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Toys ‘R’ Us will soon file for bankruptcy protection in Canada

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Sep 19th, 2017

Toys ‘R’ Us has filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States and says it intends to follow suit in Canada.

The company filed Chapter 11 documents late Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Richmond, Virginia and says its Canadian subsidiary plans to seek protection in parallel proceedings under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

The chain also said it had secured US$3 billion in financing to stay open while it restructures its outstanding debt and establishes a sustainable capital structure to invest in long-term growth.

Toys ‘R’ Us says the “vast majority” of its approximately 1,600 Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us stores around the world and its web portals continue to operate as usual.

The company adds that it is committed to working with its vendors to ensure inventory levels are maintained and products continue to be delivered.

The company says operations outside of Canada and the U.S., including some 255 stores in Asia, are separate entities and are not part of the Chapter 11 filing and CCAA proceedings.

“Today marks the dawn of a new era at Toys ‘R’ Us where we expect that the financial constraints that have held us back will be addressed in a lasting and effective way,” said chairman and CEO Dave Brandonin a statement.

“Together with our investors, our objective is to work with our debtholders and other creditors to restructure the $5 billion of long-term debt on our balance sheet.”

Toys ‘R’ Us is headquartered in Wayne, N.J., and has nearly 65,000 employees worldwide

Survey finds Canadians worry about rise of racism

CityNews | posted Monday, Sep 18th, 2017

Imam Syed Soharwardy speaks during a memorial service at a mosque in Calgary, Alta., June 5, 2016. A survey suggests Canadians have a generally positive impression of Muslims but that view doesn't apply to some of the religion's leadership and beliefs. Calgary Imam Syed Soharwardy, founder of Muslims Against Terrorism and the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, understands why Canadians would be suspicious of Muslim leadership. He said many imams discuss only religious teaching and morality when they should speak out against fanaticism, extremism and intolerance. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

A survey suggests Canadians have a generally positive impression of Muslims but that view doesn’t apply to some of the religion’s leadership and beliefs.

The poll, commissioned by Think for Actions and Insights Matter, found 78 per cent of Canadians agreed Muslims should adopt Canadian customs and values but maintain their religious and cultural practices. Some 88 per cent of those surveyed said Muslims should be treated no differently than any other Canadian.

But 72 per cent of respondents also believed there has been an increasing climate of hatred and fear towards Muslims in Canada and that it will get worse.

Results of the poll – an online survey of 1,048 Canadians done from March 13 to Aug. 12 – were released Saturday at The Unity Conference in Calgary on Islamophobia, discrimination and systemic racism.

“The biggest takeaway is Canadians who are friends with a Muslim or know a Muslim individual have a positive view of Islam and Muslims and are more welcoming to them,” said Mukarram Zaidi, chair of the group that commissioned the survey.

“Fear is the greatest factor. The majority of Canadians believe the issue of racism has increased. They are concerned about the issue of general racism and hate crimes, religious discrimination, homophobia and anti-Semitism.”

Public perception isn’t all positive. The survey found 56 per cent believed that Islam suppresses women’s rights. There was a 54 per cent approval for imams and 35 per cent for Muslim leadership.

“There needs to be work done within the Muslim community and their leadership to understand that the common person does not hold a lot of respect for what they’re doing,” said Zaidi.

“Children born and raised in North America need to become an imam, because when they stand up and speak, they can speak English clearly and they can relate Islam to North American culture.”

Calgary Imam Syed Soharwardy, founder of Muslims Against Terrorism and the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, understands why Canadians would be suspicious of Muslim leadership. He said many imams discuss only religious teaching and morality when they should speak out against fanaticism, extremism and intolerance.

“Many Muslim leaders do not condemn ISIL, the Taliban, al-Qaida,” said Soharwardy. “A lot of imams are doing it, but not enough.”

Soharwardy, who was born in Pakistan, said imams should be fluent in English or French and have a good understanding of Canadian society.

“I think most of the imams, who come from overseas and outside of Canada, they still live in silos. They still do not help people to integrate in the mainstream Canadian society.”

Soharwardy has personal experience about the need for good language skills when talking to Canadian-born Muslims.

“At our mosque I speak in English and Urdu, like a bilingual sort of thing. My own son says, ‘Papa, when you speak English that is fine, but as soon as you start talking Urdu, you just turn me off’ – and he understands it.”

Strengthening Hurricane Maria a threat to Irma-hit Caribbean

CityNews | posted Monday, Sep 18th, 2017

Tropical storm Maria expected to become a hurricane by Tuesday (NHC)
The islands of the eastern Caribbean prepared Sunday to face another potential disaster, with forecasters saying newly formed and strengthening Hurricane Maria was headed for a hit on the Leeward Islands by Monday night.

Hurricane or tropical storm warnings were posted for many of the islands, including those already coping with the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma, such as St. Barts and Antigua and Barbuda.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Maria was expected to gain power and likely would be near major hurricane strength while crossing through the Leeward Islands late Monday on a path aiming toward Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

The storm had maximum sustained winds of 85 mph (140 kph) late Sunday. It was centred about 100 miles (165 kilometres) northeast of Barbados and heading west-northwest at 13 mph (20 kph).

maria-animated

The hurricane centre said hurricane conditions should begin to affect parts of the Leeward Islands by Monday night, with storm surge raising water levels by 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 metres) near the storm’s centre. The storm was predicted to bring 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 centimetres) of rain across the islands, with more in isolated areas.

It could make a direct hit on Puerto Rico, which was spared the full brunt of Irma, though power was knocked out to much of the island.

Gov. Ricardo Rossello said officials had prepared about 450 shelters with a capacity for nearly 68,000 people – or even 125,000 in an emergency. He said schools were cancelled for Monday and government employees would work only a half day.

Officials in the Dominican Republic urged people to leave areas prone to flooding and said fishermen should remain in port.

Meanwhile, long-lived Hurricane Jose was moving northward off the U.S. Atlantic Seaboard, kicking up dangerous surf and rip currents. It wasn’t expected to make landfall but a tropical storm watch was posted for all of the coast from Delaware to Massachusetts’ Cape Cod.

Jose was centred about 305 miles (490 kilometres) southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and was moving north at 9 mph (15 kph). It had maximum sustained winds of 90 mph (150 kph).

In the Pacific, Tropical Storm Norma’s threat to Mexico’s Los Cabos area appeared to ease. Forecasters said the storm’s centre was likely to remain offshore.

Norma had winds of about 50 mph (85 kph) and it was centred about 140 miles (225 kilometres) south-southwest of Cabo San Lucas. That area was hit two weeks ago by Tropical Storm Lidia, which flooded streets and homes and killed at least four people.

The Baja California Sur state government readied storm shelters and cancelled classes for Monday as well as calling off a Mexican Independence Day military parade in the state capital, La Paz.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Lee weakened into a tropical depression far out in the Atlantic while Otis strengthened into a hurricane out in the Pacific. Neither threatened land.

 

British police arrest 2nd man in London subway attack case

CityNews | posted Monday, Sep 18th, 2017

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The British government lowered the country’s official terrorist threat level Sunday after a second man was arrested in connection with the attack on a London subway train where a bomb partially exploded.

The downgrading of the threat level from “critical” to “severe” means authorities no longer believe an attack is imminent. The “severe” classification, the second highest level of alert, is based on the assessment that an attack is “highly likely.”

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the easing of the alert indicates that police and security services are making “good progress” in the sprawling investigation into the attack on a subway train that injured 30 people during the rush hour Friday morning.

Rudd cautioned that the investigation was ongoing.

Police announced the second arrest early Sunday, offering the clearest indication yet that authorities do not believe the person who planted the homemade bomb acted alone.

The first person arrested was an 18-year-old man who was taken into custody Saturday in the departure area of the port of Dover. The Metropolitan Police force said a 21-year-old man was arrested Saturday shortly before midnight in the west London borough of Hounslow.

The force said the second suspect was being held under the Terrorism Act and questioned at a south London police station Sunday, but has been neither charged nor identified.

Police on Sunday also launched an urgent search of a property in the southwestern suburb of Stanwell that authorities said was linked to the latest arrest.

They continued searching a home in Sunbury, another southwestern London suburb where neighbours were evacuated on Saturday.

During the attack on a stopped train at the Parsons Green station, a bomb hidden in a plastic bucket inside a supermarket freezer bag only partially exploded, sparing the city much worse carnage.

The two arrests indicate police and security services believe the attack was part of a co-ordinated plot, not the act of a single person.

“We are still pursing numerous lines of enquiry and at a great pace,” Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism co-ordinator Neil Basu said.

Residents of the Sunbury neighbourhood where an armed police search started Saturday were evacuated in a rush and kept away for nearly 10 hours before they were allowed to return to their homes.

The property belongs to an elderly couple who have for years taken in foster children, including refugees from conflict zones in Syria and Iraq.

The pair – Ronald Jones, 88, and his wife, Penelope Jones, 71 – have been honoured by Queen Elizabeth II for their work with children in need of a stable home.

A friend, Alison Griffiths, said the Joneses are “great pillars of the community” who have taken in several hundred children in the last 40 years.

Neighbours said two young men had been staying with them recently. Police have not provided details about the extensive search, which began several hours after an 18-year-old suspect in the subway bombing was arrested at Dover’s ferry port.

The Islamic State has said Friday’s subway attack was carried out by one of its affiliated units. The improvised explosive device placed on the subway train only partially detonated, limiting the number of injuries.

The National Health Service says all but one of the 30 people treated for injuries has been released from the hospital. One person is still being treated at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, which has a special unit for treating burns.

Officials have raised the number of injured from 29 to 30. That includes 19 people who were taken from the explosion site at Parsons Green station to the hospital and 11 who came in for treatment later on their own.

Home Secretary Rudd said the casualties would have been far higher if the bomb had fully detonated. Frustrated by the string of terrorist attacks in recent months, she said officials will have to work harder to make bomb components more difficult to obtain.

Britain has endured four other attacks this year, which have killed a total of 36 people. The other attacks in London – near Parliament, on London Bridge and near a mosque in Finsbury Park in north London – used vehicles and knives to kill and wound.

Toronto police searching for York Street crane climbers

CityNews | posted Monday, Sep 18th, 2017

A Toronto police badge in an undated file photo. CITYNEWS

Toronto police are looking for the men who allegedly climbed up a construction crane on Sunday night in the downtown core.

Police and fire crews responded to a call at around 8 p.m. in the York and Harbour Streets area.

Two men were reportedly on top of the crane and another man was at street level. The men on the crane were wearing black clothing and were allegedly taking selfies.

Crews could not locate the men on the crane and it is believed they fled the scene.

Bay Street was closed in both directions for a short time but has since reopened.

 

Outdoor events perfect backdrop to the last weekend of summer

CityNews | posted Friday, Sep 15th, 2017

Crates of fresh apples in an orchard. GETTY IMAGES/Anne Hawken
If you love summer and the heat, then this weekend is all for you – the forecast calls for sunshine and humidex values in the low 30s. With several outdoor events taking place, it is the perfect time to enjoy the last weekend of summer.

There is a partial TTC shutdown and a station closure, as well as some road closures to contend with, but don’t let that stop you from getting outside this weekend.

Outdoor events

Terry Fox Run
“Dreams are made possible if you try,” Terry Fox once said. The Marathon of Hope, which he started in 1980, continues to this day with more than $800 million raised around the world for cancer research. This Sunday, keep his dream alive with the annual Terry Fox Run, held in several cities across the country including 14 locations in Toronto. The 5K and 10K runs start at 9 a.m. local time, but you can also walk, ride or inline-skate the routes. Activities will also be held after the runs at each of the events.

Celtic Island
Centre Island will be transformed into the Emerald Isle for a celebration of Irish culture on Saturday. The festival, which was founded in 1967, is hosted by the St. Patrick’s Parade Society of Toronto. There will be traditional and modern Irish music, dancing, good eats and kids activities. Tickets are $15 online and $20 at the door. Children under 12 can partake for free.

OpenStreets
For the second and last time this season, the streets near Yonge and Bloor will be for pedestrians to enjoy from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday. Activity hubs will be stationed along Bloor between Christie and Sherbourne streets, and on Yonge between Bloor and Shuter streets. Some of the activities include a pop-up adventure playground for kids, a bike obstacle course, free hair and makeup workshops, buskers, a beatbox learning station, and ol’ skool fun like jump rope, hand-clapping games, hopscotch, and marbles.

https://www.facebook.com/openstreetsto/videos/1898445340181865/

Apple picking
It’s the height of harvest season, and this weekend is perfect to take the family apple picking. Several orchards across the GTA say the fruit is ready for picking, but they are urging families not to wait too long because the crop volume is estimated to be 20 per cent less than last year due to the 2016 drought. There are about 15 different varieties of apples grown on Ontario farms, including Chudleigh’s in Milton, Pingle’s Farm Market in Hampton (Durham), and Dixie Orchards in Caledon.

Food Truck Festival Ontario
A foodie’s dream comes to life this weekend. From mouth-watering, fall-off-the-bone BBQ to tender, well-seasoned lobster rolls, all your favourite eats will be in one place at Sherbourne Common, beside Sugar Beach. You can eat like a “food star” and enjoy an alcoholic beverage in the drinks garden. Admission is free, with sample-size dishes costing $6 or less and full-portioned meals starting at $10.

Indoor events

National Bridal Show
Hundreds of blushing brides-to-be will be flocking to the National Bridal Show to check out all the hottest trends for their 2018 nuptials. Top photography, fashion and decor vendors, among others, will be there to guide and offer advice to engaged couples and their families navigating through the overwhelming process of planning their big day. The show is being held from Friday to Sunday at the International Centre, Hall 1. Admission is $18.

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Fall Home Show
As we enter the last weekend of summer, the Toronto Fall Home Show is helping you usher in the new season, which officially arrives on Sept. 22. This year’s edition, which is from Friday to Sunday, focuses on the three Rs to get your home autumn-ready: restructuring, restyling and reorganizing. Dozens of industry pros and celebrity experts, as well as more than 300 retailers will be on hand during the three-day event. It’s being held at the Enercare Centre, Exhibition Place, and general admission is $15.

Road and transit closures

Road closures
Several roads will be closed around the city for events, including Open Streets TO, Race for the Kids, and Polish and Ukrainian festivals. Click here for a list.

Partial Line 1 closure
Subways won’t be running on Line 1 (Yonge-University-Spadina) between Sheppard West and St. George stations this weekend. The closure is due to signal upgrades. Shuttle buses will be running. Riders can use existing buses and streetcars to get to the Yonge portion of Line 1, and buses to Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth). Wheel-Trans buses will run between Sheppard West and St. George stations upon request. Regular subway service will resume at 6 a.m. Monday.

Dundas Station closure
The station will be closed from 11 p.m. on Friday until 6 a.m. on Monday as crews work on construction of fare gates. Trains will be bypassing the station, so riders will have to get off at nearby College or Queen stations. Starting Monday and until late October, the station will be closed each night from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Monday to Saturday, and until 8 a.m. on Sunday.

Canadian consumers more in the dark than U.S. counterparts about Equifax hack

CityNews | posted Friday, Sep 15th, 2017

This July 21, 2012, file photo shows Equifax Inc., offices in Atlanta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mike Stewart, File

Canadians are asking questions in the aftermath of the Equifax hack because they are more in the dark about whether they have been victims than consumers in the U.S.

Consumers in the U.S. can check their status on a website that shows whether they are at risk as well as monitor their files for free because the company waived a charge in the wake of the data breach.

But that website doesn’t work for Canadians and the Equifax Canada website says it costs $19.95 per month for the same monitoring service.

Communications expert Warren Weeks says that Equifax has handled the issue poorly, and that it is unacceptable that Canadians in particular do not know whether their data has been compromised.

Equifax Inc. said last Thursday that a security breach occurred over the summer that compromised the private information of up to 143 million Americans, along with an undisclosed number of Canadians.

But the company has been tight-lipped about further details, including how many Canadians may have been exposed.

Crayola announces name of new blue hue

CityNews | posted Friday, Sep 15th, 2017

Crayola announces new colour, Bluetiful

Hello, Bluetiful.

Crayola announced the name of its new blue crayon Thursday. Bluetiful was the top pick of fans during two months of online voting, beating out Dreams Come Blue, Blue Moon Bliss, Reach for the Stars and Star Spangled Blue.

The Easton, Pennsylvania-based crayon maker received nearly 90,000 name submissions before narrowing it down to five.

Bluetiful will make its debut later this year. It’s replacing the recently retired dandelion.

Scientists at Oregon State University accidentally discovered the brilliant blue hue while experimenting with materials for use in electronics.

Crayola is a subsidiary of Hallmark Cards Inc., headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri.

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