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A vigil for the victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas on Oct. 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Gregory Bull

Trump to visit Las Vegas, meet with survivors

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Oct 4th, 2017

President Donald Trump will reckon with the aftermath of a deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas as he meets Wednesday with survivors and law enforcement officials in a time of grief.

Trump heads to the city days after a gunman on the 32nd floor of a Vegas Strip hotel and casino opened fire on people at an outdoor country music festival below. The Sunday night rampage by Stephen Craig Paddock killed at least 59 people and injured 527, some from gunfire and some from a chaotic escape.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Trump said he’d be in Las Vegas to “pay our personal respects and condolences to everybody. What happened is such a tragedy. So unnecessary. Who can believe what happened to Las Vegas?” He later added that it was “a very horrible thing even to think about.”

Trump was to be joined by first lady Melania Trump. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he and Rep. Mark Amodei, a Nevada Republican, also would make the trip.

Trump’s trip to Las Vegas follows his Tuesday travel to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. During that trip, he highlighted Puerto Rico’s relatively low death toll compared with “a real catastrophe like Katrina,” when as many as 1,800 people died in 2005 as levees protecting New Orleans broke. He also focused on the best of the reviews he and his administration are getting rather than criticism of the federal response to Hurricane Maria.

As he departed the White House for Puerto Rico, Trump called the Las Vegas gunman “demented” and a “very, very sick individual.” Trump also praised Las Vegas police, saying they had done an “incredible job.”

Asked about gun laws, the president said “we’ll be talking about gun laws as time goes by.”

Trump offered sombre remarks about the shooting from the White House on Monday, saying “our unity cannot be shattered by evil, our bonds cannot be broken by violence.”

Council hatches pilot project to allow backyard chickens in select wards

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Oct 4th, 2017


Residents in some Toronto neighbourhoods will be allowed to keep chickens in their backyards under a pilot project approved Tuesday by city council.

The pilot will run in four city wards over the next three years with an interim review in 18 months. At that time, city staff will review the data and decide whether to expand the project to the rest of the wards.

The wards are Ward 5 Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Ward 13 Parkdale-High Park, Ward 21 St. Paul’s, and Ward 32 Beaches-East York.

Residents can keep up to four chickens and must register with the city. Roosters won’t be permitted.

Chickens would not be allowed in apartment buildings, condominiums or properties without sufficient outdoor space.

The pilot project is expected to launch next spring.

A survey included in a city staff report filed in May suggested that lifting the ban on chickens could be a popular move.

“There is nothing wrong with it from a public health perspective [and] from a nuisance perspective. They are as clean as cats and dogs. They are as clean as the owners that take care of them,” Coun. Joe Mihevc said on Tuesday.

Coun. Justin Di Ciano said his father has had chickens in his backyard for more than five years and they’re still laying eggs.

“He’s got five of them,” Di Ciano said. “The neighbours love them. My children certainly love them.

“He doesn’t throw food away anymore. He’s got no more organic waste because it all goes to the chickens … and there’s really a peaceful, serenity to it all when you are able to go back and see them.

“Chickens are very social animals so they become pets long after they stop laying eggs.”

Opponents of the pilot have argued it will generate complaints and tie up the city’s bylaw enforcement officers.

“We shouldn’t have livestock in the city,” said Coun. Glenn De Baeremaeker. “Livestock and chickens and goats belong in a barnyard, not somebody’s backyard.

“I think certainly for the chickens … they attract coyotes, they attract raccoons, they attract foxes. It’s just not what we want in other people’s backyards.”

Several municipalities in Ontario, including Kingston, Brampton, Niagara Falls and Caledon, allow residents to keep chickens in backyard coops.

Correction: A previous version of the story said Ward 22 instead of Ward 32.

Air Canada, WestJet offer changes to Las Vegas travel plans for limited time

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Oct 4th, 2017

People carry luggage at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on December 20, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

Canada’s two major airlines are waiving fees for ticket holders who want to change their Las Vegas travel plans in the wake of the shooting there on Sunday that killed at least 59 people at a country music concert.

Both WestJet Airlines Ltd. and Air Canada have implemented “goodwill” policies to allow guests to change their dates of travel or to exchange their tickets for a different destination.

On its website, Air Canada says the policy will apply to customers who bought a ticket no later than Sunday if they are scheduled to touch down in Las Vegas between now and next Monday, Oct. 9.

It says customers can contact Air Canada reservations to change the flight, free of charge, to another date or another destination between now and Oct. 23, subject to availability. The client would have to pay any difference in price.

WestJet says it has implemented a flexible change/cancel promise for those with tickets to Las Vegas for a shorter period — until Wednesday.

It says guests will be able to change their travel dates or route without paying fees.

Woman dies after being hit by minivan in North York

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Oct 4th, 2017

Police tape marks the area where a woman was struck by a minivan in North York on Oct. 3, 2017. She later died in hospital. CITYNEWS/Tony Fera

A 25-year-old woman has died after she was hit by a minivan in North York on Tuesday afternoon.

It happened around 4:30 p.m. at Sentinel and Assiniboine roads, near the York University campus.

The woman was taken to hospital with life-threatening head injuries and later died.

Roads are closed in the area for the investigation.


Musicians and celebrities pay tribute to rocker Tom Petty

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Oct 3rd, 2017

US singer Tom Petty performs during the halftime show of Super Bowl XLII at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, USA, 03 Feburary 2008 (reissued 02 October 2017). According to media reports on 02 October 2017, US musician Tom Petty was found unconscious and in full cardiac arrest on 01 October in the night in his home in Malibu. He was rushed to a hospital, his condition is yet unknown.  EPA/TANNEN MAURY *** Local Caption *** 01244335

LOS ANGELES – Reaction to the death of rock superstar Tom Petty, who died Monday after suffering cardiac arrest at this Malibu home:

“I’m shocked and saddened by the news of Tom’s passing, he’s such a huge part of our musical history, there’ll never be another like him.” – Eric Clapton in a statement.

“Devastating news about  TomPetty A profound loss. Sad sad day today. RIP” – rocker Slash on Instagram.

Devastating news about #TomPetty A profound loss. Sad sad day today. RIP

A post shared by Slash (@slash) on

“RIP @tompetty you will be missed. A music legend  GoneButNeverForgotten” Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer on Twitter.

“Through his work with the Heartbreakers and The Traveling Wilburys he’s left us with an incredibly legacy to enjoy forever, it’s such a shame he has left us way before his time.” – Def Leppard singer Joe Elliot on Twitter.

“It is so rare to find someone who commands such universal respect in the business. He was a rock n roll lifer with music in his blood. This man delivered a wealth of great songs to his fans and to the world and that is something to celebrate.” – rocker Alice Cooper, on Twitter.

“I feel Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is the best American rock band, ever. He is both a peer and an inspiration to me. I am heartbroken at his passing, and my deep sympathy goes out to his family and loved ones.” – REO Speedwagon’s Keith Cronin on Facebook.

“Always felt good to know Tom Petty was out there in the world making up beautiful words and music. Sad today but grateful forever.” – singer Richard Marx on Twitter.

“Safe passages to the summerlands, brother. You couldn’t have left more dreams here for us. Thank you. RIP” – rocker Ryan Adams on Twitter.

“Tom Petty was a stud. Very few super cool dudes from the old school left. Actual talent. Rough to hear the news” – actor-comedian David Spade on Twitter.

“Tom was a true rock and roll purist, both in his music and his defiant spirit. With the Heartbreakers, his infectious riffs, rebellious personality, and inventive songwriting brought a new urgency to rock traditions and fueled a now legendary career and some of the most memorable music of the last four decades.” – Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow in a statement.




Julie Payette sworn in as Canada’s 29th governor general

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Oct 3rd, 2017


Former astronaut Julie Payette took the formal oaths of office Monday as she became the country’s 29th governor general in a traditional ceremony on Parliament Hill.

Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin administered the oaths to the 53-year-old in the Senate chamber under the watchful eyes of hundreds of high-powered Canadian audience members, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his cabinet, Indigenous leaders and other dignitaries.

Payette swore the oaths of allegiance of the Governor General and commander-in-chief of Canada, and of the Keeper of the Great Seal of Canada.

After the oaths, cannons outside the Parliament Building crashed out a 21-gun salute, which could be heard inside.

The audience included justices of the Supreme Court, former governors general, several provincial premiers and Payette’s friends and family.

Payette was also formally presented with the ceremonial collars marking her as chancellor of the Order of Canada, the Order of Military Merit and the Order of Merit of the Police Forces, as well as head of the Canadian Heraldic Authority.

While much of the ceremony is dictated by protocol, Payette herself chose the music, which included a rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” sung by Joannie Benoit and Melissa Bedard.

The Juno Award-winning Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Choir, of which Payette was a member, performed also performed.

Trudeau spoke of Payette’s flights into space as inspiring moments, calling her a two-time extraterrestrial Canadian.

He praised her as a mother, an athlete, a pilot, a scientist and someone who “went where very few others had dared to go.”

“Your journey through space and through life may be unique, but the qualities which underpin every one of your successes are not,” he said.

The prime minister also took time to thank Payette’s predecessor, David Johnston.

“You have made Canada a stronger and a better country.”

One of the first things Payette plans to do as the Queen’s representative in Canada is to open an Instagram account. Johnston Her predecessor, never had one, but officials from Heritage Canada say Payette will add to the Governor General’s social media arsenal.

She will also take over her predecessor’s official Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Payette’s embrace of social media appears to be in step with Buckingham Palace, which posted a job advertisement for a social media manager earlier this year as the number of people following the Queen on Twitter was heading toward the three million mark. It has since surpassed that.

Payette, a Montreal-born astronaut, engineer and businesswoman, was accompanied by her 14-year-old son, Laurier Payette Flynn. Her parents and sister and brother were among the invited guests who felt the rumble of a 21-gun salute after Payette signed the oath book and took her seat on the Senate throne.

Following the ceremony, Payette, her son and other dignitaries were scheduled to visit the National War Memorial where the new Governor General would lay flowers on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Payette had her first audience with the Queen less than two weeks ago, at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, where she received several honours, including the Extraordinary Companion of the Order of Canada.

In his parting statement, issued Friday, Johnston thanked Canadians for the privilege of serving them.

“It has been a great honour to serve as Canada’s 28th Governor General, to represent Her Majesty The Queen in this important role within our constitutional monarchy and to give back to this country I love so much,” the former academic said.


Jagmeet Singh captures NDP leadership, hearts

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Oct 3rd, 2017


The New Democratic Party has just made history with its new leader.

Thirty-eight-year-old Jagmeet Singh is a Scarborough-born criminal defence lawyer, a fluent French and Punjabi speaker and now Canada’s first turban-wearing Sikh to lead a federal political party and sit in Ontario’s legislature.

He took the first ballot on Sunday, with 53 per cent of the vote over top MP rivals Charlie Angus, Niki Ashton and Guy Caron.

Before the victory, Singh served as Andrea Horwath’s deputy in 2015 and represented Brampton’s Bramalea-Gore-Malton riding at Queen’s Park since 2011.

More recently, Singh is also known for his seemingly cool and collected demeanor – displayed here during a confrontation with an unruly heckler at a campaign event last month.

That confrontation went viral nationally and triggered an uproar of support for the rising star gunning for the federal seat. His message for ‘Love and Courage’ struck a cord with many supporters hoping to see a dynamic change in Canada’s government.




Q&A: Security expert weighs in on safety in a crisis

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Oct 3rd, 2017


At least 58 people are dead, and more than 500 injured after a gunman rained bullets down on a crowd of 20,000 attending a country music festival in Las Vegas on Sunday night.

The mass shooting now joins a growing list of attacks at concert venues.

Earlier this year, a homemade bomb killed 23 people at Manchester Arena during an Ariana Grande concert, and in 2015, 90 people were killed during an attack at the Bataclan Theatre in Paris.

These moments can leave many shaken – feeling uneasy about whether the next event they’re planning to attend could be targeted.

We spoke with security expert David Perry, CEO of Investigative Solutions Network, about how realistic those fears are and how some quick planning could provide peace of mind.

Q: What is your message to people who might be feeling afraid to go to public events like this?

A: I think fortunately these kinds of events are very rare so for us in the public to feel afraid to go to public venues and concerts would be a mistake.

I would never say “I’ll never go to Las Vegas.” Just the opposite, and I think we need to keep doing that in this time. Just pay more attention to your surroundings. The likelihood of each of us as individuals being the victim of these attacks is fairly low.

Q: How can people plan ahead when heading to a large crowd or public space in order to maintain some peace of mind?

A: Most people have a plan if there’s a fire in their home – they have an escape route, a safe meeting place.

So, same thing when I’m out in public with my family and friends. If we get separated for any reason – even just happenstance, you get lost – here is where we will meet. And if there’s an event and it’s not safe to meet there, here is the secondary place to meet.

Usually if there’s an event involving an active shooter, the further you can plan to meet, the better.

If you go to a public concert, I think people should really make themselves aware of how they can get out as quickly as possible. If there was an emergency, regardless of what kind of an emergency, to make themselves very aware of all the exits and where they can go when they have to.

Q: If, in the worst case scenario, you ever find yourself in an active shooter situation, what do you advise people to do?

A: In Canada we teach run, hide, fight. We teach everybody if you can get out and you can run and you can do it safely that’s what you should do.

If you cant, if you’re somehow trapped, the next best thing is to try to find a place to hide and hopefully also  secure yourself so the attacker cant reach you.

And if the worst case unfolded and the attacker got to you we teach people to fight. Do whatever you have to do – form a group and get ready to do what you have to do to survive.

Hopefully, nobody would ever be put in that position.

Q: If you are in an open space and it’s difficult to find cover, would you ever advise lying down and playing dead?

A: I advise people to do what they need to do to survive. With bullets raining down from above, lying down may not be your best option.

For me and in my experience, I would rather keep moving and try to get myself out of there because you have to remember, this shooting went on for quite a period of time and so every second or minute staying in that particular area while he was raining bullets puts you at risk of being struck.

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