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North Korea, Venezuela on new Trump travel restrictions list

CityNews | posted Monday, Sep 25th, 2017

Citizens of eight countries, including North Korea and Venezuela, will face new restrictions on entry to the U.S. under a proclamation signed by President Donald Trump on Sunday that will replace his expiring travel ban.

The new rules, which will impact the citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen, will go into effect on October 18.

The restrictions range from an indefinite ban on visas for citizens of countries like Syria to more targeted restrictions. A suspension of non-immigrant visas to citizens for Venezuela, for instance, will apply only to certain government officials and their immediate families.

The announcement comes the same day as Trump’s temporary ban on visitors from six Muslim-majority countries was set to expire 90 days after it went into effect. That ban had barred citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen who lack a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” from entering the U.S. Only one of those countries, Sudan, will no longer be subject to travel restrictions.

“Making America Safe is my number one priority. We will not admit those into our country we cannot safely vet,” Trump tweeted late Sunday after the new policy was announced.

Unlike the first iteration of Trump’s travel ban, which sparked chaos at airports across the country and a flurry of legal challenges, officials stressed they had been working for months on the new rules, in collaboration with various agencies and in conversation with foreign governments.

To limit confusion, valid visas would not be revoked as a result of the proclamation. The order also permits, but does not guarantee, case-by-case waivers for citizens of the affected countries who meet certain criteria.

That includes: having previously worked or studied in the U.S. for a lengthy and continuous period of time activity; having previously established “significant contacts” in the U.S.; and having “significant business or professional obligations” in the U.S. Still, officials acknowledged the waiver restrictions were narrower than the exemptions for people with bona fide ties to the United States that he Supreme Court mandated.

The restrictions are targeted at countries that the Department of Homeland Security says fail to share sufficient information with the U.S. or haven’t taken necessary security precautions.

Over the course of the last three months, DHS worked to developed new security baselines, which includes factors such as whether countries issue electronic passports with biometric information, report lost or stolen passports to INTERPOL, and share information about travellers’ terror-related and criminal histories. The U.S. then shared those benchmarks with every country in the world and gave them 50 days to comply.

A total of sixteen countries did not comply with the rules at first, officials said, but half worked with the U.S. to improve their information-sharing and security practices. The remaining eight are now subject to the new restrictions until they are deemed in compliance.

The includes a suspension of all immigrants visas for nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Yemen and Somalia, and the suspension of non-immigrant visas, such as for business and tourism, to nationals of Chad, Libya, North Korea, Syria and Yemen.

Citizens of Iran will not be eligible for tourism and business visas, but remain eligible for student and cultural exchange visas if they undergo additional scrutiny. Such additional scrutiny will also be required for Somali citizens applying for all non-immigrant visas.

Trump last week called for a “tougher” travel ban after a bomb partially exploded on a London subway.

“The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific-but stupidly, that would not be politically correct!” he tweeted.

Critics have accused Trump of overstepping his legal authority and violating the U.S. Constitution’s protections against religious bias each time he has ordered new travel restrictions.

And the inclusion of Venezuela and North Korea appeared to be an attempt to block challenges from advocacy groups and others who have called the restrictions a ban on Muslims. Trump during his campaign called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

The U.S. had already imposed wide-ranging sanctions on certain high-ranking Venezuelan government officials to protest the government’s attempts to consulate power. The new visa sanctions will apply to all officials from five Venezuelan government security agencies and their immediate families.

But officials argue the measures as necessary to keep Americans safe.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement the president was carrying out his duty to protect the American people. He said the State Department would co-ordinate with other federal agencies to implement the measures in “an orderly manner” and would” continue to work closely with our allies and partners who share our commitment to national and global security.”

The new policy could also complicate the Supreme Court’s review of the order, which is scheduled for argument next month.

Alipay, Alibaba’s online payment platform, to debut in Canada this week

CityNews | posted Monday, Sep 25th, 2017

Alipay from Alibaba is set to debut in Canada this week

Chinese online shopping giant Alibaba Group’s online payment platform AliPay will officially launch in Canada through a partnership with Canadian tech firm Snap Pay Inc.

Canadian retailers will be able to accept Chinese currency from Chinese shoppers starting this week.

AliPay North America president Souheil Badran says the company wants to offer Canadian merchants the opportunity to access the Chinese market.

He says more than 450 Canadian merchants already accept AliPay in an unofficial capacity.

But the partnership gives the payment platform an opportunity to aggressively explore opportunities for expansion in the education, winery, restaurant and retail sectors.

The company touts the increasingly lucrative role Chinese consumers could play for Canadian businesses, given the country’s growing middle class.

AliPay was launched in 2004 and has more than 450 million active users.

“We want to continue offering Chinese consumers visiting Canada the ability to pay as they would in China. But we also want to offer Canadian merchants the opportunity to access the Chinese market,” Badran said.

AliPay surpassed PayPal as the world’s largest mobile payment platform in 2013. It is the payments platform division of online commerce giant Alibaba, founded in 1999. The parent company operates online marketplaces and support services such as cloud computing, logistics and digital media.

The launch comes as Alibaba gears up to host heavy hitters including the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Tory at its Gateway ’17 Canada conference Monday in Toronto.

Trudeau will take the stage with Alibaba executive chairman and founder Jack Ma at the conference aimed at promoting e-commerce opportunities for Canadian businesses in China.

Ma hosted Trudeau, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Canadian business representatives at the company’s campus in Hangzhou, China last September.

Jose Bautista helps Blue Jays beat Yankees in final game in Toronto

CityNews | posted Monday, Sep 25th, 2017

Toronto Blue Jays' Jose Bautista acknowledges the crowd after taking his position in right field in what may be his last home game as a Blue Jay against the New York Yankees during the first inning of a baseball game, Sunday September 24, 2017 in Toronto. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jon Blacker

Jose Bautista had two hits, drove in one run and scored another to help lift the Blue Jays to a 9-5 win over the New York Yankees on Sunday in what was likely his final home game in a Toronto uniform.

Bautista, a six-time all-star and two-time silver slugger, was met by a loud ovation each time he stepped to the plate. He brought back Usher’s “OMG” as his walk-up music – the song he used during his 54-homer 2010 season.

Bautista walked in the third and scored on a three-run double from Russell Martin, then drove in Teoscar Hernandez with a bases-loaded single in Toronto’s four-run fourth inning. He nearly scored later in the frame but was tagged out at home plate. The Blue Jays challenged the call, which was upheld after a video review.

Bautista singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch in the first inning, flied out to right in the sixth, and hit a high pop out in the eighth in his final at-bat.

Bautista was replaced by Ezequiel Carrera in right field after Roberto Osuna got the first out of the ninth, hugging each of his teammates as he left the field and waving at the fans as he stepped into the dugout.

 

The 36-year-old signed a one-year deal with Toronto prior to the 2017 season that includes a mutual option for 2018 that’s unlikely to be picked up.

Bautista waved to the crowd of 47,394 when he took his spot in right field before the game. The Blue Jays close out the season with a pair of three-game series in Boston and New York next week.

Marcus Stroman (13-8), who was wearing a black Bautista jersey during warmups in the bullpen, allowed three runs, five hits and four walks and struck out two through 5 2/3 innings.

Stroman, three innings shy of reaching 200 for a second straight year, left the field to a loud ovation after walking Todd Frazier. He clapped at the fans and tapped his chest as he disappeared into the dugout.

NOTES: Sunday’s game was the 17th sellout of the year, bringing the season attendance total to 3,203,886.

Jose Bautista rose from obscurity to fame with the Blue Jays and helped return baseball to prominence in Canada, leading the team to back-to-back American League Championship Series while providing a slew of memorable moments along the way. Here are the top five:

THE BAT FLIP

Bautista provided one of the most iconic images in Blue Jays history with one flip of his bat. But what a flip it was. Emotionally-charged after hitting a tiebreaking three-run homer in Game 5 of the 2015 American League Division Series against Texas, Bautista paused for a moment as the ball flew out of the park, then tossed his bat high over his shoulder as the sold-out Rogers Centre crowd erupted. The Rangers had taken a 3-2 lead in the top of the inning on what was ruled a throwing error on Russell Martin, and Toronto was on the verge of elimination in its first post-season appearance since 1993. But Kevin Pillar scored on a Josh Donaldson force out to tie the game, then Bautista hit his line drive homer – the most significant in Toronto since Joe Carter’s World Series winner in ’93 – to propel them into the AL Championship Series.

THE REVENGE HOMERS

Bautista could hit a home run regardless of his mood, but the ball always seemed to fly more freely when he was angry. He had a knack for making a pitcher pay for plunking him with a pitch, nearly plunking him, or even just saying something he didn’t appreciate. That was never more true than against the Baltimore Orioles, especially reliever Darren O’Day. The Bautista-O’Day feud began on June 21, 2013 when the Baltimore side-armer struck out Bautista to end an inning, then made a comment as he skipped off the mound. When the two faced each other the next day, Bautista took O’Day deep, and as he rounded third base, made a talking gesture with his hand in the pitcher’s direction. Two years later Bautista tagged two Baltimore relievers over a 10-day span after both threw a pitch behind him earlier in the at-bat. The first was off O’Day on April 12, 2015, a two-run homer in the eighth inning. The other was a seventh-inning two-run blast against Jason Garcia on April 21.

THE 50TH HOME RUN

Bautista reached rarefied air on Sept. 23, 2010, when he launched a homer run off Seattle ace Felix Hernandez at Rogers Centre to become just the 26th player in Major League history to hit the 50-homer plateau in a single season. The homer came in Bautista’s first at-bat and represented Toronto’s only run in a 1-0 win. While Bautista finished the year with 54 homers, his 50th stands out, not only because of the milestone itself, but because of when it happened – at a time when fan attendance in Toronto was at an all-time low. Only 12,590 people saw the historic homer in person and the Blue Jays closed out the year 12th in overall attendance out of the 14 AL teams. Those numbers steadily increased over the next seven years thanks in large part to Bautista. Toronto led the AL in total attendance in 2016 and 2017.

THE PUNCH

Bautista’s bat may have created a formidable rivalry with the Rangers, but it was his face – and Rougned Odor’s fist – that solidified it. Tensions between the two teams boiled over on May 15, 2016, almost seven months to the day of Bautista’s infamous bat flip, when the Rangers second baseman clocked Bautista in the jaw following his aggressive slide at the bag. Bautista had reached first base when Texas reliever Matt Bush hit him in the triceps with a 98 mile-per-hour fastball, and slid hard into second two batters later on a ground ball from Justin Smoak. Odor’s punch prompted a benches-clearing brawl and six ejections. After the game Bautista told reporters: “He got me pretty good, so I have to give him that. It takes a little bit bigger man to knock me down.” Odor was suspended eight games for the incident, later reduced to seven. Bautista received a one-game suspension.

THE COMMENTS

Bautista was never one to shy away from a good quote, but an unlikely foe (or hero, if you’re an Indians fan) made him eat his words during the 2016 ALCS. Following the Blue Jays’ Game 4 win against the Indians, which cut Toronto’s series deficit to 3-1, Bautista told reporters that Cleveland’s Game 5 pitcher, rookie Ryan Merritt, would be “shaking in his boots” when facing the potent Toronto lineup the next night. Merritt, who had pitched only 11 innings over four games before that, shut down the Blue Jays, holding them to just two hits over 4 1/3 frames as the Indians won the game 3-0 and the series 4-1. Cleveland had some fun at Bautista’s expense after the game, holding up a pair of cowboy boots in the clubhouse as they celebrated. A number of players took to Twitter to rub it in publicly, including pitcher Trevor Bauer, who posted a photo of a champagne bottle inside a boot.

GTA extreme heat could break more records this week

CityNews | posted Monday, Sep 25th, 2017

People enjoy the hot weather in Toronto on June 11, 2017. CITYNEWS

A heat warning remains in effect for Toronto and the GTA after a weekend of record-breaking temperatures in the region.

Environment Canada says temperatures will reach the low 30s on Monday and Tuesday, with humidex values approaching 40.

Such a warning is issued when “very high temperature or humidity conditions are expected to pose an elevated risk of heat illnesses, such as heat stroke or heat exhaustion,” the weather agency says.

Health risks are greater for young children, pregnant women, the elderly, people with chronic illnesses, and those who work and exercise outdoors.

Temperature records were broken across Ontario over the weekend, and that trend is expected to continue in the GTA this week.

680 NEWS meteorologist Jill Taylor says it will be mainly sunny on Monday with a high of 31 C. But with the humidity, the temperature will feel like near 40 C. The record of 33.8 C was set on this day back in 2007.

The heat continues on Tuesday with a high of 30 C and a humidex near 40. A record of 29.6 was set on that day in 1998.

A high of 29 C is expected on Wednesday, but that could also break another record – a temperature of 27.2 C was set on that day back in 1973.

“While it will be hot and humid [Monday] we’d have to surpass 33.8 C to break record for today. We are more likely to break records for Tuesday and Wednesday,” Taylor said.

Although it will still be hot on Wednesday, a cold front is expected to move through the day, bringing cooler temperatures for the remainder of the week.

Over the weekend, temperatures exceeded the 30 C mark in many areas, including the GTA. On Saturday, the temperature at Pearson International Airport hit 33.1 C, breaking the previous record of 30.6 set in 1959. On Sunday, the temperature was 33.6 C, which broke the record of 30.8 C set in 2010.

Meanwhile, the heat is also causing commuter headaches on GO Transit’s Lakeshore East line on Monday. Riders are dealing with delays of up to 30 minutes because the extreme heat forced crews to do track work overnight near the Rouge Hill station.

Metrolinx spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins told CityNews she hopes the delays will be cleared up in the next few hours.

 

 

Tory talks traffic from Skymaster One with Darryl Dahmer

CityNews | posted Friday, Sep 22nd, 2017

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Mayor John Tory got a bird’s eye view of all that ails Toronto drivers on Thursday afternoon.

The mayor flew in Skymaster One with 680 Traffic ace Darryl Dahmer while answering questions about the city’s congestion and gridlock issues.

Tory answered questions about road tolls, implementing pedestrian streets and road construction congestion — including the traffic headache caused by the creation of the Eglinton LRT.

Watch the full video of the ride below.

Prince Harry in Toronto setting stage for Invictus Games

CityNews | posted Friday, Sep 22nd, 2017

Prince Harry gives a speech at the lauch of Invictus 2017 Toronto at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto on May 2, 2016. GETTY IMAGES/Chris Jackson

The royal founder of the Invictus Games will be in Toronto on Friday to set the stage for the multi-sport competition.

Prince Harry is slated to take part in events in the city the day before the games for wounded and sick soldiers get underway on Saturday.

The competition, which includes current and veteran members of the forces, runs until Sept. 30 and marks the first time Canada hosts the event.

Harry will take part in a symposium this morning before spending the afternoon with athletes training for the Games.

https://twitter.com/KensingtonRoyal/status/910979388614815744

https://twitter.com/KensingtonRoyal/status/910980011036938242

On Saturday, Harry will tour Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health before meeting with Prime Minster Justin Trudeau in the hours before the opening ceremony.

That takes place at the Air Canada Centre and is set to feature performances from Sarah McLachlan, Alessia Cara and the Tenors.

Road closures have already started for the arrival of the games this weekend. Click here for a list of the closures.

Harry founded the Invictus Games in 2014 as a way to inspire and motivate wounded soldiers on their paths to recovery.

At least 550 competitors from 17 countries are slated to compete in 12 sports, including track and field, swimming and, in a first for the Invictus Games, golf.

Sporting event tickets cost $25 and both opening and closing ceremony tickets start at $60.

Closing ceremony performers include the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams and Kelly Clarkson.

The first Invictus Games were held in London, England, in 2014.


Glass falls from Four Seasons hotel again

CityNews | posted Friday, Sep 22nd, 2017

A pane of glass fell from the Four Season Hotel Toronto on Sept. 20, 2017. CITYNEWS/James Tumelty

A pane of glass fell from the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto and shattered on the ground below on Thursday afternoon.

Toronto Fire Services said the glass fell from the 19th floor of the hotel at Bay Street and Yorkville Avenue.

No one was injured, but a witness said the glass narrowly missed people in the area.

Engineers have been called in to repair the window.

Glass has fallen four other times from the same hotel since August 2013, including last May.

Yorkville Avenue is closed from Bay to Yonge.

sep20-four-seasons-glass-sidewalk

Police board passes Mayor Tory’s plan for civilian traffic wardens

CityNews | posted Friday, Sep 22nd, 2017

Drivers caught in traffic at a green light in Toronto. CITYNEWS

Civilian traffic wardens will be coming to congestion hot spots around the city.

The Toronto Police Services Board passed the plan, brought forth by Mayor John Tory, on Thursday.

The goal of the full-time civilian traffic wardens is to clear problems quickly at some of the city’s highest congestion intersections.

In 2016, the city launched a traffic warden pilot program using paid-duty officers who were placed at key intersections across the city to help keep traffic moving.

“The pilot project worked,” Tory said earlier this week. “When officers were actively engaged managing vehicles and pedestrians, we found a minimum of 90 per cent reduction in intersection blockage by vehicles and a 70 per cent reduction in intersection blockage by pedestrians.”

Tory said the city and the province have been able to determine a way, under the Highway Traffic Act, to allow non-police personnel to direct traffic at a number of key intersections next year. The wardens will be traffic management officers.

This is all a part of Tory’s new traffic measures which he says will make it easier for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians to get around the city.

Tory is also working to ban utility trucks from doing non-emergency work during daytime hours.

Starting next month, the city and the traffic app Waze will be sharing their traffic data with each other. Tory also said in a few weeks, the first smart signal traffic light will be installed in the city. The new lights will respond to traffic conditions, meaning drivers will get “more green lights when the lights should be green,” according to Tory.

Tory also said he will request city staff to review a possible increase in fines for traffic-blocking offences.

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