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It’s Groundhog Day, a day when many look to rodents to predict the end of winter

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Feb 2nd, 2017

Wiarton Willie predicted six more weeks of winter on Feb. 2, 2016. CITYNEWS

Thousands across the country are expected to turn to four-legged forecasters with names like Wiarton Willie and Shubenacadie Sam today to learn if spring is just around the corner.

Folklore has it that if the groundhog sees its shadow when it emerges from its burrow on Groundhog Day (Thursday), there will be six more weeks of winter.

If the groundhog doesn’t see its shadow, then tradition says spring is on the way.

In Wiarton, Ont., the festival leading up to this morning’s “official prediction” by the town’s albino groundhog — Willie — began on Jan. 27.

Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Sam has the honour of making the first North American prediction of the day due to the province’s time zone.

In Pennsylvania, it will be the 131st Groundhog Day at Gobbler’s Knob as Punxsutawney Phil reveals his prediction to the president of the Inner Circle of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.

PMO slams Fox News for tweet about Quebec City shooting suspect

JOANNA SMITH, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Feb 1st, 2017

A Canadian police officer talks to a woman after a shooting in a mosque at the Québec City Islamic cultural center on Sainte-Foy Street in Quebec City on Jan. 29, 2017. GETTY IMAGES/AFP/Alice Chiche

A Canadian police officer talks to a woman after a shooting in a mosque at the Québec City Islamic cultural center on Sainte-Foy Street in Quebec City on Jan. 29, 2017. GETTY IMAGES/AFP/Alice Chiche

One of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s senior officials took Fox News to task for describing the alleged gunman in the Quebec City shooting as Moroccan.

Kate Purchase, director of communications in the Prime Minister’s Office, pointed out the “false and misleading language” in a letter to Fox News Channel co-president Bill Shine that was released to the media Tuesday.

“Canada is an open, welcoming country that stands by its citizens,” Purchase wrote in the letter, which goes well beyond simply asking for a correction.

“We are a nation of millions of immigrants and refugees, of hundreds of cultures, languages and religions bound by one, unwavering, unshakable belief: we are stronger not in spite of our differences, but because of them.

“These tweets by Fox News dishonour the memory of the six victims and their families by spreading misinformation, playing identity politics, and perpetuating fear and division within our communities.”

Refet Kaplan, the managing director for FoxNews.com, issued an apology.

“FoxNews.com initially corrected the misreported information with a tweet and an update to the story on Monday,” Kaplan wrote a statement sent by email Tuesday evening.

“The earlier tweets have now been deleted. We regret the error.”

Purchase then thanked Fox News on Twitter.

The tweet had appeared to be a consequence of early police reports in the wake of the shooting that said two suspects had been taken into custody. Later reports said one of those people was not a suspect, but a witness.

Purchase noted the tweet appeared early Monday afternoon, but remained online even after police had confirmed that the sole suspect, Alexandre Bissonnette, is a 27-year-old man of French-Canadian origin.

Before it was deleted Tuesday evening, the tweet had been retweeted more than 900 times, and liked about 1,600 times. It also had about 7,200 replies, many of them pointing out the inaccuracy and calling for a correction.

fox-news-tweet

A subsequent tweet posted Monday evening noting the second person in custody had been cleared was retweeted only 72 times and had 162 likes.

The PMO’s interest in the earlier, incorrect tweet may have a lot to do with the fact that it also includes an image of Trudeau and his quote from the night of the shooting: “We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a centre of worship and refuge.”

It also links to a story published on the Fox News website that includes the updated information and notes that the earlier detail about a second suspect came from other media reports.

The PMO would not comment further on the letter, but confirmed it did not send any similar letters to other media outlets that had reported – and since corrected or otherwise updated – similar earlier misinformation.

Meanwhile, a tweet from Montreal newspaper La Presse that also described one of the suspects as Moroccan was not deleted until sometime Tuesday evening, after Purchase shared her letter to Fox News. That one had been retweeted more than 500 times and liked nearly 300 times.

Purchase ended her letter by asking Fox News to either retract or update the tweet, but not before delivering a broader message that was likely intended for an audience much bigger than its named recipient.

“We need to remain focused on keeping our communities safe and united instead of trying to build walls and scapegoat communities,” she wrote.

Nor was the phrase about building walls the only veiled reference to U.S. President Donald Trump and his controversial comments and policies on immigration.

“Ramping up fear and closing our borders is not a solution,” Purchase wrote. “It distracts from the real issues that affect people’s day-to-day life.”

https://twitter.com/katepurchase/status/826558529641259009/

https://twitter.com/katepurchase/status/826558591368847360/

https://twitter.com/katepurchase/status/826558646494625794/

With a files from News Staff

Trump taps conservative Judge Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court

JULIE PACE AND MARK SHERMAN, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Wednesday, Feb 1st, 2017

Judge Neil Gorsuch speaks as his wife Louise and President Donald Trump stand with him on stage in East Room of the White House in Washington on Jan. 31, 2017, after Trump announced Gorsuch as his nominee for the Supreme Court. The Associated Press/Carolyn Kaster

President Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch, a fast-rising conservative judge with a writer’s flair, to the Supreme Court Tuesday night, setting up a fierce fight with Democrats over a jurist who could shape America’s legal landscape for decades to come.

At 49, Gorsuch is the youngest Supreme Court nominee in a quarter-century. He’s known on the Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals for clear, colloquial writing, advocacy for court review of government regulations, defence of religious freedom and skepticism toward law enforcement.

“Judge Gorsuch has outstanding legal skills, a brilliant mind, tremendous discipline and has earned bipartisan support,” Trump declared, announcing the nomination in his first televised prime-time address from the White House.

Gorsuch’s nomination was cheered by conservatives wary of Trump’s own fluid ideology. If confirmed by the Senate, he will fill the seat left vacant by the death last year of Antonin Scalia, long the right’s most powerful voice on the high court.

With Scalia’s wife, Maureen, sitting in the audience, Trump took care to praise the late justice. Gorsuch followed, calling Scalia a “lion of the law.”

Gorsuch thanked Trump for entrusting him with “a most solemn assignment.” Outlining his legal philosophy, he said: “It is the rule of judges to apply, not alter, the work of the people’s representatives. A judge who likes every outcome he reaches is very likely a bad judge.”

Some Democrats, still smarting over Trump’s unexpected victory in the presidential election, have vowed to mount a vigorous challenge to nearly any nominee to what they view as the court’s “stolen seat.” President Barack Obama nominated U.S. Circuit Court Judge Merrick Garland for the vacancy after Scalia’s death, but Senate Republicans refused to consider the pick, saying the seat should be filled only after the November election.

Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer said he has “serious doubts” that Gorsuch is within what Democrats consider the legal mainstream, saying he “hewed to an ideological approach to jurisprudence that makes me skeptical that he can be a strong, independent justice on the court.”

Trump’s choice of Gorsuch marks perhaps the most significant decision of his young presidency, one with ramifications that could last long after he leaves office. After a reality television buildup to Tuesday’s announcement — including a senior Trump adviser saying more than one court candidate was heading to Washington ahead of the event— the actual reveal was traditional and drama-free.

For some Republicans, the prospect of filling one or more Supreme Court seats over the next four years has helped ease their concerns about Trump’s experience and temperament. Three justices are in their late 70s and early 80s, and a retirement would offer Trump the opportunity to cement conservative dominance of the court for many years.

Gorsuch would restore the court to the conservative tilt it held with Scalia on the bench. But he is not expected to call into question high-profile rulings on abortion, gay marriage and other issues in which the court has been divided 5-4 in recent years.

If confirmed, Gorsuch would join the court that is often the final arbiter for presidential policy. Justices upheld Obama’s signature health care law in 2012 and could eventually hear arguments over Trump’s controversial refugee and immigration executive order.

Gorsuch’s writings outside the court offer insight into his conservative leanings. He lashed out at liberals in a 2005 opinion piece for National Review, written before he became a federal judge.

“American liberals have become addicted to the courtroom, relying on judges and lawyers rather than elected leaders and the ballot box, as the primary means for effecting their social agenda on everything from gay marriage to assisted suicide to the use of vouchers for private-school education,” he wrote.

Gorsuch has won praise from conservatives for his defence of religious freedom, including in a case involving the Hobby Lobby craft stores. He voted in favour of privately held for-profit secular corporations, and individuals who owned or controlled them, who raised religious objections to paying for contraception for women covered under their health plans.

The judge also has written opinions that question 30 years of Supreme Court rulings that allow federal agencies to interpret laws and regulations. Gorsuch has said that federal bureaucrats have been allowed to accumulate too much power at the expense of Congress and the courts.

Like Scalia, Gorsuch identifies himself as a judge who tries to decide cases by interpreting the Constitution and laws as they were understood when written. He also has raised questions about criminal laws in a way that resembles Scalia’s approach to criminal law.

University of Michigan law professor Richard Primus said Gorsuch “may be the closest thing the new generation of conservative judges has to Antonin Scalia.”

Gorsuch, like the other eight justices on the court, has an Ivy League law degree. The Colorado native earned his bachelor’s degree from Columbia University in three years, then a law degree from Harvard. He clerked for Supreme Court Justices Byron White, a fellow Coloradan, and Anthony Kennedy before earning a philosophy degree at Oxford University and working for a prominent Washington law firm.

He served for two years in George W. Bush’s Department of Justice before Bush nominated him to the appeals court. His mother was Anne Gorsuch Burford, who was head of the Environmental Protection Agency in the Reagan administration.

Gorsuch was among the 21 possible choices for the court Trump released during the campaign. Other finalists also came from that list, including Thomas Hardiman, who serves alongside Trump’s sister on the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and William Pryor, a federal appeals court judge and Alabama’s attorney general from 1997 to 2004.

If Democrats decide to filibuster Gorsuch’s nomination, his fate could rest in the hands of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Trump has encouraged McConnell to change the rules of the Senate and make it impossible to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee — a change known in the Senate as the “nuclear option.”

A conservative group already has announced plans to begin airing $2 million worth of ads in support of the nominee in Indiana, Missouri, Montana and North Dakota, four states that Trump won and in which Democrats will be defending their Senate seats in 2018.

AP writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.

Tolls now in effect on new stretch of Hwy. 407 and Hwy. 412

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Feb 1st, 2017

cross407

The free ride is over for drivers who use the new section of Highway 407 and Highway 412 east of Toronto.

The highways opened last June and motorists were able to travel free of charge while the tolling infrastructure was being installed and calibrated. But starting on Wednesday, motorists will now have to pay to use them.

The new Highway 407 runs eastward from Brock Road in Pickering to Harmony Road in Oshawa, while Highway 412 connects Highway 407 to the 401.

The government said the tolls will be lower than those on Highway 407 ETR.

The rates are expected to be 15 per cent lower during off-peak periods and 30 per cent lower during peak periods.

Motorists can use the same transponder that is used to drive on the privately operated Highway 407 ETR (Express Toll Route), but the revenue will go to help fund infrastructure and transit projects across the province.

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