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After rain record, snow across GTA

CityNews | posted Friday, Apr 7th, 2017

Toronto set a rain record on Thursday and on Friday, the GTA was blanketed with snow.

On April 6, 27.8 millimetres of rain fell at Pearson International Airport. The rainfall broke a record for that date that has stood for more than 70 years. On April 6, 1942, 17.5 millimetres of rain fell at the airport.

But as the temperature fell overnight, it made for a sloppy morning commute on Friday, with snow north of Highway 7 and elsewhere. Two or three centimetres of snow are possible, especially north of the GTA, 680 NEWS meteorologist Jill Taylor said.

The weather will clear in the afternoon, CityNews weather specialist Frank Ferragine said, setting up for a nice weekend of sunshine and double-digit highs.

Canada ‘fully supports’ U.S. action in Syria: Trudeau

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Apr 7th, 2017

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that Canada “fully supports the United States’ limited and focused action” in Syria, after an American missile attack on the country in retaliation for this week’s chemical weapons attack which killed at least 80 people.

The U.S. fired almost 60 missiles from two warships on Thursday evening against a government-controlled air base in central Syria.

A spokesperson for National Defence in Ottawa said that Canadian Forces personnel were not involved in the missile strike.

The statement added that Canadian operations in the region remain unchanged.

Global Affairs issued a corresponding statement saying Canada “continues to condemn in the strongest of terms chemical weapons attacks against Syrian civilians” and that Canadian officials have “been in touch” with their U.S. counterparts.

The statement added that Canada supports efforts “to stop these atrocities.”

Trudeau issued a statement early Friday morning:

“Canada fully supports the United States’ limited and focused action to degrade the Assad regime’s ability to launch chemical weapons attacks against innocent civilians, including many children. President Assad’s use of chemical weapons and the crimes the Syrian regime has committed against its own people cannot be ignored. These gruesome attacks cannot be permitted to continue operating with impunity.

“This week’s attack in southern Idlib and the suffering of Syrians is a war crime and is unacceptable. Canada condemns all uses of chemical weapons.

“Canada will continue to support diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis in Syria.”

On Thursday, after a day of meetings in New York, Trudeau said Canada strongly condemns the “heinous” chemical weapons attacks against civilians, including children.

Trudeau also promised Canada would be involved in the United Nations process to investigate and punish the perpetrators of the chemical attack, but offered little hint about Canada’s role in any effort to remove Syrian strongman Bashar Assad.

American man charged in Pearson security breach identified

NEWS STAFF AND THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Apr 7th, 2017

Peel Police are attempting to arrange a bail hearing Thursday night for a 58-year-old American citizen arrested at Pearson International Airport earlier in the day.

Joseph Galaska from Cudahy, Wisconsin was charged with mischief after U.S. Customs Border Protection officials found a mock improvised explosive device (IED) inside his suitcase. He was a passenger on United Airlines flight 547 from Toronto to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.

Peel Regional Police Explosive Disposal Unit examined the device and determined is was not explosive.

But, Transport Minister Marc Garneau said Transport Canada has launched an investigation into the security incident anyway.

In a statement, CBP officials said the mock IED was discovered during inspection at the pre-clearance facility at Pearson. It has since been tested negative for explosives.

“CBP officers immediately notified Canadian Air Transport Security Authority who swabbed the mock IED for explosives with a negative result,” the statement reads.

Authorities inspected the aircraft and re-screened all of the passengers and their baggage before giving the all-clear.

Peel regional police said they are now responsible for the investigation.

U.S. customs said all operations have resumed.

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), which oversees the running of the airport, said the incident aboard the United airlines flight did not impact other airport operations.

The flight was supposed to depart Pearson at 7 a.m., but after being stuck on the tarmac for four hours, passengers were told they have to get off offloaded to an isolation area. The passengers have since been released from the isolation area.

According to the GTAA website, the flight is now scheduled to depart Pearson at 4 p.m.

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Kelsey Kruzel, a passenger on the plane, sent CityNews a video she recorded of the update passengers received from a United representative in the isolation room.

“The issue was there was a passenger whose bags didn’t get cleared from Sao Paolo and it went on the aircraft,” the man told passengers.

Earlier in the day, another passenger on board the flight, told CityNews the plane was sitting on the tarmac since 7 a.m.

“They told us there was going to be a delay based on weather … later they came back and they said there was a security issue but they weren’t very specific as to what it was,” Dal Gemmell told CityNews over the phone. At the time, he was still on the plane.

During the interview, a member of the flight crew could be overheard on the P.A. system telling passengers they have to deplane and take their carry-on luggage with them.

Gemmell said they were being transported onto a bus, which would take them to an isolation area. Passengers have to then be re-screened by customs before re-boarding.

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By the time they deplaned, passengers had been on the plane for four hours. Gemmell said they were given several updates during that time but the information kept changing.

First, they were told the plane would be towed to an isolation area. Then, they were told sniffer dogs would be brought on board and then they would deplane. Later, they were told passengers would be taken by bus to an isolation area.

“If there was such a major security breach … why didn’t they get us off the plane earlier,” Gemmell questioned.

Initially, United tweeted that the delay was “due to security screening regulated by the government.”

A United flight from San Francisco to Chicago was also delayed but it was due to a maintenance issue, the airline said.

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4 easy ways to reduce your data usage

Prajakta Dhopade | posted Thursday, Apr 6th, 2017

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Smartphones are ultra-capable devices that have proven to be extremely useful when you’re out and need to send an email or download a presentation without access to a computer. Being connected on the go is a must and while some may rely on free Wifi hotspots, most phone users have data plans that offer 3G or LTE service ranging from 100 megabytes a month to a more robust (and pricier) 10 gigabyte bandwidth. There are plenty of data plan deals out there but no matter what you choose, it’s important to stay within your bandwidth limit—otherwise your next monthly phone bill may be several dollars more than you expected. Here are four ways to keep your data usage in check.

1. Be aware of how much you actually use.

Keep track of how much cellular data you really need by downloading an app like My Data Manager (available for Android and iOS) to log your usage. Some smartphones let you keep track of data hogs internally. On iPhones, go to General > Cellular and scroll down to see all your apps and how much data they’ve used since you last refreshed the counter. Try refreshing every month to keep track. You might even have the option of turning off data usage for certain apps, which could come in handy. Finding the root of your overage problem will make combatting the extra few dollars on your monthly bill that much easier.

2. Try the opt-in approach.

If you have a smaller data plan you may want to try the opt-in approach and turn off your data completely.“You’ll still be able to text, you’ll still be able to place calls and receive calls but by default your phone won’t use any of your mobile data and then on those occasional times when you need to look something up on the web or need to use Google maps, go in, turn it on and do what you need to do,” suggests tech expert Simon Cohen. This way you only use your cellular data when you really need it and prevent any background processes from sucking up precious bandwidth when you’re not using your phone.

3. Streaming videos uses more cellular data than you might realize.

“There’s simply no way of consuming video without consuming quite a bit of bandwidth,” says Cohen. “An hour and a half of HD video can easily use up 800 mb to 1 GB of data before you know it.” While browsing your timeline, you may have noticed that social media services like Facebook and Twitter automatically play videos as you scroll past them. Access the settings for the apps and disable this function or enable it for when you’re connected to wifi only to ensure that you don’t waste data without even realizing.

4. Turn off location services.

While your phone’s GPS doesn’t necessarily use data itself, keeping it on means that other apps are constantly using your location (and mobile data) to churn out more information about what’s nearby. Otherwise, you can disable certain apps from using your location to minimize this data-hogging effect.


RCMP admits to using cell phone tracking technology

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Apr 6th, 2017

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OTTAWA – The RCMP confirmed Wednesday what civil liberties groups say has been an open secret for them for some time: that the Mounties use so-called mobile device identifiers, also known as Stingrays, to identify and locate cellphones.

In a rare disclosure of police tactics, the national police force acknowledged in a statement that it used the technology 19 times last year, but insisted that it did so in compliance with the law and with judicial authorization.

The Mounties say the devices can identify and locate cellular devices, such as a mobile phone, enabling police to identify and apprehend a criminal suspect or locate a missing person.

The RCMP does not intercept phone calls, email or text messages, contact lists, images, encryption keys or basic subscriber information, the statement said.

The disclosure, a rarity for the RCMP, followed a CBC report that someone in downtown Ottawa has been using a device known as an “IMSI catcher,” which can intercept and identify cellphone metadata.

The CBC report found the device being used in recent months in close proximity to Parliament Hill and the U.S. and Israeli embassies, among other locations.

Brenda McPhail of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association said the technology casts far too broad a net to be used by police, since it captures the data of innocent people who might be in range of the device.

The federal privacy commissioner’s office acknowledged Wednesday that it is investigating the use of the IMSI devices following a complaint by OpenMedia, a self-described crowd-sourced civic engagement platform for the Internet community.

The technology works by momentarily connecting to cellphones in its immediate proximity, before returning them to their own networks. It collects metadata associated with the phones, allowing the operator to identify the phone used by the suspect.

“There are a limited number of authorized and trained RCMP operators who can use MDI technology and its use is subject to very strict rules, senior management approval and judicial authorization prior to deployment,” the RCMP statement said.

Except for cases where there is an immediate threat of death or serious harm, police must obtain warrants to use the devices, it added.

McPhail, the association’s director of privacy, technology and surveillance, said the RCMP has long refused to confirm or deny that it used Stingrays.

“These devices are not about targeted surveillance, they’re indiscriminate,” McPhail said.

“They mimic a cellphone tower and they scoop up the data of everybody who has an active cellphone in a large area. In order to find the information of one suspect or a small group of suspects, you’re capturing the information of thousands of innocent bystanders at the same time. So it’s a dragnet.”

She said since the Mounties refused to admit they used the technology, there was no way to discuss the implications.

“Canadians have a right to know when it comes to invasive surveillance technologies not only that they’re being used, but that they’re being used lawfully,” McPhail said.

Added Laura Tribe, executive director of OpenMedia: “Now that the RCMP has come clean, can we finally have the public debate about privacy and accountability that Canadians deserve?”

Rainfall warning issued for Toronto and GTA for Thursday

CityNews | posted Thursday, Apr 6th, 2017

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Environment Canada has issued a rainfall warning for Toronto and the GTA.

The agency says as much as 30 to 50 mm of rain are expected across southern Ontario starting Wednesday night and throughout Thursday.

680 NEWS meteorologist Jill Taylor said Toronto and the GTA can expect wind and anywhere from 15 to 25 millimetres of rain on Thursday. There’s a high of 7 C in the forecast, dropping to -1 C Thursday evening.

Snow is possible for areas northwest of the GTA from Thursday night into Friday morning, Taylor said.

“The ground, already near saturation, has little ability to absorb further rainfall,” Environment Canada said. “Localized flooding in low-lying areas is possible.”

The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority says with the amount of rain expected, streams and rivers will rise to higher than normal water levels and that rapidly rising or fast moving water can create dangerous conditions.

The rain, which will be heavy at times, is expected to change to snow late Thursday.

 

RCMP arrest man in Toronto for leaving Canada to join ISIL

CityNews | posted Thursday, Apr 6th, 2017

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The RCMP have charged a 27-year-old man for leaving Canada to participate in the activity of a terrorist group.

In a statement, the Mounties allege Pamir Hakimzadah was arrested Wednesday afternoon following “an extensive national security criminal investigation.”

The RCMP say the investigation began in January 2016 after they learned a man had travelled to Turkey during the fall of 2014, allegedly to join ISIL. He was returned to Canada after being detained by Turkish authorities.

The RCMP say at no time was there any risk to public safety.

According to the RCMP statement, Hakimzadah is currently in Toronto police custody for “outstanding criminal allegations.”

In June 2016, Hakimzadah was charged with uttering threats, assault causing bodily harm and assault.

Hakimzadah is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday.

Umbrellas can be used to enter Presto gates, but please don’t, TTC warns

CityNews | posted Thursday, Apr 6th, 2017

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Umbrellas can be used to enter Presto gates but the TTC is warning riders not to do that.

“This is simple fare evasion,” TTC spokesman Brad Ross said in an email to CityNews on Wednesday.

“Someone has found yet another way to break the law and we will enforce it, just as we do when people hop turnstiles.”

A five-second video of a rider swiping an umbrella through the Presto gates appeared on YouTube on Tuesday.

CityNews attempted to enter the Presto gates at Wellesley Station on Wednesday using an umbrella, but was unsuccessful.

The gates are in use all over the world, Ross said.

“It’s not a design issue, it’s a scofflaw issue.”

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