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Democrats still in love with Obama; he asks them to love someone new

Alexander Panetta, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Jul 28th, 2016

PHILADELPHIA – Christine Williams is spending the Democratic convention with her back turned mostly to the stage. She’s an usher guarding a nosebleed-section doorway. Yet she made sure to spin around and snap a picture of a once-in-a-lifetime moment Wednesday.

The young woman had never seen Barack Obama speak — she’s from his hometown, Chicago, but it took a work stint in Philadelphia to bring her within camera range of the president.

Some people wept as he entered, following a video that chronicled the highs and lows of his presidency: the health law, the Bin Laden raid, relations with Cuba, the economic turnaround, the Iran nuclear deal, and mass shootings that made him weep too.

Some grasped at signs with his name being handed out. One man screamed, ”Best president ever!”

The usher took a photo.

“I’ve been blessed to have this opportunity,” Williams said.

“To hear him in person. Capture a picture. It’s amazing.”

The biggest star in the Democratic party urged its members to chart a course toward Hillary Clinton, in a speech where he acted as a top-level character witness, having gone from her rival, to colleague, to staunch supporter.

Obama called her the most qualified person ever running for president; said she’d shown her lifelong commitment to social causes; and compared her to an opponent who had never shown any regard for ordinary people.

He cast the election as a moral choice — not simply between left and right, or Democrat versus Republican, but as a national referendum on whether the country would abide by its optimistic and pluralist traditions or turn to hatred and bitterness.

”The choice isn’t even close,” Obama said. ”People outside the United States don’t understand what’s going on in this election.”

When he mentioned Donald Trump’s name, people booed. Obama cut them off: ”Don’t boo. Vote!… I ask you to do for Hillary Clinton what you did for me.” At the end, she joined him onstage prompting a rise in decibel levels from the crowd.

And that’s the president’s role. In an election where his party is seeking a rare third term, Obama is being deployed as the base-mobilizer-in-chief. His favourable rating is about 10 percentage points higher than Clinton’s among the general public, due partly to the affection for him within the party.

The choice of locale for their first joint appearance recently offered clues into how she intends to deploy her campaign ally. They appeared together in North Carolina, a state with a large African-American population that he carried in 2008.

If she can mobilize a similar minority turnout from young African-American voters like Williams, it might blunt gains Republicans are hoping to make among working-class whites in states like Pennsylvania and Ohio. A civil-rights icon urged the party to come together for Clinton.

“If blacks register and vote in great numbers, progressive whites win,” Jesse Jackson told the crowd Wednesday.

“Women win. When women win, children win… It’s Hillary time.”

The obstacle to that has been glaringly evident throughout this convention. The lack of enthusiasm on the far left has translated into protests and sporadic boos from the floor since Monday.

A small minority even jeered during a speech from former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg — who came to ridicule the business track record of his fellow Manhattan billionaire, Trump, while endorsing Clinton.

Speakers and videos throughout the evening mentioned mainstream Republicans — John McCain, Mitt Romney, Marco Rubio, Barbara Bush and John Kasich — in a transparent campaign to swipe some moderate votes.

A lifelong Republican, former admiral John Hutson, referred to Trump insulting the 2008 nominee: “Donald, you’re not fit to polish John McCain’s boots.”

Obama made a similar pitch, to Clinton’s detractors on the left and right. People around the arena showered their love on him. They booed when he referred to the end of his presidency. One man shouted, ”Four more years!”

Claire Merced campaigned for him in 2008.

When asked who she was most excited to hear speaking at this convention, she mentioned the president. The schoolteacher called him a compelling speaker, kind, and a good representative for the country these last eight years.

A constitutional amendment passed six decades ago precludes him from running again. Merced paused when asked whether she wished he could go for a third term: “I mean, I would love…” she began.

Then she added that she supports term limits and said: “I think it’s time for other people, with new ideas. And, if it’s Trump,” she went on, adding a touch of dark humour, “to destroy the country.”

She was wearing a Hillary Clinton button.

Over in the doorway, Williams was of a similar mind. She sounded a bit wistful when asked whether she yearned for a third Obama term: “Kind of. Yes,” she said.

“But things are always changing.”

BlackBerry launching new smartphone with emphasis on beefed up security

Aleksandra Sagan, The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Jul 27th, 2016

In a bid to once again make its struggling hardware business profitable, BlackBerry is launching a new smartphone billed as the most secure Android device available.

The company announced the launch Tuesday of the DTEK50, a phone it hopes will appeal to “everyone” due to the insidious threat that mobile security risks now pose to the public at large.

“We feel that customers today, certainly businesses and consumers, are beginning to understand just how important security is when it comes to their smartphone,” said Alex Thurber, senior vice-president of global device sales, during a webcast from BlackBerry’s headquarters in Waterloo, Ont.

Everyone should be aware of security and privacy, whether they’re the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or a parent, he said.

“I certainly want my children to have secure devices. I don’t want the world looking at what they take pictures of or their emails or their text messages.”

BlackBerry said the DTEK50 has been designed to fend off cyberattacks with features such as built-in malware protection and encryption of all user information. In addition, it provides the ability to see and control which apps are allowed access to features like the phone’s camera.

The new product is also BlackBerry’s thinnest and has an on-screen keyboard – not its traditional keyboard.

The DTEK50 will retail for C$429, a sign that the company may have learned from the sales flop of its first Android-powered phone, the Priv. At a cost of C$899 without a carrier contract, the Priv was released late last year and at the time, it was the most expensive Android phone on the market.

While BlackBerry hasn’t disclosed Priv phone sales, its most recent quarterly results released a month ago showed the company sold 500,000 smartphones in total (including the Priv). That’s a drop of 100,000 over the previous quarter and 200,000 fewer than two quarters earlier.

“We’re very confident that from a product perspective this will sell very well,” Thurber said of the DTEK50, whose name is derived from a feature on the Priv that informs users of their device security status and how to improve it.

But that price likely won’t be enough to win over a large number of customers, said Detlev Zwick, an associate professor of marketing at York University’s Schulich School of Business.

They will ask themselves what makes the DTEK50 different from other phones in the same price range, and while the answer may be its stronger security measures, that may not be enough to sway them, he said.

“I think most consumers in that price range simply don’t care much about that,” he said. Instead, they’re more concerned with how user-friendly an interface is, how fun applications are and how quickly they can access their Facebook friends, Zwick said.

“If they really want to change momentum, BlackBerry would need a hit with a handset,” he continued. “This is not it.”

BlackBerry anticipates the majority of DTEK50s will be sold to business clients, Thurber said later in a media roundtable in Toronto.

Related stories:

BlackBerry to end production of BlackBerry Classic smartphone

Smartphone maker BlackBerry Priv, company’s first Android device, goes on sale

BlackBerry maintains enthusiasm for smartphones despite lacklustre sales

The company has faced calls to stop making smartphones because of disappointing sales and instead focus solely on its growing software and security business.

CEO John Chen has so far shown no inclination to heed those calls, having promised earlier this year to release two mid-range, Android-powered phones before the company’s fiscal year ends Feb. 28, 2017.

Thurber reiterated that commitment, saying BlackBerry will continue to develop and release Android phones. Multiple devices are planned to be released before the financial year ends, he said, including one in the near future that will have a physical keyboard.

The DTEK50 is available for pre-order online, with plans to start shipping Aug. 8.

Bill Clinton tells a love story to make his case for Hillary

Lisa Lerer, The Associated Press | posted Wednesday, Jul 27th, 2016

There have been millions of words, decades of video and reams of commentary devoted to their story. It’s been dissected, defended and decried at kitchen tables and on cable news, in tabloids and classrooms.

But on Tuesday night, as millions of voters watched and with the political stakes as high as they’ve ever been, Bill Clinton tried to make sense of it all and make the case for his wife, thenewly minted Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

“In the spring of 1971, I met a girl,” he began.

The former president’s tenth address to a Democratic convention was by far his most personal, a 42-minute tour through wedding proposals and Halloween parties, the deaths of parents and movie marathons.

Perhaps their worst moments – the Monica Lewinsky scandal, impeachment and legal battles that followed — were conspicuously omitted.

Instead, Bill Clinton cast himself as a passenger in his wife’s life, reshaping the story of much of their decades in politics.

The goal was to make Clinton, perhaps the most famous female politician in the world, yet a public figure her aides claim remains unknown, relatable to voters. He cast her as a liberal heroine of her own story, who fought for education reform, health care, civil rights, the disabled, 9-11 first responders and economically depressed rural areas.

“She’s the best darn change-maker I’ve ever met in my entire life,” he said. “This woman has never been satisfied with the status quo on anything. She always wants to move the ball forward. That is just who she is.”

He never once mentioned GOP nominee Donald Trump by name, dismissing Republican attacks on Clinton as “made up” and a “cartoon alternative.” Rather, Bill Clinton focused nearly exclusively on his wife’s achievements and how she’d influenced him.

“I have lived a long full blessed life. It really took off when I met and fell in love with that girl in the spring of 1971,” he said.

But it wasn’t only Clinton who broke a glass ceiling on Tuesday when she became the first female nominee of a major party. Should she win on Election Day, her husband will step into a singular role in American history: first gentleman.

The potential new title is perhaps the strangest twist in a political career known for its second acts. After health scares and political missteps, the Comeback Kid, as he was known in his first presidential race, could come back to Washington one last time.

In 2012, he acted as a powerful validator for President Barack Obama, electrifying the room as the party’s “explainer-in-chief.”

But, said Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, “This is different.”

“This is more personal,” said Podesta, who recalled riding to the convention hall with Bill Clinton as he touched up his 2004 convention address. “This is more about her.”

Bill Clinton felt pressure to perform for his wife and make up for his own missteps during her second presidential campaign.

Nearly 70, he’s also a bit frailer, a touch shakier, though aides and friends say his famous memory remains sharp. Some say his administration’s legacy has been repudiated by his own party, which shifted left during Obama’s time in office.

“God bless him, Bill even looks old now,” said Republican strategist Alex Castellanos. “He’s not the once and future king, he’s the once and past king.”

But no one doubts that Bill Clinton still wants to be at the centre of the action. While aides have said he will not get a Cabinet post or a seat in the Situation Room should his wife win, Clinton has made clear that her closest adviser will remain involved with her administration, saying he’d likely have a role in managing the nation’s economy.

They remain a “two for one” package, as Bill Clinton famously said during his first presidential race. But on Tuesday night, he hinted, just barely, that Clinton perhaps is finally getting her part of the deal.

“I married my best friend,” he said. “And I really hoped that she choosing me and rejecting my own advice to pursue her own career was a decision she’d never regret.”

LCBO.com to sell beer, wine and spirits online with delivery service

News staff and The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Jul 27th, 2016

The Liquor Control Board of Ontario is launching an online site where people can purchase nearly 5,000 products and have them shipped to their home or a local LCBO store.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa says LCBO.com shows the government-owned liquor agency’s commitment to evolve and modernize.

Sousa says the endless “virtual shelf space” will give people a huge selection of beer, wine and spirits right at their fingertips.

Purchases would be delivered to a local LCBO store for free or to a customer’s home through Canada Post for a fee.

“This new LCBO.com opens more opportunities for more Ontario businesses,” said Sousa.

Sousa says wines from British Columbia and Quebec will also be available at LCBO.com thanks to an agreement reached last week by the premiers of the three provinces.

Sousa said consumers that may not have their favourite product at their local store can get it with the click of a mouse and get it delivered to their door or their favourite LCBO.

The LCBO says 800 of the products available online will be exclusive to LCBO.com and will not be available in any of their retail outlets.

Niagara Falls man admits he stole $7 million group lottery winnings

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Jul 27th, 2016

A Niagara Falls man has pleaded guilty to stealing his group lottery win, a ticket worth $7 million.

Frank Galella, 67, admitted he asked two family members to claim the winning Lotto 649 ticket as their own.

The $7,036,047 draw occurred on July 31, 2013. Galella was the group leader. In an agreed statement of facts read in court on Tuesday, he said he sent family to accept the ticket instead.

Galella was found guilty of theft of over $5,000 and counselling to commit (false pretences).

He will be sentenced on Sept. 8.

The Niagara Falls Review reports that all the members of his group lottery have been paid by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming commission. Galella’s share is being held in trust.

7 sneaky ways to keep your kids brains active all summer

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Jul 26th, 2016

Have you ever heard of ‘summer slide’? This term describes the tendency for kids to lose some of the knowledge they’ve gained during the school year. New studies are now showing that kids can lose up to two months of information that they learned in school during the summer time.

As a preventive measure, many parents prevent ‘summer slide’ by having their child complete workbooks and worksheets. However, editor-in-chief of ‘Today’s Parent’ magazine Sasha Emmons says there are other ways to avoid this slide without having your kid sitting down and working on summer homework. Below are seven sneaky ways to incorporate math and reading into their summer routine.

1. Have your kid read up to six books this summer.

Studies show that reading just six books can stem ‘summer slide’. Rather that completing workbooks, a trip to the library is a far more exciting activity that kids will enjoy. Kids are encouraged to pick out their own books that appeal to their interests.

Sneaking in reading during daily activities will also stem the ‘summer slide’. This can include reading recipes, playing Boggle, playing Bananagrams, creating a word of the day, performing karaoke, or reading maps.

2. Work math into everyday life.

Instead of completing math worksheets, work math equations into a child’s daily routine instead. This includes finding the lowest and highest price on a menu or at the grocery store, calculating travel time during a trip, or how to split the cost of snacks or a dessert.

Playing math games like Tenzi, Crazy 8s, Old Maid are also great, as they incorporate math equations into a fun activity.

3. Post a word on the refrigerator every week and see how often you can use it.

For a child to really internalize a new word, they have to hear it about seven times in context. Pick an uncommon word, and incorporate it into regular conversation to create a dialogue on what that word means.

4. Make a scrapbook of your family’s vacation.

Young kids can cut and paste photos while older kids can write captions, creating a beautiful souvenir of your summer. Designing a scrapbook works the right-side of the brain for creativity, while writing captions works the left-side of the brain.

5. Journal or diary.

A journal or diary is a great way for a child to collect their daily thoughts. Writing on regular basis helps children form entries that contain good grammar, and a beginning, middle, and end.

6. Exposing kids to new experiences over the summer can also improve their learning capabilities.

Most cities are full of free activities to broaden children’s experiences. Some ideas include visiting a farmer’s market and talk to farmers about where food comes from, participate in one of the city’s cultural festivals, or go to the park and look for wildlife.

7. Download educational apps.

Many applications for your mobile devices can be very educational. There are a variety of learning applications that incorporate games, music, and problem solving skills available on the App Store for iPhone and iPad, and the Google Play store for Android devices.

SIU investigating after cyclist hit by police cruiser in Scarborough

Erin Criger | posted Tuesday, Jul 26th, 2016

The province’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has been called in after a cyclist was struck by a Toronto police cruiser in Scarborough.

The cyclist was struck on Kennedy Road near Merrian Road, south of Eglinton Avenue, just after midnight on Tuesday morning.

He has serious injuries to his head and upper torso.

No police officers were injured.

It’s not known how the collision occurred, or if the officers were responding to a call at the time.

Kennedy is closed for the investigation.

The SIU is an arm’s length agency that investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.

History and hostility as Clinton ascends to nomination

Kathleen Hennessey and Calvin Woodward, The Associated Press | posted Tuesday, Jul 26th, 2016

A glass ceiling is shattering at the Democratic National Convention as Hillary Clinton ascends to the presidential nomination with Tuesday’s roll call of the states, making her the first woman to lead a major party into a White House race.

But as history is being made, hostility is being heard, too. Rhetorically, at least, die-hard Bernie Sanders’ supporters also are breaking some glass, loudly protesting his treatment by the party and still cold to Clinton even as Sanders appeals for Democrats to unify and defeat Republican Donald Trump, “a bully and a demagogue.”

What was expected to be a tightly orchestrated convention, run with all the professionalism and experience that were lacking at Trump’s often-chaotic affair in Ohio, instead showed its rough edges in the early going, starting with chants of “Bernie” during the opening invocation and boos at numerous mentions of Clinton’s name.

Related stories:

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Trump triumphs as GOP nominee, completing stunning climb

First lady Michelle Obama gave a heartfelt endorsement of the candidate who engaged her husband in a fierce struggle for the nomination in 2008. “I trust Hillary to lead this country,” she said in a speech that provided a parent’s-eye view of the White House and its power.

Liberal favourite Elizabeth Warren, senator from Massachusetts, and Sanders himself also gave the party something to cheer about Monday night.

While Mrs. Obama has often avoided overt politics, her frustration with Trump’s rise was evident. Without naming him, she warned that the White House couldn’t be in the hands of someone with “a thin skin or a tendency to lash out” or someone who tells voters the country can be great again. “This right now, is the greatest country on earth,” she said.

Sanders took the stage to a sustained roar and shouts of “We love you, Bernie.” Some of his supporters were in tears.

While asserting “our revolution continues,” the Vermont senator implored his restive followers to get behind Clinton. On issues of poverty, immigration, environmental protection and more, he said, Clinton’s election counts. “If you don’t believe that this election is important,” he said, “take a moment to think about the Supreme Court justices that Donald Trump would nominate.”

Democrats made a pronounced effort to showcase their diversity, salting the lineup from the stage with black, Hispanic, gay and disabled speakers in an obvious counterpoint to Trump and the various groups he has upset with his remarks.

The convention opened in a dustup over leaked emails showing the party’s pro-Clinton, anti-Sanders slant during the primaries, when it was supposed to be neutral. In the uproar, party chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida went swiftly into exile, first giving up her position, then the convention’s opening-day gavel after being roundly booed by Sanders partisans at a meeting of her home-state delegation.

Sanders delegate Gian Carlo Espinosa, 29, of Key West, Florida, said he would not abandon protests, as Sanders urged. “Why else are we here?” he asked. “The people that we’re representing are displeasured with the party. We have to get that across somehow.” This, despite Sanders telling his backers in an email and text message: “Our credibility as a movement will be damaged by booing, turning of backs, walking out or other similar displays.”

In roasting heat, spirited protests unfolded outside, another echo of the Republican convention in Cleveland. Several hundred Sanders backers marched down Philadelphia streets, with signs saying “Never Hillary.” One said, “Just go to jail, Hillary,” a takeoff on cries at the Republican convention to “lock her up.”

Nevertheless, Clinton was firmly on track to write the next chapter of a story that left off in 2008, when she conceded the Democratic presidential race to Barack Obama in a speech that lamented “we weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time,” but added proudly, “it’s got about 18 million cracks in it,” a tally of her primary votes.

The roll call, when each state announces its delegate totals from the primary season, will affirm a nomination Clinton locked up weeks ago. One question of the day was whether Sanders would press for a count by all the states, as his delegates want, or interrupt the process to ask that her nomination be approved by acclamation. That’s what Clinton did on Obama’s behalf in 2008 to indicate their rivalry was truly over.

Clinton promised an uplifting counterpoint to Trump’s dark portrayal of the state of the nation, but the fallout from some 19,000 leaked Democratic National Committee emails threatened to complicate those plans.

Michael Buratowski, an analyst with the cybersecurity firm the Democrats employed, said he found evidence of Russian involvement, such as the use of a Russian-language keyboard and time-offs that coincided with Russian business hours in what he described as an attack too sophisticated to be the work of freelance hackers. The hackers took at least a year’s worth of detailed chats, emails and research on Trump, according to a person knowledgeable of the breach who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

As the convention began, the DNC released a statement apologizing to Sanders and his supporters “for the inexcusable remarks made over email.”

The statement was signed by DNC leaders, though Wasserman Schultz’s name was notably absent.

Woodward reported from Washington.

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