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Red light texting still a problem in Canada: CAA

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Dec 28th, 2016

That’s despite tough financial penalties for distracted driving across the country in addition to the loss of demerit points.

Jeff Walker, the vice-president of public affairs at the CAA, says the numbers are troubling.

He says the effect of texting at a red light lingers well after the light turns green, making it a dangerous driving habit.

The survey also suggests that nearly 70 per cent of Canadians believe using their phone at a red light is unacceptable.

The CAA polled 2,012 Canadians for its survey. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

“It’s socially unacceptable to drive drunk, and that’s where we need to get with texting,” says Walker.

“Attitudes are beginning to shift, but our actions need to follow.”

No relief in sight for residents of 33 homes damaged in Mississauga explosion

PAM SEATLE | posted Wednesday, Dec 28th, 2016

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Wednesday will mark six months since the devastating house explosion on Hickory Drive in Mississauga, and residents are still reeling from the sights and sounds of that day.

“We had coffee on our patio and [then heard] this unbelievable explosion,” said Klaus Richtmann, whose home is near the scene of the blast.

Zvonko Krosel’s home was two doors down from the epicentre of the explosion at 4201 Hickory Drive. He says it’s a small miracle that he and his wife were not injured.

“Just a huge boom. You only see that in the movies,” he said. “We could have been crippled or killed. Because of the stuff that was flying across.”

Instead of being at home for the holidays, Krosel and his wife spent Christmas with their daughter. Their home, flattened during the June 28th incident, will need to undergo extensive renovation before it becomes inhabitable again. That will likely take months.

Krosel is just one of dozens whose holidays were impacted by the blast. Thirty-three homes on Hickory Drive remain unoccupied as police continue with their investigation.

 

In a statement to CityNews Tuesday, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie could not provide much detail on the status of the investigation. She wrote, “The Fire Marshall and Peel Regional Police would need to comment on the details of the investigation. The team of professionals from the City of Mississauga remains engaged with those families impacted.”

Due to the statutory holiday Tuesday, Mississauga Fire and Peel Police were unable to comment on the status of the investigation. But Mayor Crombie did thank them for their efforts in her statement, writing, “I want to acknowledge the committed first responders, and our local charitable groups and faith communities, who continue to work throughout this Christmas and holiday season to help those impacted families in need of care and support.”

Many area residents, like Mike Glavan, say they’re concerned with the slow pace of the rebuilding efforts.

“They haven’t done anything so far,” he says. “I don’t know why.”

Pete Karageorgos of the Insurance Bureau of Canada says unfortunately, some of the delays experienced is due to the approvals that are required.

“In some cases there, construction may not appear to be happening [but] there’s approvals that need to be done with the city in terms of architectural and engineering drawings,” he says.

Ward three councillor Chris Fonseca tells CityNews efforts are underway to expedite the rebuilding process.

“There’s different issues depending on whether they live in the condo or single family homes, or whether their homes were completely demolished or whether there are structural issues,” she said. “My goal has been to encourage [residents] to communicate if they are having an issue and work with our building department.”

“I’ve been getting updates from our building department about who has been issued permits and if they haven’t why they haven’t,” Fonseca adds.

“We will continue to work with them to say ‘why is there this hold up and how can we move it faster to support them any way we can?’”

The explosion blasted through the residential neighbourhood near Rathburn and Dixie Roads. Ultimately two bodies were found in the rubble while 100 residents were displaced from their homes. Fifty-eight residences had their utilities cut off.

The property at the center of the explosion was put up for sale by the end of the summer. Though it was listed at $675,000, realtors tell CityNews it ultimately sold for $550,000.

May the Force Be With You, Carrie: Actress and author dies at age 60

The associated press | posted Wednesday, Dec 28th, 2016

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Actress Carrie Fisher, who found enduring fame as Princess Leia in the original ‘Star Wars,’ has died. She was 60.

Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd, released a statement through her spokesman saying Fisher died Tuesday morning in Los Angeles.

“It is with a very deep sadness that Billie Lourd confirms that her beloved mother Carrie Fisher passed away at 8:55 this morning,” read the statement from publicist Simon Halls. “She was loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly.”

Fisher had been hospitalized since Friday when she suffered a medical emergency on board a flight to Los Angeles.

She made her feature film debut opposite Warren Beatty in the 1975 hit ‘Shampoo.’ Fisher also appeared in ‘Austin Powers,’ ‘The Blues Brothers,’ ‘Charlie’s Angels,’ ‘Hannah and Her Sisters,’ ‘Scream 3’ and ‘When Harry Met Sally.’

But she is best remembered as Princess Leia in the original ‘Star Wars’ in 1977 with her now-iconic braided buns, who uttered the immortal phrase, “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.” Fisher played a part in which she was tough, feisty and powerful, even if at one point she was chained to Jabba the Hutt. (She reprised the role in Episode VII of the series, ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ in 2015, and her digitally rendered image appears in ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.’

Fisher long battled drug addiction and mental illness. She said she smoked pot at age 13, used LSD by 21 and was first diagnosed as bipolar at age 24. She was treated with electroconvulsive therapy and medication.

In 1987, her thinly veiled autobiography ‘Postcards From the Edge’ became a bestseller. It became a 1990 film starring Shirley MacLaine and Meryl Streep.

More books followed: ‘Delusions of Grandma,’ ‘Surrender the Pink,’ ‘The Best Awful,’ ‘Shockaholic’ and this year’s autobiography, ‘The Princess Diarist,’ in which she revealed that she and co-star Harrison Ford had an affair on the set of ‘Star Wars.’

Ever ready to satirize herself, she has even played Carrie Fisher a few times, as in David Cronenberg’s dark Hollywood sendup ‘Maps to the Stars’ and in an episode of ‘Sex and the City.’ In the past 15 years, Fisher also had a somewhat prolific career as a television guest star, recently in the Amazon show ‘Catastrophe’ as the mother of Rob Delaney’s lead, and perhaps most memorably as a has-been comedy legend on ’30 Rock.’

Her one-woman show, ‘Wishful Drinking,’ which she’s performed on and off across the country since 2006, was turned into a book, made its way to Broadway in 2009 and was captured for HBO in 2010.

Little was off-limits in the show. She discussed the scandal that engulfed her superstar parents, Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher (he ran off with Elizabeth Taylor); her brief marriage to singer Paul Simon; the time the father of her daughter left her for a man; and the day she woke up next to the dead body of a platonic friend who had overdosed in her bed.

“I’m a product of Hollywood inbreeding. When two celebrities mate, something like me is the result,” she said in the show. At another point, she cracked: “I don’t have a problem with drugs so much as I have a problem with sobriety.”

“She was funnier [and] smarter than anyone had the right to be,” Whoopi Goldberg wrote on Twitter. “Sail On Silver Girl. Condolences Debbie [and] Billie.”

“Hail Hail! A genius has vacated this realm-RIP Carrie Fisher,” Roseanne Barr posted on the site.

Besides her daughter, Fisher is survived by her brother, Todd Fisher, and her mother.

In a 2009 interview with The Associated Press, Fisher wasn’t coy about revealing details about her unusual life, whether it was about drug addiction, mental illness or her failed relationships. She hoped to destigmatize mental health problems.

“People relate to aspects of my stories and that’s nice for me because then I’m not all alone with it,” she said. “Also, I do believe you’re only as sick as your secrets. If that’s true, I’m just really healthy.”

The Associated Press’ film writer Lindsey Bahr and drama writer Mark Kennedy contributed to this story.

Icy roads to blame for dozens of crashes in GTA

news staff | posted Wednesday, Dec 28th, 2016

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More than 20 people were injured in multi-vehicle crashes on icy roadways across the GTA on Tuesday night.

OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said more than 70 collisions were reported in the GTA over a two-hour period, including a massive crash in Brampton involving as many as 40 vehicles.

The multi-vehicle crash happened on the southbound Highway 410 at Derry Road just before 10 p.m. Peel paramedics said 16 people were treated for minor injuries.

Around 20 vehicles were also involved in a crash on Highway 427 near Eglinton Avenue around 8 p.m. At least nine people were treated for minor injuries.

Environment Canada issued a winter weather travel advisory, warning of hazardous driving conditions as a result of light snow mixed with patchy freezing drizzle.

CityNews meterologist Adam Styles said Monday’s rain was to blame for the roadway conditions.

“If the roadways were treated and they had salt and brine on them, they’d be acting just fine. But after that soaking rain that we saw [Monday], all of the salt pretty much washed off the roadways and the icy conditions are allowed to take hold.”

Police issued multiple warnings about collisions on highways across the region, advising motorists of the slippery conditions, especially on highway off-ramps.

The weather was also playing havoc with flights in and out of Pearson International Airport with a number of departures delayed and/or cancelled.

Australian police thwart ISIS-inspired bombings on Christmas Day

ROD MCGUIRK, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Friday, Dec 23rd, 2016

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Police in Australia have detained five men suspected of planning a series of Christmas Day attacks using explosives, knives and a gun in the heart of the country’s second-largest city, officials said Friday.

The suspects were inspired by ISIS and planned attacks on Melbourne’s iconic Flinders Street train station, neighbouring Federation Square, a fashionable bar and restaurant precinct, and St. Paul’s Cathedral, an Anglican church, Victoria state Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said.

He said they had been plotting the attack for three weeks. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said it was one of the most substantial plots that have been disrupted over the last several years.

Two of seven people initially arrested in raids Thursday night and Friday morning in Melbourne – a 26-year-old man and a 20-year-old woman – were released without being charged, police said.

Five men between the ages 21 and 26 remained in custody. Three appeared in a Melbourne court charged with preparing or planning a terrorist attack. They each face a life sentence if convicted.

Hamza Abbas, 21, Ahmed Mohamed, 24, and Abdullah Chaarani, 26, did not enter pleas or apply for bail. They will appear in court next on April 28.

Police said the other two detained will also be charged with preparing a terrorist attack.

Four of the suspects were born in Australia and the fifth was Egyptian-born with Egyptian and Australian citizenship.

The suspects were preparing to use explosives, knives and a gun, Ashton said.

Police believed the threat had been neutralized through the raids on five Melbourne premises, he said.

“Islamist terrorism is a global challenge that affects us all. But we must not be cowed by the terrorists,” Turnbull told reporters.

“We will continue to go about our lives as we always have. What these criminals seek to do is to kill. But they also seek to frighten us, to cow us into abandoning our Australian way of life,” he added.

Since Australia’s terrorist threat level was elevated in September 2014, the government says there have been four extremist attacks and 12 plots foiled by police.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin said the plotters had moved very quickly from a plan to develop a capability to attack.

“In terms of events that we have seen over the past few years in Australia, this certainly concerns me more than any other event that I’ve seen,” Colvin said. “We believe that we have removed the bulk of this particular cell, this group.”

Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said there will be extra police on the streets of Melbourne on Christmas Day to make the public feel safe.

About 400 police officers were involved in the raids.

Berlin market suspect killed in Milan: Italian media

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Friday, Dec 23rd, 2016

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A man killed in a shootout with police in Milan early Friday is the main suspect in a truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market that killed 12 people, Italian news agency ANSA reported.

Italy’s Interior Ministry called a press conference for Friday morning.

The shootout with suspect Anis Amri took place at 3 a.m. in Milan’s Sesto San Giovanni neighbourhood during a routine police check, ANSA said.

He pulled a gun from his backpack after being asked to show his identity papers and was killed in the ensuing shootout, ANSA reported.

A police officer was injured.

ANSA said various sources in Milan and Rome confirmed that the dead man was Amri, who German authorities believe drove the truck that plowed into the Christmas market Monday. Citing Milan anti-terrorism police, ANSA said authorities positively identified Amri from his physical appearance and fingerprints.

In addition to the 12 killed, 56 were injured in Monday’s attack, which was claimed by ISIS.

A man killed in a shootout with police in Milan early Friday is the main suspect in a truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market that killed 12 people, Italian news agency ANSA reported.

Italy’s Interior Ministry called a press conference for Friday morning.

The shootout with suspect Anis Amri took place at 3 a.m. in Milan’s Sesto San Giovanni neighbourhood during a routine police check, ANSA said.

He pulled a gun from his backpack after being asked to show his identity papers and was killed in the ensuing shootout, ANSA reported.

A police officer was injured.

ANSA said various sources in Milan and Rome confirmed that the dead man was Amri, who German authorities believe drove the truck that plowed into the Christmas market Monday. Citing Milan anti-terrorism police, ANSA said authorities positively identified Amri from his physical appearance and fingerprints.

In addition to the 12 killed, 56 were injured in Monday’s attack, which was claimed by ISIS.

What’s open and closed: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day

News staff | posted Friday, Dec 23rd, 2016

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Christmas Day and the start of Hanukkah are just around the corner, so expect malls to be packed as shoppers make the final dash to buy their presents.

All will be quiet on Christmas Day with most malls, grocery stores and tourist attractions closed. The frenzy will resume on Boxing Day as malls brace for a crowd of shoppers in search of deals.

Since Christmas Day falls on a Sunday, several businesses including government offices and Canada Post offices will be observing Dec. 26 as a holiday for Dec. 25 and Dec. 27 as a holiday for Dec. 26.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah, everyone!


Transit

TTC
Dec. 24: Saturday service (subway and most routes start at 6 a.m.)
Dec. 25: Sunday service (subway and most routes start at 8 a.m.)
Dec. 26: Holiday service (subway and most routes start at 6 a.m.)
Dec. 27: Holiday service (subway and most routes start at 6 a.m.)

GO Transit
Dec. 23: Early homebound service (Check the GO website for schedule details)
Dec. 24: Saturday service
Dec. 25: Sunday service
Dec. 26: Saturday service
Dec. 27: Saturday service

Shopping

Bramalea City Centre
Dec. 24: 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Dec. 25: Closed
Dec. 26: 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Dufferin Mall
Dec. 24: 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Dec. 25: Closed
Dec. 26: 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Eaton Centre
Dec. 24: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Dec. 25: Closed
Dec. 26: 7 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Erin Mills Town Centre
Dec. 24: 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Dec. 25: Closed
Dec. 26: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Fairview Mall
Dec. 24: 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Dec. 25: Closed
Dec. 26: 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Pacific Mall
Open all year round

Scarborough Town Centre
Dec. 24: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Dec. 25: Closed
Dec. 26: 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Sherway Gardens
Dec. 24: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Dec. 25: Closed
Dec. 26: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Shops at Don Mills
Dec. 24: 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Dec. 25: Closed
Dec. 26: 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Square One
Dec. 24: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Dec. 25: Closed
Dec. 26: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

The Promenade
Dec. 24: 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Dec. 25: Closed
Dec. 26: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Toronto Premium Outlets
Dec. 24: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Dec. 25: Closed
Dec. 26: 6 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Vaughan Mills
Dec. 24: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Dec. 25: Closed
Dec. 26: 7 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Yorkdale Mall
Dec. 24: 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Dec. 25: Closed
Dec. 26: 8 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Grocery/drug stores

Loblaws
Dec. 24: Most stores will be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Click here to check the hours at your local store.
Dec. 25: Closed
Dec. 26: Most stores will be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Click here to check the hours at your local store.

Longo’s
Dec. 24: Most stores will be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Click here to check the hours at your local store.
Dec. 24: Closed
Dec. 26: Most stores will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Click here to check the hours at your local store.

Shoppers Drug Mart
Select stores will be open on Christmas Day. Click here to check the hours at your local store.

Sobeys
Dec. 24: Most stores will be open from 12 a.m. to 6 p.m. Click here to check the hours at your local store.
Dec. 25: Closed
Dec. 26: Most stores will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Click here to check the hours at your local store.

LCBO/Beer Stores

LCBO
Dec. 24: All stores will open at regular hours and close at 6 p.m. Click here to check the hours at your local LCBO.
Dec. 25: Closed
Dec. 26: Closed

The Beer Store
Dec. 24: All stores will open at regular hours and close at 6 p.m. Click here to check the hours at your local store.
Dec. 25: Closed
Dec. 26: Closed

Tourist attractions

AGO
Dec. 24: 10:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Dec. 25: Closed
Dec. 26: 10:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Casa Loma
Dec. 24: 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Dec. 25: Closed
Dec. 26: 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

CN Tower
Dec. 24: 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Dec. 25: Closed
Dec. 26: 10 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.

Ontario Science Centre
Dec. 24: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Dec. 25: Closed
Dec. 26: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
Dec. 24-26: 9 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Royal Ontario Museum
Dec. 24: 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Dec. 25: Closed
Dec. 26: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Toronto Zoo
Dec. 24: 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Dec. 25: Closed
Dec. 26: 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Government offices and banks

Dec. 24: Most bank branches will be open but government offices are closed
Dec. 25: Closed (no mail delivery)
Dec. 26: Closed (no mail delivery)
Dec. 27: Closed (no mail delivery)

Note: Most City of Toronto operations and all municipal offices will be closed on both Dec. 26 and Dec. 27, with the exception of 311 and emergency services.

Toronto Public Library

Dec. 24: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Dec. 25: Closed
Dec. 26: Closed

Toronto garbage collection

Since Christmas Day falls on a Sunday and curbside garbage isn’t collected on any Monday, which is when Boxing Day falls, there are no changes to the curbside pickup schedule.

City of Toronto recreation centres

Dec. 24: Community recreation centres will close at 4 p.m., except those with scheduled permits.
Dec. 25: Closed
Dec. 26: Closed

Note: Indoor arenas and historic sites will also be closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. The Earl Bales Ski and Snowboard Centre will be closed on Christmas Day.

Click here for list of activities to do in the city over the holidays.

Report: Indians, Encarnacion agree to $60M, 3-year deal

The Associated Press | posted Friday, Dec 23rd, 2016

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CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Indians swung for the free-agent fences and connected: Edwin Encarnacion is joining the AL champions.

Capping a year in which they came within one victory of winning the World Series for the first time since 1948, the Indians agreed to terms with the veteran slugger on a $60 million, three-year contract Thursday night.

The deal includes a club option for 2020 that, if exercised, would make it worth $80 million over four years.

The agreement is contingent upon Encarnacion passing a physical, two people familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the team had not made an announcement.

The physical is not expected to take place until after the holidays.

One of baseball’s most feared power hitters, Encarnacion had 42 home runs and 127 RBIs last season for the Toronto Blue Jays, who lost to Cleveland in the AL Championship Series. Over the past five seasons, he’s averaged 39 homers and 110 RBIs in 145 games.

Cleveland wins the Encarnacion sweepstakes

A three-time All-Star who also was pursued by Oakland this week, Encarnacion tied for the AL lead in RBIs this year and split time between designated hitter and first base.

He could have a similar role with the Indians, sharing those two spots with Carlos Santana, who can become a free agent after next season.

Encarnacion, who turns 34 next month, reportedly turned down a four-year offer from Toronto worth at least $80 million before hitting the open market. The Indians swooped in and worked out a deal to bring in a player who could help put them back in position to end their championship drought.

Cleveland knocked off Boston and Toronto in the playoffs and jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the Series before the Chicago Cubs rallied to win in seven games and capture their first title in 108 years.

The close call convinced the Indians the time was right to spend, and they’ve shelled out money for one of the biggest bats available this winter.

Encarnacion’s signing means the Indians will no longer pursue free agent first baseman Mike Napoli, who signed with Cleveland last winter and was a major part of the team’s run to its first AL Central title since 2007.

Napoli reached career bests in homers (34) and RBIs (101), and finally gave Cleveland a much-needed power bat from the right side. He also provided clubhouse leadership, serving as a mentor to Cleveland’s young players. However, he struggled in the post-season and the Indians were not willing to give him a multiyear deal. They did not give him a one-year qualifying offer of $17.2 million, either.

Encarnacion is an upgrade.

His departure from Toronto after eight seasons is a major move for Cleveland, which overcame injuries under manager Terry Francona to get to the World Series for the first time since 1997 and doesn’t want to endure another long wait.

Already with one of baseball’s best pitching staffs, the Indians now have a much more dangerous lineup. They’ve got young stars in second baseman Jason Kipnis and shortstop Francisco Lindor, and if left fielder Michael Brantley can bounce back from a shoulder injury that sidelined him for all but 11 games last season, the top of Cleveland’s order is as good as anyone’s.

It’s a bold move by Indians owner Paul Dolan, who has been hesitant to test free-agent waters in recent years after major signings of previous veterans like Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn didn’t pan out. But the Indians felt the time was right to act, especially with a bump in revenue from the 2016 post-season and adding new minority owner John Sherman.

Cleveland’s lagging attendance — the Indians ranked 28th in the majors — will also get a big bump from Encarnacion’s signing, which is being greeted by Cleveland fans as an early Christmas present.

Kipnis, too, views Encarnacion as a gift, posting: “Thank you Santa! EE” on his Twitter account.

Because Encarnacion did not accept the Blue Jays’ $17.2 million qualifying offer, the Indians would lose a first-round draft pick, No. 25 overall, if the deal is completed. Toronto would gain an extra pick at the end of the first round.

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