IS attack on Afghan protest kills at least 80
KABUL — At least 80 people were killed and another 231 wounded in the Afghan capital on Saturday, when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-packed clothing among a large crowd of demonstrators, officials and witnesses said.
In a statement issued by its news agency, Aamaq, Daesh (also known as ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack on a protest march by Afghanistan’s ethnic Hazaras. The marchers were demanding that a major regional electric power line be routed through their impoverished home province. Most Hazaras are Shiite Muslims, while most Afghans are Sunni.
The attack is one of the deadliest in Afghanistan since the Taliban launched a violent insurgency in 2001.
If the Daesh claim is correct, the bombing would mark the first time the group has launched an attack in the Afghan capital. Daesh has been building a presence along Afghanistan’s eastern border with Pakistan, mostly in Nangarhar province, for the past year.
President Ashraf Ghani, speaking live on television, said that Sunday would be a national day of mourning.
Earlier, Waheed Majroeh, the head of international relations for the Ministry of Public Health, said the death toll was likely to rise “as the condition of many of the injured is very serious.”
Footage on Afghan television and photographs posted on social media showed a scene of horror and carnage, with numerous bodies and body parts spread across the square.
Other witnesses said that after the blast, security personnel shot their weapons in the air to disperse the crowd. Secondary attacks have been known to target people who come to the aid of those wounded in a first explosion.
Road blocks that had been set up overnight to prevent the marchers accessing the centre of the city or the presidential palace hampered efforts to transfer some of the wounded to hospital, witnesses said. People took to social media to call for blood donations.
Angry demonstrations sealed some of the area around the square, and prevented police and other security forces from entering. Some threw stones at security forces.
The government had received intelligence that an attack on the march could take place, and had warned the organizers, a spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani told The Associated Press.
“We had intelligence over recent days and it was shared with the demonstration organizers, we shared our concerns because we knew that terrorists wanted to bring sectarianism to our community,” presidential spokesman Haroon Chakhansuri said.
Two suicide bombers had attempted to target the demonstrators, who were gathering in Kabul’s Demazang Square as their four-hour protest march wound down, Haroon Chakhansuri said. One of the suicide bombers was shot by the police, he told AP. He said that three city district police chiefs on duty at the square were injured and another three security personnel were killed.
He said Ghani planned to meet with the organizers later on Saturday. None of the organizers could be immediately reached for comment.
Ghani released a statement condemning the blast. “Peaceful demonstrations are the right of every citizen of Afghanistan and the government will do everything it can to provide them with security,” Ghani said, blaming the blasts on what he called “terrorists.”
The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, U.S. Army Gen. John Nicholson condemned the attack. He said in a statement that “our condolences go out to those who are affected by today’s attack. We strongly condemn the actions of Afghanistan’s enemies of peace and remain firmly committed to supporting our Afghan partners and the National Unity Government.” The U.S embassy in Kabul also issued a condemnation.
The head of the United Nations assistance mission in Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, called the attack a “war crime” as it had specifically targeted a large number of civilians.
Violence had been widely feared at what was the second demonstration by Hazaras over the power line issue. The last one in May attracted tens of thousands of people, also shutting down the central business district.
The May march was attended by Hazara political leaders, who were notable by their absence on Saturday.
At the height of the march, demonstrators chanted slogans against the president and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, shouting “death to discrimination” and “all Afghans are equal.”
The so-called TUTAP power line is backed by the Asian Development Bank with involvement of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The original plan routed the line through Bamiyan province, in the central highlands, where most of the country’s Hazaras live.
That route was changed in 2013 by the previous Afghan government. Leaders of the marches have said that the rerouting was evidence of bias against the Hazara community, which accounts for up to 15 per cent of Afghanistan’s estimated 30 million-strong population. They are considered the poorest of the country’s ethnic groups, and often complain of discrimination. Bamiyan province, where most Hazara people live in the central highlands, is poverty stricken, though it is largely peaceful and has potential as a tourist destination.
Hazaras, most of whom are Shiite Muslims, were especially persecuted during the extremist Sunni Taliban 1996-2001 regime.
The Taliban’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in an earlier email that his insurgent group was not responsible for the blast. The Taliban have been waging a vicious insurgency against the Kabul government for 15 years, since their regime was overthrown by the U.S. invasion in 2001. They rarely issue such statements denying involvement in suicide attacks.
The councillor who introduced a plan — against city staff advice — that led to a council vote allowing homes to be built next to a rail yard says he was following proper procedure and that staff “misunderstood” the nature of the rail facility.
The province’s transit arm, Metrolinx, is taking the rare step of going to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) to challenge the June decision of city council that rezoned a strip of land south of Judson St. and just north of the Willowbrook rail yard in Mimico.
That change — from employment to mixed use — was first introduced by Etobicoke-Lakeshore Councillor Justin Di Ciano at a planning and growth committee meeting in May. Di Ciano, a member of the committee, said he brought the motion for rezoning on behalf of local Councillor Mark Grimes.
“I am extremely confident that the OMB will uphold city council’s decision with respect to the Mimico Judson lands west of Royal York Road,” Di Ciano wrote in an email this week responding to questions from the Star. “As an adjudicative tribunal, the OMB is the only body that will dismiss the politics of this issue and make its decision based on planning law and principles.”
In Metrolinx’s notice of appeal against the city filed last week, the transit agency argues council’s decision was made contrary to city and provincial planning policies, without public consultation, and that it “does not represent good land use planning.”
As the local councillor, Grimes has said a concrete batching plant currently on the site has bothered local residents and that allowing for the construction of 72 townhomes and lowrise commercial blocks as planned by Dunpar Developments would solve the problem. Dunpar has said it has a conditional offer to buy the concrete plant property, pending any zoning decisions the city made.
Both city planners and Metrolinx strongly argued against the rezoning, saying building homes so close to the rail yard will affect current operations and the province’s future expansion plans, which will see around-the-clock activity at the maintenance and storage facility. After years of study, city staff advised the area should remain as employment lands — a zoning that permits industrial, commercial and institutional use — to act as a “buffer” for the rail yard.
Di Ciano said he followed council procedures by introducing the motion at committee.
“The reason I brought forward the motion is because I believe 100 per cent in the vision the local councillor is trying to establish for his community,” Di Ciano said, adding it is often the case that committee members bring forward and vote on motions for issues not in their own wards.
“The local councillor campaigned on regenerating this area for over 10 years and getting rid of a toxic concrete batching plant located directly across the street from a residential community.”
Di Ciano argued the plan to build townhomes is a good planning decision. He said townhomes will create “a more compatible land use function with the existing residential community directly across the street” and that planned lowrise commercial office blocks as part of the development would maintain a buffer.
Di Ciano said staff “completely misunderstood the nature and character” of the Willowbrook yard. He called it a “coach yard,” and not a “freight yard,” one used for less-intrusive maintenance and storage.
At the May committee meeting, a representative for Dunpar said much the same, arguing staff have a “fundamental misunderstanding of the nature and character” of the yard.
At council in June, chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat warned that approving the rezoning, allowing homes to be built too close to the yard, would leave the city vulnerable to appeals. She said expansion plans for the Willowbrook facility would mean a lot of overnight noise, including brake testing, train idling, revving of engines and bells.
“It’s our opinion in city planning that this is not good planning and that these would not be livable units,” Keesmaat said.
Neil Cresswell, the city’s director of community planning for Etobicoke York District, further clarified in an email this week that the rail yard is “not just a passenger train storage yard; it is a major rail maintenance facility.”
“The impact is similar to that of noisy overnight industrial operations. It is expected that with more trains supporting enhanced commuter rail service under Regional Express Rail, the impacts of the overnight maintenance facilities on nearby properties will increase,” he wrote.
Di Ciano said Metrolinx’s claim the motion was brought without notice or consultation is “completely false.”
The public was given a chance to make deputations at committee on the item, as is regular procedure. After those deputations were over, Di Ciano brought forward the motion to amend a plan for the area to allow for mixed use on the site.
The councillor said the overall Mimico plan was discussed during earlier public consultations, including the option to designate land as mixed use. City staff confirmed this, saying documents provided at the public consultations recommended the property remain as employment lands.
The Star has reported that Di Ciano has ties to the developer through his twin brother, Julien Di Ciano, who lists Dunpar as a former employer. The councillor disputes this, saying he has no ties to the developer and no conflicts on the issue.
The councillor said he has never had any “professional or financial relationship” with Dunpar. He said his brother has not worked for Dunpar for more than a year.
Di Ciano confirmed his brother still has a tenant relationship with his former employer, with his brother’s consulting business leasing space in a building that is owned by a numbered company in the name of Dunpar’s president. Di Ciano said he “previously had no knowledge of who my brother’s landlord was because it doesn’t matter to me.”
Reiterating he has no conflict, Di Ciano noted that conflict of interest rules governing council members make no reference to the financial interests of a sibling.
At council in June, Di Ciano told his colleagues he had sought “expert legal advice” on this issue and that advice was “crystal clear” that he was not in a conflict of interest. When the vote later occurred, Di Ciano was absent. He told the Star he was absent “for private family reasons which have nothing to do with the vote.”
The 18-year-old described only as David S was born in Munich and lured people to a McDonald’s using a hacked Facebook account before opening fire, according to police.
MUNICH — The 18-year-old gunman who opened fire at a crowded Munich shopping mall and fast-food restaurant, killing nine people and wounding 16 others before killing himself, was obsessed with mass shootings, police said Saturday.
Investigators searched the unnamed German-Iranian man’s home overnight and found a considerable amount of literature about mass killings, including a book titled “Rampage in Head: Why Students Kill,” but no evidence that he was linked to extremist groups such as Daesh (also know as ISIS). They believe he acted alone.
“Documents were found about mass shootings,” Munich’s police chief Hubertus Andrae told reporters. “The perpetrator was obviously obsessed with the issue.”
Robert Heimberger, the head of Bavaria’s criminal police, said it appeared the shooter had hacked a Facebook account and sent a message inviting people to come to the mall for a free giveaway.
The posting, sent from a young woman’s account, urged people to come to the mall at 4 p.m., saying: “I’ll give you something if you want, but not too expensive.”
“It appears it was prepared by the suspect and then sent out,” Heimberger said. The woman shortly after reported that her account had been hacked.
Initial investigations suggest the Munich-born suspect had suffered from psychological problems and received treatment, but details were still being confirmed, said Munich prosecutor Thomas Steinkraus-Koch.
The attack in the Bavarian capital sparked a massive security operation as authorities — already on edge after the recent attacks in Wuerzburg and Nice, France — received witness reports of multiple shooters carrying rifles shortly before 6 p.m. . Eight hours later police declared a “cautious all clear,” saying the suspect was among the 10 dead and that he had likely acted alone.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was due to chair a meeting of her government’s security Cabinet Saturday.
At an address on Dachauer Strasse that was searched by police early Saturday, a neighbour described the suspect as “very quiet.”
“He only ever said ‘hi’. His whole body language was of somebody who was very shy,” said Stephan, a coffee shop owner who would only give his first name.
“He never came in to the cafe,” he added. “He was just a neighbour and took out the trash but never talked.”
Some 2,300 police from across Germany and neighbouring Austria were scrambled in response to the attack, which happened less than a week after a 17-year-old Afghan asylum-seeker wounded five people in an axe-and-knife rampage that started on a regional train near the Bavarian city of Wuerzburg. Daesh claimed responsibility for the train attack, but authorities have said the teen — who was shot and killed by police — likely acted alone.
The suspect’s body was found about two and a half hours after the attack, which started shortly before 6 p.m. at a McDonald’s restaurant across the street from the mall. He was found with 9 mm Glock pistol and at least 300 rounds of ammunition, police said.
A cellphone video posted online showed the person filming from a balcony engaging verbally with the suspect dressed in black standing on the rooftop of the mall parking structure. The shooter at one point yells, “I’m German,” to which the filmer responds, “You are a jerk,” and demands to know what he is up to. The shooter yells at him to stop filming, and shortly after begins shooting. Andrae said police believe the video is genuine.
Police have asked anyone with video and photos to upload them directly to their website to aid the investigation.
David Akhavan, a 37-year-old who from Tehran, Iran, who works at the Shandiz Persian restaurant, described his anguish as he learned of the shooting.
“I started to get texts from friends asking if I was safe,” he said. “Then, my thoughts were: please, don’t be a Muslim. Please don’t be Middle Eastern. Please don’t be Afghan. I don’t accept any of this violence.”
Witnesses had reported seeing three men with firearms near the Olympia Einkaufszentrum mall, but Andrae said two other people who fled the area were investigated but had “nothing to do with the incident.”
Local residents described the scene as the shooting unfolded.
“I was standing on the balcony smoking a cigarette. Suddenly I heard shots,” said Ferdinand Bozorgzad, who lives in a highrise building next to Olympic Shopping Center. “First I thought someone had thrown some firecrackers. I looked down at the McDonald’s and saw someone shooting into the crowd. Then I saw two people lying there. “
Franco Augustini, another local resident, said his daughter hid in the shopping centre during the attack.
“Next to our flat was a woman who was full of blood,” Augustini said. “My wife had a bottle of water. Then we helped to wash her. It was horrible and made me speechless.”
Andrae, the police chief, said seven of the victims were teenagers; a 20-year-old man and a 45-year-old woman were also killed. All were residents of Munich, he said. Twenty-seven people were hospitalized, including four with gunshot wounds, said Andrae.
He said the city was safe to visit and that the attack wasn’t linked in any way to the recent influx of asylum-seekers that has stirred a debate about immigration in Germany,
Munich’s mayor, Dieter Reiter, declared a day of mourning for the victims of “this terrible act.”
“These are difficult hours for Munich,” he said, adding that the city’s citizens had shown great solidarity toward each other. “Our city stands united,” he said.
Russian balloonist lands safely in Australia
“A pillowcase full of severed pigeon heads had been discovered in the inmate’s cell.”
A conversation with author Mike Jay on nitrous oxide’s remarkable history.
The Democratic National Convention, which begins in Philadelphia on Monday, will inevitably be duller than the Republican convention. Which suits Hillary Clinton just fine.
Goodbye Scott Baio. Hello Obscure Congressman From Ohio. After the chaos at the Republican festivities in Cleveland, Clinton and her A-team — husband Bill, President Barack Obama, new endorser Bernie Sanders — will use their four-day bash to make the case that they are the country’s serious, sober adults.
A spectator’s guide to the festivities:
Monday: The big speakers: First Lady Michelle Obama, Vermont senator and unsuccessful Clinton opponent Bernie Sanders, and a “DREAMer,” an undocumented immigrant brought to the U.S. as a child.
The official theme: “United Together,” or “how we’re stronger together when we build an economy that works for everyone.”
Tuesday: The big speakers: Ex-president and candidate spouse Bill Clinton, mothers of African-Americans killed by police.
The official theme: “A Lifetime of Fighting for Children and Families,” a recap of Hillary Clinton’s career.
The big speakers: President Barack Obama as well as Vice-President Joe Biden.
The official theme: “Working Together,” or “how Hillary has the experience and steadiness to bring people together to tackle the big challenges.”
The big speakers: Hillary Clinton, daughter Chelsea Clinton.
The official theme: “Stronger Together,” or Clinton’s “vision for the country.”
Behold, glamour! As usual, the Democrats have managed to attract a bunch more celeb wattage than the Republicans did. Because nobody brings a party together like Snoop Dogg, the rapper will headline a convention “Unity Party.” Lady Gaga is performing for delegates with Lenny Kravitz — and former Will Smith duo-mate DJ Jazzy Jeff, for some reason — just across the river from Philly in Camden, N.J. Cyndi Lauper and Idina Menzel will sing at a congressional women’s luncheon.
Beloved Star Trek actor George Takei is appearing at a concert put on by former congresswoman Gabby Giffords’ gun control group. Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston is the special guest at a private lunch honouring Clinton. And Clinton’s team has been trying to woo some of her other famous fans, like pop stars Beyonce and Katy Perry.
The rich and important get lavish lobbyist-hosted parties and free Lady Gaga. The plebes get to pay $15 to enter PoliticalFest, “a one-of-a-kind festival celebrating political history.”
It does sound kind of cool: there will be a replica of the Oval Office, a display of dresses worn by first ladies, interviews with actors who have played presidents on screen. Visitors can wash down all their new knowledge with grub from Philly Feast, a food truck festival, or continue wandering around town to see the donkeys — 57 fibreglass donkeys, “each painted by a local artist to represent a participating convention delegation.”
Openly concerned about potential violence, Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson plans to personally inspect the security precautions. The Secret Service is in charge.
Expect Donald Trump to join right-wing blogs in noting that the Democrats will be protected by a wall (sort of): the Wells Fargo Center will be surrounded by “no-scale” fencing 1.5 metres high.
All in all, Philly residents are getting off easy: the convention security zone is far smaller than the one Cleveland created for the Republican convention, and far smaller than the giant no-go zone Pope Francis required when he showed up in town last year.
Protesters will get to scream and holler in a park right across the street, and the city council recently voted to let police issue $100 fines to disorderly protesters rather than charging them with crimes.
Real fact: die-hard Bernie Sanders supporters are planning to protest Hillary Clinton by feeding beans to Sanders delegates so they can fart in the convention hall. (“Baked beans likely will be preferred and paired with hot dogs,” U.S. News and World Report reports.)
Less smelly Sanders fans have scheduled a series of marches and demonstrations, though it’s not clear how much Sanders’s own endorsement of Clinton will dampen turnout.
Black Lives Matter protesters will make themselves heard, choosing to skip the hopeless Trumpapalooza in favour of a convention where they might be heard.
“Shut Down the DNC,” a left-wing protest event intended to “smash capitalism and racism,” is scheduled for Tuesday.
Also to be present: anti-nuclear-weapons activists Global Zero, the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, Food and Water Watch.
The Bernie factor
Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton earlier this month, sure, but his speech was more perfunctory than persuasive, and some significant chunk of his supporters — maybe 20 per cent — remains unwilling to support her.
He will no doubt use his convention speech to rail as usual against “the millionaires and the billionaires” and push his dearest causes. Will he also make a heartfelt request for his die-hards to choose Clinton over Green candidate Jill Stein or none-of-the-above?
Michelle Obama, a powerful speaker who thrilled the 2012 convention with a paean to her husband, will try to recapture the magic while talking about someone else. Barack Obama will testify to Clinton’s character while savaging Donald Trump and attempting to woo the Sanders supporters who like him a lot better than Clinton.
Chelsea Clinton will try to soften her mother’s hard image. Bill Clinton will — well, who knows what Bill will do, but it’ll be entertaining. He spoke for 48 minutes at the last convention, and he wasn’t even talking about his wife that time.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s speech will be critical: Sanders devotees also admire her, and she can help lead them over to Clinton. The former Harvard professor has also proven especially excellent at insulting Trump.
The “mothers of the movement” could upstage some of the politicians. Clinton has forged personal relationships with the moms of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and other African-Americans who died high-profile deaths at the hands of the police. They will offer an important glimpse of the behind-the-scenes Clinton that friends of hers insist everyone would love if they could know.
Key players not on stage
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz: The polarizing party chairwoman will try to stay out of the way and not anger anybody.
Robby Mook: Clinton’s 36-year-old campaign manager is in charge of the whole shebang.
Donald Trump: For Trump, the other party’s convention theoretically means a whole week out of the spotlight. That will be hard for him. How will he try to grab it back?
The host city: Philadelphia, one of the two parties’ favourite convention sites, is popular more for its thematic resonance (hello, Liberty Bell) than its presidential importance. (The Democrats have carried Pennsylvania in every election since 1992.)
This year, though, Clinton might actually have work to do. She angered Coal Country by excitedly promising to put coal miners out of work, and Trump’s anti-trade, in-your-face style has excited a lot of the working stiffs who have traditionally joined their union leaders in backing Democrats.
Clinton, as she’ll surely remind us, has family roots in the city of Scranton, where Trump has made inroads. But the key to retaining the state is closer to the convention site: the slightly right-leaning Philly suburbs, where polls suggest she has built a big lead.
Good news for Clinton if…
She leaves town with voters thinking a little more charitably about her.
Four years ago, allies of Republican nominee Mitt Romney attempted to use the convention to make him seem a little less of a robopol. Clinton, a similarly guarded figure who is widely seen as dishonest, could use some of the same treatment.
It will be harder to change the image of a 25-year national figure in four nights, but it would help a lot if she could convince an additional tenth of the population that she is something other than a devious self-dealer.
Bad news for Clinton if…
She comes off as phony and stiff.
Clinton excels when she has to think on her feet, in debate or under Republican cross-examination. When she’s scripted, she can seem awkward, overly practiced and insincere.
A poor Big Speech speaker when compared to virtually any top-tier American candidate, she will take the stage in Philadelphia after the country hears in prime time from two masters, Obama and Bill Clinton, and a bunch of others who are really good.
It will be a problem if she sounds worse than all of them.
By the numbers:
Democratic delegates to the convention
Convention visitors expected in Philadelphia
High estimate of potential protesters
Federal grant to Philadelphia for convention security
Cost of Philadelphia’s insurance policy for potential convention-related lawsuits against police
Fibreglass donkeys positioned around town
Minimum nightly cost of room in official delegate hotel
Official estimate, likely high, of economic boost to Philadelphia
The series was filmed before the London Olympics. It begins with rough edged Shoreditch in East London with its “pubs, clubs, bars and drugs”.Other episodes cover Whitechapel, one time home of Jack the Ripper, Hampstead with it…
Iggy Azalea doesn’t need Tinder … she has way more effective way to say “NOW AVAILABLE.” The Aussie rapper posted this pic Friday … a spectacular bank shot off the mirror. Iggy told our photog Friday she’s not looking for a post-Nick Young…
Caledon residents are angry that plans for producing hydrogen near homes have been quietly reintroduced two years after the abrupt suspension of the project.
“I have nothing against Canadian Tire,” said local Councillor Annette Groves, of the company’s recent decision to reapply for the facility to produce hydrogen — a hazardous, highly combustible chemical — at its soon to be completed distribution centre.
“I am disappointed with the way the town (of Caledon) is handling this again.”
Groves represents a ward with family homes about 500 metres from the distribution centre, which is about the size of Toronto’s Yorkdale mall and is set to open next year. She said she found out about the amended application for the hydrogen facility two weeks ago, after asking staff repeatedly for an update.
Canadian Tire is following the planning rules laid out by the town, but Groves and some residents want the approval process to be more transparent. The province’s Technical Standards & Safety Authority still needs to sign off on the plan, but it won’t be subject to a council vote.
“Nobody told me anything,” Groves said. “If I hadn’t made inquiries I wouldn’t have known.”
Because a special ministerial zoning order that overrides local planning approvals has already been issued for the plan by the province, the application is not subject to the usual municipal approval process. Groves believes the zoning order should only apply to the distribution centre, and not to the additional hydrogen facility in the updated application.
The hydrogen would be used as part of a clean technology for batteries that drive forklifts and other heavy equipment. Though highly combustible, governments across the world view hydrogen as safe if used in properly ventilated buildings, with special fire code measures and safety protocols for dealing with emergency leaks.
Town of Caledon spokesperson Laura Johnston confirmed “public notice” is not required for the new application. “This application does not require council’s approval,” she said.
Johnston said that the amended application with the hydrogen plan was received June 20. She said the application proposes the hydrogen fuelling station be located north of the building near Coleraine Dr. and Holland Dr.
Johnston also said the town’s understanding is that the hydrogen will be produced only for on-site use and all components of the facility are subject to the approval of Ontario’s Technical Standards & Safety Authority (TSSA).
That approval, which typically takes 20 to 30 days, will involve an engineering review of the actual site by a TSSA engineer from its fuel safety program, said a spokesperson for the organization.
“Hydrogen was always intended to be at this property — this is not a new development,” Johnston stated.
Mayor Allan Thompson said plans are also in the works to provide the public with online information about the project and allow the public to ask questions about it.
In a statement to the Star, Canadian Tire said: “The decision was made to pause this project temporarily in 2014 to help town officials understand this innovative clean technology and to answer outstanding concerns and questions about the project and the reasons for this new way of doing business. Since that time, we met and consulted with numerous industry experts, City and fire officials in Brampton and Caledon, including the Mayor and several Councillors, who toured the pilot project in Brampton.”
The company added that it “has applied diligence and has been in full compliance throughout this entire process.”
In 2014, when the Star revealed plans for the project, those who said they knew nothing about it included: Thompson, who at the time was running for the mayor’s job; current Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey, who as the provincial minister of municipal affairs and housing had approved the zoning order for the distribution centre; and the town’s fire chief and deputy fire chief.
At the time, residents who had already attended rallies to stop the project because of the heavy truck traffic and possible environmental issues, were shocked when they found out about the hydrogen plan.
On the same day that the Star story appeared, Canadian Tire announced it was suspending its hydrogen plans. Town officials said at the time all appropriate safety protocols would have been put in place had the plan moved forward.
The hydrogen plans came to light in 2014, when Quebec court documents in an alleged wrongful contract termination lawsuit were filed by an engineering company that specializes in fire protection design. The engineering company alleged that a firm hired by Canadian Tire to design the distribution facility tried to hide the planned hydrogen use and reduce the recommended requirements for fire safety. There were no allegations against Canadian Tire.
The matter was settled in 2014 before the case was heard in court.
Groves said she is going to bring forward a motion at council in August that would require the project go through a full public process, including meetings with residents and debate by council before approving the use of hydrogen.
Asked if he would support such a process, including a meeting open to all Caledon residents, Mayor Thompson said, “We will be providing an educational video tour, a fact sheet, a dedicated email address for public enquiries, and contact information for Canadian Tire and the TSSA. And, all of this will be available 24/7 — much more convenient, accessible and transparent than any single public meeting.” Thompson said this information is currently “being developed . . . for anyone who is interested.”
Kim Seipt, spokesperson for the group Your Voice For Bolton, where the facility is located, said her members are “incredibly disappointed” that the hydrogen plan might get pushed through without a public approval process.
“We still believe a potentially dangerous facility like this has no place near people’s homes,” Seipt said. “Maybe Caledon officials are hoping people have short enough memories that they can sneak this change through because two years have passed. We will be sure people remember now, and at election time.”
Caledon resident Sunny Sharma said the latest effort to accommodate the hydrogen plan doesn’t meet the level of transparency he expects of the town.
“I am a businessman. I have no issue with Canadian Tire building a distribution centre or any other company building warehouses or offices. It is the matter of not following a democratic process, not being informed and not having public consultations where council and staff actually answer questions or mitigate concerns,” Sharma said.
It speaks to the horror of the Republican convention that although Donald Trump did declare it an enormous success.
As only he could.
The Washington Post editorial board has seen enough.
And has decided to endorse Hillary Clinton about three months earlier than it normally would.
The elevator often doesn’t work, pieces of the ceiling have fallen down, there has been flooding in at least one courtroom, and the premises are so cramped that prisoners are sometimes transported through the same areas as judges.
Welcome to the Milton courthouse. Or as veteran criminal defence lawyer Paul Stunt calls it, an “unmitigated disaster.”
Located in what has been described as the fastest-growing city in Canada, the decades-old building, with its shortage of courtrooms and judges, is vastly ill-equipped to deal with the caseload of Halton Region, lawyers say. A second, even smaller, courthouse in Burlington has also proven to be problematic.
As a result of the lack of resources, criminal cases that are taking too long to get to trial are being thrown out due to delay.
The government has said a new Halton courthouse is at the top of its priority projects list and issued a request for proposals last month to find a design expert.
But lawyers aren’t holding their breath. They’re quick to point out that other municipalities including Kitchener, Brampton and Oshawa have either received new, state-of-the-art courthouses in the last 15 years or are getting expansions while Milton has been left virtually untouched for decades.
“I look forward to being proven wrong on this but we have heard it before. At points in the last 10 years, Halton has been considered one of the priorities for court facilities only to see other regions ‘get the goods,’” said lawyer Brendan Neil, the Halton director of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association.
“Don’t get me wrong. Halton is not the only region in need but it is the fastest growing region with an antiquated building which has been termed as an embarrassment and a black eye on a justice system that deserves better.”
The impact in the region is being especially felt at the provincial court level, with its tiny bench of seven judges, two of whom deal exclusively with family law matters. When lawyer Victoria Starr was appointed in 2014, she became Halton’s newest judge in 10 years.
As judges have stated repeatedly in their rulings, there simply aren’t enough jurists and courtrooms to hear all cases without violating an accused’s right to be tried within a reasonable time.
Last year alone, at least three impaired driving cases — which make up the bulk of the provincial court docket in Ontario — and two dangerous driving charges were thrown out due to unreasonable delay.
A higher court recently upheld the decision to put a halt to one of the impaired cases, in which a man waited nearly a year for his case to get to trial.
“There is also the legitimate concern that there are no courtrooms or facilities to accommodate additional judges should they be appointed or transferred to the region to assist,” with the trial work, wrote Superior Court Justice Fletcher Dawson earlier this month in his appeal ruling.
“This represents a form of ‘Catch-22’ for deployment of judicial resources.”
Justice Stephen Brown, the local administrative provincial court judge for the region, has perhaps been the most vocal on the bench in calling out the lack of government attention in Halton. (He declined an interview request from the Star.)
“Explosive growth in Halton has been present for many years and is projected to continue for many more. It is not a temporary and ‘unusual strain’ on the judicial resources of this region, but a persistent and ever increasing one,” he wrote in his decision last year, which was upheld by Dawson.
“The government has failed to allocate sufficient resources in Halton for a lengthy period of time. This cannot be an oversight, but only a conscious decision.”
Virtually every judicial and local political player in the region feels their pleas to the government have fallen on deaf ears. Milton’s long-time mayor, Gord Krantz, believes at least part of the reason for the foot-dragging is political.
“It all depends on who is the most vocal, I would suspect, around the cabinet table, or the backbenchers. We had an opposition member for a while, so that worked against us, I would say,” he said.
Progressive Conservative Ted Chudleigh held the riding that includes the Milton courthouse for nearly 20 years, the last 10 of which was during Liberal rule. Since 2014, the area has been represented by Liberal MPPs.
Chudleigh agreed in an interview with the Star that politics can often play a role in the construction of new government projects. He said the legal community had expressed concerns to him in the late 1990s, while his party was in power, about the need for an expansion to the Milton courthouse.
He said he was told that it was on a government priority projects list, but that many projects were halted when the Liberals were elected in 2003.
“It’s political and it’s not necessarily just the Liberals. All parties do it. You stop all construction, and then restart it and take credit for it,” he said.
An Attorney General spokeswoman said the ministry recognizes the need to address the infrastructure issues in Halton and has invested $10.3 million to renovate and improve the Milton courthouse.
“We will continue to work with our justice sector partners to find ways to address these challenges and ensure that the Milton courthouse is able to function efficiently and effectively,” said spokeswoman Clare Graham.
Built in 1962, when the population of Milton was about 6,000 people, and expanded in the late ’70s, the courthouse has six provincial courtrooms. Only two of them actually hear trials and one is frequently used for family matters, said Neil with the Criminal Lawyers’ Association.
The Superior Court, which hears more serious cases and deals with civil matters, has five courtrooms.
Today, Milton’s population is nearing 100,000, part of the 500,000 people who reside in Halton Region — four times the size of the region in 1962.
“I have great concern for the overall security of that building and I think the public, my officers and special constables and in-custody accused persons would be better served and safer in a facility which is probably already 15 to 20 years overdue. We need a brand new, state-of-the-art courthouse as soon as possible,” Halton Regional Police Chief Stephen Tanner told the Star in an interview.
He said when the elevator breaks down and officers have to bring prisoners from the holding cells to the courtrooms, they sometimes have to take them up public stairwells, or through hallways where judges or potential jurors might be found.
“All those things shouldn’t happen in a modern courthouse facility,” he said.
There’s also a “satellite” courthouse in Burlington, built in the early 1990s, which has three provincial court trial courtrooms and a small claims courtroom. But all individuals in Halton region who have been charged with a crime must first appear in Milton.
Lawyers point out that cases can be moved on a whim from Milton to Burlington, yet public transportation between the two is practically non-existent, and not every accused person has access to a car to make the half-hour drive.
“I understand they’ve sent witnesses down in taxis,” said Stunt, the lawyer who has been lobbying the government for years for a new Halton region courthouse.
“There’s no space for the defence lawyers to meet with their clients in that courthouse. It doesn’t exist. You go to Tim Horton’s or the hallway. When that building was first opened, to get to the cells, you had to go through the men’s washroom. They’ve corrected that now.”
Even if plans for a new courthouse were approved this week, it would take years for the project to get off the ground, critics say. Concern is growing that even more serious cases will be tossed in the meantime.
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VICTORIA—Armed with will and determination — and grace, too — the Tragically Hip launched Friday what is sure to be an emotional farewell tour with a sold-out show at a hockey arena in Victoria.
The band took the stage at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre before 9,000 cheering fans, including luminaries such as John Mann, the Spirit of the West singer who was recently diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
The 15-date, cross-Canada tour promoting the band’s latest album, Man Machine Poem, was planned following the announcement in May that frontman Gord Downie had developed incurable brain cancer.
That lent an air of anticipation to the atmosphere in the audience, with many fans hugging and shaking hands before settling in to await the show.
The mood, however, was definitely more defiant than mournful, and the crowd seemed determined to party.
Downie apparently got the same memo, arriving on stage to howls of joy as he sported a head-to-toe magenta ensemble and white fedora adorned with a feather.
Wasting no time, the band launched into three of their biggest hits in rapid succession — “Boots or Hearts,” “New Orleans is Sinking” and “Blow at High Dough.” Downie’s voice was strong, though he did more standing than dancing and the band was circled tightly around him.
The Hip played 26 songs, including two encores in a set that lasted almost 2.5 hours.
The songs “Poets,” “Little Bones” and “At the Hundredth Meridian” had the band at its rock ’n’ roll finest, with their duelling guitar sound ringing through the arena. But it was the ballads, especially “Long Time Running” and “Wheat Kings,” that drew the most intense emotions.
It was as if everybody in the building knew they were attending more than just a concert as Downie held the notes just that much longer. People were on their feet dancing, but many were also wiping the tears as they swayed to the music.
“What gets me about stadium shows is every now and then there’s that perfect moment when pretty much everyone in the room is feeling the same thing, and there were several of those moments. For example, ‘Long Time Running,’ ” said Lexi Ratz of Victoria outside of the arena.
Hillary Krupa of Victoria said she also felt the emotion of perhaps seeing Downie and the band for the last time spread throughout the arena during the concert.
“There was a sense of respect and honour, not a sad feeling to it, just a true sense of honouring the miracle genius that he is, and being there with everyone feeling it together,” she said. “It was amazing.”
Downie never directly mentioned his situation, but at the end of the concert, when his band mates left the stage, he stood at the front of the stage and said: “Thank you everybody. Thank you very much.”
Janie Zmaeff said she travelled from Campbell River, B.C., to Victoria with her daughter, Carmen.
“This is my fifth time going to see them,” said Zmaeff. “I love the Hip.”
She admitted she was floored when she heard Downie was terminally ill.
“I was bawling my eyes out,” she said. “I’m going to start crying right now.”
Since their formation in high school in 1984, the Hip — Downie, guitarist Rob Baker, drummer Johnny Fay, bassist Gord Sinclair and latecomer guitarist Paul Langlois, who joined in 1986 — have released 16 albums and won 14 Juno awards along with a legion of devoted fans.
One of them, Avril Hughes, didn’t think twice about making the road trip to Victoria from her home in California.
Despite already catching the band’s performance in San Francisco last year, Hughes said she wasn’t going to miss the final tour.
“He had all the energy in the world,” she said of seeing Downie at the show in October. “It was spectacular.”
Victoria’s John Garside, 41, got two tickets to Friday’s show — one for his best friend of 30 years.
“He just moved back here with his family from Australia, where’s he’s been since about 2002. Is there any better way than to say welcome back to Canada and do a Canadian thing than to take him to a Hip show?”
For Jordan Kennedy, seeing Downie and his band mates perform in Toronto next month will be his 17th time hearing them live.
While a university student 21 years ago, Kennedy was an extra in the band’s music video for the song “Silver Jet.” There he had the chance to spend the day hanging out and chatting with the musicians.
“They say ‘Don’t meet your heroes because you’ll be disappointed.’ But I at least personally had the complete opposite experience with Gord and with the rest of the guys,” he said. “It was a dream come true and I wish I could do it again.”
The final show is planned for Aug. 20 in their hometown of Kingston, Ont. Fans who failed to nab tickets will still be able to watch the final live show, which is being broadcasted by the CBC.
After watching the Munich cops’ Twitter feed with my husband yesterday — “Ve know nuthink! NU-THINK!!” — and now reading this… As I’ve said before, when timeworn cliches are no longer viable shorthand, you know you’re living through an epochal change.
Dollhouses weren’t invented for play. https://t.co/wHlCL3I73J pic.twitter.com/qL7yS3oFSR — The Atlantic (@TheAtlantic) July 22, 2016 Why Men Want to Marry Melanias and Raise Ivankas, nytimes.com “The Art of the Deal” made America see Trump as a charmer with an unfailing knack for business, newyorker.com A Great Example of Why Your Teens Need to Know They Can […]
Canada has topped the list of 19 wealthy countries in the percentage of road deaths linked to alcohol impairment, according to a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For Robert Solomon, professor of law at Western University and national legal director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the sorry record is the consequence of some of “the dumbest impaired-driving laws on the face of the planet.”
For MADD national president Angeliki Souranis of Montreal, it’s another painful reminder of her own loss of 20-year-old son, Craig, eight years ago and of the work still to do in reducing the toll of impaired driving in Canada.
“It takes one second to change life, to change futures,” Souranis told the Star. “And it isn’t just the person (killed or catastrophically injured) who is impacted, it’s this whole huge ripple effect, families, extended families and friends, communities, the cost to them.”
In a report released this month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed data from the World Health Organization and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development on seat belt use, and the percentage of road deaths involving alcohol-impaired driving or speeding.
Canada led all nations with alcohol impairment involved in 33.6 per cent of its motor fatalities, just slightly more than the U.S., New Zealand, Australia and Slovenia at about 31 per cent, and vastly higher than the average rate of 19 per cent. Israel, at 3.2 per cent, had the lowest rate.
“I find it somewhat sad that it takes a study by the CDC to get the attention of the Canadian public,” Solomon told the Star.
“We’ve been telling the federal government and the provinces for 20 years that Canada has one of the world’s worst records among developed countries in terms of alcohol-related crash deaths.
“It drives me crazy. As long as they die in ones and twos no one seems to care. It’s apathy, apathy, apathy, crisis.”
Things have improved, he said. Chiefly due to provincial legislative changes such as graduated licensing, programs for young drivers, zero blood-alcohol content for drivers until age 21, and enhanced administrative licence suspension.
The difference, Solomon said, is that most developed countries have taken two legislative reforms in recent decades that produced demonstrable results.
First, they lowered the criminal permissible blood-alcohol level to .05 from .08, he said, “because we know that driving skills are significantly impaired at .05.”
In every jurisdiction adopting this measure, rates of drinking and driving fell, he said, as did alcohol-related crash deaths and injuries.
Second, other developed countries introduced mandatory breath-screening, he said.
At present, police can pull motorists over at any time to ask for ownership, licence and insurance. But they can’t ask for a breath sample without reasonable grounds to suspect a driver has been drinking.
Research shows, Solomon said, that “when police have to rely on their own unaided senses they miss about 80 per cent of the drinking drivers and a majority of the impaired drivers.
“That’s not the fault of the police. It’s just difficult.”
Every jurisdiction that has introduced mandatory breath-screening has seen major sustained reductions in impaired driving deaths and injuries, he said.
It is “the single most effective impaired-driving countermeasure.”
Legislation to provide for mandatory roadside screening has passed second reading in the House of Commons and is to be studied by a parliamentary committee in the fall.
“It’s simply long overdue,” Solomon said. “This is a no-brainer.
“It’s very simple. Why do millions of Canadians continue to drink and drive? Because they can do so with relatively little risk of being apprehended, and if apprehended, charged, and if charged, convicted.
“Your chance of being killed by a drunk driver are about double your chances of being murdered, and, tragically, it takes a disproportionate toll on young people.”
Souranis knows that tragedy first hand.
The Montreal trauma social worker has spent about 25 years counselling families through painful times and thought she understood what parents go through in the loss of a child.
When Craig was killed as a passenger in a crash involving alcohol, she came to realize how wrong she was.
“You think you get the level of pain that’s involved,” she told the Star. “And it’s just an inkling of what families go through with the loss of a loved one.”
The Souranis family just marked the July 10 anniversary of Craig’s death with a barbecue in his memory that his friends attend.
“Our biggest fear is that our loved ones will be forgotten, that it will seem to the world that they were never here,” she said.
Just as she made her two sons wear helmets on toboggan hills and knee pads when Rollerblading, Souranis had warned them about the dangers of drinking and driving.
In her darkest moments, she still asks herself if she told them enough. But she knows that for young people especially, “people just think it’s not going to happen to them.”
Some politicians call the idea of a ban on texting while walking “silly,” but that hasn’t stopped a majority of Toronto residents from being in favour of it.
A new Forum Research poll found that 56 per cent of people support city council’s desire to make it illegal to use a smartphone or similar device while crossing the street.
Only 35 per cent disagreed with the ban, while 8 per cent had no opinion, according to the poll, which also probed sentiments on the end of a rarely enforced street hockey ban, the TORONTO sign and a revamp of Yonge St.
“Council’s proposal to ban texting and walking was dismissed by the province and others, but whoever dismisses it is out of touch with the public,” said Forum Research president Lorne Bozinoff. “People seem to be on board with this idea.”
Mayor John Tory and councillors were chided for a a 26-15 vote to ask the province to outlaw use of devices “while on any travelled portion of a roadway.”
But some councillors ridiculed the idea and the apparently skeptical Ontario transportation minister said it would be up to Toronto council to introduce such a rule.
Support for the crackdown, the poll found, was highest among North Yorkers, the oldest Torontonians, middle-income earners and private-vehicle commuters.
The proposal, which some called an attempt to blame pedestrians for being killed by drivers, was least popular with cyclists.
Torontonians also applauded city council’s decision to end, against the advice of city staff, a longtime official ban on street hockey. Some 69 per cent approved of the decision while only 21 per cent disapproved. Ten per cent had no opinion.
Those most in favour of keeping street hockey illegal were the oldest, lower-income residents of North York, York and Scarborough, and those who voted for Doug Ford in the 2014 mayoral election.
Residents, meanwhile, are split on a city staff proposal to spend about $500,000 to maintain the popular illuminated TORONTO sign in Nathan Phillips Square for two more years and build a smaller T.O. sign that would move around the city.
Some 49 per cent of Torontonians supported spending the money, while 39 per cent did not and 14 per cent had no opinion.
The biggest sign fans were downtown, the oldest, the wealthiest, and Mayor John Tory voters. Those who voted for Doug Ford in the 2010 mayoral election were not so keen.
“Toronto loves its sign and woe betide the politician who tries to take it down,” Bozinoff said. “This seems to be part of a pattern where people have become more open to city-building and spending money on Toronto.”
City councillors expressed concern over maintenance costs, asking staff to come back with cheaper options this fall. They also pulled the plug on plans for a smaller mobile sign.
A strong majority of respondents, 64 per cent, approved of another city initiative — revitalizing downtown Yonge St.
Only 28 per cent disapproved of the plan expected to breathe new life into Toronto’s artery with wider sidewalks, new planters and a reduction in vehicle lanes.
Enthusiasm for a revitalized, more pedestrian-focused Yonge crossed all demographics, except those who voted for Doug Ford in the 2014 mayoral election, car commuters and Etobicoke residents.
Bozinoff predicted the plan could become a new front in hostilities between some drivers and other road users.
Forum conducted the poll of 868 randomly selected Toronto adults on July 18 using an interactive voice response telephone survey. Results based on the total sample are considered accurate plus or minus 3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Where appropriate, the data has been statistically weighted by age, region, and other variables to ensure the sample reflects the actual population according to the latest Census data.
Forum houses its poll results in the Data Library of the University of Toronto political science department.
Almost since she got the devastating news eight years ago, Joanne has been looking forward, without really even knowing it, to the conference to be held in Toronto on Saturday.
Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease caused by a genetic mutation was rife in her husband Ted’s family. His late mother had it. A half-dozen aunts and uncles had or have the disease, and some are now in advanced stages.
In 2007, Ted began to have a few mild symptoms.
The Woodbridge man was referred to Sunnybrook Hospital, where relatives had been treated, and was tested. In 2008, at just 44, the father of two and former owner of a transportation brokerage firm was found to have inherited the gene and he was diagnosed.
Joanne told the Star her husband was prescribed medication “to slow down the onset of the symptoms, because there’s no cure at this time.”
At first the symptoms were mild and not obvious, she said. “We actually didn’t really tell anyone other than our immediate family. We didn’t even tell our kids.”
But as time passed, the symptoms progressed. Ted hasn’t worked since closing the family business in 2010.
“The short term-memory (loss) and repetition — those sorts of symptoms get more and more frequent as time goes on,” Joanne said. “In general, we just get through day to day.”
Then, just over a year ago, their doctor at Sunnybrook “informed us there was going to be this clinical trial for a couple of drugs that were being tested to possibly cure the disease.”
A research team at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., led by Dr. Randall Bateman, hoped to test two drugs — antibodies called gantenerumab and solanezumab — that they hoped might prevent the disease.
The drugs are designed to disrupt the brain’s accumulation of amyloid beta, a protein thought to be a major contributor to the disease.
The researchers enlisted families from around the world who carried the specific gene mutation — which basically guarantees they will develop the disease in their 30s, 40s and 50s — for what was called the world’s first Alzheimer’s prevention trial.
So Ted went through a battery of tests over four days — cognitive tests, MRI, brain scans — and was approved to be part of the four-year clinical trial.
In August he will redo all the baseline tests to gauge what has happened since he started.
It’s a blind trial so Ted doesn’t know — nor do his Toronto doctors — whether he has been taking the “live” drugs or a placebo, Joanne said.
The first patients in the trial started two years ago, she said, and the intention was to begin analyzing results at the two-year mark to determine the effectiveness of the drugs.
The clinical trial, and the second annual Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer’s disease family conference that will be held in Toronto this weekend at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, has given Joanne and her family new hope.
“I didn’t even realize a year ago that there was this conference,” she said. “I only found out about it this year after getting involved with the study. Obviously we’re very excited about going on Saturday.
“Having that feeling that you’re not alone, and getting ideas from other people, and hearing their stories, I’m sure that can be nothing but positive.”
Their 23-year-old son and 20-year-old daughter have long since been told of the gene they have a 50-50 chance of having inherited, Joanne said. But since there’s nothing that can be done at their ages, even if they were found to have it, they have decided not to be tested yet.
“Once you have this information you have to live with it for the next many years wondering what will happen to you, and knowing what could happen to you,” said Joanne. “Because there’s really nothing they could do about it at this point they’ve decided not to be tested, with the hopes there will be a cure down the line.”
Trial organizers asked some time ago if the family would be interested in telling their story, Joanne said. “It’s important to get the word out about the disease, about this trial because it’s so groundbreaking and important.”
She asked that the family surname isn’t revealed to protect her children from having their medical history searched by prospective future employers.
Other than that, it’s exciting to participate in a project that brings such hope, she said, and to look forward to talking to others dealing with the same challenges.
“Our hope is, obviously, that one of the two drugs that’s being tested will have positive results,” Joanne said.
“Hopefully, it’ll help Ted, and also, of course, for our children (should they need it), for all our relatives, and for all the other families that are suffering with the same disease.”
Canada’s premiers have made more progress in the last few months than they made in the almost ten years Stephen Harper ruled this country.
And they do have good reason to celebrate.
But there is always one party pooper, and it would have to be Brad Wall.
The grubby little oil pimp from Saskatchewan, who spent much of that meeting complaining that Justin Trudeau wasn’t there.
So he could tell him how much he hates the idea of a carbon tax.
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Summer sixteen is in full effect and these stars are jumping right in … check out the gallery to see the celebrity daredevils taking fun to new heights in these waterproof social media snaps. Cannonbaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall.