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People watch a television broadcast reporting the North Korean missile launch at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, on Sept. 15, 2017. GETTY IMAGES/Chung Sung-Jun

North Korea fires missile over Japan in longest-ever flight

CityNews | posted Friday, Sep 15th, 2017

North Korea conducted its longest-ever test flight of a ballistic missile Friday, sending an intermediate-range weapon hurtling over U.S. ally Japan into the northern Pacific Ocean in a launch that signals both defiance to its rivals and a big technological advance.

Since President Donald Trump threatened the North with “fire and fury” in August, Pyongyang has conducted its most powerful nuclear test, threatened to send missiles into the waters around the U.S. Pacific island territory of Guam and launched two missiles of increasing range over Japan. July saw its first tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles that could strike deep into the U.S. mainland when perfected.

The growing frequency, power and confidence displayed by these tests seem to confirm what governments and outside experts have long feared: North Korea is closer than ever to its goal of building a military arsenal that can viably target both U.S. troops in Asia and the U.S. homeland. This, in turn, is meant to allow North Korea greater military freedom in the region by raising doubts in Seoul and Tokyo that Washington would risk the annihilation of a U.S. city to protect its Asian allies.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the latest missile travelled about 3,700 kilometres and reached a maximum height of 770 kilometres. Guam, which is the home of important U.S. military assets, is 3,400 kilometres away from North Korea.

North Korea’s weapons tests demonstrate that it can “turn the American empire into a sea in flames through sudden surprise attack from any region and area,” Pyongyang’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper said Friday, without mentioning the latest missile test.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, a liberal who initially pushed for talks with North Korea, said that Pyongyang’s tests currently made dialogue “impossible.”

“The sanctions and pressure by the international community will only tighten so that North Korea has no choice but to take the path for genuine dialogue” for nuclear disarmament, Moon said. “If North Korea provokes us or our allies, we have the strength to smash the attempt at an early stage and inflict a level of damage it would be impossible to recover from.”

North Korea has repeatedly vowed to continue its weapons tests amid what it calls U.S. hostility – by which it means the presence of nearly 80,000 U.S. troops stationed in Japan and South Korea. Robust international diplomacy on the issue has been stalled for years, and there’s so far little sign that senior officials from Pyongyang and Washington might sit down to discuss ways to slow the North’s determined march toward inclusion among the world’s nuclear weapons powers.

Friday’s test, which Seoul said was the 19th launch of a ballistic missile by North Korea this year, triggered sirens and warning messages in northern Japan but caused no apparent damage to aircraft or ships. It was the second missile fired over Japan in less than a month. North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3.

The missile was launched from Sunan, the location of Pyongyang’s international airport and the origin of the earlier missile that flew over Japan. Analysts have speculated the new test was of the same intermediate-range missile launched in that earlier flight, the Hwasong-12, and was meant to show Washington that the North can hit Guam if it chose to do so.

Despite its impressive range, the North’s missile probably still isn’t accurate enough to destroy Guam’s Andersen Air Force Base, said David Wright, a U.S. missile expert with the Union of Concerned Scientists. Such early generation missiles are often inaccurate because of guidance and control errors during the boost and re-entry phases as the warhead passes through the atmosphere late in flight, Wright said.

South Korea detected North Korean launch preparations Thursday, and President Moon ordered a live-fire ballistic missile drill if the launch happened. This allowed Seoul to fire its missiles only six minutes after the North’s launch Friday. One of the two missiles hit a sea target about 250 kilometres away, which was approximately the distance to Pyongyang’s Sunan, but the other failed in flight shortly after launch, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled an emergency closed-door meeting to be held Friday afternoon in New York. Trump didn’t immediately comment.

North Korea initially flight-tested the Hwasong-12 and the ICBM model Hwasong-14 at highly lofted angles to reduce their range and avoid neighbouring countries.

The two launches over Japan indicate North Korea is moving toward using angles close to operational to determine whether its warheads can survive the harsh conditions of atmospheric re-entry and detonate properly.

North Korea’s August launch over Japan came weeks after it threatened to fire a salvo of Hwasong-12s toward Guam and bracket the island with “enveloping” missile fire.

North Korea has been accelerating its nuclear weapons development under leader Kim Jong Un, a third-generation dictator who has conducted four of North Korea’s six nuclear tests since taking power in 2011. The weapons being tested include hard-to-detect solid-fuel missiles designed to be launched from road mobile launchers or submarines.

The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved new sanctions earlier this week over the nuclear test, which Pyongyang claimed was a detonation of a thermonuclear weapon built for its ICBMs. The sanctions ban all textile exports and prohibit any country from authorizing new work permits for North Korean workers – two key sources of hard currency. They also prohibit North Korea from importing all natural gas liquids and condensates, and cap Pyongyang’s imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products.

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry denounced the U.N. sanctions and said the North will “redouble its efforts to increase its strength to safeguard the country’s sovereignty and right to existence.”

Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.

Reported explosion on London subway a terrorist incident: British police

CityNews | posted Friday, Sep 15th, 2017

Firefighters arrive at Parsons Green Tube Station after an explosion in London, United Kingdom, on Sept. 15, 2017. GETTY IMAGES/London Fire Brigade/Anadolu Agency

Police in London, England, say a reported explosion in the city’s subway system was a terrorist incident.

A reported explosion at a train station sent commuters stampeding in panic on Friday at the height of London’s morning rush hour.

There was no immediate word on fatalities but a number of people have been injured.

The incident comes as tensions are high in London, which has been struck repeatedly by extremist attacks this year.

More to come

1 in 4 children in Toronto live in poverty, 2016 census shows

CityNews | posted Thursday, Sep 14th, 2017

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On the same day the province and city announced plans to build more affordable housing in Toronto, Statistics Canada’s release of the 2016 census Wednesday shows the state of poverty in our country isn’t improving. In fact, for some demographics, it’s getting worse.

According to the agency, 17 per cent of Canadian children live in poverty – that represents one quarter of the 4.8 million people living under low income conditions in 2015. Youth under the age of 18 had a higher low income rate – 13.4 per cent – compared to Canadian adults.

“I can’t say I’m surprised by the numbers, but I’m disappointed in them,” said Sean Meagher, executive director of Social Planning Toronto.

The data shows 14 per cent of Canadians live in low income households, and 1.2 million of them are children.

In the past decade, data shows there was a one per cent decrease in the number of children aged five or younger living in low income households in 2015, while youth in the older age group saw no changes.

Meagher said the slight decrease doesn’t mean there’s been an improvement, rather it could be a result of how data was collected for this most recent census.

“There’s been a change in methodology so we can’t really know precisely what the year-over-year switch has been in terms of child poverty,” Meagher said. “But we do know that one kid in four is far too many, and whether that fluctuated up or down one per cent, that doesn’t change the depth of the problem.”

Though the methodology has changed, Meagher said this year’s census is “the most accurate assessment we’ve had in a long time, not only taking people’s estimate, but they look at actual taxes and assessing those living in poverty.”

Ontario’s child low-income rate is 18.4 per cent, which is slightly higher than the national average. When looking at data for each metropolitan area in 2015, Windsor tops the list with 24 per cent for having the highest percentage of children living in low income conditions. In addition to Windsor, six other Ontario cities round up the top 10, including ninth-ranked Toronto.

“Toronto is still the child poverty capital of Canada. It’s a problem we should have solved decades ago and it persists in exactly the same scale that it’s been around for years and years,” Meagher said.

The impacts of living in these conditions create a domino effect, and solving youth poverty in Canada depends on how parents are treated. Meagher said food security, affordable housing and access to childcare are some of the key issues that need to be addressed in order to tackle child poverty rates.

“Fix the labour markets and fix access to childcare, if we want parents to prosper.”

On the other end of the demographic spectrum, the rate of low income seniors in Canada increased by 2.5 per cent in the last decade. Data shows 14.5 per cent of Canadians 65 years of age or older are low income, and while the increase was “particularly strong for senior men, overall, senior women were still more likely to be living in low income in 2015.”

Meagher said that number is slightly higher in Toronto, adding the city has a bigger poverty problem than any other place in Canada.

“It’s hard to know all the facts, there’s some income support that seniors get that aren’t available to everyone in Toronto,” he explained. “Very recent immigrants who are seniors, for example, don’t get the full range of seniors income support that people who’ve been living here longer do.”

Social Planning Toronto released a report earlier this summer on the aging baby boom demographic, revealing there’s been a “city-wide growth of 40 per cent of seniors aged 60-64 over the last 10 years, as well as a striking 53 per cent increase in those over 85 years old.” The Demographic Change in Toronto’s Neighbourhoods report also looked at how neighbourhoods in Toronto were evolving, and what impacts those changes have on city programs and services.

The group said Toronto didn’t have the infrastructure and services, like long-term care spaces and recreational programming in place to accommodate this growth.

“When we see the rate at which our senior population is growing, and we see the number of seniors who are living in poverty in Toronto, that number is devastating,” Meagher explained. “We don’t have anything like the infrastructure, support, and planning in place to manage that kind of challenge right now.”

Meagher said it’s vital for seniors to have housing, and remain in communities they are familiar with so they can maintain a connection to the people they’ve known and the services around them.

“We’re not building infrastructure to make that possible, we’re not creating mixed and affordable housing in neighbourhoods all across the city,” he said. “We’re not supporting seniors to age in a place, that’s going to be a bigger challenge.”

A spokesperson told CityNews that city staff will also be reviewing the census data and what the numbers say about the city.

“We are seeing at the regional level, a large number of people still experiencing low employment incomes, and a drop in overall median income since the 2006 census,” read a statement attributable to Harvey Low, Social Development, Finance and Administration with the City of Toronto. “This could be due to many people working in precarious or part time jobs, or multiple jobs. City staff are still going through that data to analyze it from a City of Toronto perspective.”

Trump heads to Florida to survey Irma recovery

CATHERINE LUCEY, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Thursday, Sep 14th, 2017

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President Donald Trump will hear directly from people affected by Irma’s fury as he makes his third visit in less than three weeks to the storm-wracked South.

Trump, joined by Vice-President Mike Pence, was scheduled to visit Naples and Fort Myers on Florida’s southwestern coast Thursday to meet with those affected by the hurricane and learn more about relief efforts.

He tweeted Wednesday that he planned to meet “with our great Coast Guard, FEMA and many of the brave first responders & others.”

The daytrip to Florida follows two earlier outings in which Trump took in Harvey recovery efforts in late August. During the president’s first trip to Texas, immediately after Harvey, he drew criticism for having minimal interaction with residents, seeing little damage and offering few expressions of concern. On his second trip, with stops in Texas and Louisiana, he was more hands-on, visiting with those driven from their homes by Harvey, touring a Houston mega-shelter housing hundreds of displaced people and briefly walking streets lined with soggy, discarded possessions.

The president monitored Irma over the weekend from Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland.

Businesses near future safe injection site concerned about security

CityNews | posted Thursday, Sep 14th, 2017

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From crack and heroin dealers, to sexual favours being performed out in the open, the scene near a future safe injection site has been rough in recent months, according to local businesses.

They’re worried neighbourhood safety will get even worse once a planned safe injection site opens at the Queen West Community Health Centre (CHC) at Bathurst and Richmond streets. Since the site was announced last year, Patrick Penman, co-owner of The Football Factory across the street, said he’s noticed a change in the people frequenting the area, adding one of them threatened his customers.

“He threatened to cut the heads off of the people sitting on the patio and then when I told him that was not a good idea, then he threatened to cut my head off,” Penman said. “He punched me in the face, split my lip open, cut my face.

“He was tasered 12 times by cops and kept getting back up and he injured two officers in the process.”

Penman’s bar and restaurant has been in business at that location for a decade. During that time, they’ve had a bumpy but amicable relationship with their the Queen West CHC. But since it was announced the centre will be one of Toronto’s three safe infection sites, things have changed, according to Penman.

“There’s been a turnover with the local drug dealers,” he said. “The local drug dealer, or that group, had been here for a decade.

“He was murdered on the corner, and there’s a new, much more savvy, group that has come down. It’s almost like, you go where the business is. They came into the neighbourhood to take over the neighbourhood, waiting for the influx of people coming to use the safe injection sites.”

Across the street, several homes slated for redevelopment have been boarded up. But area businesses claim the new dealers on the block have begun using the vacant properties as bawdy houses, cooking drugs and bringing in sex-trade workers.

 

Photos provided to CityNews allegedly show people openly smoking crack, and an influx of dealers and users around the Queen West CHC when the sun goes down.

Penman and others are calling for 24-hour security outside the centre as well as security cameras. Area councillor Joe Cressy said police are working on security measures though he doesn’t believe crime is on the rise.

“The research has shown that when safe injection sites go in, local crime and public drug use goes down because it moves inside,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that we don’t have safety and security protocols in place. We’re working really closely with the Toronto Police Service and the local division to have them in place 24 hours.”

Cressy denied claims made by citizens that the city “cherry picked the research” and “screwed the numbers” to back its claims that injection sites make communities safer.

“We have, in downtown Toronto, incidents associated with crime unfortunately,” he said. “We also have an escalating overdose crisis. I think it would be unfair to say, ‘I had a criminal experience; therefore it must be the fault of a supervised injection site to come in the future.’”

Toronto police confirm they’re working on a safety plan for the areas around the safe injection sites.

Penman said officers he’s spoken to have said their resources are being pushed to the limits. They’ve told him when they’re called to situations around the Queen West CHC, it’s basically a catch-and-release program.

Currently in Toronto there is one official safe injection site running near Yonge and Dundas streets, with more slated to open in the coming months.

1 dead in Mississauga crash, driver arrested for impaired driving

CityNews | posted Thursday, Sep 14th, 2017

Peel police investigate a fatal crash at Mavis and Bristol roads in Mississauga on Sept. 14, 2017. CITYNEWS

Peel police are investigating a suspected drunk driving crash in Mississauga that left one man dead and another in hospital with serious injuries.

Two vehicles were involved in the crash.

Police were called to Mavis and Bristol roads, near Eglinton Avenue West, around 1:15 a.m. on Thursday. Const. Lori Murphy said one of the vehicles flipped over and caught on fire.

One of the two males inside that vehicle died at the scene, while another was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries. Their ages are not yet known.

Police say the driver of the second vehicle was taken to hospital with minor injuries. He is in custody for impaired driving.

Roads in the area are closed for the police investigation.

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Cost of parking could be going up in Toronto, higher hourly rates proposed

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Sep 13th, 2017

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Torontonians could soon be paying more at the parking meter in some parts of the city.

The Toronto Parking Authority (TPA) has reviewed its city-wide On-Street Paid Parking program for 2017 and is proposing to hit the gas pedal and drive the hourly rates up. The changes will be considered by the government management committee on Sept. 25, and could be implemented as soon as the fall.

Regular increases to the charges at Green P lots and on-street parking spaces aren’t new, with prices normally going up by 15-25 per cent. However, this time, prices could go up as much as 50 per cent.

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The increase in hourly rates are expected to hit a few select parts of the city and could effect paid parking Monday to Sunday.

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Among those areas subject to an increase in parking rates are College Street and Danforth Avenue, two areas of the city that know all too well about parking troubles that’s to on-going summer construction.

“The construction has been on the south side, now to implement [increased parking costs] on the north side, it’s like rubbing salt in the wounds,” says Ben Swirsky, who co-owns a restaurant and bar in the area. Alchemy opened its door a month ago and just started adjusting to the construction.

CityNews reached out to the TPA for comment on this proposal. They did not have anyone available to answer our questions.

One city councillor says the increases are justified. According to Ward 19 Coun. Mike Layton, each neighbourhood should be treated equally, and some of the listed streets haven’t seen a price increase in years.

The review reflects the areas with a growing demand when it comes to parking spaces, Layton said. “It is a revenue tool for the city. If we can use it to make more money, I don’t see the problem.”

Layton also adds that a portion of revenue generated from these increases will go back to the city as dividends. The remainder will be used by TPA towards buying new parking lots and maintaining old ones

And while business owners understand, change is always hard to come by.

“People are never good with change. [Before], rates before were debatable. [The increase] is not going to help us,” says Swirsky.

“If you’re going to increase the rates, do it after the construction is completely done.”

Layton says the city has been in talks with TPA to make this transition early and less impactful: they hope to slowly implement the increased parking rates gradually over the year.

Wynne to testify at byelection bribery trial

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Sep 13th, 2017

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne speaks at the Ford Essex Engine Plant in Windsor, Ont. on Thursday, March 30, 2017. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says she's "pleased" the state of New York has dropped proposed Buy American provisions from its state budget. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley

It is unprecedented in recent memory – a sitting Premier of Ontario testifying in a trial – but that is what will happen on Wednesday in Sudbury.

Two prominent Liberals have been charged with attempting to bribe a would-be candidate in the 2014 Sudbury byelection.

Pat Sorbara, once Kathleen Wynne’s former campaign manager, and Gerry Lougheed, a well-known and powerful Liberal fundraiser, allegedly offered Andrew Olivier a job if he would step aside to free the race for their handpicked candidate – now energy minister Glenn Thibeault.

Although Wynne doesn’t have to testify – she could have invoked parliamentary privilege – she announced earlier this year that she would be taking the witness stand.

“I will testify, I will go along with the process and do what I can to clarify, as I have in the legislature many, many, many times,” she said in July.

 

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