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SeaWorld says it will end killer whale breeding program

FREIDA FRISARO, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Thursday, Mar 17th, 2016

SeaWorld announced Thursday it is ending its practice of killer whale breeding following years of controversy over keeping orcas in captivity.

In a statement released Thursday morning, the company said the breeding program will end immediately. It also announced a partnership with the Humane Society of the United States.

The company also said it is ending theatrical shows at its parks and will introduce “new, inspiring natural orca encounters.”

The new shows will begin next year at the SeaWorld Entertainment Inc.’s San Diego park, before expanding to its San Antonio park and then to the Orlando park in 2019.

“SeaWorld has introduced more than 400 million guests to orcas, and we are proud of our part in contributing to the human understanding of these animals,” said Joel Manby, president and chief executive officer of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc.

“As society’s understanding of orcas continues to change, SeaWorld is changing with it. By making this the last generation of orcas in our care and reimagining how guests will encounter these beautiful animals, we are fulfilling our mission of providing visitors to our parks with experiences that matter.”

The company said its partnership with the Humane Society will help educate guests on animal welfare and conservation issues through interpretive programs at the parks and by expanded advocacy for wild whales, seals and other marine creatures.

“SeaWorld’s commitment to end breeding of orcas is a long-held goal of many animal advocacy organizations, and we commend the company for making this game-changing commitment,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society.

Criticism over keeping killer whales in captivity increased in 2010 after a killer whale named Tilikum grabbed trainer Dawn Brancheau after a “Dine with Shamu” show and pulled her into the pool, killing her. The death was highlighted in a documentary titled “Blackfish.”

Tilikum, who was also involved in the deaths of two others, is now very sick. He has been at SeaWorld Orlando for 23 years.

Justin Trudeau announces Canadian bid for seat on UN’s Security Council

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Mar 16th, 2016

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NEW YORK — Canada will vie for a seat on the Security Council for a two-year term starting in 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today.

The members of the General Assembly won’t vote on candidates for the vacancy until the fall of 2020, which means Trudeau will have to win another federal election in 2019 if he wants to personally see Canada return to the UN’s most powerful body.

If Canada succeeds, it would end the country’s longest absence from the council in the history of the United Nations _ 21 years since the end of Canada’s last two-year stint in 2000.

Trudeau launched the campaign this morning from the lobby of the United Nations building in New York in front of a crowd of staffers, visiting students and foreign diplomats.

Officials said they could only recall the room being used once this way for a public event in the last few years _ for the Pope.

In his speech, Trudeau said Canada wants to revitalize its entire relationship with the world body and he underlined peacekeeping as an area where Canada can have an impact.

“We are determined to revitalize Canada’s historic role as a key contributor to United Nations peacekeeping, in addition to helping advance current reform efforts,” he said.

“And Canada will increase its engagement with peace operations, not just by making available our military, police, and specialized expertise, but also by supporting the civilian institutions that prevent conflict, bring stability to fragile states, and help societies recover in the aftermath of crisis.

He repeated his oft-made claim that Canada is back as a player on the UN stage.

“It’s time. It is time for Canada to step up once again.”

But experts says Canada can’t rely on nostalgia alone if it wants to return to the council.

“Any campaign will also have to be clear about our agenda,” said Fen Hampson, director of the Global Security Program at the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, Ont.

“Those supporting our candidacy will not only want to hear that ‘Canada is back in the world,’ but also what exactly is it that we are bringing to the world and prepared to do.”

Paul Heinbecker, who was Canada’s UN ambassador during the 2000 stint on the council, said the western group is more competitive than any other, and Canada faces a tough battle, especially in Europe.

“There is the issue — or not — of the solidarity of the European Union. We were able to split the Europeans in 1999, but it’s not obvious to me that you can do that again.”

Ian Martin, executive director of the UN’s Security Council Report, said the most competitive elections now take place in Canada’s grouping.

“This year there’s a closely fought election between three European members” he said, referring to the contest between Italy, Sweden and the Netherlands.

Lloyd Axworthy, Canada’s foreign affairs minister in the late 1990s, said Canada has lost standing at the UN over the last decade and needs to work hard to regain it.

He said Trudeau needs to come up with an agenda that shows a commitment to peacekeeping, which Canada has largely abandoned, as well as foreign aid, which has been declining steadily.

Loblaw to restock stores with French’s ketchup after uproar

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Mar 16th, 2016

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TORONTO – Loblaw is reversing its decision to pull French’s ketchup from its store shelves following a social media uproar.

The company originally said it would stop selling the brand-name ketchup even after the condiment surged in popularity thanks to the French’s commitment to buy tomatoes from Canadian farmers.

“We’ve heard our Loblaws customers,” said Kevin Groh, the company’s vice-president of corporate affairs and communication, in a statement.

The grocery store chain will restock the product as soon as possible, he said. French’s did not respond to request for comment.

Earlier, Loblaw said it had stopped stocking French’s regular ketchup due to low sales over the past year. But it continued to stock French’s two flavoured varieties, Buffalo ketchup and garlic ketchup.

The popularity of French’s ketchup soared after a man’s Facebook post lauding the U.S.-based company for supporting local farmers went viral.

Brian Fernandez posted a photo of a French’s ketchup bottle in late February and said his family would no longer buy Heinz ketchup since the company closed its Leamington, Ont., plant and cost the community about 750 jobs.

French’s regular and flavoured ketchups uses 100 per cent Canadian-grown tomatoes, according to its website.

Fernandez’s post was shared more than 132,000 times, and prompted a member of the Ontario legislature to ask for the Queen’s Park dining room and cafeteria to switch to French’s ketchup.

Demand for French’s increased following the publicity. Fernandez later posted that a Zehrs in Orillia, Ont., sold out of 10 cases of the condiment on the same day it received them. Others weighed in with similar stories from their local grocers.

Groh said he hopes the enthusiasm shown for the product on social media and in the news will translate to in-store sales.

Loblaw also stocks its own brand of ketchup, under the President’s Choice label, including an organic variety, a low-sodium choice and regular ketchup. Loblaw did not respond to questions on whether they buy the tomatoes for their ketchups from Leamington or other Canadian tomato farmers, or elsewhere.

Trump, Clinton score big primary wins; Rubio drops out

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Wednesday, Mar 16th, 2016

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Donald Trump scored victories Tuesday in three states, including the big-prize Florida, but lost Ohio to the state’s governor, John Kasich, as the billionaire continued to move ahead in his stunning campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. Hillary Clinton won at least four states, dealing a severe blow to Bernie Sanders’ bid to slow her march toward the Democratic nomination.

Marco Rubio, the Florida senator who staked his once-promising campaign on winning in his home state, dropped out of the presidential race shortly after the polls closed. That leaves Kasich as the last true establishment candidate running against Trump and arch-conservative Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Trump, the brash and controversial reality TV star, has upended Republican politics by winning most of the state-by-state competitions for delegates who will choose the party’s nominee. He has seized on Americans’ anger with Washington politicians, discomfort with immigration and fears of terrorism, attracting voters with his blunt talk and simply worded promise to make America great again.

Tuesday’s votes in five states had been viewed as a pivotal moment in the Republican presidential campaign. For the first time, two states – Ohio and Florida – had winner-take-all contests. A Trump sweep could have given him an insurmountable lead in the delegate count.

Trump won the biggest prize – all 99 Florida delegates – as well as winning North Carolina and Illinois, and was locked in a tight race with Cruz in Missouri. He told a victory rally in Florida, “This was an amazing night.”donaldtrump-march15

But Kasich’s win, capturing all of Ohio’s 66 delegates, was crucial to keeping alive the hopes of mainstream Republicans trying to stop Trump.

Both the Republican and Democratic primaries in Missouri were too close to call Wednesday morning.

While Trump has amassed the most delegates, he’s winning just 46 per cent of the delegates that have been awarded so far. If that pace continues, he would fall short of the majority that he would need to assure him the nomination at the party’s convention in July. The result could be a contested convention, creating an unpredictable outcome.

This was the first victory for Kasich, whose upbeat message and long record of government service has had little resonance as his rivals seized on voters’ anxiety and disdain for Washington. While he could benefit from Rubio dropping out, he remains an extreme longshot for the nomination, though he could help keep Trump below the 50 per cent threshold.

Cruz said at a Houston rally that the battle for the Republican presidential nomination battle was a “two-person race” between himself and Trump. He did not mention Kasich by name.

Trump now has 621 delegates. Cruz has 396 and Kasich 138. Rubio left the race with 168 delegates. It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination for president.

In the Democratic race, Clinton’s victories in Florida and North Carolina were expected, but Sanders, a Vermont senator and self-described democratic socialist, had hoped to take the industrial states of Ohio and Illinois, both of which Clinton won. He criticized the former secretary of state for her past support for trade deals. Sanders is unlikely to overtake Clinton in the delegate count, but his victory last week in Michigan underscored the unease that many Democratic voters have about her candidacy.

With her wins Tuesday, Clinton put herself in a commanding position to become the first woman in U.S. history to win a major party nomination.

Overall, Clinton has at least 1,561 total delegates including superdelegates, who are elected officials and party leaders free to support the candidate of their choice. Sanders has at least 800 delegates when the count includes superdelegates. It takes 2,383 to win the Democratic nomination.

In Missouri, the margins between Trump and Cruz and between Clinton and Sanders, were less than one-half of 1 percentage point, meaning the losing candidate can request a recount. The Associated Press did not call either race.

At a victory rally in West Palm Beach, Florida, Clinton pivoted quickly to the November election by assailing Trump’s hardline immigration positions and support for torture. “Our commander-in-chief has to be able to defend our country, not embarrass it,” she declared.

Trump has alienated many Republicans and Democrats alike with his disparaging remarks about Mexicans, Muslims and women, among others. He entered Tuesday’s primaries embroiled in one of the biggest controversies of his contentious campaign. He has encouraged supporters to confront protesters at his events and is now facing accusations of encouraging violence after skirmishes at a rally last week in Chicago that he ended up cancelling.

“I don’t think I should be toning it down because I’ve had the biggest rallies of anybody probably ever,” Trump said Tuesday on ABC’s Good Morning America. “We have had very, very little difficultly.”

Rubio and Kasich have suggested they might not be able to support Trump if he’s the nominee, an extraordinary stance for intraparty rivals. All of the Republican candidates had earlier pledged to support the nominee.

Rubio implicitly rebuked Trump throughout a speech in Miami announcing he was dropping out of the race, imploring Americans to “not give in to the fear, do not give in to the frustration.”

Now thrust into the centre of a campaign that has been bitingly personal, Kasich vowed to cheering supporters in Berea, Ohio, that he would “not take the low road to the highest office in the land.”

Trump has been the target of millions of dollars in negative advertising in recent weeks, including one ad campaign that highlights his statements that appear to encourage violence _ among them, “I’d like to punch him in the face.”

Loblaws dropping French’s ketchup, made from Leamington tomatoes

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Mar 15th, 2016

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The latest chapter in an Ontario condiment controversy that has gone from the farms of Leamington to the halls of Queen’s Park is now playing out on grocery store shelves.

Loblaws is dropping French’s ketchup, made from Leamington tomatoes, due to poor sales.

“It’s worth noting that Loblaws makes its own ketchup, under the President’s Choice label,” 680 NEWS business editor Richard Southern said Tuesday.

“It’s also possible that Heinz has been buying up shelf space,” he said.

According to CBC News, Loblaws says demand for French’s ketchup has been consistently low since the grocery chain started selling it about two years ago.

Heinz pulled its operations out of Ontario in June of 2014. When French’s recently announced it would use Ontario tomatoes, the support on social media was swift and huge. Many customers vowed to buy French’s to support farmers, and the plea went all the way to Queen’s Park.

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak has introduced a petition for a switch to French’s, pointing out the legislature has a rich history of promoting Ontario products, such as craft beer, Ontario wine, fruits and vegetables.

“The promotion of French’s ketchup would greatly support local tomato producers, local workers and communities across Essex county,” he said.

“I know there’s an appetite for a petition of this sort here in the chamber,” Natyshak added.

Mother Teresa to be made a saint on Sept. 4

NICOLE WINFIELD, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Tuesday, Mar 15th, 2016

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Mother Teresa will be made a saint on Sept. 4.

Pope Francis set the canonization date Tuesday, paving the way for the nun who cared for the poorest of the poor to become the centerpiece of his yearlong focus on the Catholic Church’s merciful side.

The announcement was expected after Francis in December approved a second miracle attributed to Mother Teresa’s intercession – the final hurdle to make her a saint. The actual date falls on the eve of the 19th anniversary of her death.

The ceremony will draw tens of thousands to honour the tiny, stooped nun who was fast-tracked for sainthood just a year after she died in 1997. St. John Paul II, who was Mother Teresa’s greatest champion, beatified her before a crowd of 300,000 in St. Peter’s Square in 2003.

Born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu on Aug. 26, 1910, in Skopje, Macedonia, Mother Teresa joined the Loreto order of nuns in 1928. In 1946, while travelling by train from Calcutta to Darjeeling, she was inspired to found the Missionaries of Charity order.

The order was established four years later and has since opened more than 130 houses worldwide to provide comfort and care for the needy, dying, sick and “poorest of the poor.”

Mother Teresa won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her work with Calcutta’s destitute and ill, work which continued even after she herself became sick. She died on Sept. 5, 1997, at age 87. At the time, her Missionaries of Charity order had nearly 4,000 nuns and ran roughly 600 orphanages, soup kitchens, homeless shelters and clinics.

“She built an empire of charity,” said the Rev. Bernardo Cervellera, editor of the Vatican-affiliated missionary news agency AsiaNews. “She didn’t have a plan to conquer the world. Her idea was to be obedient to God.”

Toronto a step closer to tolls on Gardiner, DVP

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Mar 15th, 2016

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Traffic on the Don Valley Parkway. SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons/Floydian

Toronto is a step closer to tolls on the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway.

On Monday, the city put out a request for proposals (RFP) on how tolls could be implemented.

The RFP calls for a study from bidders on what type of toll technology is best for Toronto. That would include where toll booths would be, what the charge would be, and how it would be enforced.

The city also wants to know what kinds of payment could be used, and who would have to pay (Toronto residents? GTA residents? Everyone?). The tolls would be in place for the entire lengths of the DVP and Gardiner.

The proposals are due April 11.

Ontario mandating builders to include affordable housing in new projects

CityNews | posted Monday, Mar 14th, 2016

Mayor John Tory speaks to reporters in Toronto.

The province has announced a bold new project aimed at ending chronic homelessness in 10 years.

Mayor John Tory and Ted McMeekin, the minister of municipal affairs and housing, announced on Monday that the province will be investing $178-million in new funding over three years and create new rules for affordable housing.

 

 

The new rules would implement “inclusionary zoning” which would give cities the power to make builders include affordable housing in new residential projects.

Tory unveiled an expanded Open Door program last fall, aimed to fast-track affordable housing in the city, and announced that five city-owned sites are being turned into affordable housing.

In April, Tory announced the Open Door initiative in an effort to turn more public land into affordable housing, and make it easier for private and non-profit developers to build affordable housing on city land.

According to city officials, there is a housing crisis in Toronto, with more than 91,000 families on the waiting list for affordable housing.

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