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Gord Downie set to perform in Toronto Oct. 21

By News staff and the Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Sep 20th, 2016

Gord Downie is going to perform in Toronto at Roy Thomson Hall on Oct. 21.

Tickets go on sale on Friday at gorddownie.com/shows.

Before the Toronto show, Downie will play a concert in Ottawa. He is scheduled to perform at Southam Hall at the National Arts Centre on Oct. 18.

According to a tweet on Downie’s Twitter page on Tuesday, proceeds from the two shows will be donated to “reconciliation.” Downie has previously supported the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, which preserves “the memory of Canada’s Residential School system and legacy.”

The beloved Tragically Hip frontman, who has aggressive, incurable brain cancer, will release asolo album with an accompanying graphic novel and animated film inspired by the tragedy of Canada’s residential schools.

More than 150,000 First Nations, Metis, and Inuit children were placed in these schools –  often against their parents’ wishes – which led to an apology from then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2008.

During the band’s final show in their “Man Machine Poem” summer tour, which many feared could be their last, Downie called out to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who attended the concert, to help fix problems in northern Canada.

The solo album “Secret Path” began s 10 poems that were turned into the 10 songs, which was recorded over two sessions near Kingston in late 2013.

The project tells the story of a 12-year-old First Nations boy in Ontario named Chanie Wenjack, who died in 1966 after running away from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School near Kenora, Ont.

In a statement, Downie said he learned the story of Wenjack, who was misnamed Charlie by his teachers, from a 1967 Maclean’s magazine article.

The “Secret Path” album and graphic novel will be released on Oct. 18 – the same day as the Ottawa show.

 

 

Tentative deal reached between GM and Unifor

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Sep 20th, 2016

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Unifor and General Motors of Canada have reached a tentative contract settlement, averting a walkout that was scheduled to begin on Monday night at 11:59 p.m.

The four-year pact, which covers about 4,000 autoworkers in Ontario, includes wage increases, signing bonuses and lump sum payments.

But Unifor president Jerry Dias said the union’s main goal was to “solidify a product for Oshawa and to cement the footprint in our St. Catharines operations.”

“We ended up reaching a tentative agreement because of the clear understanding of the two parties that that was the price of coffee.”

There had been fears the Oshawa facility might shut down in 2019, but Dias said the contract ensures a commitment by the company worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

“Our fear of a closure in 2019 is now over,” he said. “The facilities clearly have a bright future.”

Dias didn’t divulge what will be built in Oshawa beyond that year, but said it will be the “first and only plant in North America that will have the ability to build both cars and trucks” and added there will be additional jobs in both the short and long-term.

Dias also said the agreement with GM will see some unspecified production coming from Mexico to the St. Catharines plant, reversing a trend that has been a “straight migration of auto jobs from Canada to Mexico.”

“I believe this is the first time that I can remember where there has been a migration of product from Mexico to Canada,” he said. “Heaven only knows we’ve seen enough of it go the other way around.”

The tentative deal also secures investment for the GM parts distribution centre in Woodstock, Ont.

The Unifor president said the only negative change in the tentative agreement is that all new hires will start with a defined contribution pension plan.

GM Canada said in a brief statement that it would be “working with government on potential support,” but did not offer any specifics.

The automaker said the agreement includes “significant new product, technology and process investments” and that it would provide further details after a ratification vote, which will be held Sunday at all three Ontario sites.

Unifor selected GM as its target company in the opening round of contract talks with the so-called Detroit Three automakers.

Unifor had said any deal reached with GM would serve as a template for negotiations with Ford and Fiat Chrysler. It did not say which automaker it would negotiate with next.

Members of the union voted last month in favour of strike action to back their contract proposals, which in addition to securing more work included wage increases.

Donald Trump Jr. likens Syrian refugees to poisoned Skittles

The Associated Press | posted Tuesday, Sep 20th, 2016

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Donald Trump Jr. has posted a message on Twitter likening Syrian refugees to a bowl of poisoned Skittles.

Seeking to promote his father’s presidential campaign, the younger Trump posted a tweet featuring a bowl of the candy Skittles with a warning.

“If I had a bowl of skittles and I told you just three would kill you, would you take a handful?” said the tweet on the verified @DonaldJTrumpJr handle.

“That’s our Syrian refugee problem,” said the post, which caused a stir and negative tweets on the Internet into Tuesday.

Young Trump’s tweet said, “This image says it all. Let’s end the politically correct agenda that doesn’t put America first.”

His father has advocated sharply restraining immigration and has accused opponent Hillary Clinton of advocating acceptance of tens of thousands of refugees.

Skittles parent company Wrigley Americas distanced itself from the tweet with a terse response opposing Trump Jr.’s premise.

“Skittles are candy. Refugees are people. We don’t feel it’s an appropriate analogy,” vice-president of corporate affairs Denise Young said in the statement. “We will respectfully refrain from further commentary as anything we say could be misinterpreted as marketing.”

The tweet came as world leaders meeting at the United Nations on Monday approved a declaration aimed at providing a more co-ordinated and humane response to the global refugee crisis, among which Syrians are a major grouping.

During the campaign Trump has repeatedly called for a moratorium on accepting Syrian refugees. This is part of a more wide-ranging policy on immigrants that has ranged from an outright ban on foreign Muslim immigrants entering the United States “until we know what the hell is going on” to “extreme” vetting and an ideological test for would-be immigrants from countries and regions plagued by extremism.

Clinton has said she would expand President Barack Obama’s refugee program to accept about 65,000 Syrian refugees. This would be in addition to the tens of thousands of refugees accepted from around the world every year. Clinton said she would continue with the vetting currently in place, an effort that can take multiple years to complete.

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have sought refuge in Europe while many others wait in neighbouring countries and refugee camps for the war to end or a chance to move away from the carnage. Obama pledged the U.S. would accept 10,000 Syrians this budget year, which ends Sept. 30, and achieved that number a month early. This is in addition to about 75,000 refugees from other parts of the world.


Related stories:

Trump defends right to build wall but who pays for it still in dispute

Trump ex-staffer shares secret on his core supporters: They’re not who you think

Video shows unarmed black man had hands up before police shooting

Justin Juozapavicius, The Associated Press | posted Tuesday, Sep 20th, 2016

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An unarmed black man killed by a white Oklahoma officer who was responding to a stalled vehicle can be seen in police video walking away from officers and toward his SUV with his hands up before he approaches the driver’s side door, where he drops to the ground after being shocked with a stun gun then fatally shot.

In Tulsa police helicopter footage that was among several clips released Monday showing the shooting of 40-year-old Terence Crutcher and its aftermath, a man in the helicopter that arrives above the scene as Crutcher walks to the vehicle can be heard saying “time for a Taser.” He then says: “That looks like a bad dude, too. Probably on something.”

Police Chief Chuck Jordan announced before the video and audio recordings’ release that Crutcher had no weapon on him or in his SUV when he was shot Friday. It’s not clear from the footage what led Betty Shelby, the officer who fired the fatal shot, to draw her gun or what orders officers might have given Crutcher. Local and federal investigations are underway to determine whether criminal charges are warranted in the shooting or if Crutcher’s civil rights were violated.

Crutcher’s twin sister, Tiffany Crutcher, called for charges Monday.

“The big bad dude was my twin brother. That big bad dude was a father,” she said. “That big bad dude was a son. That big bad dude was enrolled at Tulsa Community College, just wanting to make us proud. That big bad dude loved God. That big bad dude was at church singing with all of his flaws, every week. That big bad dude, that’s who he was.”

Police video shows Crutcher walking toward his SUV that is stopped in the middle of the road. His hands are up and a female officer is following him. As Crutcher approaches the driver’s side of the SUV, three male officers walk up and Crutcher appears to lower his hands and place them on the vehicle. The officers surround him, making it harder to see his actions from the dashboard camera’s angle.

Crutcher can be seen dropping to the ground. Someone on the police radio says, “I think he may have just been tasered.”One of the officers near Crutcher backs up slightly.

Then almost immediately, someone can be heard yelling, “Shots fired!” Crutcher’s head then drops, leaving him completely lying out in the street.

After that, someone on the police radio can be heard saying, “Shots fired. We have one suspect down.”

Officer Tyler Turnbough, who’s also white, used a stun gun on Crutcher, police said.

The shooting comes just four months after former Tulsa County volunteer deputy Robert Bates was sentenced to four years in prison on a second-degree manslaughter conviction in the 2015 death of an unarmed black man. Shelby worked as a Tulsa County sheriff’s deputy for four years before joining the Tulsa Police Department in December 2011, officials said. She has been placed on paid leave.

The initial moments of Crutcher’s encounter with police are not shown in the footage. Shelby did not activate her patrol car’s dashcam, said police spokeswoman Jeanne MacKenzie, and the ground-level video released Monday came from the car of a second officer who arrived at the scene.

Initial police briefings indicated Crutcher was not obeying officers’ commands, but MacKenzie said Monday she didn’t know what Crutcher was doing that prompted police to shoot. Two 911 calls described an SUV that had been abandoned in the middle of the road. One unidentified caller said the driver was acting strangely, adding, “I think he’s smoking something.”

After the shooting, Crutcher could be seen lying on the side of the road, blood pooling around his body, for nearly two minutes before anyone checked on him. When asked why police did not provide immediate assistance once Crutcher was down, MacKenzie said, “I don’t know that we have protocol on how to render aid to people.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma, which also called for charges, said Crutcher was left to bleed while officers stood by. The group’s executive director, Ryan Kiesel, said Crutcher’s death shows “how little regard” Tulsa police have for the community’s minorities.

Dozens of protesters gathered outside the county courthouse Monday evening holding signs that read, “Justice 4 Crutch” and “Don’t Shoot.”

With relations between police and blacks in Tulsa already uneasy, the community needs to be the place where change happens, Tiffany Crutcher said.

“This is bigger than us right here. We’re going to stop it right here,” she said.

U.S. Attorney Danny C. Williams said the Department of Justice’s civil rights investigation into the shooting will be separate from a local one into whether criminal charges should be filed.

“The Justice Department is committed to investigating allegations of force by law enforcement officers and will devote whatever resources are necessary to ensure that all allegations of serious civil rights violations are fully and completely investigated,” he said.

Speaking Monday in Tulsa, civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump said Crutcher committed no crime and gave officers no reason to shoot him.

“When unarmed people of colour break down on the side of the road, we’re not treated as citizens needing help. We’re treated as, I guess, criminals – suspects that they fear,” said Crump, who is representing Crutcher’s family just as he did relatives of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed, black Florida teenager who was fatally shot by a neighbourhood watch volunteer in 2012.

He said Tulsa police drew their own conclusions about Crutcher.

“So I guess it’s a crime now to be a big black man,” Crump said. “My God, help us.”

Associated Press writer Jill Bleed in Little Rock, Arkansas, contributed to this report.

Thousands of Ontario licence plates deemed defective

Cristina Howorun | posted Tuesday, Sep 20th, 2016

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Thousands of Ontario licence plates have a new destination; the trash.

A CityNews investigation reveals that 132,000 plates have been returned and replaced free-of-charge to Service Ontario centres since January 2014. That’s a 65,000 jump in returned plates since April of this year. The problem? Peeling, bubbling lamination, which makes the plates’ numbers and letters unreadable.

“Service Ontario is aware that some individuals have experienced an issue with the reflective lamination bubbling or peeling off of their licence plates,” Ministry of Government and Consumer Services spokesperson Anne-Marie Flanagan tells CityNews. “A small percentage of plates have been returned due to this issue.”

And only those that are five years old or newer are replaced at no cost to the driver.

Etobicoke driver Reid Patterson learned that the hard way. “It is a concern and I do want to have it changed eventually, but I’m not willing to spend the $40 it takes to change it,” he says of his nine-year-old, peeling plate.

“I went to the car wash one day and it fell off,” he explains- noting that older plates seem to last much longer. His attempt to save $40 could cost him — driving with an illegible plate can result in a $120 ticket under the Highway Traffic Act.

Defective license plates (CITYNEWS)

The plates have been manufactured by Trilcor staff — inmates serving sentences at Central East Correctional Centre (CECC) in Lindsay, Ont., since 2006. Although defective licence plates have been reported for years, a third-party analysis of the manufacturing process wasn’t commissioned until 2015.

“To improve the quality of our plates, the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services engaged the National Research Council to conduct an objective, third-party investigation of de-lamination with the expressed intent of isolating the root cause.” Flanagan explains. CityNews was only able to obtain a copy of the report through a Freedom of Information request.

The report notes that “poor sticking of the reflective sheeting onto the aluminum was observed for almost all of the samples except those of the motorcycle format.”

It goes on to find that “since the embossing step is also generating some stresses in the different layers of the reflective sheeting and since that poor sticking is taking place, the multi-layer arrangement is then prone to puncture and water penetration.”

It notes that de-icing water solutions used on roads in winter is likely to add to the corrosion, largely because of the materials used and the lamination process employed. It recommends that Trilcor contact its reflective sheet supplier and suggests “a thicker layer of adhesive material will probably help.”

Defective license plates (CITYNEWS)

 

Ministry of Correctional Services spokesperson Andrew Morrison tells CityNews that “In 2015, the supplier of the reflective sheeting implemented changes to its production process which is consistent with changes implemented in other jurisdictions. We are monitoring the situation to see if these changes improve the plate quality.” It is not clear if this has resulted in a thicker adhesive.

The study’s other major recommendation is that Trilcor review its laminating procedure and suggests that it may “slow down the rolling process, apply (sic) less pressure or make a new procedure allowing air to be removed as the roller is moving forward.” Morrison says that the Ministry investigated the production but that no changes have been made to the process, because “no changes to the process were required,” despite the National Research Council’s recommendations.

In 2015/2016 Trilcor staff produced over 1.5 million licence plates. It’s still too early to tell if changing materials without changing the production process will result in fewer defects.

Patterson says his plate is embarrassing and resents that he’ll be charged to replace a plate with a known-defect.

“Does the government want to give me 40 bucks to replace it? I don’t think so.”

Lenny Kravitz to replace Green Day as headliner at World Cup of Hockey event

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Sep 20th, 2016

Lenny Kravitz performs during the third day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Wednesday, July 27, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Green Day may have been a bit too green around the gills to headline the World Cup of Hockey Celebration of Champions event on Friday, but another musical heavyweight has stepped in to assure a healthy dose of rock n’ roll will close out the festivities.

Lenny Kravitz will replace Green Day after the pop-punk legends bowed out due to illness.

The concert will take place at the Scotiabank World Cup of Hockey Fan Village in Toronto’s Distillery District.

Fans who purchased Green Day tickets through Ticketmaster.ca can either receive a full refund or use the ticket for the Kravitz show.

In a statement, Green Day said their concerts are being rescheduled in St. Louis, Chicago and Detroit, but the fourth concert in Toronto was cancelled altogether, and will not be re-scheduled.

The band said it’s because several members fell ill.

“We’re so sad to announce we have to postpone three shows and cancel Toronto,” the statement reads. “Many of us have been battling this infection for days on end to be ready, and it just got the best of us.”

Full statement from Green Day:

Green Day regretfully must postpone three of the first four dates of their upcoming tour and must cancel the Toronto appearance, all due to illness affecting several members of the band and its crew.  The postponed dates are:  St. Louis, MO on 9/20, Chicago, IL on 9/21; and Detroit, MI on 9/24.   The show in Toronto, ONT on 9/23, where they were due to appear at the World Cup of Hockey Fan Village will be canceled. Schedule permitting, Green Day will make up all dates but Toronto, and tickets will be honored at the new dates.

“We’re so sad to announce we have to postpone three shows and cancel Toronto,” said the band.  “Many of us have been battling this infection for days on end to be ready, and it just got the best of us”

Fans who would like to obtain a refund can do so from their original point of purchase.  Stay tuned to www.Greenday.com for more info on the new tour dates.

Elaine Biddersingh sentenced to life with no parole for 16 years in stepdaughter’s murder

News staff, The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Sep 19th, 2016

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Calling the treatment of her stepdaughter “cruel, callous, relentless, and ultimately lethal,” a judge sentenced Elaine Biddersingh to life in prison with no parole for 16 years on Monday.

Biddersingh was smiling and shaking her head as Justice Ian MacDonnell read the sentence, saying that Biddersingh neither accepted her role in her stepdaughter’s death, or showed any remorse for it.

Elaine Biddersingh was convicted of second-degree murder in June in the death of 17-year-old Melonie Biddersingh, whose frail body was found in a burning suitcase in an industrial parking lot north of Toronto in 1994.

Her body went unidentified for years until 2011, when her stepmother told an Ontario pastor the girl had “died like a dog” after being confined and denied food and medication.

Melonie’s father, Everton Biddersingh, was found guilty in January of first-degree murder in his daughter’s death, which carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.

Before reading the sentence on Monday, Justice MacDonnell described the girl’s last two years of life as “a living nightmare.”

Biddersingh plugged her ears as he described the horrid conditions that led to her eventual death, telling the court the girl weighed just 55 pounds at the age of 17 and had over 20 fractures.

She was beaten daily, deprived of food, and locked in a small broom closet.

Reporters Momin Qureshi and Marianne Boucher are reporting live from the courthouse. See their updates in real-time below, or at this mobile-friendly link.


Related stories:

Stepmom guilty of second-degree murder in teen’s death
Pastor’s role in murder case highlights issues with religious confessions
Life sentence for father found guilty in ‘suitcase’ murder


Prosecutors argued Elaine Biddersingh should spend 18 to 22 years in prison before having a chance at parole while the defence suggested 10 years.

Though she did not testify at the trial, her lawyers suggested Melonie’s father was to blame for the teen’s death, while his wife was a victim of domestic abuse.

The judge acknowledged that Biddersingh was a victim of abuse at the hands of her husband, but said it didn’t absolve her of the abuse she subjected her stepdaughter to, adding that she failed to protect the teen and was “a full partner” in her death.

Melonie’s brother, Cleon Biddersingh, 42, told a sentencing hearing earlier this month he has night sweats, nightmares, and eating disorders as a result of what he saw his sister suffer through and what he experienced himself.

“No human being or animal should ever be treated the way Melonie and I were treated at the hands of Everton and Elaine Biddersingh,” he said in a victim impact statement.

Earlier Monday, the sentencing hearing was interrupted on Monday after Biddersingh yelled at the judge repeatedly.

“l didn’t murder nobody, I didn’t do anything to be here!” she wailed. She also repeatedly screamed “Jesus!” before the judge called a brief recess.

According to 680 NEWS reporter Momin Qureshi, who was in court, Biddersingh was mumbling and smiling as she was led away in handcuffs to begin serving her life sentence.

Police arrest man sought in New York-area bombings

JAKE PEARSON AND ALICIA A. CALDWELL, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Monday, Sep 19th, 2016

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An Afghan immigrant wanted for questioning in the bombings that rocked a New York City neighbourhood and a New Jersey shore town was captured Monday after being wounded in a shootout with police that erupted when he was discovered asleep in the doorway of a New Jersey bar, authorities said.

WABC-TV footage showed a man believed to be 28-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahami being loaded into an ambulance on a stretcher in Linden, New Jersey. He appeared to be conscious and looking around.

Two officers were wounded in the gun battle but were not believed to have been seriously hurt, authorities said.

Linden Mayor Derek Armstead said that the owner of a bar reported someone asleep in the doorway of his establishment. A police officer went to investigate and recognized the man as Rahami, police and the mayor said.

Rahami pulled a gun and shot the officer – who was wearing a bulletproof vest – in the torso, and more officers joined the gun battle and brought Rahami down, police Capt. James Sarnicki said.

The arrest came just hours after police issued a bulletin and photo of Rahami, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Afghanistan with an address in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Authorities said the blasts were looking increasingly like an act of terrorism with a foreign connection.

Police did not disclose how they zeroed in on Rahami as a person of interest in the bombing investigation but were known to be poring over surveillance video. At the same time, five people who were pulled over in a vehicle Sunday night were being questioned by the FBI, officials said.

The shootout came after a weekend of fear and dread in New York and New Jersey.

In addition to the blast that injured 29 people in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighbourhood on Saturday, an unexploded pressure cooker bomb was found blocks away, and a pipe bomb exploded in a New Jersey shore town before a charity race. No one was injured there. On Sunday, five explosive devices were discovered in a trash can at an Elizabeth train station.

FBI agents review the crime scene of remnants of bomb debris on 23rd St. in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood in New York City on Sept. 18, 2016. GETTY IMAGES/Stephanie Keith
FBI agents review the crime scene of remnants of bomb debris on 23rd St. in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood in New York City on Sept. 18, 2016. GETTY IMAGES/Stephanie Keith

 

Also on Saturday, a man who authorities say referred to Allah wounded nine people in a stabbing rampage at a Minnesota mall before being shot to death by an off-duty police officer. ISIL has claimed responsibility.

Authorities have not drawn any connection between the violence in Minnesota and the bombings in the New York area.

Citing the FBI, New Jersey State Police said Monday that the bombings in Chelsea and the New Jersey shore town Seaside Park were connected.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said as investigators gathered information, they learned there were “certain commonalities among the bombs,” leading authorities to believe “that there was a common group behind the bombs.”

Before Rahami’s capture, Cuomo said investigators have no reason to believe there are further threats, but the public should “be on constant guard.”

Around the time Rahami was taken into custody, President Barack Obama was in New York on a previously scheduled visit for a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly, and said it was “extremely fortunate” nobody was killed in the bombings.

He called on Americans to show the world “we will never give in to fear.”

“We all have a role to play as citizens to make sure we don’t succumb to that fear. And there’s no better example of that than the people of New York and New Jersey,” the president said. “Folks around here, they don’t get scared.”

Early Monday, FBI agents swarmed an apartment above a fried chicken restaurant in Elizabeth that is tied to Rahami. The Rahami family lives in the apartment.

The restaurant, First American Fried Chicken, is owned by Rahami’s father and has also employed some of his brothers, Elizabeth Mayor Christian Bollwage said.

He said Rahami’s father and two brothers sued the city after it passed an ordinance requiring the restaurant to close early because of complaints from neighbours about it being a late-night nuisance.

Ryan McCann, of Elizabeth, said that he often ate at the restaurant and recently began seeing Rahami working there more.

“He’s always in there. He’s a very friendly guy, that’s what’s so scary. It’s hard when it’s home,” McCann said.

In the immediate aftermath of the New York bombing, de New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Cuomo were careful to say there was no evidence of a link to international terrorism. Both said Monday that appeared to be changing.

“The more we learn with each passing hour is it looks more like terrorism,” de Blasio said in an interview on NY1 News. Cuomo said on MSNBC: “Today’s information suggests it may be foreign-related, but we’ll see where it goes.”

On Sunday night, FBI agents in Brooklyn stopped “a vehicle of interest” in the investigation of the Manhattan explosion, according to FBI spokeswoman Kelly Langmesser.

She wouldn’t provide further details, but a government official and a law enforcement official who were briefed on the investigation told The Associated Press that five people in the car were being questioned at an FBI building in Manhattan.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about the investigation.

On Sunday, a federal law enforcement official said the Chelsea bomb contained a residue of Tannerite, an explosive often used for target practice that can be picked up in many sporting goods stores.

Cellphones were discovered at the site of both the New York and New Jersey bombings, but no Tannerite residue was identified in the New Jersey bomb remnants, in which a black powder was detected, said the official, who wasn’t authorized to comment on the investigation and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

The pipe bomb that exploded Saturday in Seaside Park went off before a charity 5K race to benefit Marines and sailors. The race was cancelled.

One of the five devices found at the Elizabeth train station exploded while a bomb squad robot tried to disarm it. No one was hurt.

Associated Press writers Karen Matthews, Maria Sanminiatelli, Michael Balsamo and Dake Kang in New York and Eric Tucker and Kevin Freking in Washington contributed to this report.

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