opened the door to find four police officers and a[...]

Media Files:

This Queen’s student froze to death on a Kingston pier. Here’s how he came back to life

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 07:00:00 EST

KINGSTON, ONT.—Tayyab Jafar walks through a gruel of slush coating the wide pier behind a King St. public works building. He stops and points to the place he died.“Right about here,” says the fourth-year Queen’s University student from Oakville.The spot is at the pier’s edge. Near a warning in long faded letters stencilled across the ground: “No Diving.”He is silent for a moment. Wintry drizzle falls. Lake Ontario’s steel-grey waters slap below. The sky’s wet gloom frames Jafar’s slender figure.The 22-year-old, shrugging, hands in pockets, says: “That happened.”But what happened was far from ordinary. Jafar’s story is one of resurrection; how tenacious medical teams brought a frozen man back to life.A year ago, cloaked in the darkness of a frigid January morning, this is where Jafar chose to end his life. Two days before his 21st birthday, Jafar was found at early light — shoes off, coat over his face, an empty prescription sedative bottle nearby — without vital signs.“Vital signs absent means dead,” says Julie Socha, one of four Frontenac County paramedics who rushed to the scene. Engaging and intelligent, Jafar had been studying physics courses at Queen’s in hopes of getting into engineering. That plan began to unravel just weeks before he quietly left the off-campus house he rented with friends. He’d placed a goodbye note on his desk and, a stickler for details, banking instructions so his housemates wouldn’t miss a bill payment.Then he walked 10 minutes to the pier.On that sub-zero morning, Jafar lay in a snow bank. His body was starting to freeze. His core temperature would later be recorded at 20.8 C — about 16 degrees below normal. Hypothermia occurs when a person’s core temperature dips below 35 C, a condition often caused by exposure to cold weather or water immersion.The death appeared to be an intentional overdose to the paramedics, who promptly initiated CPR. But how the young man died was a medical puzzle for Kingston General Hospital emergency teams to solve:Did Jafar die from an overdose, then get cold? Or did the drugs only render him unconscious, then he died because he became so cold?“There’s actually a difference,” says Kingston General cardiac surgeon Andrew Hamilton.The faintest hope of resuscitation flickered only if Jafar had become profoundly hypothermic after his overdose attempt. The key was determining that sequence: a seemingly impossible task on a very cold body. Of all the critical work done at Kingston General to return Jafar from the dead — an hour of CPR at 110 chest compressions a minute, streams of heated saline flooding his system, multiple doses of epinephrine, a transfusion of more than 100 units of blood products culled from 134 individual donors, machines to warm and oxygenate his cooled blood and a 200-joule jolt to his chest — it was a simple blood test that would give Jafar a chance at survival.Even so, odds were bleak. At best. Texting goodbyeSix Queen’s students, all friends, lived in the house on Nelson St., a short walk from campus.Alex Reid woke up in his second-floor bedroom just before 7 a.m. on Jan. 15, 2016. It was a Friday. Almost the weekend.The biology major reached for his cell phone. He saw texts and Facebook messages that filled him with dread.Sorry I couldn’t be stronger.Love you.Good bye.They were from his housemate, Tayyab Jafar.Jafar had been suicidal before. Reid had talked him through moments of distress. Talked him off the top of campus buildings. Talked him into visiting Kingston General for mental health attention in second year.Jafar had been seeing a university p[...]

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Students in Hyperloop competition pioneering the ‘fifth mode’ of transportation

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 06:00:00 EST

HAWTHORNE, CALIF.—After quinoa bowls and chopped salads on a patio beside the Venice Beach boardwalk, six Ryerson University aerospace engineering students and an entourage of advisers and supporters climbed into two rented SUVs and began driving southeast through Los Angeles’ glaring night.They were headed back to the Comfort Inn Cockatoo near LAX, where one double occupancy room had been piled with electronics and converted into a makeshift lab, but decided to make a detour first. The SUV turned onto a wide street that borders the headquarters of SpaceX, the rocket company founded by tech swami Elon Musk, and slowed to a crawl.Running alongside the roadway was a steel tube resting on concrete cradles. As the SUV crept down its 1.25 kilometre length, the tube was just that — a tube. But 36 hours later, with both ends sealed and the air inside pumped down to almost a vacuum, the tube would become what the word printed on its side said: a Hyperloop.Musk vaulted the Hyperloop concept into the public consciousness in 2013. Inside a tube where the air pressure had been lowered to a fraction of the atmosphere of Mars, a levitating passenger capsule could accelerate to near-sonic speeds. A Hyperloop would reduce the travel time from Toronto to Montreal to just 30 minutes. A downtowner could grab after-work bagels at St-Viateur and be back in Toronto in time for the Raptors game.Musk himself, busy with SpaceX and his electric car company, Tesla, declared Hyperloop an open-source design and invited anyone to try and make it a reality. His proposal spawned a cottage industry of doubters. But enough engineers and entrepreneurs were captivated that competing Hyperloop startups have attracted tens of millions in funding.Read More:SpaceX launches rocket from NASA’s historic ‘moon pad’ after aborted attempt SaturdayTesla’s fourth-quarter deliveries trail automaker’s projectionsElon Musk envisions 1,000-passenger ships flying to Mars in next centuryYet none of them have publicly demonstrated a full, working prototype — a capsule that speeds successfully through a depressurized tube. Two years ago, in a bid to accelerate the technology, Musk tweeted that he wanted to build a Hyperloop test track and stage a competition for students.Within a week of the official announcement, SpaceX was deluged with more than 1,700 applications. By the day of the competition last month, after a year and a half of increasingly complex design challenges, just 27 teams remained.Ryerson was invited to exhibit a wheel system they had designed. The University of Waterloo and their “Goose I” pod, named after the aggressive waterfowl that swarm campus each spring, was the only Canadian team attempting to race a capsule. Both teams had emerged into the California sunlight after months foxholed in Ontario labs. Few of the students were getting academic credit for this, which was part of the appeal: building a totally new transportation system means, by definition, veering off-curriculum.“You don’t learn Hyperloop in school. There is no Hyperloop engineering,” Graeme Klim, Ryerson’s team lead and an aerospace engineering graduate student, explained.Economists and urbanists are still debating the feasibility of Hyperloop. But for these students, Musk’s challenge was irresistible.“What changed a lot of the world was the ability to move goods and people quickly and more efficiently. Look at the railroads,” said Yazan Obeidi, Waterloo’s team captain and a systems design engineering undergraduate.“It’s not just a hypothetical, ‘Ooooh, this app could make the world better,’ ” Obeidi said.[...]