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Rescuers are seen entering a building that collapsed onto its side from an early morning 6.4 magnitude earthquake in Hualien County, eastern Taiwan, Wednesday, Feb. 7 2018.  Rescue workers are searching for any survivors trapped inside the building. (AP Photo/Tian Jun-hsiung)

Taiwan quake kills 4, tilts buildings; over 140 missing

Ralph Jennings and Christopher Bodeen, The Associated Press | posted Wednesday, Feb 7th, 2018

Rescuers were working Wednesday to reach five people trapped and more than 140 people unaccounted for in several buildings damaged by a strong earthquake near Taiwan’s eastern coast.

The shallow, magnitude 6.4 quake late Tuesday night caused at least four buildings in worst-hit Hualien county to cave in and tilt dangerously, killing four people.

Video footage and photos showed several midsized buildings leaning at sharp angles, their lowest floors crushed into mangled heaps of concrete, shattered glass, bent iron beams and other debris. Firefighters could be seen climbing ladders hoisted against windows as they sought to reach residents inside apartments.

The quake injured 225 people, two dozen of them critically, in Hualien county, Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported. The force of the tremor buckled roads and disrupted electricity and water supplies to thousands of households, the National Fire Agency said.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen moved to reassure the Taiwanese public that every effort would be made to look for survivors. In a post on her official Facebook page, Tsai said she arrived in Hualien Wednesday to review rescue efforts.

Tsai said she “ordered search and rescue workers not to give up on any opportunity to save people, while keeping their own safety in mind.”

“This is when the Taiwanese people show their calm, resilience and love,” she wrote. “The government will work with everyone to guard their homeland.”

The official news agency said all but two of the 145 people who could not be reached might be in the Yunmen Cuiti building, a 12-story apartment building, though it said it did not immediately have an estimate of how many were trapped.

Chen Tzai-Tung, a worker with the government disaster centre, said it was not safe for rescuers to enter the Yunmen building because it was still leaning farther bit by bit.

The headcount of missing people is based on registered occupants, Chen said by phone, adding that firefighters were evaluating whether to prop up the building with steel.

“It’s still in the process of tilting, so it would be dangerous to go in there,” Chen said. “They’re scrambling for time.”

A hotel employee died when the ground floor caved in at the Marshal Hotel, and another person died in a residential building, the agency reported.

A maintenance worker who was rescued after being trapped in the hotel’s basement said the force of the earthquake was unusual.

“At first it wasn’t that big … we get this sort of thing all the time and it’s really nothing. But then it got really terrifying,” Chen Ming-hui said after he was reunited with his son and grandson. “It was really scary.”

Other buildings shifted on their foundations and rescuers used ladders, ropes and cranes to get residents to safety.

Taiwanese media reported that a separate hotel known as the Beautiful Life Hotel also was tilting. Taiwan’s Central News Agency posted photos showing a road fractured in several parts.

Bridges and some highways were closed pending inspections.

With aftershocks continuing through the night, residents were being directed to shelters, including a newly built baseball stadium, where beds and hot food were provided.

Speaking from a crisis centre in Taipei, Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung said rail links appeared to be unaffected and the runway of Hualien airport was intact.

“We’re putting a priority on Hualien people being able to return home to check on their loved ones,” Hsu said.

Schools and offices in Hualien County were to be closed Wednesday.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake struck just before midnight Tuesday about 21 kilometres (13 miles) northeast of Hualien at a relatively shallow depth of about 10.6 kilometres (6.6 miles).

Taiwan has frequent earthquakes due to its position along the “Ring of Fire,” the seismic faults encircling the Pacific Ocean where most of the world’s earthquakes occur.

Exactly two years earlier, a magnitude 6.4 quake collapsed an apartment complex in southern Taiwan, killing 115 people. Five people involved in the construction of the complex were later found guilty of negligence and given prison sentences.

A magnitude 7.6 quake in central Taiwan killed more than 2,300 people in 1999.

Maclean’s Live with Jagmeet Singh: Six key economic takeaways

Murad Hemmadi | posted Wednesday, Feb 7th, 2018


New NDP leader Jagmeet Singh sat down with Maclean’s senior writer Paul Wells at Ottawa’s recently-renovated National Arts Centre in Ottawa for his first major national appearance.

Here are six key things Singh said about the economy, jobs and industry during their conversation.

On running deficits

In 2015, Tom Mulcair promised to balance the budget. That pledge, contrasted with the Liberals’ willingness to run deficits, has been cited as a key factor in the NDP’s fall from campaign frontrunner to third place. Singh will not necessarily emulate that promise. “I think it’s maybe no longer a big issue, people haven’t been talking about it a lot,” he noted. Singh said he’s “opposed to austerity in all its forms,” and in “difficult economic times,” he believes in “deficit funding to ensure that we continue with our social programs that we need.”


“We’re a trading nation,” Singh acknowledged. “We need to have trade, we rely on it, a vast proportion of our jobs in our country rely on trade agreements.” But he favours “fair” trade over the simply “free” variety. Portions of NAFTA don’t meet that standard, he said. “If we have an agreement with a country like Mexico, that doesn’t support or protect the rights of workers, that doesn’t have the same environmental regulations, how can Canadians ever compete with that jurisdiction?” he asked. He also pointed to the investor-state dispute resolution mechanisms in Chapter 11.

On sustainable jobs

In 2015, NDP candidate Linda McQuaig suggested that some of the fossil fuels in Canada’s oilsands “may have to stay in the grounds.” Singh said “many jobs rely on these sectors,” but suggested there’s a global trend towards sustainability. “We can’t actually tackle issues of the environment without making sure that people have jobs,” he said. “How can we transition people into jobs that are not jobs of the next five years, but are jobs of the next 50 years?” Doing that will mean focusing on sustainable sectors rather than finite resources. If he becomes prime minister, Singh said, energy projects would need to help meet the country’s climate change goals and create local and sustainable jobs.

On taxing the rich

Singh has repeatedly pointed to the Panama and Paradise Papers investigations as proof of “massive wealth that’s being siphoned out of our country.” That money could be used for programs like pharmacare or free tuition he said. His proposed fixes are a tax on CEO stock options and expansion of the capital gains levy. Why would the rich stay or invest here under those conditions? “We have a stable government, we have a great universal healthcare program, we have a highly educated workforce,” Singh rhymed off. “There are certain advantages that we’re going to have.” A tax on CEO stock options “doesn’t impact … the structure of a company, it’s ability to produce a product [or] to be successful,” he insisted.

And it won’t hurt Canada’s growing tech sector, Singh promised, noting he has a circle of people he solicits advise from on entrepreneurship and startups. “We don’t want in any way to discourage innovation,” he said.

On AI and automation

One question from Twitter focused on automation and artificial intelligence. Singh cited driverless technology as a leading indicator of the trend. “A lot of folks that drive vehicles are going to see, in the not-too-distant future, that those jobs are going to be replaced,” he said. Preparing for that requires implementing training opportunities, such as teaching people to provide the inputs for AI systems. “There is a strong argument for a basic income,” he noted. Such a policy would be a way of “tackling inequality in a practical way, and a way that we can actually use the federal government’s resources to actually help people’s lives,” he said later.

On minimum wages

The wage floor in Alberta and Ontario rose at the beginning of the year, and the federal NDP promised it for jobs regulated at the national level in the last election. Singh gave a nod to Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath, his former boss, saying that she’d been the first to commit to a $15 target, “and then the government followed suit.” The party’s goal is a “liveable wage,” but a minimum wage raise is the first step, he said.

Snow to affect Wednesday morning and afternoon commute

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Feb 7th, 2018


The GTA is bracing for snow that could make the morning and afternoon commute more challenging than normal.

A special weather statement remains in effect for the region, calling for between five to 10 centimetres of snow. Areas near the Lake Ontario shoreline could receive more snow.

Environment Canada says the snow will start Wednesday morning, just in time for the drive in to work or school.

“This snowfall will likely have a significant impact on the morning commute,” the national weather agency says.

The snowfall is expected to taper off by the afternoon.

More snow is expected on Friday — at least five centimetres — which is also expected to affect both commutes.

‘The truth will come out,’ Patrick Brown tweets

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Feb 7th, 2018


Former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown has spoken for the first time since he resigned.

In his tweet, he wrote that “#metoo can be a tool to lift society and I applaud that effort” and that “false allegations however undermine that good work.”

“The truth will come out,” his tweet reads.

Brown resigned as party leader after sexual misconduct allegations surfaced.

At the time of his resignation, Brown said the accusations weren’t true.

“I can’t speculate on the motive of my accusers, I can only say that what they are saying is categorically untrue,” he said.

CTV News reported that two women alleged sexual misconduct against Brown when he was a federal MP.

‘You’ve defamed me Sarah:’ Steve Paikin responds to harassment allegations

News Staff and The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Feb 7th, 2018


TVO host Steve Paikin has posted a message on Facebook denying accusations he sexually harassed a woman in 2010.

In the statement, Paikin says he was notified of the allegations on Saturday via an email he received from Sarah Thomson.

Thomson, a former Toronto mayoral candidate, made allegations on her website on the weekend that she had lunch with a talk show host who propositioned her during a lunch with her assistant.

“I’ve spent 35 years building my reputation,” Paikin says in his Facebook post. “In one fell swoop, these lies have prompted outrageous headlines and connected me to a story to which I have no business being connected.

“Sarah, you and I both know the incident you described never happened. It’s complete fiction. To be clear, I did not have sex, suggest, request, imply, or joke about having sex with you … The quest to reclaim my reputation, which you’ve tried to destroy, begins now. I look forward to vindication.”

“You’ve defamed me Sarah. I have no idea why, but you have.”

TVO CEO Lisa de Wilde announced an independent third-party investigation into the matter and said Paikin will continue as host of “The Agenda with Steve Paikin.”

The move comes amid a social justice movement under the #metoo and Time’s Up banners that have undone the careers of several personalities named in sexual harassment and misconduct allegations.

CTV News reporter Paul Bliss was suspended hours after a woman made a sexual misconduct allegation against him, while politician Patrick Brown resigned as leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party after two women accused him of sexual misconduct.

The former CBC Television correspondent is TVO’s best known personality, and has become a fixture of provincial and federal political coverage since joining the network in 1992.

He was made an officer of the Order of Canada in 2013.


Ontarians encouraged to carpool to work, school this week

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Feb 6th, 2018


The province’s transit agency is encouraging users to share a ride to work and school this week as part of carpool week.

Smart Commute — the annual campaign led by Metrolinx – was launched on Monday and runs until Sunday.

The program encourages people to carpool and see how much they can save by driving to work, school or an event with at least one other person.

Officials say carpoolers can reduce their costs considerably by sharing the drive to work.

The average cost of owning and operating a vehicle in Canada is more than $10,000 a year. They also say that if two people share a 50-kilometre total commute five days a week, they will each save about $54 in gas alone in one month.

Click here to calculate how much you can save by carpooling and to find other people who take similar routes to work.

Game-changing kidney transplant technique developed in Toronto hospital

Jessica Bruno & Amanda Ferguson | posted Tuesday, Feb 6th, 2018


Surgeons at Toronto General Hospital are celebrating a medical breakthrough that could dramatically improve the lives of people waiting for a new kidney.

“We are changing the landscape of kidney transplantation,” said Dr. Markus Selzner, a transplant surgeon at the University Health Network.

For the first time in North America, a donated kidney has been successfully transplanted into a patient using a new system Selzner helped pioneer. It’s the result of four years of work by the surgeon and a team of scientists from the University Health Network, Canadian Blood Services and SickKids Hospital.

The team has developed a machine and kidney support system that keeps the organ healthy by mimicking conditions inside the human body.

The procedure works by storing a kidney in a special “soup” of nutrients at body temperature, which helps restore the kidney before it is transplanted. Doctors can also monitor the organ prior to transplant.

The current system actually cools a kidney down to slow down metabolism before surgery, but Selzner said that can damage the organ.

“This is a major change,” said Selzner. “Instead of being exhausted at the time of transplant, now [the kidney] is in great shape, it’s fresh, it’s full of energy, it’s like a champion. It goes in with a bang and now it will work immediately.”

About 1,000 Ontarians are on the waiting list for a kidney, and the average wait is four years.

Transplant specialists have been trying to address the wait list time by using organs from older donors and other non-ideal candidates. But the kidneys those donors give are more delicate. Under the current system, it’s hard to tell how well an organ will work once it is transplanted.

With less of a struggle, Selzner said patients should recover more quickly and have better long-term health.

In November 2017, 53-year-old Zhao Xiao was the first person to receive a donated kidney that had been taken care of using the new technique.

Through a translator, Zhao said he’s been feeling great since the surgery.

“I feel very lucky,” says Zhao.

Zhao needed a new kidney due to complications from diabetes and hypertension. He waited just over a year for the transplant, which he noted is shorter than usual.

During his wait for a transplant, Zhao had to use a dialysis machine for eight hours a day. He said it affected his sleep and left him tired all the time.

Zhao’s new kidney was hooked up to the machine for 3.5 hours before surgeons transplanted it.

“It went really fantastic,” said Selzner. “I have rarely seen a kidney working so well after transplantation.”

Selzner said blood tests taken less than two days after the transplant showed Zhao’s new kidney was working well, and Zhao says he has a lot more energy now.


The transplant was the first step in a clinical trial at Toronto General Hospital and the University Health Network. Selzner said the next step is to do more transplants to show the procedure is reliable.

If widely adopted, Ontarians could soon be waiting less time for a kidney transplant. But Selzner says the improvements don’t have to end there. In the next 10 years he predicts his procedure could evolve to prepare organs specifically to suit a particular patient’s body, hopefully lessening the chance their body rejects the new organ.

In Ontario, about 20 per cent of all transplanted kidneys are donated by non-ideal candidates. In that group, the average donor age is more than 60 years old.

Under the new system, more kidneys may be eligible for transplant.

And while the transplant surgeon is excited about his team’s progress, Selzner said the real thanks should go to the organ donors.

“The real thankfulness is for the donor, who is giving the gift of life,” he said. “We must take care of it as well as we can. I hope that with this technology we can make the gift of a kidney better.”

Toronto Tool Library needs a helping hand

Nitish Bissonauth | posted Tuesday, Feb 6th, 2018


From power tools, to camping equipment to children toys — for the past five years, the Toronto Tool Library and the Sharing Depot have loaned out over 65,000 items. Torontonians can borrow any of these items the same way one can borrow a book from the library.

However, the sharing network that has helped city residents build, borrow and fix is now in need of a helping hand itself.

“We just want to exist as this thing for our community but we’re facing this 20% shortfall right now in our budget” says Lawrence Alvarez, one of the co-founders.

High rent, a lack of grants for existing projects and city permit issues are contributing to their budget crisis.

“We’ve made the choice to be downtown and accessible … and we want to basement our membership prices as much as possible.” Alvarez adds. “So it’s difficult to get money for operations.”

The organization says they now need $35,000 to stay afloat and have launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise the funds.

The sharing network, which has nearly 5000 members and 20,000 supporters online, hopes to further expand the project which they say promotes a sharing economy. The money they raise will go towards adding new items to their shelves and new workshops.

“There are huge benefits to have these physical locations where people can come and share things” says Alvarez. “This exists for people who want to do DIY projects, fix their own stuff and feel empowered. We want to give them the skills and teach them how to do tiling, drywall, plumbing — all these different kind of things.”

So far they’ve reached 70% of their goal through crowdfunding and they’re in talks with the city to become a municipal service.

“We are excited about this idea because we see it as part of a large global solution that is necessary for this planet that is finite” says Alvarez. “We cannot continue to take out and not replace.”

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