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Rocker Chris Cornell has died at age 52

NEKESA MUMBI MOODY, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Thursday, May 18th, 2017

Chris Cornell of Soundgarden performs on stage at Fox Theater on May 3, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. GETTY IMAGES/Paul R. Giunta

Chris Cornell, who gained fame as the lead singer of the bands Soundgarden and later Audioslave, has died at age 52, according to his representative.

Cornell, who had been on tour, died Wednesday night in Detroit, Brian Bumbery said in a statement to The Associated Press. Cornell had performed a Detroit concert with Soundgarden that night.

Bumbery called the death “sudden and unexpected” and said his wife and family were shocked by it. The statement said the family would be working closely with the medical examiner to determine the cause and asked for privacy.

With his powerful, nearly four-octave vocal range, Cornell was one of the leading voices of the 1990s grunge movement with Soundgarden, which emerged as one of the biggest bands out of Seattle’s emerging music scene, joining the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains.

Formed in 1984 by Cornell, guitarist Kim Thayil and bassist Hiro Yamamoto, Soundgarden’s third studio album, “Badmotorfinger,” in 1991 spawned popular singles “Jesus Christ Pose,” “Rusty Cage” and “Outshined” that received regular play on alternative rock radio stations.

Cornell also collaborated with members of what would become Pearl Jam to form Temple of the Dog, which produced a self-titled album in 1991 in tribute to friend Andrew Wood, former frontman for Mother Love Bone.

Three years later, Soundgarden broke through on mainstream radio with the album “Superunknown,” which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Record in 1995. It included hit singles “Spoonman,” “Fell on Black Days,” “Black Hole Sun,” “My Wave” and “The Day I Tried to Live.”

Soundgarden disbanded in 1997 due to tensions in the band, and Cornell pursued a solo career. In 2001, he joined Audioslave, a supergroup that included former Rage Against the Machine members Tom Morello, Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford. The band released three albums in six years and also performed at a concert billed as Cuba’s first outdoor rock concert by an American band, though some Cuban artists have disputed that claim.

Audioslave disbanded in 2007, but Cornell and Soundgarden reunited in 2012 and released the band’s sixth studio album, “King Animal” in 2012.

Cornell also released four solo studio albums and a solo live album. He also released the single “The Promise” in March on iTunes, with all proceeds going to the International Rescue Committee, a global humanitarian aid, relief, and development non-governmental organization.

In addition to his music, Cornell also became involved in philanthropy and started the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation to support children facing challenges, including homelessness, poverty, abuse and neglect.

Associated Press writer Dennis Waszak in New York contributed to this report.

Kevin Pillar appears to yell homophobic slur in Braves game

NEWS STAFF, SPORTSNET.CA AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Thursday, May 18th, 2017

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Still image of Toronto Blue Jays player Kevin Pillar after striking out in the seventh inning against Atlanta Braves pitcher Jason Motte at SunTrust Park on May 18, 2017.

A rough game for the Toronto Blue Jays – a third straight loss to the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night – turned ugly in the late innings.

After being struck out by Braves pitcher Jason Motte in the seventh inning, Kevin Pillar appeared to shout a homophobic slur at him. Moments later, both benches leapt up.

“It was immature, it was stupid, it was uncalled for,” Pillar said of his exchange with the reliever. Motte waved over a quick pitch for strike three to end the seventh inning. “[Quick pitches] are part of the game, it’s just, I’m a competitive guy and heat of the moment,” Pillar said after the game.

“Obviously I’m going to do whatever I’ve got to do to reach out and apologize and let him know he didn’t do anything wrong, it was all me,” Pillar added. “Obviously something to learn from, something to move on from. Don’t let it define me, but really I think it was just frustration from coming off a really good homestand and really just not even being in any of these ball games, just coming out flat and not being able to build on what we were able to build (versus) Seattle. That just all came out in that moment.”

Back in 2012, when Yunuel Escobar had a slur written on his eye black, it caused quite a stir. He was suspended, and it spawned many opinion pieces about homophobia in baseball.

Although it is unclear if Pillar will face any discipline, his comment did cause a response on Twitter.

“Heat of the moment or not, simply having that word in your vocabulary makes you a bad person. Inexcusable, Pillar,” @ReesorBoy wrote.

Neither the Blue Jays or Major League Baseball have commented on the incident.

After the Pillar incident, the benches emptied in the eighth inning after Jose Bautista homered to left, standing at home plate and staring toward incoming pitcher Eric O’Flaherty before flipping the bat away with a towering toss. Jace Peterson said something to Bautista as he rounded first, and Suzuki was waiting for Bautista when he touched home.

No punches were thrown, but O’Flaherty didn’t mince words about Bautista’s actions.

“That’s something making the game tough to watch,” the pitcher said, referring to previous home run celebrations by the Toronto slugger. “It’s turned into look-at-me stuff. He hit a home run with (the Braves holding) a five-run lead and throws the bat around. I’m just tired of it. I’ve seen it from him enough.”

The Blue Jays ended up losing the game 8-4.

New passenger bill of rights spells out passenger compensation rules

MIA RABSON, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

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Airlines won’t be allowed to bump passengers from a flight against their will under a new passenger bill of rights introduced today by Transportation Minister Marc Garneau.

That change is part of a package of amendments to the Canada Transportation Act which also introduces new foreign ownership limits for airlines, requires railways to install voice and video recorders in locomotives and improves transparency and efficiency in the freight rail industry.

Garneau promised the bill of rights last month in the wake of widespread alarm after a United Airlines passenger was seriously injured when he was dragged from a plane in Chicago.

The minister earlier told airlines operating in Canada such an incident is not to happen here, but he says his goal with the new legislation is to spell out clearly that a passenger who has purchased a ticket cannot be barred from a plane just because the airline sold too many seats.

“We have all heard recent news reports of shoddy treatment of air passengers,” Garneau said at a news conference. “Such incidents will not be tolerated in Canada. When Canadians buy an airline ticket, they expect the airline to keep its part of the deal.”

He said there will be minimum levels of compensation for people who voluntarily agree to be bumped from a flight and if airlines can’t get a volunteer, they will have to decide if they want to up the ante to persuade someone to get off.

“Overbooking as a whole, unfortunately, I don’t think it will get rid of it,” said travel expert Loren Chrisie. “It’s par for the course for most airlines around the world . It’s just part of the system; it’s how they make sure they maximize. But what it should do is [ensure] the people who get burned by overbooking … be compensated fairly.”

The bill will apply to airlines flying within, into or out of Canada.

Garneau said the existing rules for compensating passengers who agree to give up a seat or whose luggage gets lost or damaged are “opaque” to the average flyer and the new rules will make things more clear and let passengers know where to go to seek compensation.

The bill will enable the government to force airlines to create clear standards of treatment and compensation for circumstances such as voluntarily giving up a seat, lost or damaged luggage, delays while sitting on the tarmac and other non-weather related issues. Parents will not be forced to pay a fee in order to sit next to their children and even musical instruments will get better treatment under new standards for transporting them by air.

Most of the details will be established through regulation after the bill is passed.

The Canadian Transportation Agency will set minimum compensation and timelines. Passengers also will not have to seek out redress themselves, with the onus on airlines to keep records of those affected by an incident and follow up with those passengers accordingly.

“I just think no matter what they cover — the cancellations, the delays, the baggage issues, all of that stuff — what you want is something consistent,” Chrisie said. “Consistent between all the airlines, consistent between all people.”

Garneau said he is considering what further penalties would apply if airlines do not live up to the new requirements.

He wants the new legislation in place in 2018.

Gabor Lukacs, an air passenger rights advocate, is skeptical that the transportation agency is equipped to handle any more duties as it relates to airlines. A note posted on his Facebook page says the agency received more than 500 complaints a year from airline passengers over the last three years, but the agency’s enforcement actions dropped in that time.

In 2013-14 the agency acted in 230 cases, but in 2015-16 it was only 64.

Lukacs said passengers are better off taking complaints to small claims court.

Meanwhile, Air Canada said it’s looking forward to taking part in the consultation process.

“Air Canada welcomes the Government’s desire to establish air passenger rights that are clear, consistent, transparent and fair for passengers and air carriers industry-wide,” the airline said in a statement.

“We believe it is in the interest of all parties to create a more predictable and fair system that applies to all airlines operating in Canada, which is not currently the case.”

Garneau said new support will be provided to help the agency handle the increased workload.

The legislation increases the cap on foreign ownership of airlines to 49 per cent from 25 per cent. Garneau already made exceptions to this rule for some new, ultra-low-cost airlines trying to establish in Canada and the legislation will change it for all airlines, except for specialty air services such as fire fighting and heli-logging.

Under the new rules, single investors will not be allowed to hold more than 25 per cent of voting interests in a single carrier and no combination of international carriers can own more than 25 per cent, either alone or as part of an affiliation.

With files from News Staff

Canada’s first child to survive a liver transplant passes away at 35

CYNTHIA MULLIGAN | posted Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

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She was one of the first to bring organ donation to the forefront, helping to change attitudes and pave the way for other recipients.

On Saturday, Lindsay Eberhardt, Canada’s first child to survive a liver transplant, died at the age of 35.

Her story captured the world’s attention and heart.

At just two-years-old, Eberhardt desperately needed a liver transplant, but organ donation on young children was not common back in the mid 80’s.

She suffered from biliary atresia, a condition that prevents bile from leaving the liver.

Her father, James Eberhardt, said he was told by doctors there was virtually no hope and to go home and have other babies. But they refused to listen and her parents went to the media to push for a transplant. Eberhardt’s story became international news.

She finally received her new liver just before her third birthday in Boston — transplants weren’t performed in Canada back then.

Much has changed in the last 30 years.

Transplants are now performed on children as young as six weeks old. Eberhardt’s father believes the awareness his daughter raised is part of her lasting legacy.

Lindsay had a second liver transplant in 2010.

Her family said she had a good life but constantly battled health challenges.

Almost 2 million Ontarians given opioids, despite calls to rein in prescribing: report

SHERYL UBELACKER, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

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Almost two million Ontarians – or 14 per cent of the province’s population – filled prescriptions for opioids in fiscal year 2015-2016, says a new report, suggesting that patients continued to be given the potent narcotics despite efforts to curtail what’s been called a national epidemic of overuse.

The report by Health Quality Ontario, released Wednesday, found that more than nine million prescriptions for the powerful painkillers were filled between April 1, 2015, and March 31, 2016, the most recent fiscal year for which data is available. That figure represents an increase of 450,000 prescriptions over the same period three years earlier.

Not only did the number of prescriptions spiral upward, but there was also a trend toward doctors choosing more potent versions of the drugs, as well as a spike in the number of patients receiving the medications, said Dr. Joshua Tepper, president and CEO of the provincial agency.

“Despite people (being) aware of the significant impact and danger of opioids, we continue to see a steady increase in the number of prescriptions being written,” said Tepper.

The report found there had been a shift to doctors prescribing stronger opioids over time. For instance, 29 per cent more patients received hydromorphone in 2015-16 than in 2013-14. The drug is five times more potent than morphine, the drug used in prescribing guidelines as a baseline standard for comparing the strengths of different opioids.

“Hydromorphone was a drug that a few years ago was very rarely used and now is being much more commonly prescribed,” he said. “You may see greater dependency over time developing with lower-potency (drugs) and people shifting (to it) to deal with the tolerance that developed.”

Addiction experts say another reason doctors switched to such opioids as hydromorphone, tramadol and morphine relates to the replacement of OxyContin in 2012 with OxyNeo, a tamper-proof version of the widely used drug that was subsequently delisted from Ontario’s drug benefit formulary in a bid to curb excessive prescribing.

Tepper said the report also looks at the age breakdown of patients receiving opioid therapy and the length of their treatment.

For patients aged 18 and younger, two-thirds of prescriptions filled in early 2016 were for a short duration, he said. “But what’s still striking is that one-third of people zero to 18 are getting ongoing prescriptions, which is still quite significant.

“Then you move to people who are 45 to 64. Only 20 per cent of those people who are getting opioid prescriptions are getting just a one-time, short-term (course). That means 80 per cent are getting repeat prescriptions.”

That ratio widens even more for people aged 65 and older: the data show only 15 per cent received a short-term course of opioids, while 85 per cent had ongoing treatment with the medications.

“So to the degree that we understand there is a role for short-term opioids, that’s not typically how we’re seeing them prescribed,” said Tepper, who is also a practising family physician. “That chronicity starts to lead into real issues of dependency.

“We’re not sure why we’re seeing these patterns and I think that the hope of our report is that people will start to take a really good look and try to understand within a given community what’s happening … and what are the options to change it.”

Benedikt Fischer, a senior scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, said it’s been known for well over a decade that opioids posed risks of dependence or addiction and that prescribing in Canada was disproportionate to their benefits for relieving chronic, non-cancer pain. Canadians are the second-highest per capita consumers of opioids in the world, lagging only behind the U.S.

“This report puts a bit of a more refined picture on that state of affairs. It describes a lot of important details,” Fischer said Tuesday.

“What it doesn’t tell us is: are the people who are getting these prescriptions – should they be getting these prescriptions or not? That’s the next critical question that we really need to answer.”

While the report points to such measures as greater access to the overdose-reversal drug naloxone and an increased emphasis on providing treatment for opioid use disorders, Fisher said the major driver of the opioid crisis – rampant oversprescribing – continues.

“So we’ve tinkered with prescribing and shifted a little bit from a rock to a hard place, but overall the general problematic situation of a high number of opioids being prescribed to a lot of people – and more often than not for a long term – remain virtually unaddressed,” he said.

“That continues to be the main driver of the subsequent problems – misuse, diversion, dependence and an increasing number of people dying (of overdoses).”

Fischer said there’s an “enormous systemic disconnect” between what researchers, physician regulatory bodies and government policy makers now know about the benefits and risks of opioids, based on a growing body of scientific evidence, and the continuing epidemic of excessive use.

“This isn’t a trivial disconnect and we should have rectified it long ago because the knowledge has been out there for years.”

Tory now wants Yonge extension, Downtown Relief Line built at same time

MOMIN QURESHI AND NEWS STAFF | posted Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

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Mayor John Tory discusses aligning with York Region mayors to advance transit funding, May 16, 2017. CITYNEWS

A week after taking a hard line stance against the Yonge subway extension, Mayor John Tory is changing his tune.

During the executive committee meeting on Tuesday, Tory aligned himself with the mayors of Richmond Hill and Markham, saying the Yonge extension and Downtown Relief Line should be built at the same time.

Last week the mayor warned that the Yonge subway extension, which would see the Yonge Street portion of Line 1 expand out to York Region, may be put on hold if the province didn’t hand over more money for the Downtown Relief Line.

Tory claimed that expanding Line 1 out to York Region, without a relief line in place, would only increase congestion on the already overcrowded line.

But instead of fighting a battle he may not win, Tory is creating a unified front with York Region mayors.

The three mayors will head to Queen’s Park and request funding for both projects.

“We have a really great situation here,” Tory said. “We share, as the biggest region to the north of Toronto and the city of Toronto itself, the two projects we both know are essential to proceed hand in hand with each other.”

“None of these projects can proceed without all three governments taking part.”

It’s a move that had one city councillor calling the mayor out.

“I’m shocked and amazed Mayor Tory would make an announcement like this so unilaterally,” Coun. Josh Matlow said.

“It’s folly. It’s maybe good politics but it’s not responsible.”

Matlow said it is “a reckless and irresponsible management of our transit priorities.”

Kathleen Wynne’s government has expressed its support for the Yonge subway extension.

Girl, 10, struck and killed in Hamilton; journalists detained at scene

NEWS STAFF | posted Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

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Hamilton police investigate after a 10-year-old girl was struck and killed near Evans Road and Highway 5 in the Waterdown area on May 16, 2017. Image credit: CHCH

A 10-year-old girl was struck and killed in Hamilton on Tuesday evening and, during the investigation, police detained a cameraman and photographer.

It happened near Evans Road and Highway 5 in the Waterdown area.

The girl was taken to hospital and later died.

The driver remained at the scene.

Police detained Global TV cameraman Jeremy Cohn and a freelance photographer who were covering the news at the time.

Hamilton police confirmed two journalists had been detained, but wouldn’t comment further.

Troy Reeb, senior VP of news for Shaw Media, said Cohn was released unharmed and without charge.

“We are deeply concerned by the circumstances surrounding the arrest of a @globalnews journalist and another photographer in Hamilton today,” he said on Twitter.

“We will be following up directly with @HamiltonPolice in the days ahead.”

Summer heat, humidity set to arrive in GTA

NEWS STAFF | posted Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

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Brothers Mohammed, 10, and Yousef Othman, 3, play in the water fountains at Dundas Square on July 5, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

After a cool start to spring, it may be difficult to believe that the GTA is in for summer heat and even humidity on Wednesday.

680 NEWS meteorologist Jill Taylor said the temperature is expected to hit 29 C under mainly sunny skies. The heat will intensify throughout the day as the humidex hovers around 37. There is a chance of showers or thunderstorms after 9 p.m.

Taylor said while it will be a hot day on Wednesday, it likely won’t be a record-setting one. The record for a May 17 at Pearson Airport was 34.4 C (without the humidex) set in 1962.

However, it could be the hottest day of the year so far at Pearson. The temperature would need to surpass 25.7 C, which was reached on April 27.

The heat will stick around on Thursday with a high of 29 C but it will feel like 34 C with the humidity. There is also a slight chance of showers or thunderstorms.

As Friday arrives, temperatures will be cooler for the Victoria Day long weekend. The highs on Friday and Saturday will be in the mid-teens with sun and cloud.

Sunday should be the warmest day with a high of 21 C but it will be cloudy with a chance of showers of thunderstorms for the evening. Cloudy conditions continue on Monday with a high of 18 C.

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