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Polls open in UK election after campaign marred by terror attacks

DANICA KIRKA, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Thursday, Jun 8th, 2017

Police officers arrive at the polling station at Pakeman primary school in London, England, on June 8, 2017. GETTY IMAGES/Leon Neal
Polling stations opened across Britain on Thursday for national elections, amid heightened security worries following a series of terror attacks in what one senior police official described as “unprecedented times.”

The public is being asked to be alert and to report concerns to police as voters choose 650 lawmakers for the House of Commons. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Lucy D’Orsi acknowledged concerns about Thursday’s general election

Atrocities near Parliament, in Manchester and at London Bridge have left Britain on high alert. The official threat level stands at severe, the second highest rating, indicating an attack is seen as “highly likely.”

“We appreciate that these are unprecedented times and together with our partners we continue to keep communities safe,” D’Orsi said

Prime Minister Theresa May called the snap election in hopes of increasing the Conservative Party’s slim majority in Parliament, and strengthening her hand in European Union exit talks.

The campaign did not go to plan. May was criticized for lacklustre campaigning and deadly attacks that turned the election into a debate about national security.

In her final message to voters, she appealed directly to the undecided, urging them to support her in taking the country out of the European Union.

“I can only build that better country and get the right deal in Brussels with the support of the British people,” she said. “So whoever you have voted for in the past, if that is the future you want then vote Conservative today and we can all go forward together.”

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in his final rally claimed he had reshaped British politics.

“As we prepare for government, we have already changed the debate and given people hope,” he said. “Hope that it doesn’t have to be like this; that inequality can be tackled; that austerity can be ended; that you can stand up to the elites and the cynics. This is the new centre ground.”

May says the Conservatives will build a “stronger, fairer and more prosperous Britain,” while Corbyn says he would govern “for the many, not the few.”

Polls suggest Labour has narrowed the Conservatives’ lead. A high turnout is seen as Labour’s best hope of eroding some of the Conservative majority in the House of Commons.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time, with most results expected in the early hours of Friday morning.

Apple updates iMac, MacBook lines; doubles down on performance

Winston Sih | posted Wednesday, Jun 7th, 2017

The new 27-inch iMac. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih


Apple refreshed its line of Mac computers at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif., Monday, including the iMac desktop – a device the tech giant hasn’t updated in almost two years. Manufacturers typically renew computers at least yearly to stay relevant.

iMac reimagined on the inside, not out

Not much has changed on the exterior, but the first thing you do notice when powering on is the vibrancy of the display – boasting a beautiful 4K display and 5K display in the 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMacs, respectively. These displays are 43 per cent brighter than its predecessor at 500 nits with support for one billion colours. Essentially, you’re guaranteeing yourself a vivid picture with whatever you’re doing.

The thin bezel of the new Apple iMac. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The thin bezel of the new Apple iMac. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

From a performance perspective, Apple has heavily invested in the Intel Kaby Lake seventh-generation Core i5 processor as standard, with an option to upgrade to Core i7. Measured against the previous-generation model, the new iMac will allow for three-times-faster gaming on the 21.5-inch model.

iMac pushes the envelope in storage with the evolution of the Fusion Drive across the 27-inch line and on the high-end 21.5-inch 4K computer, adding higher-capacity memory. Fusion Drives allow users to access frequently used documents, photos, videos, on a flash drive, eliminating spinning disks of the traditional hard drive. It means fewer parts to break down. I’d like to see a move to this being standard on all desktops.

Available ports on the 27-inch iMac. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

Available ports on the 27-inch iMac. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

Users will find plenty of connectivity on the 27-inch iMac, and unlike iPhone 7, there’s still a headphone jack, alongside four USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt 3 (a.k.a. USB-C for everyone else), a Gigabit Ethernet, and an SD card port. This allows for added displays, high-speed hard drive connectivity, and other third-party accessories.

Among the updates from the conference include a peek at the next iteration of the Mac platform – macOS High Sierra – chock-a-block full of new toys for developers to create immersive experiences for users, like virtual reality. However, the upgrade won’t be available until the fall.

MacBook Pro: Building on its success

The previous generation of MacBook Pro made the laptop much thinner and lighter. Plus, the integration of a fluid and interactive Touch Bar and Touch ID fingerprint reader has been surprisingly useful — not just a gimmick — and the 2017 version builds on that.

The new 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The new 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The upgrades bring a routine processor and hard drive boost. Machines will see the same Intel Kaby Lake processor as its desktop counterparts, as well as faster solid-state drives, and the 15-inch MacBook Pro will have snappier graphics out of the gate.

The notebook could benefit from an added USB 3.0 port for so many existing devices while still offering flexibility in the increasingly popular USB-C port. I also miss the SD card reader. Can there be a balance struck with ports, or lack thereof?


The OLED-lit Touch Bar on the 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The OLED-lit Touch Bar on the 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

As for the OLED-lit Touch Bar that offers virtual buttons that react to the specific program you’re in, the technology continues to be unique in its class. I’d like to see exponential growth of adoption by third-party developers for it to be a real hit. But for the apps that currently utilize this, it’s fantastic.


The Force Touch trackpad on the 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The Force Touch trackpad on the 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih


With the last MacBook Pro, I had some issues with the shallow-but-tactile butterfly keyboard sticking. Apple has made some improvements to address reported problems with switch keys.

Other standard updates include increased speed and longer battery life. A larger Force Touch trackpad that reacts to the amount of pressure given to surface different actions remains.

MacBook receives a minor—but needed—spec bump

The new entry-level MacBook. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The new entry-level MacBook. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The entry-level MacBook remains one of Apple most popular laptops. It’s small in form and packs a punch as an ultraportable device, though it’s not as powerful as its sibling MacBook Pro. It gets the job done if you’re a parent just looking to surf the web and answer emails.

The entry-level laptop will get a boost in processor gigahertz, albeit minor at 1.2GHz dual-core, but when you’re working with less than 1.5 GHz to start with, every bit counts — even when you simply have a handful of web browser windows open.

In addition, the new solid-state drives are 50 per cent faster than its predecessor — rounding out a machine many students will no doubt adopt come September.


The new MacBook and MacBook Pro machines are available now.

A pro version of the iMac—aptly named iMac Pro—was announced Monday, but will not be available for sale until December. The updated classic line is available today.


Metrolinx considers implementing random drug and alcohol testing

NEWS STAFF | posted Wednesday, Jun 7th, 2017

File photo of a GO train. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Steve White
Metrolinx operators could soon be subject to random drug and alcohol testing.

The transit agency already employs a “fitness for duty” policy, which includes random health and wellness checks.

However, Metrolinx spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins told 680 NEWS they are only allowed to test for drug and alcohol under certain conditions, such as when there has been a crash.

“If there are things that we can do to make it even safer for our passengers, safer for our staff, then we want to look at that,” Aikins said.

The random testing, if implemented, would apply to those who operate GO Transit and the UP Express.

Last month, the TTC implemented random drug and alcohol testing and Aikins said they’re monitoring that closely. Aikins points out the law is a little murky when it comes to implementing random testing and said the TTC was able to do so through arbitration.

On Tuesday, the TTC said another employee failed a random drug and alcohol test, bringing the number of failed tests to five since the policy was implemented on May 8.

1 more TTC employee fails random drug test, bringing total up to 5

NEWS STAFF | posted Wednesday, Jun 7th, 2017

File photo of a TTC sign. CITYNEWS.
In little under one month since the implementation of the TTC’s random drug testing policy, five employees have tested positive while on duty.

TTC spokesperson Stuart Green confirmed Tuesday that one more employee has failed a drug test.

The test was administered last week on the employee who is not a driver.

The employees position at the TTC and the type of substance used was not disclosed.

This latest report comes after two other TTC employees failed a drug and alcohol test less than a week ago.

In total, 4 employees have now tested positive for drugs and 1 has tested positive for alcohol.

According to Green, between 6 to 8 people are tested everyday since the policy was put into place on May 8.

5 ducklings rescued from Brampton sewer

NEWS STAFF | posted Wednesday, Jun 7th, 2017

Five ducklings are recovering at a Brampton veterinary clinic after their mother was struck and killed by a car on June 7, 2017. CITYNEWS/Bertram Dandy
Five ducklings are recovering at a Brampton veterinary clinic after they were pulled from a sewer early on Wednesday morning.

It’s a sad story: they ended up in the sewer after their mother was hit by a car.

Brampton firefighters were called to Bovaird Drive and Worthington Avenue, west of Chinguacousy Road, around 1:20 a.m.

The mother duck was dead, but firefighters were able to rescue the ducks and bring them to the clinic.

A decision will be made later Wednesday about where the ducks will head next.

Related: Windsor police go to great depths to rescue family of ducks

Ontario plans new ambulance system

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jun 6th, 2017

File photo of an ambulance. CITYNEWS
Ontario is planning to revamp its ambulance system to redirect some patients with less pressing needs to places other than emergency rooms.

The government announced Monday that its new system would start rolling out in March 2018 and would better prioritize calls based on patient need.

It says more than one million patients were transported by land or air ambulance in 2015, and only one per cent of them were the most critically ill and required immediate emergency transportation.

The Liberal government says it plans to update the Ambulance Act to allow paramedics to provide on-scene treatment and refer patients to primary care or community care, instead of hospitals, if appropriate.

The government says increased flexibility would reduce unnecessary trips to emergency departments, lessening overcrowding and easing wait times.

But paramedics with the Canadian Union of Public Employees say diverting and triaging patients who call 911 for emergency medical care away from hospitals is fraught with risks. The paramedics said in a statement they believe the proposed changes will result in “negative outcomes for patients.”

“To improve response times, what’s needed is increasing the capacity of ambulance services to put more paramedics on the road,” said CUPE Ontario president Fred Hahn. “That’s something that would cost much less than putting paramedics on firetrucks and save more lives.”

It’s estimated that fully implementing the system will take two years.

Investigation underway after body found floating along shoreline in Etobicoke

NEWS STAFF | posted Tuesday, Jun 6th, 2017


Toronto police are investigating a suspicious death after a body was pulled from Lake Ontario in Etobicoke on Monday afternoon.

Police were called to Sand Beach Road Parkette at about 3:30 p.m.

The body was reportedly floating against rocks near Sand Beach Road, south of Lake Shore Boulevard.

The age and gender of the deceased have not been released.

One of the London attackers appeared in documentary about British jihadis

LORI HINNANT, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jun 6th, 2017

Police and members of the emergency services attend to victims of a terror attack on London Bridge in central London on June 3, 2017.
Armed police opened fire during what they described as a "terrorist" attack in central London Saturday after reports of stabbings and a van ploughing into pedestrians just days ahead of a general election. / AFP PHOTO / DANIEL SORABJI        (Photo credit should read DANIEL SORABJI/AFP/Getty Images)
A new search was underway Tuesday in a neighbourhood near the home of two of the London Bridge attackers, hours after police said they had freed everyone detained in the wake of the rampage that left seven dead and dozens wounded.

London police said all 12 people held since the attack late Saturday from the Barking neighbourhood in the east of the city, have been freed. A new search was underway Tuesday in Ilford, just north of Barking, as authorities tried to determine whether the group had accomplices.

One of the attackers, Khuram Shazad Butt, had appeared in a documentary “The Jihadis Next Door” and was known to investigators but police said he was not believed to be plotting an attack. The second man, Rachid Redouane, had not aroused any suspicions. Police have not released the identity of the third. The three, who were wearing fake suicide vests, were shot dead during the attack.

The attack, the third in Britain in three months, has raised questions over the government’s ability to protect Britain following cuts to police numbers in recent years. The issue has become a key one in the run-up to Thursday’s general election.

Prime Minister Theresa May, who called the snap election in hopes of strengthening her mandate for discussions over Britain’s exit from the European Union, has come under fire for the cuts to police numbers over recent years. A string of opinion polls over the past couple of weeks have pointed to a narrowing in the gap between her Conservative Party and the main opposition Labour Party.

Much of the area around London Bridge remained cordoned off as commuters struggled to work in the driving rain. The area around Borough Market is not expected to reopen Tuesday.

The nearby London Bridge station was operational though one of the exits that leads to the cordoned off area on Borough High Street remained closed. Transport for London, which oversees the capital’s transport network, has advised commuters to make alternative journeys as the station will be busy.

A minute’s silence is due to be observed in Britain at 11 a.m. local time in memory of the seven people who died during the attack late Saturday.

Related stories:

Police release names of 2 London attackers

12 arrested after London Bridge attack that left 7 dead, 48 injured

Canadian woman from B.C. confirmed as victim in London terror attacks

Teary-eyed Grande returns to stage for One Love Manchester concert

Questions remain over whether investigators had the resources to look into complaints such as those levelled by Butt’s neighbours about his attempts to radicalize children and whether crucial opportunities were missed that could have saved lives.

Saturday’s attack was the third in as many months involving suspects who had been on the radar of British authorities. All three have been claimed by the Islamic State group.

The country’s official terror threat level remains at “severe,” one notch down from the highest.

It had been set at “critical” in the days after the Manchester concert bombing on May 22 that killed 22 people — reflecting a judgment that an attack might be imminent because accomplices with similar bombs might be on the loose.

It was lowered once intelligence agencies were comfortable this wasn’t the case. Authorities have said the London attack was apparently unconnected to the Manchester bombing.

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