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Bower’s grandson and Leafs president Shanahan to pay tribute to late goalie

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jan 3rd, 2018

The Toronto Maple Leafs will pay tribute to Johnny Bower today at the Hall of Fame goaltenders’ memorial service.

Club president Brendan Shanahan will be among the speakers during the event at the Air Canada Centre. Leafs broadcaster Joe Bowen will serve as the master of ceremonies.

Bower spent 11 seasons with the Maple Leafs and led them to four Stanley Cup titles, including their last in 1967. Bower died Dec. 26 at age 93 after falling ill with pneumonia.

Bower’s family held a private funeral in Oakville, Ont.

Bower’s grandson, Johnny Bower III, and Shanahan will pay tribute to Bower from the podium. Former teammates Frank Mahovlich, Ron Ellis and Dave Keon will also attend the event.

The 48th Highlanders band — who have played at the Leafs home opener since 1931 — will also be involved.

Fans can attend the memorial with seating available in the arena stands. Floor seating will be reserved for the family and special guests. Doors open at 2 p.m. ET.

The Leafs also honoured Bower prior to their 2-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday.

American blogger apologizes for video of apparent suicide

YURI KAGEYAMA, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jan 3rd, 2018


American blogger Logan Paul apologized Tuesday after getting slammed for a video he shared on YouTube that appeared to show a body hanging in a Japanese forest known as a suicide spot.

Paul, who has millions of Twitter followers and YouTube subscribers, posted an apology on his Twitter site , saying, “Where do I begin. Let’s start with this. I’m sorry.”

Although the video has been taken down, segments were still online. Critics, who have also gone online, say what was offensive was Paul’s giggling and joking about the body.

The video, posted Sunday, shows Paul going on a trek with friends in the Aokigahara forest, near Mount Fuji. He seems aware that the site is sometimes chosen for suicides, but is surprised to come across what appears to be a body hanging from a tree.

He said he had wanted to raise awareness about suicide and possibly save lives, and denied his goal was to drive clicks.

“I thought I could make a positive ripple on the internet, not cause a monsoon of negativity,” he said in his Twitter post.

Paul posted a more sanguine video on YouTube on Monday, showing him romping through a Tokyo park, talking about his apparel brand, visiting gadget stores and running around city streets wearing a Pokemon outfit.

He briefly mentioned the encounter with a body at the start of the video, saying, “That was weird.”

Japan has a relatively high rate of suicides, with more than 21,000 a year, according to government data. Its per capita suicide rate is among the highest in the world. Many blame the high suicide rate on the value placed on conformity, excelling and hard work in the country.

Suicide also does not suffer the religious stigma in Japan that it does in other cultures. Ritual suicide, known as seppuku or hara-kiri, has long been portrayed in movies and theatre as an honourable way to take responsibility.

The Mount Fuji forest has been known for suicides for decades because people can easily get lost there, and know they won’t be found for a long time.

Although Japan has many suicide-prevention groups, the culture of shame has family members of convicted criminals, people who have racked up massive debt and youngsters bullied at school often turning to suicide.

Trump boasts of ‘nuclear button’ but doesn’t really have one

MATTHEW PENNINGTON, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jan 3rd, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a speech at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017.  President Trump delivered a sharp warning to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Wednesday, telling him the weapons he's acquiring "are not making you safer. They are putting your regime in grave danger." (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, Pool)

President Donald Trump boasted that he has a bigger and more powerful “nuclear button” than North Korean leader Kim Jong Un does – but the president doesn’t actually have a physical button.

The president’s Tuesday evening tweet came in response to Kim’s New Year’s address, in which he repeated fiery nuclear threats against the United States. Kim said he has a “nuclear button” on his office desk and warned that “the whole territory of the U.S. is within the range of our nuclear strike.”

Trump mocked that assertion, writing, “Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

But despite ratcheting up the tension, Trump doesn’t really have a nuclear button.

The process for launching a nuclear strike is secret and complex and involves the use of a nuclear “football,” which is carried by a rotating group of military officers everywhere the president goes and is equipped with communication tools and a book with prepared war plans.

If the president were to order a strike, he would identify himself to military officials at the Pentagon with codes unique to him. Those codes are recorded on a card known as the “biscuit” that is carried by the president at all times. He would then transmit the launch order to the Pentagon and Strategic Command.

Earlier Tuesday, Trump sounded open to the possibility of an inter-Korean dialogue after Kim made a rare overture toward South Korea in a New Year’s address. But Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations insisted talks would not be meaningful unless the North was getting rid of its nuclear weapons.

In a morning tweet, Trump said the U.S.-led campaign of sanctions and other pressure were beginning to have a “big impact” on North Korea. He referred to the recent, dramatic escape of at least two North Korean soldiers across the heavily militarized border into South Korea. He also alluded to Kim’s comments Monday that he was willing to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics, which will be hosted by South Korea next month.

“Soldiers are dangerously fleeing to South Korea. Rocket man now wants to talk to South Korea for first time. Perhaps that is good news, perhaps not – we will see!” Trump said, using his derisive moniker for the young North Korean leader.

In response to Kim’s overture, South Korea on Tuesday offered high-level talks on Jan. 9 at the shared border village of Panmunjom to discuss Olympic co-operation and how to improve overall ties. The South said Wednesday that North Korea’s state-run radio station announced the North would reopen a cross-border communication channel.

If there are talks, they would be the first formal dialogue between the Koreas since December 2015. Relations have plunged as the North has accelerated its nuclear and ballistic missile development that now poses a direct threat to America, South Korea’s crucial ally.

The U.S. administration, however, voiced suspicions that Kim was seeking to drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington. Pyongyang could view a closer relationship with Seoul as a way for reducing its growing international isolation and relief from sanctions that are starting to bite the North’s meagre economy.

“We won’t take any of the talks seriously if they don’t do something to ban all nuclear weapons in North Korea,” U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told reporters at the United Nations. “We consider this to be a very reckless regime. We don’t think we need a Band-Aid, and we don’t think we need to smile and take a picture.”

North Korea has been punished with unprecedented sanctions at the U.N. over its weapons programs, and Haley warned Tuesday of more measures if the North conducts another missile test.

South Korea’s liberal President Moon Jae-in has supported Trump’s pressure campaign against North Korea, but he’s less confrontational than the U.S. president and favours dialogue to ease the North’s nuclear threats. Moon has long said he sees the Pyeongchang Olympics as a chance to improve inter-Korean ties.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the U.S. would continue to put “maximum pressure” on North Korea to give up its nukes. South Korea shares that goal, she said.
Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report.

Vice suspends 2 top execs after sexual misconduct report

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Jan 3rd, 2018


Vice has suspended two top executives after a New York Times report on sexual misconduct at the digital media company.

Vice Media has suspended its president, Andrew Creighton, and chief digital officer Mike Germano, as it investigates allegations against them, according to a company memo sent to employees Tuesday. A Vice spokesman declined to comment.

The Times had reported in late December that it found four settlements involving allegations of sexual harassment or defamation against Vice employees, including Creighton. The newspaper talked with more than two dozen women who say they experienced or witnessed sexual misconduct, including groping and forced kisses.

Vice Media co-founders Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi have apologized for the “boy’s club” culture .

Vice has grown from a Canadian magazine to a dominant online video company, expanding into TV around the world.

In the memo, the company said that Creighton and Germano were the only two people named in the Times story who were still employed at Vice.

The Times reported that Vice paid a former female employee a $135,000 settlement in 2016 after she said she was fired when she rejected Creighton’s advances. The Vice memo says her claims were found to lack merit at the time after a review by law firm, but a special committee of its board is looking at the matter now. It will make a recommendation on what to do before a Jan. 11 board meeting.

As for Germano, the memo says Vice’s human-resources department and an external investigator are looking into the allegations. One woman told the Times that he had told her he didn’t want to hire her because he wanted to have sex with her. Another woman said he pulled her on to his lap at a work event at a bar.

The memo, from Vice’s chief operating officer and CFO Sarah Broderick, said the company will require mandatory sexual harassment training for all employees starting later this month and that the company was “committed” to having half of employees be female “at every level across the organization” by 2020. She said “pay paritY” would come by the end of the year.

The reports of sexual misconduct at Vice are part of a wave of allegations of bad behaviour in media, entertainment and other industries, as well as politics, that have come in the aftermath of articles detailing Harvey Weinstein’s decades of alleged rape and harassment this fall.

CityNews and 680 NEWS’ parent company, Rogers Communications, has a content partnership with Vice.

Cold weather, Bombardier delays affecting TTC streetcar service

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Jan 3rd, 2018


The recent stretch of frigid weather in Toronto is having a crippling effect on streetcar service, with 19 older-model streetcars unable to operate on Tuesday because of the cold.

One day last week, 30 streetcars were rendered useless, forcing buses along nearby routes to fill the sudden, and significant, void.

“The old legacy streetcars that we have … are about 37 years old now,” said TTC spokesman Stuart Green. “They use systems … that are failing in the cold weather.”

Compounding the problem are massive delivery delays from Bombardier. If the manufacturer had stuck with its initial promise, the TTC claims we’d have double the amount of new streetcars in service. Instead, we currently only have 57.

“Every new low-floor (streetcar) we get in service helps us with dealing with the breakdowns we’re experiencing,” added Green.

Mayor Tory’s office released a statement Tuesday saying: “The Mayor — like everyone who uses the TTC — is beyond frustrated with the delays in getting new streetcars from Bombardier. These delays are having a real impact on the TTC and its riders and this is yet another example. All the more reason why Bombardier needs to get on with delivering these new streetcars as soon as it possibly can.”

Despite the numerous streetcars taken out of service, the TTC said customer service wait times weren’t significantly affected.

Toronto to review shelter system amid cold-weather crisis facing homeless

LIAM CASEY, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jan 3rd, 2018


Complaints about the lack of adequate shelter for the homeless in the midst of extreme cold weather have prompted both the City of Toronto and its ombudsman to launch formal investigations.

Advocates have said in recent days that they tried to find spots for homeless people in some of the city’s 62 shelters only to be told that they were completely full.

The city has said there are still beds available for the homeless, blaming miscommunication for the confusion.

The city’s general manager of shelter support, Paul Raftis, said he’s asked staff to review the intake process and communication — in particular the accuracy real-time information about shelter bed availability.

“There’s no question we have to review the system that we have in place,” Raftis said at a news conference on Tuesday.

“We need to improve upon that, we need to look at technology to help us with that real-time communication and we need to investigate and look into the processes and protocols we have in place to do that.”

Raftis said he is working with the city’s ombudsman, Susan Opler, on the situation.

Opler announced on Tuesday her office will begin an inquiry over the confusion in recent days that will focus on the winter needs of the homeless and “whether the city is providing services in a way that ensures people’s dignity, safety and comfort.”

Opler said her office has been following the situation closely since delivering its report last year on the city’s cold weather drop-in program.

Molly Bannerman, a volunteer at an unsanctioned interim safe injection site at Moss Park, said there just isn’t space available, regardless of what the city says.

“It’s not a one-time communication glitch or a problem with central intake — I’ve called shelters directly and been told they’re completely full,” Bannerman said.

A fair number of those who use the new trailer at the safe injection site are homeless, she said, and they are struggling during this cold stretch that has seen temperatures drop to – 20 C.

“Their hands are swollen, they’ve got black spots on them and they’re cracked and bleeding and have wounds on their faces that are bleeding” Bannerman said.

“People are in rough shape, coming in saying they’ve spent the nights outside. People are coming in and falling asleep and not waking up until we’re closed.”

According to the latest data from the city, the shelters operated between 94 to 95 per cent capacity over the weekend with 5,460 people staying in the shelter system on Jan. 1. Another 445 people used the winter respite centres.

Related stories:

As temperatures drop and shelters fill up, concern mounts for Toronto’s homeless

Mayor Tory says shelter system can accommodate homeless without opening armouries

Homeless shelters near capacity in Toronto

2 dead in Hwy. 401 accident

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Jan 3rd, 2018


Two people are dead after a single-vehicle crash in Scarborough on Wednesday morning.

Paramedics were called to a scene on Hwy. 401 eastbound near Warden Avenue at around 4 a.m.

They say an SUV crashed into a pole on the median between the express and collector lanes on the 401. The vehicle was reportedly completely wrapped around a sign supporting pole.

Two victims were pronounced dead at the scene.

Details about the victims have not been released at this time. OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt says speed may have been a factor in the crash.

The eastbound 401 is closed between Warden Avenue and Kennedy Road for the investigation.

The TTC is also being affected by the crash with delays on all routes along the Warden and 401 area.

Mayor Tory says shelter system can accommodate homeless without opening armouries

News staff and The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Jan 2nd, 2018


Toronto Mayor John Tory has responded to a growing online chorus that’s demanding the city open armouries to temporarily shelter the homeless during a stretch of bitter cold weather.

In a statement released just before 5 p.m. Sunday, Tory’s office said the city’s decision to open more than 100 new spaces at the Better Living Centre makes more sense than opening the armouries.

“Our expert staff continue to believe the Better Living Centre is a better option for a winter respite than the armouries,” Tory said. “The Better Living Centre can accommodate 110 people right now, it is open 24/7, and it is a city-owned site.  I continue to support our hard working shelter staff in deciding when and if extra capacity is required.”

Earlier this month city council also voted in favour of creating 400 additional spaces for vulnerable people.

But many took to Twitter to try and pressure the city into opening the armouries. The hashtag #openthearmouries is one of the top trending hashtags in Toronto.

While Tory said he appreciated the “advocacy and outpouring of emotion” from concerned citizens, he maintained that the city is equipped to handle the situation.

“City staff advise me that our shelter system continues to experience demand – shelter occupancy was at 95% last night which is consistent with other nights over the past month – but the system is coping with that demand,” Tory said. “I share the desire to make sure we are doing everything possible to help people who find themselves homeless in Toronto.”

“I want to thank City shelter staff and everyone who works across the shelter system for the work they have done dealing with the unprecedented demand we have seen over the last year. Their work is saving lives and will continue to save lives.”

Toronto is currently under an extreme cold warning, with temperatures expected to dip near -30 with the wind chill on Sunday night.

Toronto street nurse Cathy Crowe called the situation with Toronto’s shelter system a “catastrophe.”

“It’s pretty desperate,” she said. “Very crowded. People are in rough shape. Mostly people are sleeping on the floor… I’m actually sitting inside and I’m shaking with cold.”

On the phone from the temporary shelter at the Better Living Centre at Exhibition Place, Coun. Joe Mihevc described a very different scene.

“The service is very good. The food is good,” said Mihevc. “I just talked to some of the clients here, and they are quite content here.”

Crowe says the location of the Better Living Centre, near the south end of the city, by Lake Ontario, makes it inaccessible for much of the downtown population.

There used to be street outreach vans to transport homeless people to shelters, but those systems were dismantled, she said. Instead, the TTC has said it is redirecting buses to stop outside the shelter.

Its relative isolation was compounded Saturday night, when due to what the city has characterized a “miscommunication,” prospective clients were turned away. People were told the shelter was full, when in fact only 71 of its 110 cots were in use.

Crowe is one of many asking the city to open its two armouries to provide additional relief in the cold weather.

“You’d have a large, spacious (building) that people trust, because it’s worked in the past,” she says. “It would be immediate relief so that people who are in overflow places such as the one I was just in could go in and there could be cots, hot food, blankets. It could be really operationalized as a good centre.”

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