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Fires force evacuation of 10,000 in 3 French Riviera towns

CLAUDE PARIS, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jul 26th, 2017

People watch smoke rising above a forest as a wildfire burns near La Londe-les-Maures on the French Riviera on July 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Authorities ordered the evacuation of 10,000 people as fires hopscotched around the Riviera for a third day Wednesday, tearing through the forest of La Londe-les-Maures.

A violent fire took off in the dry Mediterranean forests around La Londe just before 11 p.m. the night before, and 540 firefighters were sent into the region, the prefect of the Var region, the top state official, said in a statement.

About 3,000 campers were among the 10,000 evacuated from La Londe and nearby Bormes-les-Mimosas and La Lavandou, the statement said. La Londe is under 30 kilometres from the city of Toulon. Tourists from France and elsewhere flock each summer to the coast.

Four tracker planes and a fire-fighting aircraft were sent in. About 800 hectares of back-country forest had burned by morning.

Fires began raging along the coast on Monday, forcing smaller, scattered evacuations with flames reaching a corner of Saint-Tropez. Since noon Tuesday, firefighters had conducted about 100 operations, the prefecture said.

Further east, reinforcements were sent in to battle a blaze in Artigues that burned up to 1,700 hectares of forested land.

Another fire was contained Tuesday evening in La Croix Valmer after burning two villas, seriously injuring one firefighter and devouring about 500 hectares.

France’s Mediterranean coast is particularly vulnerable to fires, with its massive back-country forests, often dry in the summer, and Mistral winds blowing across the sea to fan flames. Smoke blew across the shores from the fires that were visible across bays on the picturesque coast, frightening some. But firefighters warned against panic. No injuries have been reported among residents and vacationers.

Further south, flames ate through some 2,000 hectares of forest on the northern end of the French Mediterranean island of Corsica, in what was the largest blaze.

City removes signs at pools banning kids over 3 from opposite sex change rooms

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jul 25th, 2017

File photo of a swimming pool.
A southern Ontario city has retracted a policy that had left many parents uneasy about taking their young children to their local pool.

Officials in London, Ont., received a flood of complaints after signs posted at municipal swimming pools said children over the age of three weren’t permitted in change rooms for the opposite sex.

The city’s aquatic services department had said the policy was based on feedback from users and their comfort levels with such situations.

The recently posted signs, however, drew outrage from parents on the department’s Facebook page and by Monday afternoon, a spokeswoman said they had been taken down.

Lynn Loubert, the city’s division manager of aquatics, arenas and attractions, explained that the policy did not reflect a bylaw that allows kids aged 12 and under to be accompanied by a parent or caregiver in opposite sex change rooms.

“The practice did not reflect the provisions of the Parks and Recreation Area bylaw,” Loubert said in a statement. “In light of the confusion, all signs at City of London pools regarding age requirements for using change rooms have now been removed.”

Amanda McNeil, a single mother who was among those who complained about the signs, said she was pleased with the change.

“I am happy that (city staff) finally came to their senses,” said McNeil, who often visits what she calls “one of the better outdoor pools” in the city with her two sons, Zakk and Lucian, aged six and three. “The (sign) should never have been up to begin up with.”

The signs had directed parents to ask a staff member to escort their child through the proper change room.

But McNeil said she was “completely appalled” by the idea of sending her six-year-old son into another change room with a staff member who is a stranger.

“It’s not a viable option at all,” said the 29-year-old. “I can’t guarantee my child’s safety if he is not with me.”

Christine Ciura, 28, a stay-at-home mom, felt the same way, which is why she entered the change room with her three-year-old son, Landon, as usual, this morning.

“I disagree with the (rule) completely. It’s ridiculous,” she said. “My son doesn’t understand how to get changed himself. He needs help with these things.”

Ann Douglas, an author from Peterborough, Ont., who has written several books on parenting, says the needs of children should come before those of adults in such a case.

“If we are balancing a young child’s need for physical assistance with the task of getting dressed and undressed, and maybe needing some parental reassurance or guidance, versus a grown-up feeling a little bit uncomfortable because a four-year-old is staring at their body parts, we have to look at where the greater need is,” said Douglas, who is a mother of four herself. “It’s definitely on the child’s side of the equation.”

“What looks great on paper to a policy maker who hasn’t been a parent sometimes doesn’t play out quite so neatly in the real world,” Douglas added.

Coun. Mohamed Salih, who had contacted city staff about the signs over the weekend, confirmed the city will continue to allow kids aged 12 and under to be accompanied by a parent or caregiver in opposite sex change rooms, as per the city bylaw.

“I was disappointed when I learned about the signs. I can imagine the hurt out in the community,” Salih said. “We want to make sure (London) is an inclusive community, where people feel they can go out without any additional barriers.”

Justin Bieber cancels rest of tour for ‘unforeseen circumstances’

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS AND NEWS STAFF | posted Tuesday, Jul 25th, 2017

Canadian singer Justin Bieber performs live during a small concert for charity in Toronto on Monday, December 7, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadian singer Justin Bieber performs live during a small concert for charity in Toronto on Monday, December 7, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
NEW YORK – Justin Bieber is cancelling the rest of his Purpose World Tour “due to unforeseen circumstances.”

His representatives didn’t offer details about the cancellation in a statement released Monday but said the singer “loves his fans and hates to disappoint them.”

Bieber has been on the tour for the last 18 months, playing more than 150 shows in six continents. The Grammy winner’s upcoming shows included stops in the U.S. and Canada, including the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

The statement said despite the tour’s success, “after careful consideration he has decided he will not be performing any further dates.”

Tickets will be refunded at point of purchase.

Bieber had two stops in Toronto coming up on Sept. 5 and 6.

Convicted serial killer Wettlaufer faces nurses’ college disciplinary hearing

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jul 25th, 2017

Elizabeth Wettlaufer is escorted by police from the courthouse in Woodstock, Ont, Monday, June 26, 2017. Wettlaufer, a former Ontario nurse who murdered eight seniors in her care, was sentenced Monday to life in prison with no eligibility for parole for 25 years.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley
Elizabeth Wettlaufer is escorted by police from the courthouse in Woodstock, Ont., on June 26, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley
A convicted serial killing nurse who murdered eight seniors in her care faces a professional college disciplinary hearing Tuesday.

The College of Nurses of Ontario alleges Elizabeth Wettlaufer committed professional misconduct when she overdosed 14 patients with the intent to harm or kill them.

A college spokeswoman says Wettlaufer is not expected to attend the hearing with the discipline panel, which is could make their decision by the end of the day.

In June, Wettlaufer pleaded guilty to first-degree murder of eight seniors, attempted murder of four others and aggravated assault of two more people.

She confessed to the murders while at a psychiatric hospital in Toronto in the fall before detailing the crimes to Woodstock police.

The college knew Wettlaufer was fired from Caressant Care in Woodstock, Ont., for a medication error in 2014, but she continued to work – and harmed patients – until she resigned as a nurse in September 2016.

Related stories:

Wettlaufer sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 25 years

Ontario to call public inquiry into Elizabeth Wettlaufer nursing home murders

Ex-nurse Wettlaufer felt ‘urge to kill’ seniors in her care, pleads guilty

Toronto posters promoting gender diversity defaced

NEWS STAFF | posted Tuesday, Jul 25th, 2017

A poster that promotes gender diversity was taped over in Etobicoke. CityNews viewer Barry Auguste sent in this photo on July 24, 2017.

The posters, created by the City of Toronto and the Black Coalition of AIDS Prevention (Black CAP) under an initiative called Toronto For All, went up during Pride. The campaign focuses on trans youth of colour, who are seen smiling under a slogan: The phrase “My gender lives here” is displayed above their heads, and ends with “not here” written close to their hips.

Examples of the original poster can be seen below, or click here to view them.

Someone in the Martin Grove Road and John Garland Boulevard area has taken exception to that slogan and has taped two pieces of 8 1/2 x 11 paper over the poster. The notes, seen on Monday morning, say in part that people are either born men or women, and encourage those who are confused to pray to God.

The vandalized image can be seen below:

It’s not a crime, Const. Jessie Jheeta told CityNews. The typed notes, he said, just expressed someone’s view.

He said it was the first time they had heard of the posters being defaced, and hadn’t found any others in the area.

More to come

Mississauga man charged with hate crime over alleged online comments

NEWS STAFF AND THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jul 25th, 2017


This story has been edited due to a publication ban.

A Mississauga man has been charged with a hate crime after police allege he made a number of statements against the Muslim community online.

Police would not say what the alleged comments were, only that they were made through social media over five months.

Kevin Johnston, 45, was arrested on Monday.

He was charged with willful promotion of hatred, specifically “communicating statements other than in private conversation, willfully promote hatred against an identifiable group”, in this case, Muslims.

Johnston runs the website Freedom Report, but police would not say whether the charges are linked to that publication.

CityNews spoke to Johnston outside a Brampton court house after he appeared before a judge on Monday.

“I am the first Canadian in the history of Canada to be arrested under motion M103″ he said, citing the the motion put forth in parliament to condemn Islamophobia in Canada and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.

“It means the average Canadian citizen is going to be arrested at their homes like I was today, brought to the courthouse here and be made to stand trial for having opinions that are different than the left wing…M103 is the end of Canada.” he said.

However, M103 is not a law nor can citizens be charged based on it’s recommendations. Johnston was arrested under existing hate crime laws — section 319(2) of the criminal code — which deals specifically with the willful promotion of hatred.

He was released on his own undertaking, under a number of conditions including not being allowed within 100 meters of any mosque of Muslim community centre in Ontario.

He has also been ordered not to communicate with a Muslim lawyer and two politicians, whose names are all covered under a publication ban. He was further ordered not to posses firearms and not to reveal any details of his case to anyone outside of his own legal counsel.

Ontario’s attorney general, who gave consent for the charge to be laid, would not comment on the case. But he says the government takes hate crimes seriously.

Johnston’s next court date is scheduled for September.

With files from The Canadian Press

The dirty dozen & the clean 15

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Jul 24th, 2017


The dirty dozen and the clean 15 refer to fruits and vegetables that are the most and least contaminated by pesticides, according to the Environmental Working Group. Use this list to help make grocery shopping easier.


The Dirty Dozen (in order of contamination)
Sweet bell peppers

The Clean 15 (in order of least contamination)
Sweet Corn
Sweet peas
Sweet potatoes

‘Home Alone’ actor John Heard dies at 71

DAVID BAUDER, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Monday, Jul 24th, 2017

Actor John Heard poses for a portrait during the 2006 Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 20, 2006 in Park City, Utah.GETTY IMAGES/Mark Mainz
Actor John Heard, whose many roles included the father in the “Home Alone” series and a corrupt detective in “The Sopranos,” has died. He was 71.

Heard was found dead Friday in a hotel in Palo Alto, California, the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner’s office said Saturday.

An investigation which includes a toxicology test is underway to determine the cause of death, but so far there is no evidence of foul play, the office said.

TMZ reported that a representative for Heard said he was staying in the hotel while he recovered from back surgery at Stanford University Medical Center.

Heard played Peter McCallister, the father of Kevin, played by Macaulay Culkin, in “Home Alone” and “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.” He said in later interviews that he sought a movie with kids in it so his son, age 5 at the time, could come to the set and have someone to play with.

After it became a big hit, he was reluctant to revisit the role. But his agent convinced him the money was too good to pass up.

“I didn’t want to be the ‘Home Alone’ dad for the rest of my life,” he told Yahoo News in 2013.

He was born March 7, 1946, in Washington, D.C., and grew up performing in local theatre. One of his memorable early roles was as a disabled Vietnam War veteran in the 1981 film “Cutter’s Way.”

He was active in film for the next decade, playing Tom Hanks’ rival in “Big,” actress Geraldine Page’s son in “The Trip to Bountiful” and in the movies “The Pelican Brief,” “Beaches,” “Gladiator,” “Rambling Rose” and “After Hours.”

He earned an Emmy nomination for playing Vin Makazian in “The Sopranos.” Heard said in a 2015 interview with The A.V. Club that he got the part after running into series star James Gandolfini in a gym. His time on “The Sopranos” ended like it did for many other actors there – with his character’s death.

Heard said he approached series creator David Chase and said “‘Why me? I’m a detective! You can use me forever!’ And he told me, ‘John, there’s a rule in television. Somebody has to die that the audience likes.’ I said, ‘They like me? How do you know they like me?’ He said, ‘Well, they like you. So we’re gonna kill you.’”

“My mother said, ‘Why do you have to die in everything?’ I said, ‘You’re telling me? I could’ve made a fortune!’”

Other television roles kept Heard busy. He acted in “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “Elementary,” “Prison Break,” “Modern Family” and “Entourage.” One of his favourite jobs came in the original “Sharknado” television movie in 2013.

“I knew it was going to be a cult classic,” he told the Baltimore Media Blog last year. “It’s just ridiculous. I thought it would replace people calling me the ‘Home Alone’ dad.”

Fellow actor Michael McKean paid tribute on Twitter Saturday: “RIP John Heard. Never not good.”

Actor James Woods said Heard was “a complex and brilliant man and a true artist. I will miss him dearly.”

Heard was married and divorced three times, including briefly to actress Margot Kidder. He had three children.


This story has been corrected to show John Heard was 71, not 72.

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