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Dodge minivans recalled; air bag can inflate unexpectedly

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Thursday, Jun 15th, 2017

A row of new Dodge Ram pickup trucks are shown at a dealership in Mesa, Ariz., on May 15, 2007. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt York
Fiat Chrysler is recalling 297,000 minivans in the U.S. and Canada because the driver’s front air bag can inflate unexpectedly.

The recall covers Dodge Grand Caravans from 2011 and 2012. The company says eight people have suffered minor injuries from the problem, but no crashes have been reported.

Fiat Chrysler says the air bag wiring can chafe against steering wheel trim, causing a short circuit. Drivers could see an air bag warning light, the windshield wipers may turn on unexpectedly or the speed control may not work.

Dealers will inspect wiring and replace it if needed. They’ll also install a protective covering.

Owners will be notified by mail starting July 28.

The similar Chrysler Town & Country minivan is not affected. FCA says it has different steering wheel trim.

Customers could pay surcharge when using certain credit cards

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jun 15th, 2017

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Consumer credit cards are displayed THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Elise Amendola
Canadian merchants may soon start charging customers extra to pay with certain credit cards thanks to a settlement agreement in a class action suit.

The suit, which was filed in 2011, alleges that Visa and MasterCard rules forced merchants to accept all their credit cards, even ones that charged retailers higher fees. Those rules did not allow merchants to add a surcharge for customers who use these premium cards.

In 2013, a regular VISA card, for example, charged merchants a 1.64 per cent fee, while a premium one charged 2.13 per cent, according to rates compiled by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. That same year a regular MasterCard, for example, charged 1.69 per cent, while a premium one charged 2.39 per cent. The rates were based on preferred total merchant rates for CFIB members with Chase Paymentech.

In 2014, after discussions with the federal government, Visa and MasterCard agreed to voluntarily reduce the fees for five years.

Both companies released statements saying they do not admit to any wrongdoing in the class action, but entered into a settlement agreement earlier this week.

Visa and MasterCard agreed to pay $19.5 million each and allow Canadian merchants to add surcharge fees on credit card payments. The revised rules will include a surcharge cap.

Visa said in a statement that the new rules will come into effect 1.5 years after provincial courts in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec approve the settlement.

The CFIB praised the decision, saying it’s important for merchants to have the power to add a surcharge when customers pay with premium credit cards. The CFIB added it does not expect smaller merchants to widely use this new power.

Police Services Board to debate cops in schools program on Thursday

FAIZA AMIN | posted Thursday, Jun 15th, 2017

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The future of a controversial Toronto Police program could be decided at a meeting on Thursday.

The Toronto Police Services board is set to consider a motion to suspend the School Resource Officer program, an initiative that has been met with harsh criticism from activists in Toronto’s black community

“Some people may feel safe and comfortable with the police, but our black, indigenous and undocumented students are telling us a lot of really horrible stories about their interactions with the Toronto Police and their schools,” said anti-racism and activist Desmond Cole.

The program sees uniformed police officers placed in schools, with the TPS objective of improving safety, and the relationships between students and police.

Cole spoke out against the SRO program at the police board meeting last month where the vote was deferred to June, saying the officers are intimidating students and it’s time that the program is suspended.

“We hear the stories from community but the police don’t back it up and provide any information,” he explains.

Megan McGarry, the force’s SRO Coordinator, says suspending the program would be a major loss to the schools.

“It’s really upsetting because I know how incredibly proactive it is,” she said.

McGarry, who was a SRO herself for three years at 13 division, says the program allows for officers to build relationships with students.

“There is no way they’d talk to me on the streets, but in the hallway they could talk to me,” she explains. “They could come up to me and they could say, ‘hey this is going on.’”

The SRO program was implemented following the 2008 shooting death of 15-year-old Jordan Manners at a school in North York.

There are currently 37 resource officers stationed at 66 schools throughout Toronto and within the French, English, Catholic and public school boards.

According to Toronto Police, from 2015-2017 there were six complaints against SRO’s. Two were informally resolved, two others were withdrawn, one was unfounded and in another, an officer was disciplined.

Mayor John Tory, who sits on the police board, says he doesn’t want to see a hasty decision made.

“I will say, I’ve heard some concerns expressed about the officers being in the schools and how that impacts what is meant to be the byproduct and that is positive police community relations.”

A review of the program is currently underway as a third party looks at whether or not SROs are effective.

While Tory admits the program has garnered negative attention from some, he says removing it without a review would be the wrong thing to do.

“I think it would be less than responsible for people to just move now on the basis of their own feelings about it to abolish the program, before we conducted a proper review that hears from all sides.”

The review is expected to be released in August.

Erendira Wallenda hangs from helicopter by her teeth over Niagara Falls

CAROLYN THOMPSON, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Thursday, Jun 15th, 2017

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Erendira Wallenda hang s from helicopter by her teeth CITYNEWS
The aerialist wife of daredevil Nik Wallenda performed a series of manoeuvres — including hanging by her teeth and toes — while on a hoop suspended from a helicopter above Niagara Falls on Thursday morning.

Erendira and Nik Wallenda said they were excited to again showcase Niagara Falls on the fifth anniversary of Nik Wallenda’s televised tightrope walk over the brink.

“She’s a ballerina in the air,” Nik Wallenda said during a news conference with his wife at the Seneca Niagara Casino.

Erendira Wallenda was tethered by her waist to comply with a state law that requires safety harnesses for performers more than six metres in the air, Nik Wallenda said before the stunt, adding that the cable wouldn’t have aided her performance.

“It is just as much of a challenge, in fact more of a challenge often, because you’re worried you’re going to get tangled up in it,” he said.

Like her husband, Erendira Vazquez Wallenda traces her daredevil roots back generations. There are eight generations of performers on her mother’s side who have been part of the third-oldest circus in Australia, she said, and seven generations on her father’s side, which tours in Mexico City.

The idea for Erendira’s stunt emerged as the Wallendas were discussing how to maintain their connection with Niagara Falls, where they one day hope to open a Wallenda-themed entertainment centre. Nik Wallenda thought the only way to top his own stunt was to redo it without the tether that he had objected to wearing in 2012. That seemed unlikely.

“Remember that world record that you set years ago hanging by your teeth under a helicopter about 200 feet (60 metres) above the ground?” Nik Wallenda recalled his wife saying. “Well, why don’t you allow me to do it 300 feet (91 metres) above the falls?”

“I was like, ‘Absolutely. That’s amazing. That’s awesome,’” he said.

The Niagara County legislature last month approved spending $35,000 for the act.

Wallenda hung on by his teeth 76 metres above Silver Dollar City in Branson, Mo., in 2011. Erendira plans to break the height record by performing 91 to 106 metres in the air.

The altitude will take the mother of three above the mist and wind of the roaring falls.

“What is against her,” Nik Wallenda said, “is that your mind — the higher you are, the harder it is to let go and hang on by your teeth.”

Erendira Wallenda said her training in the rain and mist of Florida, where they live, helped prepare her for the conditions expected on Thursday. She said her dentist made her a mouth guard that she will wear, but she will use her jaw muscles to avoid falling.

“Obviously, my dentist doesn’t want me to do this for the rest of my life,” she said.

“Our dentist is a very understanding person,” her husband added.

Five members of the Wallenda circus troupe fell from a high-wire in Sarasota, Fla., in February while practising an eight-person pyramid. Everyone survived.


Related stories:

Daredevil Nik Wallenda’s wife to dangle by her teeth over Niagara Falls

Nik Wallenda completes high wire walk over gorge near Grand Canyon

Nik Wallenda makes history with tightrope walk over Niagara Falls

Pickering man drowns at Port Colborne beach

NEWS STAFF | posted Thursday, Jun 15th, 2017

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A Pickering man drowned at a Port Colborne beach on June 14, 2017. GOOGLE IMAGES
A Pickering man has drowned at a Port Colborne beach.

Niagara regional police were called to Sherkston Shores Beach Resort around 5 p.m. on Wednesday, for reports of a man in distress about 180 metres from the shore.

Other emergency services quickly arrived, including a helicopter from the Canadian Forces Base in Trenton.

The man was found dead in the water around 7:40 p.m.

Niagara police later said the 50-year-old man was alone at the time of the incident. He had gone into the water on an inflatable lounger, and was last seen by witnesses attempting to swim toward the shore.

Police have identified the man and notified his family, but are not releasing his name.

London inferno extinguished; at least 17 dead as firefighters search for victims

DANICA KIRKA, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Thursday, Jun 15th, 2017

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Firefighters extinguished the last of the flames in the devastating west London blaze as they searched for more victims Thursday, a day after the high-rise apartment building fire that killed at least 17 people. Entire families were missing, and the death toll is certain to rise.

Police Commander Stuart Cundy says that there is no suggestion the blaze was terror-related. Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton says specialist dogs would start searching the 24-story building.

Meanwhile, 44 households were given emergency accommodation after the blaze ripped through the tower on Wednesday. The local council says families with young children, elderly residents and the vulnerable were given “immediate priority.”

Cotton said authorities genuinely don’t know how many people died and that firefighters have been traumatized by the inability to save more people.

“Tragically now we are not expecting to find anyone else alive,” Cotton told Sky News. “The severity and the heat of the fire will mean that it will be an absolute miracle for anyone to be left alive.”


Related stories:

Death toll rises to 12 in massive London highrise fire
VIDEO: Witnesses recount terror during massive London highrise fire
VIDEO: London mayor visits site of massive high-rise blaze


More than 200 firefighters worked through the night and parts of the building were still seen as being unsafe. Now that the smoke has cleared, the public could only gape at the huge burned-out hulk in the working class, multi-ethnic neighbourhood.

The blaze early Wednesday in the 24-story building in west London’s North Kensington district also injured 74 others, 18 of them critically, and left an unknown number missing. A tenants’ group had complained for years about the risk of a fire.

Up to 600 people lived in 120 apartments in the Grenfell Tower. After announcing the updated death toll of 12 in the afternoon, Cmdr. Stuart Cundy said that “we believe this number will sadly increase.”

Prime Minister Theresa May promised an investigation and she planned to visit the site on Thursday. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said many questions must be answered about safety for the scores of other apartment buildings around the British capital.

Queen Elizabeth also issued a statement, saying she was praying for the families.

“My thoughts and prayers are with those families who have lost loved ones in the Grenfell Tower fire and the many people who are still critically ill in hospital. Prince Philip and I would like to pay tribute to the bravery of firefighters and other emergency services officers who put their own lives at risk to save others. It is also heartening to see the incredible generosity of community volunteers rallying to help those affected by this terrible event,” the Queen said.

The London Fire Brigade said it received the first reports of the blaze at 12:54 a.m. and the first engines arrived within six minutes.

Survivors told of frantic attempts to escape during the nighttime fire.

“The flames, I have never seen anything like it. It just reminded me of 9-11,” said Muna Ali, 45. “The fire started on the upper floors. … Oh my goodness, it spread so quickly. It had completely spread within half an hour.”

The cause of the blaze is under investigation, but a tenants’ group had complained for years about the risk of a fire.

More than 1 million pounds ($1.27 million) has been raised to help victims of the tragedy as volunteers and charities worked through the night to find shelter and food for people who lost their homes.

Associated Press writer Frank Griffiths contributed to this report.

House Majority Whip shot at congressional baseball practice

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS AND NEWS STAFF | posted Wednesday, Jun 14th, 2017

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House Majority Whip Steve Scalise Photo: scalise.house.gov

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise has been shot at a congressional baseball practice in Virginia.

Several other people also were hit, including two law enforcement officers, Republican Mo Brooks said.

Brooks said that Scalise, 51, was down on the ground with what Brooks described as “a hip wound.”

A congressional aide said Scalise is in stable condition at George Washington University Hospital.

Scalise is the No. 3 House Republican leader.

Two Canadian pitchers selected in second day of MLB Draft

680 NEWS / THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jun 14th, 2017

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University of Kentucky right handed pitcher Zach Pop (#52) was brought in for the late innings during game play between the Miami University Redhawks and the University of Kentucky Wildcats at Kentucky, Lexington, US, on March 12, 2017. (Mat Gdowski/Icon Sportswire/REX/Shutterstock)

Canadian pitchers Zach Pop and Daniel Procopio were both chosen on Day 2 of the MLB Draft on Tuesday, bringing the total of Canadian players selected to four over the first 10 rounds.

The Los Angeles Dodgers drafted Pop, a Brampton, Ont., native pitching at the University of Kentucky, with their seventh-round selection, while the Los Angeles Angels used their 10th-round selection on Toronto’s Procopio, a right-handed pitcher out of Niagara University.

Pop spent the 2017 season pitching as the Wildcats’ set-up man and appeared in 22 games. He struck out 20 in 20 2/3 innings, giving up 19 hits and holding batters to a .247 average.

Pop was a 23rd-round selection of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2013 but did not sign with the club. Later that year, he helped Canada to a bronze medal at the under-18 Pan American Championships in La Paz, Mexico.

Procopio started 12 games for the Purple Eagles and went 6-4 with a 4.19 earned-run average. He had 75 strikeouts over 58 innings and limited batters to a .203 average.

Procopio represented Canada in 2013 at the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup in Taiwan. He was drafted by the New York Mets in 22nd round of the 2013 MLB Draft as a high school player.

Right-hander Landon Leach of Pickering, Ont., was the first Canadian drafted this year, going to the Minnesota Twins in the second round (37th overall) on Monday. Shortstop Adam Hall of London, Ont., went to the Baltimore Orioles with the 60th overall pick.

The final day of the MLB Draft goes Wednesday with rounds 11 through 40.

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