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Social media book of condolences

Breakfast Television | posted Monday, Nov 16th, 2015

Add your condolences below to sign in tribute to those killed in Paris and to stand in solidarity.

You may add your name or publish anonymously.

Suspected mastermind of Paris attacks identified: French official

The Associated Press | posted Monday, Nov 16th, 2015

A French official says the suspected mastermind of the Paris attacks was also linked to thwarted train and church attacks.

Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who is Belgian, is believed linked to thwarted attacks on a Paris-bound high-speed train and Paris area church, a French official said.

The official, who has direct knowledge of the investigation, was not authorized to be publicly identified as speaking about the ongoing probe.

Seven people are in custody in Belgium suspected of links to the attacks. An international arrest warrant was issued for Salah Abdeslam, a 26-year-old man born in Brussels, believed to be involved in the attacks. There are conflicting reports Monday on whether police have arrested Abdeslam.

This undated file photo provided by French Police shows 26-year old Salah Abdeslam, who is wanted by police in connection with recent terror attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, 2015. POLICE NATIONALE.
This undated file photo provided by French Police shows 26-year old Salah Abdeslam, who is wanted by police in connection with recent terror attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, 2015. POLICE NATIONALE.

The Paris prosecutor’s office says two more suicide bombers involved in the deadly attacks have been identified.

Prosecutors said Monday that one suicide bomber who blew himself up in the Bataclan music hall Friday night was Samy Amimour, a 28-year-old Frenchman charged in a terrorism investigation in 2012. He had been placed under judicial supervision but dropped off the radar and was the subject of an international arrest warrant.

Prosecutors say three people in Amimour’s family entourage have been in custody since early Monday.

France’s prime minister says there have been “over 150 police raids” overnight in France.

Manuel Valls spoke on French radio RTL Monday morning, reaffirming President Francois Hollande’s declaration that “we are at war” against terrorism following Friday’s attacks in Paris.

Valls also warned that more attacks could hit “in the coming days, in the coming weeks.”

Tips for talking to your kids about the Paris attacks

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Nov 16th, 2015

How do you discuss a global tragedy with your kids? That’s a question that parents faced this weekend following the terror attacks in Paris. Kids will be coming home with even more questions after school. Parenting expert, Dr. Karyn Gordon, shares her tips.

Elementary school-aged (if your kids don’t know the details about what happened)

Tip #1:  Ask What They Have Heard

  • Ask if your kids have heard anything about world issues / current events. If not, let them know if they hear anything to come and ask you about it

Tip #2:  Answer The Questions They Have

  • Answer the questions they have (but do not over-share)
  • Listen carefully to what they know – make sure the information they have is accurate
  • Gently correct their information if it’s not accurate

Tip #3:  Simplify The Information (If They Have Asked) and Reassure

  • The world is filled with loving, peaceful people but some people choose to hurt others / use evil behavior
  • Some people (called terrorists) killed 127 people in Paris
  • The police and countries are doing what they can to stop this.
  • We live in a great and safe country!

Questions elementary school-aged kids are asking their parents

Q:           Why are people so angry (Age 9)?

A:            People express anger when they are hurting and they don’t know a better way to express it.

Q:           Could this happen to me / you (Age 10)?

A:            What they really mean is “Is this likely to happen to me?”  Anything is possible – but this is very unlikely. We live in an amazing and safe country!

Middle and high school (or kids who know what happened)

Tip #1:  Don’t Dismiss Their Concerns, Ask For Their Perspective, But Re-assure

  • Kids who are old enough to have read and heard about this tragedy are also old enough to start thinking about the realities of life in other parts of the world, and to see how our lives are connected to it.
  • Ask them what they think about it, but re- assure them as well

Tip #2:  Focus On Today – Use Crisis As An Opportunity To Be Thankful

  • The one beautiful thing that happens during a crisis is that the world stops! We pause and think about our families, life, values and purpose!  Use this time to discuss these KEY areas of discussion with your kids.
  • Use this tragedy as an opportunity to love more, be more thankful, and be more compassionate!!

Tip #3:  Focus On What You Can Control

  • We cannot control others but we can control ourselves! Focus on:
  • Being active in our community / voting / being aware of world issues outside our country
  • Showing compassion to our Muslim neighbors / friends / coworkers

Questions older kids are asking their parents

Q:           Our family (teen kids) was considering sponsoring a Refugee family and now all of our neighbors are talking as if all refugees are all ISIS related?

A:            That’s simply not true. They are moms & dads that are trying to survive with their children!

Q:           Should I go out to a concert? Should I go out? Will I be a target if I pass Queens Park? (Age 15)

A:            These events are extremely rare! Live your life in principle not in fear!

World lights up for France after Paris attacks

CityNews | posted Saturday, Nov 14th, 2015

Around the world and in Toronto, landmarks were lit up in blue, white and red to show solidarity with the victims of the Paris attacks.

Countries, cities and tourist attractions changed their lights to reflect those of the French flag after the deadliest attacks in that country since World War II. A few examples can be seen below:

At least 120 killed in series of Paris attacks

The Associated Press | posted Friday, Nov 13th, 2015

French police say they believe all of the attackers involved in the shootings and bombings that rocked Paris are dead.

Micheal Cadot, the head of Paris police said Saturday that while all of the attackers are believed to have died, authorities are searching for possible accomplices in the attacks that left over 120 people dead.

A series of attacks targeting young concert-goers and Parisians enjoying a Friday night out at popular nightspots killed as many as 120 people in the deadliest violence to strike France since World War II. President Francois Hollande pledged that France would stand firm against what he called terrorism.

The worst carnage was at a concert hall hosting an American rock band, where scores of people were held hostage and attackers hurled explosives at their captives. Police who stormed the building, killing three attackers, encountered a bloody scene of horror inside.

Cadot said the attackers at the Bataclan rock venue blew themselves up with suicide belts as police closed in. He said the gunmen first sprayed cafes outside the venue with machine-gunfire, then went inside the concert hall and killed more before the assault by security forces.

Hollande declared a state of emergency and announced that he was closing the country’s borders. The violence spread fear through the city and exceeded the horrors of the Charlie Hebdo attack just 10 months ago.

In addition to the deaths at the concert hall, a police official said 11 people were killed in a Paris restaurant in the 10th arrondissement and other officials said at least three people died when bombs went off outside a stadium.<

All of the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to be publicly named in the quickly moving investigation.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, and no clear picture of how many attackers were involved and if any were on the run. Jihadists on Twitter immediately praised the attack and criticized France’s military operations against Islamic State extremists.

Hollande, who had to be evacuated from the stadium when the bombs went off outside, said in a televised address that the nation would stand firm and united.

“This is a terrible ordeal that again assails us,” he said.

“We know where it comes from, who these criminals are, who these terrorists are.”

U.S. President Barack Obama, speaking to reporters in Washington, called the attacks on Paris “outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians” and vowed to do whatever it takes to help bring the perpetrators to justice. He called the attacks a “heartbreaking situation” and an “attack on all of humanity.”

Earlier Friday, two explosions were heard outside the Stade de France stadium north of Paris during a France-Germany exhibition soccer game. A police union official said there were two suicide attacks and a bombing that killed at least three people.

The official, Gregory Goupil of the Alliance Police Nationale, whose region includes the area of the stadium, said explosions went off simultaneously near two entrances and a McDonalds.

An Associated Press reporter in the stadium Friday night heard two explosions loud enough to penetrate the sounds of cheering fans. Sirens were immediately heard, and a helicopter was circling overhead.

The attack comes as France has heightened security measures ahead of a major global climate conference that starts in two weeks, out of fear of violent protests and potential terrorist attacks. Hollande cancelled a planned trip to this weekend’s G-20 summit in Turkey, which was to focus in large part on growing fears of terrorism carried out by Islamic extremists.

Emilio Macchio, from Ravenna, Italy, was at the Carillon restaurant that was targeted, having a beer on the sidewalk, when the shooting started. He said he didn’t see any gunmen or victims, but hid behind a corner, then ran away.

“It sounded like fireworks,” he said.

France has been on edge since January, when Islamic extremists attacked the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which had run cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, and a kosher grocery. Twenty people died, including the three attackers. The Charlie Hebdo attackers claimed links to extremists in Yemen, while the kosher market attacker claimed ties to the Islamic State group.

This time, they targeted young people enjoying a rock concert and ordinary city residents enjoying a Friday night out.

One of at least two restaurants targeted Friday, Le Carillon, is in the same general neighbourhood as the Charlie Hebdo offices, as is the Bataclan, among the best-known venues in eastern Paris, near the trendy Oberkampf area known for a vibrant nightlife. The California-based band Eagles of Death Metal was scheduled to play there Friday night.

The country has seen several smaller-scale attacks or attempts since, including an incident on a high-speed train in August in which American travellers thwarted an attempted attack by a heavily armed man.

France’s military is bombing Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq and fighting extremists in Africa, and extremist groups have frequently threatened France in the past.

epa05023834 Police officers gather outside the Bataclan concert venue in Paris, France, 13 November 2015, where a gunman has reportedly taken people hostage. At least 26 people have died in attacks in Paris on 13 November after reports of a shootout and explosions near the Stade de France stadium.  EPA/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON
Police officers secure the  Stade de France stadium during the international friendly soccer France against Germany, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015 in Saint Denis, outside Paris. Two police officials say at least 11 people have been killed in shootouts and other violence around Paris. Police have reported shootouts in at least two restaurants in Paris. At least two explosions have been heard near the Stade de France stadium, and French media is reporting of a hostage-taking in the capital. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
(AP Photo/Michel Euler)

French authorities are particularly concerned about the threat from hundreds of French Islamic radicals who have travelled to Syria and returned home with skills to stage violence.

Though who was responsible for Friday night’s violence remained a mystery, the Islamic State is “clearly the name at the top of everyone’s list,” Brian Michael Jenkins, a terrorism expert and senior adviser to the president of RAND Corp., said.

Jenkins said the tactic used – “multiple attackers in co-ordinated attacks at multiple locations” – echoed recommendations published in extremist group’s online magazine, Dabbiq, over the summer.

“The big question on everyone’s mind is, were these attackers, if they turn out to be connected to one of the groups in Syria, were they homegrown terrorists or were they returning fighters from having served” with the Islamic State group, Jenkins said. “That will be a huge question.”

Trudeau offers support to France after Paris attacks

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Nov 13th, 2015

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered “all of Canada’s support” to France on Friday night in the wake of “deeply worrying” terrorist attacks in Paris that killed at least 120 people.

“Our hearts and thoughts and prayers go out to our French cousins in this dark and terrible time,” Trudeau said Friday, moments before boarding a plane to attend the G20 summit in Turkey. “We have offered all of our help and support to the government of France.”

Trudeau also said he was taking steps to ensure the security of Canadians was safeguarded.

“I’ve been speaking with our national security team to ensure everything is being done to keep people safe,” he said.

The co-ordinated attacks in Paris killed prompted a state of emergency in the French capital. Some Canadians were uncomfortably close to the violence.

Santa Claus is coming to town this weekend

Patricia D’Cunha and Amber LeBlanc | posted Friday, Nov 13th, 2015

Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas!

While you may think it is a bit early for Christmas cheer, Santa Claus will disagree with you. And you better not mess with St. Nick.

You better watch out,
You better not cry,
Better not pout,
I’m telling you why:
Santa Claus is coming to town.

Hundreds of children and their parents will line the streets of Toronto at the Santa Claus Parade on Sunday, waiting for Père Noël’s arrival. If you can’t make the parade, don’t pout: there are other Christmasy events taking place in the city this weekend that are sure to make you leap for joy.

While there is a partial subway closure this weekend, it will be all-clear come Sunday morning – good news for those heading down to the parade:

Santa Claus Parade

It’s now official: The 111th Santa Claus Parade means Christmas is just around the corner. For those itching to take out the decorations, now is the time to do so.

Santa Claus comes to town at the annual Santa Claus Parade in Toronto on Nov. 17, 2013. 680 NEWS
Santa Claus comes to town at the annual Santa Claus Parade in Toronto on Nov. 17, 2013. 680 NEWS

Jolly old St. Nick will be flying in to Toronto from the North Pole on Sunday, and he wants you to set aside your snarky and grumpy personality and replace it with warmth and generosity.

Children and adults alike will delight in the 26 floats and 21 marching bands, including a special Raptors one highlighting the NBA All-Star Game that will be played in Toronto in February 2016.

Ahead of the main event, the Holly Jolly Fun Run (5K run) will take over the parade route at 11:50 a.m., ending at Maple Leaf Square.

The parade, which is the largest children’s parade in North America, starts at 12:30 p.m. at Bloor and Christie Streets. The parade then heads down Bloor to Queen’s Park Crescent East, University Avenue, Wellington Street, and ends at Front and Jarvis streets around 3-4 p.m. Click here or see below for the parade route.

The Santa Claus Parade route. Photo via thesantaclausparade.com.
The Santa Claus Parade route. Photo via thesantaclausparade.com.

Drivers will have to deal with several road closures in Toronto to make way for Santa’s friends and his sleigh. Roads will be closed starting at 8 a.m. Click here for the full list. TTC vehicles will also be on diversion on several routes.

To help revellers get to the parade, GO Transit is offering special trains on its Milton, Kitchener, Barrie and Stouffville lines, on top of its regular service on the Lakeshore line. GO passes to the parade will also be available (children: $5, adults: $10, and group: $20).

If your children will be asking you every minute or so, “Is Santa here yet? Where is Santa? When is Santa coming? What time is Santa coming?,” you can tell him or her exactly where the big man in the red suit is by tracking him on your phone.

Christmas and other events

12 Trees of Christmas
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree! Marvel in the beauty and splendor of uniquely-decorated trees curated by artists and designers. Now in its 26th year, the exhibit at the Gardiner Museum is one of the joys of the holiday season. This year’s theme captures the future with the creative minds being tasked to re-imagine Christmas trees.

And if you’re in the Bloor Street West and Avenue Road area, stop by the museum’s front plaza to check out its 40-foot Christmas tree. Participating retailers in the city will also display their own trees and the public can vote for their favourite.

Christmas wonderland
With around six weeks to go under Christmas Day, the city is buzzing with fun and friendly activities to get you in the festive spirit.

The Winter Magic extravaganza on Yonge Street in the downtown core will “Illuminite” Yonge-Dundas Square with a big party being held on Saturday to usher in the Christmas season.

The Christmas tree at Yonge-Dundas Square in 2013. Photo via wintermagic.ca.
The Christmas tree at Yonge-Dundas Square in 2013. Photo via wintermagic.ca.

The holiday cheer starts at 5 p.m. with high-octane music and aerial performances, followed by the tree-lighting ceremony at 6 p.m.

Also on Saturday, step into a holiday wonderland at Bloor-Yorkville, as the area gets lit up with dazzling lights.

The lighting ceremony at Holiday Magic starts at 5 p.m., and also features performances by Jully Black and the Rosedale Day Choir School.

Christmas lights in Bloor-Yorkville. Photo via bloor-yorkville.com.
Christmas lights in Bloor-Yorkville. Photo via bloor-yorkville.com.

Christmas lights in Bloor-Yorkville. Photo via bloor-yorkville.com.
Christmas lights in Bloor-Yorkville. Photo via bloor-yorkville.com.

The event is free, but with a $2 donation you can partake of some refreshments. Money raised goes to Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR).

Rotary Club arts and crafts sale
Get an early jump on Christmas shopping with the Toronto East Rotary Club‘s sixth annual arts and crafts sale. On Saturday at Eastminster United Church on the Danforth, hundreds of artisans will be selling their wares. There will also be live music, face painting for children and a draw. Proceeds raised from the event go to community projects including the church’s “Out of the Cold” program.

A poster for the Toronto East Rotary Club's arts and crafts sale on Nov. 14, 2015. Photo via torontoeastrotary.com.
A poster for the Toronto East Rotary Club’s arts and crafts sale on Nov. 14, 2015. Photo via torontoeastrotary.com.

Film festivals
Two film festivals are happening this weekend, one a longtime favourite and the other a brand new event in Toronto.

The European Union Film Festival returns for its 11th year with its opening party on Saturday and films running at the Royal on College Street until Nov. 28. The best part is all films are free. Watch the preview here.

EUFF 2015 Trailer from euff on Vimeo.

Making its premiere this year is the Syrian Film Festival or SYFF, which starts Friday and runs through Sunday at the Art Gallery of Toronto. The lineup includes documentaries, shorts, and experimental films that tell the stories of Syrians including an Oscar-shortlisted documentary that follows two weeks in the life of a doctor in a Turkish hospital on the Syrian border. An entire festival pass is just $26.06 with single tickets also available. Watch the preview here.

Taste of Iceland
One of the world’s most fascinating countries is setting up shop this weekend in Toronto. Experience Icelandic food, music, films and more starting Thursday and running through Sunday during the fifth annual Taste of Iceland. Restaurants including Luma will be showcasing an Icelandic menu and two bands from Iceland will be performing a free concert at Adelaide Hall on Saturday.

A huge solar storm created dazzling auroras at the National Park, lake Þingvallavatn, in Iceland on March 17, 2015 in Iceland. GETTY IMAGES/Bragi Kort / Barcroft Media.
A huge solar storm created dazzling auroras at the National Park, lake Þingvallavatn, in Iceland on March 17, 2015 in Iceland. GETTY IMAGES/Bragi Kort / Barcroft Media.

TTC closure

Partial Line 1 closure
Another subway closure this weekend? Say it isn’t so! Sorry, can’t do that. But, repeat this to yourself: the better way is being made better, and the closure is only one day long.

Subways won’t be running on Line 1 (Yonge-University-Spadina) between St. George and St. Clair West stations on Saturday due to track work.

Replacement buses will stop at all stations. Wheel-Trans buses will run between Eglinton West and St. George stations on request.

Regular service resumes at 9 a.m. on Sunday.

Toronto Zoo’s baby pandas look like pandas now

CityNews | posted Friday, Nov 13th, 2015

The twin panda cubs born at the Toronto Zoo last month didn’t look much like pandas at first.

They were pale pink, with a covering of white fuzz.

But now those babies are just over four weeks old and they’ve got mom’s distinct black-and-white markings.

The Toronto Zoo released three videos of the cubs on Friday morning. Not only are they moving, they’re making noise – little yips and barks can be heard in one of the videos.

The two giant panda cubs were a Canadian first. Er Shun, the Zoo’s female giant panda, gave birth to her first cub at 3:31 a.m. on Oct. 13. The newborn weighed 187.7 grams. The second cub was born at 3:44 a.m., weighing 115 grams.

It may take several months to determine the cubs’ sex and they have not yet been named. There is no immediate plan to show them to the public, but the zoo has been updating its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds with photos of the cubs.

For now, they are living between their mother’s care and an incubator. The incubator, which was donated by the Hospital for Sick Children, is set up in a quarantined room next to the panda’s maternity ward. The ward is closed to the public.

Er Shun had been artificially inseminated, and her pregnancy was announced in late September.

It was the second time the zoo had tried artificial insemination. A 2014 attempt was unsuccessful.

The twins, if they survive, will live at the zoo for about two years and will likely return to China once they are weaned from Er Shun.

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