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The secret to watering your plants – Frankie Flowers

Frank Ferragine | posted Friday, Apr 22nd, 2016

Do you want to add more greenery to your home but have a track-record of killing plants? Don’t worry, Frankie Flowers to the rescue! Frankie says the number one killer of indoor plants is too much water. So, how often should you be watering your plants? Get Frankie’s plant-care advice in the latest need-to-know gardening tip. 

Watch the video for more information and stay tuned for more quick gardening must-knows from Frankie like when you should be pruning your plants.

With Frankie’s tips you won’t be killing your plants with kindness anymore. 

Partial subway closure this weekend as Toronto celebrates Earth Day

PATRICIA D'CUNHA AND AMBER LEBLANC | posted Friday, Apr 22nd, 2016

A person planting an evergreen tree. GETTY IMAGES.

If you’re like most people, you wake up every day hoping it’s the weekend. You can never have too much of a good thing.

While some will be relaxing at home this weekend, others will be venturing out. There are tons of events taking place, including Earth Day celebrations that start on Friday and continue into Sunday, the Battle of York commemorations, a charity run and walk, and a psychic fair. After all, what’s a weekend without psychics?

Not to be a ‘Debbie Downer’ but there is a partial subway closure on Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth), and road closures for a parade and construction – a precursor to the summer event and road work season.

Have a great weekend!

Earth Day in Toronto

On Friday, millions of people around the world will be marking Earth Day – a day when everyone is encouraged to do something to help the environment like leaving your car at home, riding your bike to work, planting a tree, and cleaning up garbage in your neighbourhood.

Below are some events taking place in Toronto on Friday and over the weekend.

Clean Toronto Together
The city will be in clean-up mode until Sunday, as groups of people gather up garbage that litter playgrounds, beaches, sports fields, and laneways. Special garbage and recycling bags will be provided for the team effort.


Toronto Coun. Chin Lee and others help to clean up the area on April 18, 2015. CITY OF TORONTO.

Corporations and schools will take part in 20-minute makeovers on Friday, while the community cleanup days are on Saturday and Sunday.

So far, around 530 schools, close to 178,000 students and teachers, and 160 businesses are taking part in the annual cleanup. There are also 280 community events with over 9,000 people taking part.

Toronto Botanical Garden
On Saturday, escape from the hustle and bustle of downtown living to an oasis in the heart of North York.

Stroll through Edwards Gardens, make a green drink using a blender bike, take part in scavenger hunts, build a mini dinosaur garden, and other activities. It takes place from noon to 4 p.m. and admission is free.

Tree planting at Downsview Park
One way to help the environment is to plant a tree, and this Sunday, everyone is invited to do so atDownsview Park.

The event runs from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 a.m. and registration is required. Admission is free but you are being asked to bring a non-perishable food item to support the North York Harvest Food Bank.

Green fun at Toronto Zoo
Want to learn more about conservation or how to make your garden more green? This weekend, the zoo is holding workshops on how to build rain and container gardens. You can also check out a colony of honey bees and learn more about the pollinators.


A birdfeeder sits in the Music Garden in Toronto. CITYNEWS/Diana Pereira.

There will also be kid-friendly activity stations between the Giant Panda exhibit and Tundra Trek, which are free with zoo admission. The workshops come at an additional cost with the proceeds going towards constructing a rain harvesting system for the zoo.

Animal rescue exhibit
Earth Day also brings to light animal welfare issues around the world. Brookfield Place is hosting aphoto exhibit until Friday that showcases the life-saving work of Humane Society International/Canada. The exhibit also features the challenges facing animals and their rescuers.

Looking for more events? Check out a list on EarthDay.ca or here.

Other events

Battle of York commemorative weekend
The fort comes alive this weekend, to honour the 203rd anniversary of the Battle of York fought on April 27, 1813, and to celebrate the bicentennial of the rebuilt peacetime garrison of 1816.

A military presentation at the Fort York National Historic Site in Toronto. Photo via Facebook/FortYork.

Not only will they be firing up the officers’ quarters kitchen, there will be musket firing demonstrations and site tours.

12th annual CF Charity Run/Walk
A run for a great cause Sunday at the Shops at Don Mills. Participants can do a 5K run or walk, and children are invited to do a 1K run. Funds raised support the Hospital for Sick Children and the Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario.

Last year $250,000 was raised. It’s a traffic-free course taking place entirely on the grounds of the shopping centre. Click here to register.

Shen Yun
You’re invited to enjoy a “divine, cultural experience” Thursday through Sunday at the Sony Centre.Shen Yun, a New York City-based classical Chinese dance and music company, is visiting our city.

The show promises to take you on a journey through 5,000 years of Chinese culture and leave the audience uplifted and inspired! Click here for tickets.

Coin Expo
It’s like Christmas for coin collectors this weekend!

The annual Toronto Coin Expo takes over the Toronto Reference Library Saturday and Sunday between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. each day. The show is considered the premier coin and banknote exhibition in the country, featuring 50 tables of internationally renowned dealers and appraisers.

Psychic Fair
Are you curious about what the future holds? Well, you’ll be able to get a psychic’s take this weekend at Exhibition Place.


A woman takes part in a psychic reading. GETTY IMAGES/PeopleImages.com.

It’s the third annual Toronto Spring Psychic Fair with all kinds of people who say they can give you a deeper glimpse into your life include clairvoyants and mediums. Tickets are $15 and available at the door.

TTC closure

Partial Line 2 closure
Trains won’t be running on Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth) between Kennedy and Victoria Park stations this weekend due to track work.

Shuttle buses will be running, and regular service resumes at 6 a.m. on Monday.


A TTC subway train. Courtesy of Nile Livesey.

Road closures

Road closures will be in effect for the Khalsa Day Parade on Sunday. The parade starts at 1 p.m. on the Exhibition grounds, heads east on Lake Shore Boulevard to York Street, and then north to Queen Street before ending up at Nathan Phillips Square around 3 p.m.

The westbound lanes of Lake Shore, near Exhibition Place, and the northbound lanes of York Street and University Avenue will be closed for most of the day.

Also on Sunday, Queen’s Park Crescent, from College street to Bloor streets, will be closed from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. for the Balanse Bum Run. TTC vehicles will be on diversion in the area.

Road work
If you driving elsewhere around town, one lane on both sides of Gerrard Street, from Yonge to Church streets, will be closed until the end of July for watermain replacement, road resurfacing and bike lane and sidewalk upgrades.

Westbound Lake Shore Boulevard, from York Street to Rees Street, will be reduced to one lane except from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays when two lanes will be open. The closure, which is for Toronto Hydro work, will be around the clock, seven days a week, with a completion date of July 27.

Richmond Street, from Yonge to Bay streets, will be also reduced to two lanes until July 1 for road and sidewalk repairs. One lane will be used for cyclists and pedestrians.


Senator Mike Duffy cleared of all charges in expense scandal

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Apr 22nd, 2016

OTTAWA – Sen. Mike Duffy has been cleared of all 31 fraud, breach of trust and bribery charges he had been facing in relation to the long-running Senate expense scandal.

Ontario Court Justice Charles Vaillancourt’s 308-page decision amounts to a complete vindication for Duffy and a scathing indictment of the tactics of the Prime Minister’s Office under Stephen Harper.

It’s the long-awaited finale to a stubborn political drama that dispatched Harper’s chief of staff Nigel Wright, staggered the Conservative re-election campaign, embarrassed and diminished the Senate and laid bare the inner workings of a notoriously guarded and secretive government.

Duffy pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The bribery charge stemmed from Wright’s decision to personally pay the $90,000 in living expenses Duffy claimed by declaring his long-time home in an Ottawa suburb was actually a secondary residence.

The remaining 30 fraud and breach of trust charges relate to Senate money the Crown alleged Duffy either received for trips that had nothing to do with Senate work or that he funnelled through a friend’s company to cover costs the Senate wouldn’t pay for.

Vaillancourt spent the first hour describing Duffy as a “credible witness” and casting doubt on the allegations levelled by the Crown.

Related Stories:

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“This case provided me with ample opportunity to assess the credibility of Sen. Duffy,” he said. “He was on the stand for many hours; at the end of the day I find that Sen. Duffy is an overall credible witness.”

He then proceeded to systematically dismantle the Crown’s allegation against the embattled senator, declaring him to have shown no criminal or “sinister” intent – save perhaps for some opportunism – in filing his expense claims.

“Sen.Duffy believed reasonably … that all of the travel encompassed by counts three to 20 were properly expensed as parliamentary functions.”

Though he discussed them, Vaillancourt did not explicitly deliver a decision on counts 17 and 18.

He also paused midway through his decision for a lunch break before tackling the second half of the charge sheet _ more perilous territory for Duffy, including two bribery charges that each carry a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

As he dismissed the charges related to Duffy’s travel claims, Vaillancourt said at one point that “the Crown has not established the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Vaillancourt said Duffy “did not ignore the gathering storm around his appointment,” but rather “sought out reassurance about those issues and was assured that he has no valid concerns.”

He said Duffy “honestly and reasonably believed and relied on the advice he received regarding his appointment and his primary residence, and he acted upon it.”

It’s the long-awaited finale to a stubborn political drama that dispatched Stephen Harper’s chief of staff, staggered the former prime minister’s re-election campaign, embarrassed and diminished the Senate and laid bare the inner workings of a notoriously guarded and secretive government.

Duffy was charged in July 2014 with 31 counts of fraud, breach of trust and bribery, the latter being the most serious of all the charges. He has pleaded not guilty to all of them.

Vaillancourt said despite the “dalliance with definitions” that Duffy’s lawyer and the Crown played over the term “primary residence,” no such definition exists in the Senate rules that guide spending decisions.

“After reviewing the submissions and the facts in this case, I am not satisfied that the Crown has proven the guilt of Sen. Duffy in relation to alleged fraudulent residency declarations, and their expense claims in connection thereto, beyond a reasonable a doubt.”

He said he did not find the senator was engaged in “sinister motive or design” in using pre-signed blank travel forms, although he added doing so probably wasn’t a good idea.

The bribery charge is the result of then-chief of staff Nigel Wright’s decision to personally pay the $90,000 in living expenses Duffy claimed by declaring his long-time home in an Ottawa suburb was actually a secondary residence.

The remaining 30 fraud and breach of trust charges relate to Senate money the Crown alleged Duffy either received for trips that had nothing to do with Senate work or that he funnelled through a friend’s company to cover costs the Senate wouldn’t pay for.

The implications of the long-running Duffy saga are perhaps best summed up in the senator’s own words to the upper chamber in 2013 when he delivered a scathing rebuttal of the allegations swirling around him.

“This,” Duffy thundered, “is a case for the history books.”

It all began in 2012, when the auditor general issued a report that recommended taking steps to ensure members of the upper chamber were submitting enough proof their expense claims were for legitimate parliamentary business.

Questions about Duffy’s own claims – including whether he was a legitimate resident of P.E.I., the province he’d been appointed in 2008 to represent – began later that year. It was the first in a long chain of events that would, among other things, eventually force the departure of Nigel Wright, then the prime minister’s chief of staff.

The trial exposed the inner workings of a secretive Prime Minister’s Office and the Conservative party machine, shaped the early narrative of last year’s fateful election campaign and even led to at least one high profile Conservative publicly turning his back on the party.

Benjamin Perrin, a former legal adviser to the Prime Minister’s Office who became caught up in the who-knew-what-when storyline, admitted in the final days of the campaign that the Conservatives had lost “the moral authority” to govern.

Of course, Harper lost the election. But not everyone saw the Duffy controversy as an indictment of the party or the Conservative government.

“In my riding, it was about Mr. Duffy and the senators who were singled out, it was not about the Senate,” said Conservative MP Lisa Raitt, who represents the Ontario riding of Milton.

But the ensuing ethics and spending scandal did force a national conversation about the need for Senate reform – an issue Harper referred to the Supreme Court, only to be shut down by a high court that insisted constitutional amendments would be unavoidable.

“As interesting as those issues may be, they are not the subject matter before this court,” Vaillancourt said Thursday.

For his part, Duffy held his tongue throughout the trial, save the eight days that he spent on the witness stand. The trial began last April as the hottest ticket in Ottawa, a political cause celebre that promised to lay bare the inner workings of one of the most secretive, media-wary governments in recent history.

But when the Oct. 19 election upended the status quo on Parliament Hill, the public and media interest in the trial all but evaporated as the Harper era was relegated to the annals of history.

As leader of the official Opposition, Tom Mulcair relentlessly grilled the Tories during the hottest days of the Duffy scandal, prompting former prime minister Brian Mulroney to call him the best Opposition leader since John Diefenbaker.

The case will serve as a reminder to what happens when Conservatives are in power, said Mulcair, but it also exposed real faults with the Senate.

“Canadians have been able to see since the beginning of the Duffy affair that everything to do with the Senate – from the appointment process through their administration – that they are unaccountable, and it is a grossly undemocratic institution,” he said.

It may yet allow Duffy to take up his Senate seat once again.

If acquitted, he can return as soon as the upper chamber convenes again. If he’s found guilty, he will remain on a leave of absence without pay until sentencing. If his sentence is anything other than a complete discharge, he’d be suspended until his appeals conclude.

Autopsy on Prince scheduled for Friday

Amy Forliti and Doug Glass, The Associated Press | posted Friday, Apr 22nd, 2016

Prince was unresponsive in an elevator when the musician was found by sheriff’s deputies who had been called to his suburban Minneapolis compound, a Minnesota sheriff says.

Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson said deputies responded to a medical call about 9:43 a.m. Thursday. Medical personnel tried CPR, but couldn’t revive the 57-year-old Prince, who was pronounced dead at 10:07 a.m.

A cause of death wasn’t immediately determined. An autopsy was scheduled for Friday.

The singer’s death came two weeks after he cancelled concerts in Atlanta because he wasn’t feeling well. He performed April 14 in Atlanta, apologizing to the crowd shortly after coming on stage.

Later on, while talking to the crowd between songs, he joked about having been “under the weather,” giving a slight smile. His voice seemed a bit weak at times when he spoke, but he sounded fine when singing during his 80-minute show, which included everything from songs made famous by others (“Nothing Compares 2 U”) to his finale to the first show of the evening, “Baby, I’m A Star.”

He sat at his piano most of the show, but stood up at times to pound the keys and walked around the piano a couple of times, soaking up cheers.

Related stories:

Prince dead at 57

Memories of Prince’s recent Toronto concerts bittersweet for fans after untimely death

How Prince, rock’s effortlessly dangerous star, changed the game

Following news reports that he had fallen ill while returning from Atlanta to Minneapolis, Prince hosted a dance party on April 16 at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota.

Jeremiah Freed, who runs the website drfunkenberry.com and has gotten to know Prince after writing about his events over the years, said he last saw Prince at the dance party. Freed said he believed Prince held the party to show everyone he was fine.

Freed didn’t have one-on-one time with Prince that night, but Prince made a brief appearance. Freed said the artist showed off a new purple piano he received as a gift, as well as a purple guitar, but seemed upset about the reports of an illness.

“When he had to talk about the stories going on, he didn’t seem too pleased. It was kind of like, ‘I’m here. I’m good,’” Freed said, adding that Prince told the crowd: “Just wait a few days before saying your prayers.”

Lars Larson, a 37-year-old Minneapolis man who had worked security for Prince and at Paisley Park events for about six years on and off, said he was at the same dance party. Larson said the singer was on stage briefly and spoke to the crowd before standing by the sound board for 20 minutes and then disappearing for the night.

“He seemed great. He looked like Prince,” he said. “The whole point of the show on Saturday was to show he was doing all right.”

Associated Press writers Paul Newberry in Atlanta and Kevin Burbach in Minneapolis contributed to this report, along with researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York.

How Prince, rock’s effortlessly dangerous star, changed the game

Michael Barclay | posted Friday, Apr 22nd, 2016

Nothing compares 2 him.

There is simply no musical figure of the last 40 years who commands the respect bestowed upon the man born Prince Rogers Nelson, who was found dead Thursday morning, at age 57, at Paisley Park, his Minneapolis residence that doubled as a studio, office and performance space.


Prince sold more than 100 million records, wrote hits for other people, and his songs are part of the canon of Western pop music. That is rare, but by no means unusual. More important, you will not find a musician in the Western world who will not at the very least concede Prince’s musical mastery; to many, he was the most innovative, creative and technically skilled musician of his generation—as a guitarist, a vocalist and producer. At the age of 19, he was signed to Warner Brothers and somehow convinced them to let him play all the instruments on his 1978 debut album himself—something that, at that point in time, only someone at Stevie Wonder’s level would even attempt.

Related stories:

Memories of Prince’s recent Toronto concerts bittersweet for fans after untimely death

Prince was second only to Michael Jackson—they were both born in 1958—as an African-American who bridged cultural divides by exploding expectations of what pop music could be. But whereas Jackson needed someone like Quincy Jones to shepherd his musical vision, Prince was everything in one: steeped in soul music and synthesizers and jazz and Joni Mitchell and disco and—oh yeah, he could shred on guitar in ways that would send all those L.A. metal posers back to school. Prince may have had to share his 1980s superstardom with Jackson, Bruce Springsteen and Madonna, but he was easily—and seemingly effortlessly—the best of all of them in one package.

He was also the most dangerous. The term “rock and roll” itself was originally a euphemism for sex, but Prince was libidinous and libertine in ways mainstream America had never seen. He posed on album covers in women’s underwear (Dirty Mind), or completely naked (Lovesexy)—or naked while riding a white winged horse (1979’s self-titled album). His first hit single was called “I Wanna Be Your Lover”—and he wasn’t kidding. Nearly every song was about seduction, often smutty enough to raise the ire of concerned parents. The Roots’ Questlove has talked about buying multiple copies of 1999 because his father would break any copy found in the household. Most famously, it was Prince’s “Darling Nikki”—a song on Purple Rain about a seductress who “likes to grind” and is found “masturbating with a magazine”—that Tipper Gore heard coming out of her teenager’s bedroom. It led directly to the formation of the Parents Music Resource Committee, a group of “Washington wives” that held congressional hearings about pop’s turn toward the pornographic. Compared to R. Kelly—hell, even Nickelback—Prince seems quaint today; with few exceptions (the extremely uncomfortable “Lady Cab Driver,” for starters), he doesn’t play the arrogant, conquering seducer, but a lover who’s more interested in your pleasure than his.

Like David Bowie, Prince seemed to be an avant-garde alien, a trend-setting musical polyglot who acted as if gender and race—indeed, identity in general—were fluid concepts. His 1980s backing band, the Revolution, was the only major act—before or since, really—other than Talking Heads to boast a multi-racial lineup where women played lead roles. Unlike Bowie, Prince rarely granted interviews, especially at the height of his fame, which only increased his mystique. And really, what could he possibly say that would make him more interesting?

Prince released 10 albums in the ’80s; only one of them could be considered superfluous, the nonetheless massively successful soundtrack to Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman movie. He won Grammys and an Oscar for his 1984 breakthrough, Purple Rain (the last three tracks of which, including the epic title track, were recorded live in the Minneapolis club where the movie was filmed). His 1987 album Sign O the Times wrote new rules for R&B, its influence having bounded back in recent years in the work of Miguel, Kanye West, Frank Ocean and Drake; its title track was covered by none other than Nina Simone, on her final album. The earlier records are no less vital, 1980’s Dirty Mind in particular. On the 1993 compilation The Hits/The B-Sides, the one disc’s collection of castoffs—including a version of a song Sinead O’Connor turned into a hit, “Nothing Compares 2 U”—is every bit as excellent as the chart-toppers (see: “Erotic City”).

Then things got weird. In 1993, he shaved the word “slave” into his beard, to protest his treatment by his label of 15 years, Warner Brothers, who refused to release albums at the pace preferred by the prolific Prince. Over the next two years they squeezed three more albums out of that contract, including the once-shelved 1989 curiosity known only as The Black Album. When Prince returned in 1995, with an album on his own independent label, he’d “changed his name” to an image combining the astrological symbols for Mars and Venus (which also served as the title of his 1992 album). To the chagrin of writers and broadcasters everywhere, he insisted that he be referred to as “the Artist Formerly Known as Prince.” He was one of the first artists to take his fan base to the then-nascent Internet, selling online-exclusive releases, like the 3CD set Crystal Ball, containing material from his vaults that he claimed Warner Brothers didn’t want him to put out.

All of that, of course, made him appear crazy, especially at the height of the CD boom. He came off as a rich rock star complaining he wasn’t getting enough money. Of course, it looks entirely prescient; now it’s routine for major artists to eschew major labels and go it alone. Two decades later, Prince would be a major supporter of Jay Z’s Tidal streaming service, praising it for being the only such product to prioritize artists over money men.

The next year, 1996, he married his girlfriend of four years, Mayte Garcia; they had a baby boy who died seven days after birth, from a rare skull defect. He granted Oprah Winfrey a strange tour of his Paisley Park mansion a week later, showing off the crib as if nothing had happened. Mayte later had a miscarriage, and the marriage fell apart shortly after. Prince remarried in 2001, to Torontonian Manuela Testolini, and bought a house on the city’s toniest street, the Bridle Path; they split in 2007.

Perhaps it’s coincidence, but Prince’s creative decline began around the same time as his deal with Warner ended. The last two decades left longtime fans scrambling to find the moments of brilliance scattered across 16 studio albums. Younger audiences were hard-pressed to find his music online: he was notoriously litigious if anyone uploaded his material to YouTube, clinging to the (sadly) now-obsolete notion that music was worth paying to hear. His 2007 SuperBowl half-time performance almost single-handedly resuscitated his career, and the demographic of his still-legendary live shows started skewing younger. Despite disinterest in his recorded output (notwithstanding 2014’s Art Official Age, which was surprisingly strong), Prince remained committed to new work, releasing four albums in the last two years alone, including one with his new band, 3rdeye Girl, featuring Torontonian guitarist Donna Grantis. Even his most hardcore fans had trouble keeping up with his output.

Great musicians, iconic musicians, die every month. Prince is different. Not because of his music, which endures. Not because he’s one of the last of an era, from a time when young musicians practised for endless hours and learned their craft night after night on stage before they recorded a note of music. No: It’s because Prince is one of the few musicians, like Miles Davis or James Brown, who broke new ground and changed the course of popular music—not just in terms of appeal, but the way it’s made. Unlike so many geniuses who went either unrecognized in their time or only appealed to a niche audience, the anomaly that was Prince—like only the Beatles before him—somehow managed to be massively successful while doing so. And he did so in a time when there was still a shared mainstream culture that made it all that much harder for outsiders to break through—especially if you happen to be a black man from a snowy northern town, articulating your dirtiest sexual fantasies while wearing women’s underwear on stage and singing in falsetto and wrapped in lace and playing hard rock guitar and somehow convincing Hollywood that you should star in your own biopic at the age of 26.

It’s beyond bizarre that Prince is dead when so many of his heroes—progenitors and equals—are still alive: Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Sly Stone, Joni Mitchell. Yet Prince likely recorded more music than those four put together, and we’ll be wading through it for generations to come. Long may we bathe in his purple reign.

Prince dead at 57

The Associated Press | posted Thursday, Apr 21st, 2016

Pop superstar Prince, widely acclaimed as one of the most inventive musicians of his era with hits including “Little Red Corvette,” ”Let’s Go Crazy“ and ”When Doves Cry,“ was found dead at his home on Thursday in suburban Minneapolis, according to his publicist.

His publicist told Kiss 92.5 that the music icon died at his home in Chanhassen. No details were immediately released.

It is with profound sadness that I am confirming that the legendary, iconic performer, Prince Rogers Nelson, has died at his Paisley Park residence this morning at the age of 57. There are no further details as to the cause of death at this time.

The Minneapolis native broke through in the late 1970s with the hits “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?” and “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” and soared over the following decade with such albums as “1999” and “Purple Rain.”

The title song from “1999” includes one of the most widely quoted refrains of popular culture: “Tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 1999.”

The man born Prince Rogers Nelson stood just 5 feet, 2 inches and seemed to summon the most original and compelling sounds at will, whether playing guitar in a flamboyant style that openly drew upon Jimi Hendrix, switching his vocals from a nasally scream to an erotic falsetto or turning out album after album of stunningly original material. Among his other notable releases: “Sign O’ the Times,” ”Graffiti Bridge“ and ”The Black Album.“

He was also fiercely protective of his independence, battling his record company over control of his material and even his name. Prince once wrote “slave” on his face in protest of not owning his work and famously battled and then departed his label, Warner Bros., before returning a few years ago.

“What’s happening now is the position that I’ve always wanted to be in,” Prince told The Associated Press in 2014. “I was just trying to get here.”

In 2004, Prince was inducted into the Rock and Roll of Fame, which hailed him as a musical and social trailblazer.

“He rewrote the rulebook, forging a synthesis of black funk and white rock that served as a blueprint for cutting-edge music in the Eighties,” reads the Hall’s dedication. “Prince made dance music that rocked and rock music that had a bristling, funky backbone. From the beginning, Prince and his music were androgynous, sly, sexy and provocative.”

Gil Moore of Metal Works Studios in Mississauga, where Prince recorded his 2004 album ‘Musicology’, called him a true artist.

“I think part of Prince’s magic is he transcended style,” said Moore. “He was the perfect person to change his name to The Artist because he truly was so unique.

“When he was on his music, he was so dialed in. He seemed to be able to hold everything at bay and yet he was not high, not drinking, not smoking, eating health food, drinking water, he was skinny as a rake, healthy… that’s what makes it such a tragedy at 57.”

A small group of fans quickly gathered in the rain Thursday outside his music studio, Paisley Park, where Prince’s gold records are on the walls and the purple motorcycle he rode in his 1984 breakout movie, “Purple Rain,” is on display. The white building surrounded by a fence is about 20 miles southwest of Minneapolis.

Steven Scott, 32, of Eden Prairie, said he was at Paisley Park last Saturday for Prince’s dance party. He called Prince “a beautiful person” whose message was that people should love one another.

“He brought people together for the right reasons,” Scott said.

UK’s Cameron hails ‘steadfast’ Queen on her 90th birthday

The Associated Press | posted Thursday, Apr 21st, 2016

Queen Elizabeth II – Britain’s oldest and longest-serving monarch – is celebrating her 90th birthday Thursday with a day at home and a short walk.

Her government and subjects are adding gun salutes, fireworks, tributes in Parliament and televised retrospectives of a life that has stretched from the Roaring ’20s to the Internet age.

The queen was born Princess Elizabeth on April 21, 1926, and became queen on the death of her father, King George VI, in 1952. A majority of Britons have lived under no other monarch.

In a birthday message, Prime Minister David Cameron said the queen “has lived through some extraordinary times,” from World War II to the moon landing, the end of the Cold War and advent of peace in Northern Ireland.

He said that “Her Majesty has been steadfast – a rock of strength for our nation, for our Commonwealth and on many occasions for the whole world.”

Cameron will lead tributes later in Parliament, which will be lit up overnight in the red, white and blue of the Union Jack.

The queen is spending the day at Windsor Castle and will greet well-wishers on a walk through the town west of London.

Elsewhere, the day was being marked with an eruption of pomp. Artillery companies will fire gun salutes from Hyde Park and the Tower of London, while the bells of Westminster Abbey will ring out in celebration.

Later, the queen will light the first in a chain of 1,000 beacons to blaze across Britain and around the world.

Buckingham Palace issued three portraits by photographer Annie Leibovitz to mark the day. One shows the queen surrounded by seven young grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The queen cradles 11-month-old Princess Charlotte in her lap, while Mia Tindall, two-year-old daughter of the queen’s granddaughter Zara Phillips and her husband Mike Tindal, stands clutching the monarch’s black handbag.

Another shows the queen with Princess Anne, her only daughter. The third shows her on the steps of Windsor Castle with four of her beloved dogs: corgis Willow and Holly and dorgis (corgi-dachshund cross breeds) Vulcan and Candy.

The queen will receive more birthday greetings on Friday, when she hosts U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama for lunch at Windsor Castle.

Mayor John Tory commits to public meeting on ‘equality issues’

CityNews | posted Thursday, Apr 21st, 2016

Mayor John Tory is promising to hold a public meeting on “equality issues” with community leaders, including members of Black Lives Matter.

In a statement released Wednesday, Tory says the city “still deals with issues of racial equality, discrimination and trust.”

Black Lives Matter Toronto says members plan on attending the meeting, pending more information on its format and focus. The group has repeatedly asked Tory for a meeting, however, up until now the mayor had only offered to meet with them behind closed doors.

“Had we taken those private meetings Mayor Tory earlier offered, this wouldn’t be happening now, so on one hand, I’m encouraged,” said Black Lives Matter Toronto co-founder Rodney Diverlus. “But I am not sure why the city would be reticent to having a focused discussion on anti-Black racism in policing. Avoiding the issue is anti-Blackness in itself.”

Co-founder Alexandria Williams adds, while the group is encouraged by the mayor’s announcement, they remain perplexed at his about-face after almost a year of demanding a public meeting.

“I’m hoping that Mayor Tory eventually gets it completely right,” said Williams. “Although it took the Mayor over a year of writing emails, shutting down highways and living outside to get to even this point, so to be honest, I’m not holding my breath.”

No date has yet been set for the meeting.

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